What is a Biblical Studies Degree?

Creation. Sin. Reconciliation. Hope. These are the principal theological themes in the Bible. Degree programs in biblical studies help students understand these themes through exploration of scripture. The discipline’s curriculum spans biblical interpretation, teaching, and languages. The major provides foundations for ministry work and related careers, as well as for personal spiritual development.

Program Options

Certificate in Biblical Studies – Up to One Year Duration
Certificate programs in biblical studies are introductory in nature and ideal for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of the Bible. Many students who earn the certificate go on to further studies at the associate or bachelor’s level.

Associate Degree in Biblical Studies – Two Year Duration
At the associate level, students engage in a more in-depth and integrative study of the Scriptures that aims to connect biblical interpretation with an understanding of the world. They also receive training in general studies areas including research writing, critical thinking and math, and the social and behavioral sciences.

Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies – Three to Four Year Duration
The bachelor’s degree program in biblical studies is designed to help students apply the Scriptures within contemporary life and ministry. Student learning outcomes at this level are the most comprehensive of the three undergraduate credentials. They include applying research methodologies to topics related to biblical studies, communicating the message of the Scriptures to identified audiences, and applying historical geography and ancient cultural perspectives in the interpretation of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Despite the differences described above, courses like the following are at the heart of all biblical studies undergraduate programs:

• Reading the Old Testament
• Reading the New Testament
• Interpreting Scripture
• Historical Geography of Ancient Israel
• Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds and the Old Testament
• Second Temple Jewish Backgrounds
• Teaching the Scriptures
• Applying Scripture in the Contemporary World
• Interpreting Isaiah for Teaching
• Interpreting Romans for Teaching
• Foundations of Learning
• The Story and Structure of the Bible
• Self and Social Identity in Christianity
• The Old Testament and Theology
• The New Testament and Theology
• The Church and Its Doctrines
• Method/Interpretation for Biblical Theology

Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies – Two to Three Year Duration
At the master’s level students take some required courses but can design their program in consultation with a faculty member, to focus on their particular area of interest. The master’s program’s culminating requirement is normally a thesis based on original research. Some schools may offer a non-thesis major paper or coursework track.

Doctoral Degree in Biblical Studies – Three to Five Year Duration
The master’s program in biblical studies typically involves a lot of taught courses. It emphasizes the transition from pure subject learning to independent research. On the other hand, the doctoral degree is like a very long dissertation project. Ph.D. students have the benefit of supervision from a faculty advisor and may complete some taught classes, but their focus is on their independent research. The Doctoral Degree in Biblical Studies is aimed at those who want to teach the discipline at the university level or assume senior leadership roles in the Church.

The courses taken by individual master’s degree and Ph.D. candidates will vary, depending on their chosen area of focus and research. Below are some common graduate level courses and specializations in biblical studies.

Common Graduate Level Courses

• Dead Sea Scrolls
• Biblical and Ecclesiastical Latin
• The Pentateuch – A Study of the First Five Books of the Hebrew Bible
• Synoptic Gospels and Acts – A Study of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke
• Johannine Writings – A Study of the Gospel of John, the Johannine Epistles, and the Book of Revelation
• Christian Worldviews in Historical and Cultural Perspective
• Historical Jesus
• Psalms
• Wisdom Literature – The Book of Ecclesiastes
• Introduction to Biblical Archaeology

Common Specializations and Applicable Courses

The Old Testament:
• History of the Bible
• Elementary Hebrew
• Hebrew Reading
• Hermeneutics – The Theory and Methodology of the Interpretation of Biblical Texts
• Critical Introduction to the Old Testament
• Introduction to Biblical Related Research
• Synthesis of Biblical Studies

The New Testament:
• History of the Bible
• Elementary Greek
• Greek Reading
• Hermeneutics – The Theory and Methodology of the Interpretation of Biblical Texts
• Critical Introduction to the New Testament
• Introduction to Biblical Related Research
• Synthesis of Biblical Studies

Christian Thought:
• Introduction to Apologetics – The Relationship between Faith and Reason
• Patristic and Ancient Heresy – The Christian Movement through the First Six Centuries
• Patristic and Medieval Christian Thought – A Study of the Early Development of Christian Ideas
• Modern and Contemporary Christian Thought

Degrees Similar to Biblical Studies

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Classical Studies
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Divinity
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Ethics
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Linguistics
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Ministry
Ministry programs prepare students to become ordained Christian ministers or priests. Individuals who earn a degree in the field may ultimately work as pastors, worship leaders, counselors, church administrators, and/or ministerial educators. Coursework may include study of the New Testament and Old Testament, sermons and religious rituals, biblical counseling, ministerial ethics, youth ministry, and preaching methods.

Philosophy
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Religious Studies
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Theology
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Skills You'll Learn

• Ability to ask and answer complex questions
• Ability to work independently and in groups
• Appreciation for and understanding of various cultures and societies
• Awareness of the influence of religion on history, politics, ethics, and economics
• Capacity to consider different interpretations and perspectives
• Capacity to debate and lead discussions
• Oral communication
• Report writing
• Research, organization, and critical analysis of various kinds of information
• Understanding of social and political processes and structures

What Can You Do with a Biblical Studies Degree?

A degree in biblical studies leads graduates to work in ministry and related areas. Some of the roles listed below may require further education or specialized training.

Ministry
• Associate Pastor
• Children’s Pastor
• Children’s Programs Director
• Community Life Pastor
• Evangelist
• Missionary
• Spiritual Development Pastor
• Women’s Ministry Director
• Worship Director
• Youth Director
• Youth Pastor
Clergy

Chaplaincy
• Colleges / Universities
• Hospitals
• Police / Fire Departments
• Prisons
• Professional Sports Teams
• US Military (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force)

Education
• Christian Education Director
Teacher / Professor
• Teaching Pastor
• Theologian
• Vacation Bible School Director

Human Services
• Case Worker
Clinical Psychologist
Family and Child Social Worker
• Mental Health Counselor
Probation Officer
• Public Health Social Workers
School Guidance Counselor
Social Worker
Substance Abuse Counselor

Journalism
Writer / Editor / Blogger for both Christian and non-Christian magazines, newspapers, and various online platforms

Other
Archaeologist
• Director of a Christian Non-Profit Organization

Salary

Find out what graduates typically earn.

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