According to the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), there are over 1000 “bible colleges” in the US and Canada, with more opening every year. The Evangelical Christian community’s interest in bible-based higher education is at an all-time high, but as the ABHE warns, many so-called bible colleges are untrustworthy and predatory toward students. Another organization we looked at is the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), they specifically accredit seminaries and graduate schools of Theology.
Value Colleges believes in everyone’s right to the education they choose, and in protecting the rights of students to get the most for their time and money. So we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most affordable bible colleges in the US. All of these schools are recognized by the ABHE, ATS, and/or the Department of Education as reputable institutions that deliver on their promise of a valuable online bible-based degree.
1. Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary
Founded in 1969, Trinity College of the Bible moved to an exclusively distance-education program in 1978, making it primed for the online education revolution that would come later. Today, Trinity specializes in online education, with no on-campus courses at all. While Trinity is not regionally accredited (their accreditation struggles are well-documented and public), they are recognized by the ABHE and have a solid history of service.
Trinity offers dozens of online associate’s, bachelor’s master’s, and even doctorate degrees in four different areas: Biblical and Theological Studies, Christ-Centered Counseling, Integrated Apologetics, and Practical Ministry. Degree programs include such innovative specializations as Digital Ministry and Prison Chaplaincy, as well as more traditional areas such as Christian Counseling and Christian Education. Trinity’s tuition is low, and a wide association of alumni and partner organizations helps graduates make the most of their graduate program degrees.
Cost: $176 per credit (undergraduate); $206 (graduate programs)
2. Ecclesia College
One of the nation’s most respected bible colleges, Ecclesia College, in Springdale, AR, is known for its mix of work and service education with more conventional classroom education. All students at Ecclesia take on-campus jobs necessary for the maintenance and day-to-day operations of the school, from office work to the cafeteria. In exchange, they make money toward their tuition, and the college saves on expenses to keep tuition affordable.
Ecclesia passes that savings on to online students as well, with a low tuition rate that makes online degree programs from Ecclesia especially affordable. Ecclesia offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in areas like Biblical Studies, Biblical Leadership, and Business Administration, among others. Ecclesia also has a transfer agreement with the state of Arkansas allowing students to transfer courses to any public college or university in the state. Ecclesia’s quality and reputation make it a solid choice.
Cost: $266 per credit (associate and bachelor levels)
3. Moody Bible Institute
Founded in 1889, the Moody Bible Institute may be the most admired college of its kind. In many ways, the Moody Bible Institute is the model of the bible college, having pioneered bible-based, evangelical education through the original campus; initiating distance education programs through postal correspondence in 1901; and setting standards for adult education and online education early on. The Moody Bible Institute seminary campus is located near the Windy City of Chicago. Moody Theological Seminary also operates a satellite campus in Plymouth, Michigan; while Moody Aviation operates a flight school in Spokane, Washington.
Much of the Moody Institute’s power to innovate comes from their combination of regional accreditation (giving them secular authority) and evangelical reputation – they are the best of both worlds for bible students. Moody Bible Institute offers numerous online associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs, including Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, Ministry Leadership, and more. Moody’s reasonable tuition rate and high reputation in secular and evangelical circles make it a clear value for prospective online students.
Cost: $320 per credit (undergraduate programs)
4. Mid-America Christian University
Mid-America Christian University began its life at Gulf Coast Christian College in Houston, TX, before moving to Oklahoma in 1985. There it began its ascendence to become one of the best-known and most-respected Christian colleges, a regionally-accredited university, and a leader in Christian online education. Today this Church of God-affiliated institution is one of the fastest-growing universities of its kind.
MACU offers a host of online degree programs designed specifically for non-traditional, working adult online students. Their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Christian Ministry, of course, are one of their strengths, but they offer numerous programs in other areas, such as criminal justice, Public Relations, and Business, including a well-regarded online MBA program. Since Mid-America Christian University offers many of their online degrees administrated through their Adult Schools, they are perfect for busy adult students who want to increase their credentials while staying employed.
