Bible colleges and seminary educations are notoriously expensive, with the average cost running to tens of thousands of dollars. This expense creates a barrier for anyone seeking to learn more about the Bible.
Fortunately (post-Covid), many reputable universities and colleges offer access to courses with certificates. These courses can provide you with a comprehensive education in biblical studies without the financial burden.
Taught by highly credentialed Bible scholars, these online courses will provide you with a world-class Bible education without leaving your home or spending a lot of money.
And, if you are self-motivated and disciplined, an online course can be just as effective as attending college.
But, with so many Bible courses to choose from, where can you find the best free options?
This guide can help you:
Discover some of the best online bible study courses.
Evaluate the benefits of taking a bible course with a certificate.
Reveal any hidden costs or additional fees.
Benefits of a bible study course certificate
If you have a sincere interest in studying the Bible, there are many benefits to be had in completing a bible study course at home:
A free online bible course is a great way to learn about the Bible. It’s more convenient than attending a physical class and allows you to study at your own pace.
You gain a deeper insight into the Bible’s many themes, improve your daily bible study, and grow your relationship with God.
A free course from an online bible college can provide you with your first step into a pastoral role or a career in ministry.
You’ll connect with other adults worldwide, sharing what you’re learning in forums and online discussion groups.
Your increased biblical knowledge will make you a far more convincing apologist and evangelist.
Completing coursework and passing exams will allow you to earn extra credits. Some bible colleges let you transfer credits onto other study programs and degree courses. You can use these to progress your academic career.
Facts to consider when choosing online bible courses
When looking for an online Bible study course, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
First, consider what your goals are in taking the course. Are you looking to deepen your understanding of the Bible? Grow closer to God? Or simply learn more about Christianity?
Ensure you research your options before enrolling in a Bible study program. Read the accreditation documents carefully. Ensure the course is legitimate and that the area of study is one in which you are genuinely interested.
Consider your time commitments and how you plan to fit studying around your family, work, and social life.
Online study can be challenging and time-consuming. Ensure you have the self-discipline and time management skills to succeed.
Check out the handy tips and links at the end of this article for more ideas. :)
How we selected the best Bible courses
When writing this article, we found dozens of online bible programs to choose from— so determining which ones to recommend was difficult.
We investigated Bible colleges, universities, and online learning providers, evaluating their courses for the following properties:
The depth and usefulness of their curriculums.
Their faithfulness to common Christian values.
Their teaching methods and learning materials.
The quality of their professors and instructors.
Their fees (where applicable.)
Whether they offered a certificate at the end of the course.
Based on these criteria, we then chose the 10 best online bible courses you can take at home.
3 of the 10 courses we chose do not offer a certificate. However, after careful consideration, we decided to include these over others because of the sheer excellence of the syllabus material they offered.
We focussed on providers whose output can significantly impact your bible study and offer a genuinely high-quality educational experience.
So, if you’re ready to start, let’s look at the ten best free bible courses on the web!
Top 10 best free online Bible study courses online
1. A Journey through Western Christianity: from Persecuted Faith to Global Religion (200 - 1650)
Skill level: Beginner
Offered by: Yale Divinity School (via Coursera.)
This comprehensive free course from Yale University will guide you through the history of Western Christianity. From early persecution under the Roman Empire to its third-century global expansion.
You explore the timeless words of St Augustine, the artistry of the Celtic monks who created the illuminated Book of Kells, and the poetry of St. John of the Cross.
You’ll witness the fierce battles of the crusades, encounter the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the mystic visions of Brigit of Sweden, and follow the Jesuit missions to Brazil and China.
Eventually, you’ll witness the fracturing of Christianity by the Protestant Reformation and the protest of Martin Luther.
Finally, you’ll complete your journey by tracing the formation of the modern Catholic Church.
Certificate offered: A certificate is available for purchase for $49.
