by Anthony 

August 8, 2019

Few subjects have influenced the western world as much as Christianity. The Bible continues to be the most read book in the world, and its teachings inform our judicial systems, our culture and our beliefs. To study Christianity is to learn about God, Jesus, the Roman Empire, the history and geography of the Middle East, and the teachings of the Bible. It is little wonder why people are interested in learning more about Christianity.


Whether you just have a casual interest, or you're considering Theology college, there are plenty of opportunities online to dip your toe into the study of Christianity. In this article, we'll look at seven online, self-study courses to improve your understanding. These courses will give you an idea of what to expect if you wish to take your studies further. 

Courses offered through Udemy, Coursera and EdX are accessible via the Internet or mobile app.

At the end of this article, we'll also consider what type of careers you can achieve from studying Christianity and what you can expect to earn. Use the table of contents below to navigate the article.

As with studying any subject, the information provided in a course is only as credible as the person teaching it. Many people purport to be knowledgeable. If you find a course online that interests you, always take a moment to review the credentials of the tutor, especially if it costs money. All the courses in this article are taught by instructors who are top of their field.

Recommended Courses

This course is taught by Harvard professor Karen L. King and Harvard doctoral student Sarah Griffiths. It is a single subject taken from a more extensive EdX/Harvard program entitled 'World Religions Through Their Scriptures', which covers a variety of religions. 

Christianity Through Its Scriptures focuses on the scriptures as told in the Bible. Modern Christianity covers a diverse range of people and denominations, and yet all Christians share a common belief in one book, the Bible.

This course looks at the meaning behind these scriptures and how they have guided Christian beliefs and principles. It also looks at how different Christian churches have perceived different meanings from the Bible.

Students will question whether Christians interpretation of the scriptures has changed over time and through the spread of Christianity throughout the world.

The course will discuss what the scriptures teach us about contemporary world issues, such as other religions, diversity, suffering and violence.

Level - Introductory

Cost - Free for 4 weeks access. Alternatively, you can pay $49 to receive a certificate of completion, have assignments graded and access the course material after the 4 weeks.

Duration - Self-Study 4 Weeks (see Cost), assuming 5 to 10 hours a week study time. This course is offered via enrolment throughout the year.

This course is included to highlight alternative career opportunities open to students of Christianity.

The course teaches how archaeological findings from ancient Israel and Judah can help us to understand the stories of the Bible better. You'll learn how findings from archaeology give us a better idea of how people lived during the time of the Bible. What day-to-day life was like, the ceremonies they observed and the rituals they practised.

The course includes video footage from archaeological sites. Interviews with researchers, illustrative images and 3D recreations of artefacts from the time.

The instructor, Aren Maeir, is considered one of the foremost archaeologist in Israel, having contributed to over 200 books and articles on archaeology. Maeir is a professor of archaeology at Bar-Ilan University (Ramat-Gan, Israel). 

Level - Introductory

Cost - Free or $49 (certificate of completion, have assignments graded and access the course material after the 4 weeks) 

Duration - Self-Paced

A Journey through Western Christianity: from Persecuted Faith to Global Religion (200 - 1650), is provided by Yale University through the Coursera learning platform. There is no time limit on access to the course, which is estimated to take 6-7 weeks to complete, assuming 5 hours per week to study. 

This is a no-holds-barred journey through Christian history, from its early beginnings under the Roman Empire through the medieval period up to the religious wars, known as the Crusades. It is a true reflection of how the spread of Christianity was both violent and often conflicted with its faith.

You'll learn how Christianity fractured and reformed into opposing denominations - Catholicism, Protestantism and the Orthodox Church.  In contrast, lessons also cover how Christianity created art and architecture to be appreciated by everyone. This course is a truly epic adventure; an educational blockbuster!

The course has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 based on 224 students. One student wrote:

I have enjoyed Professor Gordon's class so much and could repeat it several times and still not absorb the vast amount of information that he has spent so many hours sharing with us. Loved it!

Thank you Dr. Gordon, Nazanin and Max, for your time and talent.

Level - Introductory

Cost - Free or $50 with a certificate of completion

Duration - Self Paced

I include the or 'Our Daily Bread University' for its extensive list of free courses on a variety of Christian themes and topics. There are lessons for all levels of ability and knowledge. All the classes are prepared by academic Theologians.

