Choosing a Biblical Studies Degree That’s Right for You

This article appears in the Stories edition of the Calvin Seminary Forum

Choosing a Biblical Studies Degree That's Right for You

What Is a Biblical Studies Degree?

A degree in biblical studies focuses on the study of God’s Word in the Old and New Testaments. Christian tradition and practice has long drawn from revelation through the Holy Word of God. If you are someone who loves God and wants to know more about God and the world, studying the Bible is a great place to begin. Biblical studies degrees and programs range from certificate- to bachelor’s-, master’s-, and doctorate-level education.

Biblical Studies vs. Theology Degree: What’s the Difference?

The areas of biblical studies and theology are closely connected, intersecting and relying on each other in a variety of ways. However, a biblical studies degree will focus strongly on the Old and New Testament texts, while a theology degree will focus generally on the study of God and His world. Some degrees are identified as biblical studies or theology degrees, while others, like the Master of Divinity (MDiv) at Calvin Theological Seminary, will largely incorporate both areas of study, without focusing on one over the other.

What Can You Do with a Biblical Studies Degree?

A biblical studies degree can lay strong foundations for a variety career paths and opportunities, including:

  • Ministry director: Your biblical studies will ground your ministry and give you scriptures to refer to as you deal with your ministry’s unique opportunities and challenges.
  • Nonprofit leader: Use your understanding of biblical texts to guide your faith-based or general nonprofit through wisdom and Christian love.
  • Pastor: Building upon your biblical degree, consider following one of the paths to ordination in the Christian Reformed Church in America (CRCNA) or another denomination.

Types of Biblical Studies Degrees


Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies

Many undergraduate institutions with Christian affiliations offer bachelor’s degrees either specifically in biblical studies or in related fields, with a focus on the Bible. A bachelor’s degree can prepare students for further education in biblical studies. For example, someone who is a religion major at Calvin University or another Christian university or college may be interested in furthering their biblical studies at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS).
Students of all undergraduate majors are welcome at CTS, and under special circumstances, CTS is permitted to admit students without bachelor’s degrees. Inquire now for more information.

Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies

Master’s programs focused on biblical studies can teach and prepare students for a variety of career paths. If you’re interested in studying the Bible, whether you have done extensive study at an undergraduate level or not, a biblically-based master’s program may be for you.

Master of Arts in Bible and Theology

Are you interested in making new connections as you explore the Bible, systematic theology, and church history? The Master of Arts in Bible and Theology at CTS is designed to deepen your knowledge of the Christian faith alongside your spiritual formation and vocational preparation.
No matter your current level of knowledge of the Bible and theology, this program is designed for you! If you happen to enter the program with extensive biblical or theological knowledge, you may be able to receive credit for past learning. Students are eligible to receive up to six hours of credit through advanced standing testing.

PhD in Biblical Studies

Doctoral level biblical studies programs provide further advanced learning about the biblical texts. Existing master’s and doctorate scholars can continue their study of the Bible through Calvin’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD program at CTS will equip you for teaching and research in theological seminaries and universities, or for advanced church leadership. Specifically, the New Testament concentration of the PhD offers an up-close look at biblical texts.

Certificate in Biblical Studies

Not ready for your master’s or doctorate degree? You can increase your understanding, expand your training, and enhance your ability to serve through one or more of the high-caliber certificate concentrations at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Certificate in Christian Leadership

If biblical studies is your academic path, consider such certificate concentrations as Bible instruction, missional ministry, or discipleship and faith formation.

Online Biblical Studies

There are many resources for people to further their biblical studies education online. CTS is here to help you with your online biblical studies. Some of our degrees and certificates can be completed online. If you are not interested in pursuing a degree or certificate, consider Calvin’s self-guided online classes for lifelong learning.

How to Choose a Degree in Biblical Studies

As you consider your next steps in pursuing biblical studies, you’re invited to:

  • Pray: Seek God and His will for your life, and specifically for your continued study of the Bible. You are also invited to request prayer from friends and family for your seminary decision.
  • Consider your career goals: You may enter your biblical studies with a good idea of your ministry and career goals. Choose a program that will support those goals or one that will help you find your calling through the course of your studies. CTS’ Vocational Formation Office is available to all students to help them find and pursue their calling.
  • Identify your interests: As you consider degree programs and concentrations, look for programs aligned with your interests. Choose programs containing required courses that excite you, as well as engaging electives you can choose from.
  • Determine your optimal learning style: Find a school and a program that offer course delivery options compatible with your lifestyle, whether in-person, online, or hybrid distance learning. Also look for programs with teaching formats that fit your learning style. Some schools may be largely lecture-based, while others rely more heavily on student discussion.
  • Connect with an admissions counselor: Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the waters of seminary options, or you’re nearly ready to enroll, meeting with an admissions counselor can help you navigate your choices. For all of your questions about seminary, connect with a CTS admissions counselor today.

Further Your Study of the Bible at Calvin

If you’re considering pursuing biblical studies at a seminary, download Your Guide to the Seminary Search, a complimentary resource from Calvin Theological Seminary.