Least expensive accredited distance learning MA in theology or philosophy?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Tygfff, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. Tygfff

    Tygfff New Member

    Hello everyone.

    I wondered whether I could ask the forum about the options available in online theology and philosophy MA degrees as of December of 2019.

    As someone who cannot travel, and has a limited budget, I'm looking for the least expensive regionally or nationally accredited distance learning Masters degrees in either philosophy or theology. Preferably within the United States.

    Most of the accredited theology degrees I've found online hover around $500/credit or more, which is beyond my price range at the moment. A few dip around $300 per credit, which is closer, but still a bit difficult.

    (NationsU is occasionally recommended on this forum, and it does seem to be the least expensive American university that I can find. However, I wasn't sure about its accreditation status. As I understand it, it has national but not regional accreditation?)

    Inexpensive distance-learning philosophy degrees seem even thinner on the ground. Southern Evangelical Seminary has one, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary (a Catholic institution) also has one focusing on Thomistic philosophy, but I haven't found much else.

    Can the forum suggest any programs?

  2. Michigan68

    Michigan68 Active Member

    I would look into GlobalUniversity.edu

    I think it’s under $300 for a RA degree
    Tygfff likes this.
  3. AsianStew

    AsianStew Active Member

    GU is RA and less than $300/credit, but because it's just a theology degree, it won't really matter about the RA/NA choice, so I recommend something cheaper. Your best bet for affordability is through Nations University which is Nationally Accredited, you can get it done in 1 year and for $2000 total. Good luck. Oh, forgot their link: https://nationsu.edu/masters-of-theological-studies/
    Tygfff and SteveFoerster like this.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Luther Rice is currently charging about $250 per credit.
    Tygfff likes this.
  5. Helpful2013

    Helpful2013 Active Member

    Answering your question properly requires that you offer more information:

    Is there something specific that you want to do with such a degree? Where do you want to use it?
  6. Tygfff

    Tygfff New Member

    I'm interested in it mostly for the knowledge, for personal and religious reasons. I'm not in the clergy, or planning to teach, or anything like that.

    With that being said, it would be nice to have a legitimately accredited degree at the Master's level, in case I ever wanted to pursue a PhD in theology (most likely by distance learning as well -- e.g., Potchefstroom, Pretoria, etc. Eventually, it would be nice to acquire the knowledge I'd need to submit articles related to academic Biblical Studies to journals.)
  7. Helpful2013

    Helpful2013 Active Member

    Let me rephrase my second question about 'where' you want to use it: Are you a Christian? What denomination are you in? Lots of fine places wouldn't be fine for people of different denominational commitments. If you like, you can private message me.
  8. Tygfff

    Tygfff New Member

    Ah, I see. That's a reasonable question.

    I'm a Christian layperson. Anglican, so we have a fairly broad range of acceptable beliefs on our end of the spectrum, from more or less Reformed to almost-Catholic.

    As far as universities' required statements of faith from students go, I'd probably be more liberal than many conservative Protestants, but more conservative than the overwhelming majority of (e.g.) Episcopalians. For example, basically I take the Nicene Creed literally, but am not committed to a literal reading of the Creation account in Genesis.

    On my end, though, I have no issue attending universities that are either more liberal or more conservative than I am. (I'd prefer at least some exposure to historical-critical approaches to the Bible in coursework, but it's not essential by any means.)
  9. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Let me, in turn, attempt to rephrase Helpful2013's spot-on inquiry . . .

    This thread has mentioned several schools thus far: Nations, Southern Evangelical, Holy Apostles, Global, and Luther Rice. Comparing them is not like comparing apples and oranges, it's more like comparing apples and moon rocks. If you would consider all of them equally, it indicates that your head is up your proverbial theological butt. Even two of the schools you mentioned in your original post, Southern Evangelical and Holy Apostles, are so diametrically opposite in terms of doctrine that no one who has thought through his or her own doctrinal position could consider them equally.

