If you have been called to any high-level role in Christian leadership, and certainly if you plan to lead from the front as a church pastor, then you already know that there are number of major legs that are part of that journey. And chances are, if you’ve come to this resource, you are preparing for one of the most significant steps in that process: earning your Master of Divinity (MDiv) from a college recognized by your denomination.
An MDiv isn’t the only graduate degree that church pastors and other Christian leaders hold, but in many ways it is the most complete scriptural and pastoral training you can receive. This fact places the MDiv among the most widely recognized and respected ways to prepare for a career in ministry. As a comprehensive course of graduate study lasting as many as four years, it’s also among the most expensive Christian graduate degrees.
All MDiv programs are offered through private Christian Universities. This provides the assurance that you will receive a first-rate Christ-centered education. That kind of preparation comes with a significant cost. According to 2020 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition and fees at a private university in the United States rings in at $26,500 per year.
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With most MDiv programs lasting between three and four years of full-time study, you are easily looking at six-figures to earn that important qualification.
You already know that God will provide everything you need to fulfill your calling. But that doesn’t change the fact that the responsibility falls to you to make prudent and wise decisions as you follow that path.
With our comprehensive, state-by-state analysis of the most affordable Master of Divinity degrees, we give you the tools to make well-informed decisions about how you spend your tuition dollars.
How We Identified the Most Affordable Christian Universities Offering MDiv Programs
We have a simple formula for finding the MDiv programs with the best comparative tuition rates in each state.
First, we start with only fully accredited universities.
We understand the integrity it takes to follow the path to a life in ministry. Looking for the most reasonable tuition rates available must start with a baseline assumption that we are evaluating only high-value MDiv programs that are uncompromising about quality and rigor. Rest assured, those are the only types of programs we even consider in our tuition evaluation.
We only look at Christian universities that have met the rigorous standards it takes to receive a stamp of approval from an institutional accrediting agency sanctioned by CHEA (the Council for Higher Education Accreditation) and the US Department of Education. This type of institutional accreditation is a requirement for any university to be eligible to receive Title IV federal subsidized loans and grants.
Then, we collect detailed tuition data for every MDiv program in the United States offered at an accredited university.
Those tuition details include the per-credit rate and total credits required for the MDiv, which allows us to present a clear picture of the total program cost at each school. Although we include everything from tuition to technology fees to give the real cost of the education you’ll receive, we exclude cost of living expenses, room and board, as well as books and other necessary and discretionary supplies.
Because some schools run on a quarter-system, rather than the more common semester-system, we use a standard conversion (1.5 quarter credits = 1 semester credit) for all quarter-system schools to provide an apple-to-apple cost comparison in each state.
Next, we simply find the average total cost for all accredited MDiv programs in each state.
In the end, it’s the Christian universities offering MDiv programs with total costs below the state average that earn the distinction of being called the “most affordable.” From coast to coast, each one of those MDiv programs is featured right here on this list, conveniently organized by state.
Oh, and you might find a few that sneak in just over the line—if a school’s total tuition costs are closer to the typical cost of the more affordable options but just over the state average, we make an exception to ensure we’re providing you the full breadth of affordable MDiv options in your state.
In all cases, you will find that you can get a high-quality MDiv for considerably less than you might have thought.
Saving You Money Without Compromising the Quality and Rigor of Your MDiv Program
Of course, both your calling and your church may have a lot to say about the Christian university you should attend. No two MDiv programs are exactly alike. They have different concentrations, are taught in different ways, and come in different formats, from online, to hybrid, to traditional.
So, although we are giving you only the most affordable options in the marketplace, we’re also laying out a lot more information for you to help narrow down your choices. For each listing, in addition to the per-credit and total estimated program cost, you’ll find other key points that will be very important in helping you make your final decision:
And we also looked closer at every single program to tease out some of the important factors you might want to weigh in making one of the most important decisions of your life – the key points that may differ from school to school. Every school is unique, and every program has something special to offer that you might not find anywhere else. So we dove in to look for things like:
You’ll find every point that stood out to us about the school when we performed our evaluation - things that make each one a place you might want to consider as another step to fulfilling your unique calling.