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Theology and Pre-Theology


Programs in theology focus on the beliefs of a religious faith. Pre-theology programs prepare people to enter a seminary or other program leading to religious ordination.

Theology and pre-theology education programs include topics such as:


In theology and pre-theology education programs, students may be able to specialize in:


A few community colleges and two-year schools offer associate degree programs in theology and pre-theology education. An associate degree program usually takes two years of full-time study.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in theology and pre-theology education. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in theology and pre-theology education. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to seminary and to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores. Your undergraduate studies should reflect a broad liberal arts curriculum.

If your goal is the Roman Catholic priesthood, you may want to pursue a certificate in pre-theology. Some seminaries offer this as a one- or two-year program. This helps advance your knowledge of religion and philosophy toward readiness for seminary. It also helps you dedicate yourself to the priestly lifestyle.

You need to have a track record of religious and social service. People who know you need to provide letters that attest to your good moral character.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

A bachelor's program in theology typically includes courses in the following subjects:

A pre-theology bachelor's program can be in any liberal arts major. It should contain a variety of courses. You should study literature, arts, natural sciences, languages, and social sciences.

Graduate Program Courses

A pre-theology certificate program (primarily for college graduates entering a Roman Catholic seminary) typically includes courses in the following subjects:

A master's program usually includes the following:

The required courses are often similar to those in the bachelor's program. Usually there is an additional required course in pastoral theology. This course explores how theology applies to work as a minister or priest.

Your program may give you considerable freedom of choice. You may be able to emphasize a particular area, such as history of theology or Biblical studies.

Things to Know

Many programs require you to learn New Testament Greek or Biblical Hebrew. Knowing these languages allows you to read the bible in the original wording.


East Side Area

Walla Walla University

King-Snohomish Area

Northwest University

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle School of Theology & Psychology

Seattle University

Spokane Area

Gonzaga University

Whitworth University

Tacoma Area

Faith International University & Seminary

Western Reformed Seminary

Vancouver Area

Gateway Seminary