    So, decide what you believe in terms of items like doctrine, polity (look it up), tongues, worship style, fancy robes or lack thereof, transubstantiation versus consubstantiation versus plain old symbolism, and terms like premillennial-postmillennial-amillennial-antimillennial-unclemillennial, and other issues in the realm of theological bullshit, and report back here - then we can help point you in the right direction. Until then, be assured that you are going to the lake of fire and brimstone in a proverbial handbasket and we are not. But most important, enjoy the ride. :D
  10. Tygfff

    Tygfff New Member

    Point taken, but therein lies the problem. Making a decision on many of these points -- to avoid the aforementioned fire and brimstone -- requires the kind of theological study that I am hoping to get better at through distance learning in the first place. :)

    EDIT: To clarify with regard to SES and Holy Apostles, I was mentioning them in the context of philosophy programs, which is an auxiliary interest of mine. Both of them are far apart on most issues, but both have philosophy degree programs in a classical theistic, broadly Thomistic tradition. Though SES may be more influenced by modern analytic approaches to philosophy of religion.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
    Jason9934 likes this.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
    Tygfff likes this.
  12. tadj

    tadj Active Member

    Tygfff likes this.
  13. tadj

    tadj Active Member

    Tygfff likes this.
  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I always liked the description, I think it was Levicoff who offered it here once before, between Religious Studies and Theology. The distinction was that Religious Studies is what people believe and Theology is what we believe.

    At the same time, I have seen more than a handful of people fudge that "we" just to have an accredited credential in their name. There was a gentleman from my undergrad days at Scranton, for example, who was from Nairobi and enrolled in Scranton's MA in Theology program. This gentleman was a pentecostal. He had every desire to become a pentecostal minister upon his return to Nairobi. So why, you may ask, was he enrolled in a theology program at not just a Catholic university but a fairly theologically liberal one run by those trouble making Jesuits?

    Because Scranton's MA program, at the time at least, charged half the graduate tuition of all other graduate programs. I think it was privately endowed to basically be half price for anyone who wanted to undertake the program. Coupled with a teaching assistantship, which is how I met him, and whatever else his financial aid package included, he was fully funded. No tuition out of pocket and he had a small stipend that allowed him to rent an apartment a few blocks from our miniscule campus. So he was going to go home with an MA in Theology, a theology that was not his own, because it was cheap and available. I don't know where else he applied or how earnestly he pursued financially viable options elsewhere or what sort of money he was bringing to the table from back home.

    I should also note that I had two theology professors there. All undergrads were required to take two theology courses, intro to the bible and church history I. One professor had a PhD from a well known and respected Catholic university in Europe. The other? Her PhD was from a Baptist university. Yet, she taught in a Catholic university in it's theology department. Also teaching in our theology department at the time was an Orthodox Rabbi (Hebrew) and an (female) Episcopal Priest (Social Justice in the context of religion and philosophy of religion).

    If one's goal is to enter the clergy then, well, you do what will help you toward that goal. If your only goal is personal enrichment, well, you might have some wiggle room.

    Nations, for example, is most decided evangelical in flavor. I took a few courses there just to test it out once they got DEAC accreditation. My opinion, FWIW, is that I found it to be much more professional than what I had experienced in my brief foray into TRACS accredited schools. Though that shouldn't be shocking just looking at DEAC's website versus TRACS's nostalgic web dedication to how websites looked in 1997. In any case, Nations offers for its M.Div. and M.T.S. programs an elective, if you wish, in Catholic theology. I didn't take it. I suppose it's possible that it's a course all about how Catholicism is pagan. I don't know who teaches it, if they have someone educated in and embracing of Catholic theology or if Pastor Darryl is merely having a hack at it. Still, if their goal was just to offer an evangelical credential, why include it as an option?

    Regardless of your personal beliefs it may, potentially, be viable to find a theology program not in line with your personal beliefs that allows you to study the things that do interest you.

