Free Online Theology & Religious Education Courses

University of California – Irvine

Free theology courses can be found at the University of California – Irvine through a program called UCI Open. UCI Open has numerous course offerings above and beyond religious studies courses on many different topics. UCI is not a religious university, rather it approaches religion from an anthropological standpoint.

  • Anthropology 135A: Religion & Social Order – This course focuses on the role of religion in society. Through a series of PowerPoint presentations, students examine how religion has impacted society through art, politics, and popular culture. The program explores topics as diverse as the Salem witchcraft trials and UFO sightings, in addition to how the Protestant faith affected America's development as a country. No textbook is cited as a requirement, and links to related websites and articles are provided.

University of Notre Dame

Begin your free online theological education at the University of Notre Dame. The university's courses look at the relationship between God and humankind from a Catholic viewpoint.

  • Jesus in Scripture and Tradition – This course explores the book of Genesis, the Gospels, and the works of early Christian writers to understand the relationship between the people of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the church.
  • Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam – Investigate the central Islamic text, its relationship to the Bible, the historical context in which it was written, the various interpretations of the text, and its role in the practices and traditions of Muslims today.

Utah State University

Taking religious education courses online can start at Utah State University. The school first started offering free online courses in 2013 and has students participate from all over the world. Utah State is not a religious university, so its course offerings are not specifically Christian in nature.

  • Anthropology of Religion – This is a bachelor's level class designed for those interested in exploring the concept of religion as a cultural phenomenon. Students can access video lectures, lecture notes, quizzes, visual aids, and a list of additional resources. The syllabus names a general textbook, which students can purchase online. Course materials cover the rituals, language, symbols, and myths of religion, along with religion's place in society, its organizational structure, and adaptability in the face of change. Though credit isn't offered for completion of USU OpenCourseWare classes, students may be able to earn credit for knowledge acquired through a departmental examination, which could contribute to a religion degree online.

Yale University

Both of the following Open Yale courses include video lectures and handouts that can be downloaded separately or together as a zip file. The file provides links to course pages and video lectures. Yale's courses are not taught from the viewpoint of a specific religion, but rather incorporate aspects of religion, history, and literature into each lesson.

  • Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature – This course looks at the scriptures, both as a chronicle of ancient Israel and as a foundation for Western ideas.
  • Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) – This class gives students the chance to examine these books as literature and historical records.

The Gospel Coalition

The Gospel Coalition is not a university, but it does have a wide selection of free courses specifically from a Christian perspective, including but not limited to the following topics:

  • The Protestant Reformation – A course exploring the historical and spiritual aspect of this event from several different countries.
  • The New Testament – Each book of the New Testament has its own course, as do all of the books in the Old Testament.
  • Corporate Worship and Urban Ministry – These are two modern sets of courses exploring contemporary Christianity.

Dallas Theological Seminary

The Dallas Theological Seminary is an accredited institution that offers degree programs. In addition, it also has a variety of Christian theological courses that you can take online at no cost. These include:

  • Thessalonians – This is a five-week course that will introduce you to a specific part of the New Testament. Information is delivered through video and text lectures.
  • Understanding God's Covenants – Exploring a number of specific parts of the Bible, this course helps students to deepen their relationship to their Christian faith.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Even if you can't yet get a free doctorate degree in theology online, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is a great place to start on your theological education. Like the Dallas Theological Seminary, the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary offers many online courses at no cost.

  • A Biblical View of Wealth and Poverty – A course that includes thirty lecture videos walking students through ethical questions of wealth and poverty from a Christian biblical perspective.
  • Evangelism in the Local Church – This is a 19-lecture course about strategies for proselytizing for those who belong to evangelical Christian churches.