Benefits of Earning an MTS Degree Online

Does an online MTS Degree offer the same quality as traditional in-class programs?

Earning an MTS (Master of Theological Studies) is a great way for students to deepen their spirituality while also fostering critical thinking skills. With the option to get an MTS degree online, students can now conveniently immerse themselves into theology and propel their career forward.

What can you do with a theology degree?

Before a student decides whether or not an online MTS degree is right for them, they should first understand what a theology degree means.

While religious studies typically examine many religions from a sociological or historical standpoint, theology studies involve learning about a religion’s history, traditions and viewpoints from within that specific religion’s perspective. While religious studies provide more of an external perspective, theology studies use an internal perspective.

Theology Degree MTS MTA
The Church of St. Catherine is a Catholic church and Franciscan monastery connected to the mostly Orthodox Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Careers for a Theology Degree

Many students earn a theology degree with the intent to work for a church. An MTS is an ideal degree for those interested in working in ministry. A Master of Arts (MA) in Theology is often a better fit for individuals interested in teaching theology in a classroom setting. This degree also helps prepare students to enter into a Ph.D. program in theology. With a Ph.D. in theology, individuals can devote their career to researching and teaching theology at a higher education level.

Catholic Theologian

Online MTS degrees at Catholic universities are ideal for students who know they want to serve the Church as the next generation of catechetical leaders. While there are multiple programs available, it is important for students to research their options and identify which universities will have the best options for them. Some Catholic theology programs even offer the opportunity to study in the home country of the pope — Rome!

Theology Online

Like everything, earning an MTS degree online has its advantages and disadvantages. Weighing the pros against the cons can help students identify if this is the right path for them.

Advantages of an Online MTS Degree

Get the Desired Degree

With only a limited number of universities offering graduate theology degrees, an online option is ideal. This allows an individual to get the most beneficial degree for their career aspirations, rather than having to settle for a different program just because of degree availability.

Learn from Anywhere

The greatest advantage of an online MTS program is the ability to learn from anywhere. Online learning allows one to experience the best programs available without having to uproot their family, find a new job and go through the other many hassles of relocating. Many prospective theology students are already very involved in a church within their community. Therefore, these students prefer online MTS degrees because the programs allow them to stay at their current church.

Pursue at One’s Own Pace

Online MTS programs also allow students to work at their own pace. Rather than having to stick to a strict class schedule, students can work on their own time when it is most convenient for them. This is ideal for students needing to fit school in around work schedules and family obligations.

More Affordable

Online programs also mean better affordability. While online programs typically have lower tuition, they also allow students to save money in many other ways. For example, students don’t have to worry about the cost of commuting or paying living expenses in a new city. Students with children can also avoid paying for childcare costs thanks to online learning.

Become Disciplined

While theology students will learn a lot regardless of if they are doing so online or in a classroom, online theology students will often develop different, stronger skills than their traditional student peers. That’s because online programs require students to become very disciplined. Professors are not there to stay on top of students and outline expectations in person. Instead, students must be attentive, motivate themselves, work independently and practice time management.

Reap the Benefits of Technology

While earning an online degree, students are exposed to a number of technologies. Ultimately, new technology in online instruction makes it possible for students to simulate the in-class experience. Course management programs, like Canvas and Blackboard, help keep the classes organized and allow for disbursement of class materials to students. Class discussions can also take place with these programs via discussion boards. Streaming of audio and video are also common as a way for students to watch recorded lectures from their professors. In some cases, webcams and video chat software, like Skype, may be used to allow live video communication between those in the class.

Prepared for Future

Lastly, the exposure to this technology helps prepare online MTS students for the future. By taking online classes, students become familiar with online learning in a way that can help prepare them to perhaps teach online themselves one day. Online learning used to be a new concept, but it has gained respect in coming years and is likely to become more popular as technology advances. Being familiar with this type of learning can be a great advantage for future job seekers.  

Disadvantages of Online Theology Degree

Disadvantages of Online MTS Degree

Not a Traditional Seminary

Some online MTS students dislike the lack of face-to-face interaction. Whereas a traditional seminary would allow for in-person interaction, online learning may make it harder to form friendships and discuss theology with peers. That being said, online learning can still lead to lifelong friendship, mentorship, collaboration and discussion. Some students may even communicate with other students more when in an online setting, because professors often employ discussion boards in online classes.

Lack of Some Resources

Finally, taking classes online does make it harder to reap some of the benefits of the college experience. Online students are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities and may have a harder time getting access to all the resources in their university’s library. Fortunately, online library databases offer most necessary resources.


While some students prefer a traditional classroom setting, online degrees are becoming the most popular form of seminary education. Once a prospective student believes an online MTS degree is the right option, he or she should begin the application process. It’s also important to point out that people do not have to be religious to take interest in religion. People of all spiritual backgrounds can explore the philosophical and theological workings of religion, as well as their own spirituality, with a degree in theology.

The Nth Degree

Is an online magazine created by Newman University to provide valuable content to all students bound for undergraduate and graduate college.