    You may also find some good multi-denominational seminaries. The best example I can think of is one (fairly) local to me, Northeastern Seminary (nes.edu).
    tadj likes this.
  15. tadj

    tadj Active Member


    Today, a deeply unfair portrayal of other religious traditions and non-evangelicals could easily backfire with quick access to internet resources. I think that most evangelical seminaries attempt to provide fairness and balance in this department. The professors might follow-up a presentation with a few words about differences in worldview and Jesus' uniqueness, but I'd be surprised to find nastiness and complete misrepresentation of other faiths and intra-Christian disputes. Primary sources from other traditions are also utilized frequently in the coursework material at such schools. You might still find some unbalanced presentations of other beliefs at a few Fundamental Baptist higher education institutions. Aide from that, the evangelical landscape has drastically changed. Even Walter Martin's approach would be considered "too harsh" at some evangelical schools. Plus there are all kinds of Mormon-Evangelical meetings where the overly ecumenical atmosphere makes you almost wish for the old theological battles. :)
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  16. tadj

    tadj Active Member

    I know that TRACS takes a hard line on literal six-day creation in their statement of faith, at least on paper. This is always a magnet for more fundamentalist schools. It's definitely not representative of faculty beliefs at standard evangelical seminaries. You still have to have wonder about the policing associated with that belief with some of the new member schools of the accrediting agency.
  17. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Tadj, bubaleh, I like ya. You’re a bright spot here at DI compared with most of the newbie numbnuts we have showing up here. Having said that, I have to observe that you are stereotyping out the wazoo on your two posts above – stating what are merely opinions without backing them up with any proof. I can certainly understand that offending Fundie Baptists.

    As for Walter Martin, he has been a topic of discussion here at DI over the years thanks, in part, to his mickey-mouse doctorate degree, which Mormon apologists Robert and Rosemary Brown were able to trash with a full-length book on him. Even then, Martin remains popular with the California cult-buster crowd. SoCal may be the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes, but it’s heaven for those into apologetics and counter-cult studies.

    As for the notion that six-day creation is “not representative of faculty beliefs at standard evangelical seminaries,” again you’re stereotyping. The creationism issue was one of the key points I brought up against TRACS when they were approved by DoEd and I wrote an entire book on them, but there are plenty of schools and seminaries that buy into it. (The seminary at which I taught had a N.T. professor who was an evidential apologist and was not a six-day dude, but he also had his Ph.D. in astrophysics from a little school called Cornell.)
    They were a lot more fun, weren’t they? Walter Martin may have had a phony doctorate, but he sure knew how to slice and dice and make it entertaining.

    I’ve seen a few of the Mormon-Evangelical dialogues and find them boring as hell. But they’re an effective tool for evangelism by Mormons toward evangelicals, and now that Donny and Marie have retired from Las Vegas, they are the new thing in LDS witness (at least from the number of them popping up on YouTube).
  18. copper

    copper Active Member

    I really enjoyed the Hollywood production, Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey. It illustrates that throughout the Universe, time ticks at different rates. Time really is relative! "Six Days" in one part of the Universe is merely a couple seconds in another part of the Universe. Anyway, continue.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  19. tadj

    tadj Active Member


    You're probably right. I didn't present the evidence for the above claims. I would simply expect certain things to be the case as an observer and a follower of certain trends. I am not denying that Young Earth Creationism is widely held among American evangelicals, or even that it shapes the belief structure of individuals who teach at certain evangelical seminaries. I am just saying that it is now a very rare thing to see among Bible faculties at top evangelical seminaries. Some research would need to be done to confirm my observations. From what I can see, the Old Testament scholars who hold this belief are extremely rare in conservative evangelical seminary circles. There are a few published young-earth creationist Bible scholars, but they are a clear minority among evangelicals. You're more likely to find them at speaking engagements of "Answers in Genesis" than scholarly evangelical forums like ETS.

    Apologetics does not preclude a fair presentation of another person's beliefs. Counter-cult studies is a bit more controversial. Religious scholars are very cautious with the cult identifier. The same caution is sometimes missing from the musings of popular evangelical bloggers. It has to be said that Walter Martin was instrumental in helping to clear Seventh-Day Adventists of the cult stigma. His doctorate did draw some controversy back in the day.

Share This Page