2. The Essentials of the New Testament
Duration: 10 hours
Skill level: Beginner
Offered by: Denver Seminary (via Biblical Training.org)
This introductory course will introduce you to a renowned professor, author, and Biblical scholar, Dr. Craig Blomberg. It will provide a foundation program designed to increase your biblical knowledge and equip you with a comprehensive and harmonistic introduction to the background of the New Testament.
You will explore the relationship between first-century Jews and Gentiles and the influences of the Greek and Roman Empires on the era’s social and political landscape.
The course will unpack the canon and text of the New Testament and demonstrate similarities and differences in the four Gospels.
The second half of the course will summarize the Book of Acts and discuss the major themes in the writings of the Apostles Paul, James, and Peter.
The course will conclude with a discussion of the apocalyptic book of Revelations.
Certificate offered: No. But the, the course does provide a seminary-level introduction to the New Testament, delivered by one of the world’s foremost biblical scholars.
3. The Apostles Creed
Offered by: Third Mill Institute.
Skill level: Intermediate
You will study the Apostles Creed as a summation of the common articles of faith affirmed by all believing Christians.
Using a combination of video, audio, written projects, essays, journaling, and optional reading, you will build knowledge in the following areas:
The distinctive qualities of God the Father. His role as the Maker and Creator.
The divinity of Jesus Christ. His humanity and relationship to the other members of the Holy Trinity.
The nature and personhood of the Holy Spirit.
The church’s divine sanction.
The nature and meaning of salvation.
The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the nature of everlasting life.
Using various visual and written media, you will confirm your knowledge using chapter-based quizzes and a cumulative test at the end of each module.
Supplementary reading material is available, and by studying this, you can earn extra credits.
Certificate offered: Yes. If you have completed the requirements, you may print out a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
4. New Testament Survey
Duration: 180 days to complete.
Offered by: Christian Leaders Institute (CLI)
Skill level: Beginner
The college offers a comprehensive catalog of free courses, certificates, diplomas, degrees, and Minister credentials. To begin the New Testament course, you must complete a brief module introducing CLI basics.
The course is designed to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the structure of the Bible. As such, you’ll read the entire New Testament, studying various material as you do so in the form of audio, video, and article resources.
You’ll trace the development of the gospel, learning about the historical and cultural context that formed it.
You’ll study the Middle East at the time of Christ, the missionary work of the Apostle Paul, exploring his inner circle, and his time in a Roman prison.
You’ll finish with a detailed look at the book of Revelation.
Certificate offered: Yes. You can earn credits towards certificate and diploma awards. You can purchase an award of completion after the course.
5. The Hebrew Scriptures
Offered by: The All Nations Biblical Study Center School
Among the 25 free courses offered by the All Nations Bible School is a detailed program of study focused on the 39 books that make up the Hebrew Scriptures, referred to in Hebrew as the Tanakh.
This program will give you a general survey of all 39 books on The Law (Torah), the Hebrew prophets, and wisdom literature.
You will follow the people of Israel’s journey from the Promised Land’s conquest until their return as exiles from Babylon. The history, literature, and traced events will give a proper historical context and setting.
The course will teach you about the foundational role of the Torah in Judaism and its place in the teachings of Jesus.
Certificate offered: Yes. You can purchase certificates for $25 on completion of the course.
6. The Master Series
Offered by: World Bible School
Skill Level: Beginner
The World Bible School (WBS) offers a series of modular courses called ‘The Master Series’ designed to lead new Christians through a complete presentation of the Christian faith.
Using chapter-based reading and your written responses, the WBS employs chapter-style quizzes to reinforce your learning after each section.
Learning is self-paced, and the school assigns you a ‘study helper’ to answer any questions you may have as you progress through the material.
Some of the topics addressed are:
The nature and purpose of the Bible.
The promises of God.
God and nature.
The role of the prophets.
Jesus in prophecy.
The Family of God.
Certificate offered: Yes. A downloadable PDF certificate is provided to the student after each section.
7. The Story of Scripture
Duration: 13 weeks
Offered by: Dallas Theological Seminary
Skill level: Intermediate
This 13-week prestigious Dallas Theological Seminary course offers a big-picture overview of the Bible’s master narrative and most significant themes.