Each course includes a downloadable study guide, video and audio content. The website as a whole is a useful, free resource for practising Christians. There is a paid premium option for each class, which includes a certificate upon completion, marked assignments and progress reports.

Level - Introductory

Cost - Free

Duration - Varies depending on the course

#5 - Simply Jesus - Udemy

This course is useful for those interested in a biographical look at Jesus as a person during the 1st century AD. We learn about Jesus on a human level, through the eyes of a historian rather than the viewing him solely as a religious figure. You'll learn what it was like for Jesus to live in that time under Roman rule.

The course is primarily taught by Professor N. T. Wright, who has extensive knowledge of Christianity and Theology. Prof. Wright has written a book by the same title, and the course is designed to accompany the text. Each module of the course corresponding to a chapter of the book.

If you want to learn about a defining period in history and the man at the centre of Christianity, this is a good introduction. 2500 students have taken this course and given it an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. One student wrote:

N. T. Wright's insights into the way the scriptures relate to Jesus are fascinating. I was introduced to many new ways to think about old familiar scriptures.

Level - Introductory

Cost - Udemy courses are often heavily discounted. If a course you're interested in is not on sale, it likely will be in the future. 

Duration - Self Paced

If you are considering becoming a minister and have a yearning to see the world, then this course may interest you. How To Start A Successful Minister provides an overview to becoming a pastor, minister or part of the clergy.

You'll learn the skills needed to become a successful minister; different ways in which to provide advice, support and help. Lessons include how to write and deliver sermons and organising meetings. You'll also learn about various career opportunities open to students of theology. 

Just be wary that this course is simply an overview and not designed to replace proper academic study at a Theology college. The 2.5 hours of video tutorials that will give you a start in the right direction. 

The course is taught by two travelling ministers, with over 30 years of experience of ministry work, all over the world.

450 Students have enrolled in the course giving it an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.

With all the eye opening discussions and what to expect on the journey, I feel more prepared, well informed and empowered to pursue the fulfilment of my ministry. Thanks for this wonderful course

Level - Introductory

Cost - Udemy courses are often heavily discounted. If a course you're interested in is not on sale, it likely will be in the future. 

Duration - Self Paced

Out final course in this list is 15 Essential Biblical Texts. It is the second course I've listed by Professor N.T. Wright.

In these lessons, Prof Wright looks at 15 themes from the Bible. These insights are as relevant today as they were when first written. This course is perfect for anyone wishing to learn more about the Bible. It is also a source of inspiration and guidance.

The course is split into 7 separate modules, totalling 5 hours of video and 24 written articles to download and read at your leisure. As with all Udemy courses, you have lifetime access to the classes, allowing you to revisit the material as often as you wish.

The courses includes questions and answer sections and entertaining quizzes to reinforce your learning. 

1300 Students have enrolled in the course giving it an average rating of 4.7 out of 5.

This course is exceeding my expectations! It is refreshing to hear the complexity of God's Kingdom explained in a way that is understandable. I have been a Follower of Jesus for about 50 years and I feel like I am seeing God's Plan anew! Thanks!

Level - Introductory

Cost - Udemy courses are often heavily discounted. If a course you're interested in is not on sale, it likely will be in the future. 

Duration - Self Paced

Possible Careers

The most obvious career for someone interested in studying Christianity is to become a Pastor or Minister of the Church. Anyone considering a career as a Pastor should start by attaining a bachelor's degree in Theology or Divinity from a recognised Christian college or University. Several universities in the US offer such degree programs.

There are, however, many alternative career paths to someone who has studied Theology or Christianity. A student of Theology or Christianity will likely be someone that enjoys helping others through teaching and providing guidance.

Students can go on to become Teachers, Counsellors and Social Workers. There is also the historical aspect of studying religion. Careers as Historians, Museum Creators and Archaeologists are all open to students with an interest in religion.

Income - People who choose to become Pastors or ministers of the Church do not tend to be motivated by money. Salaries can vary greatly, usually dependent on the size of the congregation. Ministers of so-called 'mega-churches' with over 5,000 members, can often earn more than $100,000 a year.

However, this is far from the norm. In the main, the average salary of a Pastor is $50,000. Pastors may also be provided with a home for the duration of their term and additional allowances for other expenses.

I'd love to know what you think. Have you found a great course that is not listed here? Are you planning on studying Christianity?

Leave a comment and let me know! 

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