Cost: $383-476 per credit
5. Grace Christian University
Grace Christian University, is affiliated with the Grace Gospel Fellowship. Grace is a Christian college in Wyoming, Michigan. This bible school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Association for Biblical Higher Education to award associate, baccalaureate, as well as graduate degrees.
Grace offers online associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in three main areas: Leadership & Ministry, Business, and Human Services. Students in the bachelor’s degree program can choose a further specialization in a dozen different areas, including Church Planting, Criminal Justice, and Women’s or Youth Ministry, as well as others. Grace’s long reputation, reasonable tuition rate, and regional accreditation make it a reliable value for bible education for online students.
Cost: $395 per credit (undergraduate programs)
6. Barclay College
A very small school associated with the Society of Friends (Quakers), Barclay College is known for its biblical and ministry degrees, though it is gradually expanding its offerings. Founded in 1917, Barclay College has been through many changes, but it retains a Bible-based, evangelical outlook attractive not only to Quaker students but students from a variety of denominations seeking bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
At this time Barclay offers only bachelor’s degrees in a fully online format. Students can choose from Biblical Studies, Business Management, Christian Ministry Leadership, and Psychology, as well as a general studies associate degree and several certificates. Recognized by the ABHE since 1975, Barclay has an affordable tuition rate and highlights its attention and support for students, both on-campus (all students who live on campus have tuition waived) and online.
Cost: $395 per credit
7. The King’s University
Just 20 years old, The King’s University has become one of the most influential seminaries in the US, beginning from its original Los Angeles campus and expanding to Dallas, TX, and beyond. Located in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, The King’s University is steeped in Evangelical faith and service, leading students into ministry and professional careers with faith at the center.
TKU has become a leading online educator in its class, with numerous bachelor’s and master’s degrees available fully online. Online bachelor’s degrees include Christian Ministry, Biblical Counseling, and Biblical Studies; TKU also offers online master’s degrees in Practical Theology and in Divinity. At $415 per credit, The King’s University has one of the most affordable tuition rates of small, private Christian institutions, and their broad support and reputation in the Christian community makes TKU a proven value.
Cost: $415 per credit
8. Lancaster Bible College
Lancaster Bible College was founded in 1933 as part of the great wave of bible colleges beginning in the early 20th century. Originally a simple bible school, Lancaster has grown into a significant force in the bible college market, with extension campuses in Washington, Indiana, Florida, and several other states, as well as a growing online presence. A regionally-accredited college, Lancaster is large for a bible college and recognized as a model of the form.
Lancaster’s online programs are designed as accelerated bachelor completion degrees for working adults; while they are also offered at Lancaster’s various extension campuses and their main campus in Pennsylvania, Lancaster’s accelerated bachelor programs including Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in areas such as Biblical Studies, Business, and Human Services; associate’s degrees are also available. Lancaster’s accelerated format allows students to complete their bachelor’s in a little as 15 months, making it a speedy value.
Cost: $430 per credit (accelerated bachelor’s)
9. Nazarene Bible College
Nazarene Bible College is a small, Church of the Nazarene-associated institution in Colorado Springs, CO. With only 10 Nazarene colleges in the US, Nazarene Bible College has a large proportion of Nazarene students preparing for ministry within the church, but many other denominations are represented as well. Recognized by the US Department of Education (but not regionally accredited), Nazarene Bible College has significantly raised its profile in recent years with online degree programs.
All of Nazarene Bible College’s bachelor’s degree programs are available on-campus or fully online (except for Christian Counseling; an equivalent, Counseling for Christian Ministries, is available exclusively online). Bachelor of Arts degrees include Bible and Theology, Christian Educational Ministries, Pastoral Leadership, and others. At $450 per credit Nazarene Bible College is very affordable, and the standard for ministry in the Church of the Nazarene.