You’ll learn about the Bible’s structure, how the English language impacts our understanding of it, and what the focal point of every verse it contains.
Your study will focus on the creation narrative found in Genesis. The Mosaic Covenant, Pentateuch, and the Covenant Kingship, especially the Davidic Covenant.
As a result, you will emerge with an aerial overview of scripture that will aid you in developing a far more profound understanding of the deeply connected story in the Bible’s many pages.
Certificate offered: Yes. A certificate of completion can be downloaded when you finish the course.
8. Theology & Culture
Duration: Self-paced course in 14 parts
Offered by: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Skill level: Intermediate
This 14-module self-paced course provides a seminary-level exploration of Theology and Culture.
It explores the intersections of theology and culture and focuses on the spheres of business, art, sports, and politics.
Suitable for all but especially relevant to those engaged in pastoral ministry, this course aims to challenge you to consider God’s relationship to culture.
A range of multimedia material is offered, including video lectures, discussion forums, and structured reading assignments.
The course aims to guide you in developing your thinking about you should interact with culture and transform it in ways that are pleasing to God.
Certificate offered: No. The course offers a seminary-level presentation relevant to youth ministers, pastors, and anyone engaged at the intersection of ministry and culture.
9. Making Biblical Decisions
Duration: Self-paced course in 10 parts
Offered by: Third Mill Institute
Skill level: Advanced
The course is led by author, seminary professor, and Christian philosopher Dr. John Frame. Its focus is on Christian morality and understanding biblical and theological principles that should guide ethical decision-making.
During the course, you will study the Bible's system of ethics and evaluate how to implement them using biblical solutions. The course will examine how social ethics align with God and His Word and what scripture says about how people should behave.
Learning material will consist of ten video lectures alongside additional audio and supplementary reading. You’ll complete study guides, questionnaires, and online quizzes and use journaling and optional extra material.
Certificate offered: A pass mark of 70% is required to complete the course and receive the certificate.
10. A Guide to Bible Study Methods
Duration: 5 hours
Offered by: Bethel Seminary (via Biblical Training.org)
Skill level: Intermediate.
This course will guide you in the practical steps required to become an excellent Bible student. Helping you develop the skills needed to determine the meaning of a bible passage and apply the text to your life.
Hermeneutics, (the rules of biblical interpretation) are clearly explained, and the methods and practices of bible study are outlined.
You will learn how to determine the meaning of a passage in its original context. To identify the genre of the book, get an aerial view of its thematic structure, develop a thesis to explain its intent and meaning, and consult secondary sources to verify and supplement your ideas.
Finally, the course will show you how to analyze the syntax, key terms, and themes.
Certificate offered: No. Paid certificate programs are available on the site. We included this course because of its overall educational value.
Study tips for biblical learning at home
1. Make a study plan.
Sit down at the beginning of each week and map out what you need to accomplish. Seeing everything laid out will help you stay focused and on track.
2. Find a quiet place to study.
Whether it's a corner in the library or a spot in your room, it's crucial to find a place where you can focus and get away from distractions. Remember, you can study from anywhere. You don’t have to stay in one location all the time.
3. Eliminate distractions.
Turn off your phone, log out of social media, and close any tabs that might tempt you to procrastinate.
4. Take breaks.
Take breaks now and then. Get up, walk around, grab a snack, or chat with a friend for a few minutes.
5. Be willing to ask for help & persevere.
If you're struggling with a concept, don't hesitate to contact a friend or teacher for help.
Distance learning isn’t always easy. So stay engaged in your studies. Reward your successes, and don’t give up!
So there you have it! We hope that you have found this guide helpful. If you’ve enjoyed it, please share it with others. We wish you all the best as you grow in your faith and begin your journey into biblical studies! May God bless you!
If you are interested in starting an online Bible class, here is a blog about how to host a virtual bible class on Zoom.
Bible Study Tools
Useful Study Tools