Cost: $450 per credit (undergraduate programs)
10. Dallas Theological Seminary
Like Moody Bible Institute, the Dallas Theological Seminary looms large in the history of American Evangelicalism, as one of the leading institutions (alma mater of Chuck Swindoll and David Jeremiah) and a highly influential center for theological research. DTS developed and spread concepts such as dispensationalism, premillennialism, and Biblical inerrancy, which are central to contemporary Evangelical belief.
Dallas Theological Seminary offers several highly-regarded, fully online master’s degrees (it does not offer online undergraduate degrees): a Certificate of Graduate Studies; a Master of Biblical and Theological Studies (a professional degree for businesspeople and lay leaders); and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies (for in-depth biblical and theological study). A hybrid Master of Arts in Christian Leadership is also available which combines online and on-campus study. The DTS name is valuable in Christian circles, making it an online leader in biblical studies.
Cost: $515 per credit (graduate programs)
Why is Bible College a Good Choice for Online Learning Students?
Bible college works well with an online learning model because the information and materials presented are straightforward. In many cases, students can explore learning materials independently and work on assignments with minimal instruction from professors. Most of the learning is done through reading, writing, and discussion with classmates. With the advanced technology we have today, these discussions can easily be conducted through video calls or through message boards.
Most Bible colleges provide a self-paced style of learning. This is perfect for online students. Most online program students who choose an online model are already working or have other obligations outside of the classroom. Online bible colleges provide a great deal of flexibility, especially for the adult learner.
Many students interested in an online Bible college are adults, so they have their own responsibilities. That’s especially true of students already working in some area of ministry, such as youth pastors who are working to become senior pastors. The responsibilities of a pastor are many, so taking time away from your congregation can be difficult. With online classes from a reputable Bible college, pastors, lay preachers, Christian school teachers, and others can complete their degree without having to let the people who rely on them down.
Are Online Bible Colleges Accredited?
There are many online Christian colleges that are accredited. You should note, however, that there are also many Bible colleges that are not accredited. It will be up to you, as the student, to do the necessary research to find a school that meets your standards when searching for the best online Christian colleges.
It is important to note also, that many of the careers you can pursue with a Bible degree are not hyper-focused on accreditation. This type of online program degree and these types of career options have a greater amount of flexibility when it comes to online classes. The Bible colleges online, though, are often accredited.
The accreditation institutions used by Bible colleges are usually different than those used by traditional colleges and universities, though. There are several reasons for Bible colleges to have their own accreditation standards. Many Bible colleges are rooted in theology that clashes with government regulation, and a regional accreditation would require them to uphold lifestyles and choices they do not support. That is the reason many Bible colleges also do not take funding from the federal government or federal student loans – to avoid government control. Fortunately, many Bible colleges also offer substantial scholarships to their students through the generosity of their alumni and supporters.
Bible School Accreditation:
Bible School accreditation is really important in finding the best online Christian colleges. The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) is a national faith-related accrediting organization recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). There are currently 149 American Christian colleges and institutes accredited by the association.
What Can I Do with an Online Bible College Degree?
If you decide to get your degree through an online Bible college, there are several different types of career paths you could follow. Most people who seek out the best Bible colleges online are looking to pursue a career in ministry. Ministry careers can include pastoring, associate pastoring, youth leadership, worship ministry, women’s ministry, Christian counseling, Christian education, and many more.
Many churches now offer free counseling services for their communities. This opens up a lot of career opportunities for those who seek a Bible degree from an online Bible college. Christian counseling offers counseling services to couples, individuals, children, and youth. It is essential to have a strong Biblical education in order to help others navigate life’s challenges from a Biblical perspective.
Many online Bible colleges also offer educational tracks. Receiving a teaching degree from a Bible college can help prepare students for ministry in Christian education or Bible colleges. Christian schools often have very different educational guidelines for teachers than public or private schools. The best Bible colleges online can prepare you for success as a teacher in a Christian school. It is important to note, that in some cases a teaching degree from a Bible college may not be sufficient for teaching certification in most states.
Students can also use a Bible degree to pursue missionary work in other countries. A Bible education can also be used to enrich one’s own religious journey as well.