British degrees fall under strict quality assurance criteria and are internationally recognised and accepted. By law, all degrees are awarded by State-recognised universities and private schools and colleges must be in a formal partnership with a university to offer their own degree programmes. See our accreditation page for details of how KEDS meets these strict criteria.
British vs American Credit Systems
British credits differ from North American college credits. Broadly speaking, 4 UK credits equal 1 US credit. Therefore, a British degree in Theology which consists of 360 UK credits is equivalent to 90-100 US credits, while a Master of Arts (Theology) degree of 180 UK credits equates to 45 US credits.
Because so many US students now study in Europe as part of their degree, formulas for translating European credits and grades into their US college credit and GPA equivalents are now widespread in colleges and universities across North America.
Difference Between UK and US Theology Degrees
In the US Bible colleges tend to offer a Bachelor degree focusing on practical training and basic theology, unlike a British BTh which serves as a first degree in Theology pitched at seminary level and including a research element.
Moreover, US Bachelor degrees include general education requirements, whereas all the modules of a British BTh are theology-related.
Finally, in the UK a BTh serves as the necessary entrance requirement to do an MA in Theology, much like the American Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree is a prerequisite to study for an MA Theology or ThM degree in the US. These features of the BTh, together with a focus on specific knowledge and skills, are such that a British BTh is closer in scope and nature to an American MDiv (see further discussion below).
Concerning postgraduate programmes, the research element of British Masters degrees in theology is comparable with US graduate degrees which also focus strongly upon a strong research element (eg the ThM degree). UK students are usually only permitted to enrol on an MA in theology if they already have a first degree in the subject.
Thus, the progression from BTh to MA (Theology) broadly echoes that of progression in the US from the MDiv to ThM.
Emphasis of a UK Education
Both the North American and British university systems are quite different in their aims across the entire range of degrees. For example, the US strongly emphasises wide education and knowledge-driven objectives, including at the PhD level which contains a substantial taught element.
The British system, however, focuses much more upon subject specialism and skills, evident in the strong research elements of both Bachelor and Master degrees, while British PhD degrees usually consist of pure research with no taught element.
Both systems yield distinct advantages and benefits, and as such command wide international respect. Therefore, choosing where to study ultimately depends on which system yields the specific aims and skills an applicant seeks. The British Higher Education system is most suited to those seeking a strong emphasis on independent research, evidence of the development of analytical and evaluative skills, and subject specialism.
More generally, studying abroad provides graduates with a range of skills and experiences that help set them apart in a range of scenarios, for example, prospective employment, postgraduate studies, or teaching opportunities.
Comparing European and US Credit Systems
Over time the European Higher Education Area has developed the Bologna Process to help standardise comparison of Higher Education programmes across the EU. An important tool in this process is the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) to quantify studies across EU HEIs.
In short, 60 ECTS equate to one full-time year of undergraduate study typically consisting of 1500-1800 hours of work, making a standard three-year degree 180 ECTS.
British institutions utilise a different credit system where 2 UK credits = 1 ECTS credit, so that one year of full-time study is 120 UK credits, or 60 ECTS credits, while a degree is 360 credits (equivalent to 180 ECTS credits).
One ECTS credit is widely recognised in the US as 0.5 US credits (eg see here). Thus, a British undergraduate degree (including the KEDS BTh programme) consists of 360 UK credits = 180 ECTS credits = 90-100 U.S. credits.
The ECTS scheme also provides a means widely used across American Higher Education to translate European grades to a US GPA equivalent.
UK BTh as Equivalent to a US MDiv
In terms of aims, nature and scope, a British Bachelor of Theology (BTh) degree is far closer to the MDiv than a Bachelor degree in the US.
Like the MDiv a British BTh is a first professional or vocational degree specialising in Theology and therefore suitable for prospective ordinands. The BTh is also a subject specialist qualification which focuses strongly on fostering the knowledge, understanding, analytical and evaluative skills commonly associated with a seminary-level theological education in North America.
Neither does the BTh include the more general education requirements common in US Bachelor programmes; rather the entire BTh degree focuses on theology, while the work involved and amount of credits for the MDiv (72-106) and BTh (90-100) are similar. Important, too, is a focus on research and flexibility, so that. BTh students write more research essays than in the typical US Bachelor degree.
Different Master’s Levels
In North America Master's degrees in theology are often pitched at different levels. So typically an MA in theology is higher than the MDiv, while the ThM is a more advanced version of the MA, with a stronger focus on research and typically taken by someone already holding an MDiv.
However, British Master's degrees generally do not have this distinction (the exception being the MPhil degree and its equivalents (eg an MLitt), which are qualifications based on pure research without class attendance requirements.
The KEDS MA, then, compares more with the US MA or ThM degrees and follows a typical British postgraduate format consisting of both two-thirds taught (120 UK credits, approx. 30 US credits) and one-third research/thesis (60 UK credits, 15 US credits). Total 180 UK credits (45 US credits).
Check Your Institution’s Requirements
Please note all the above material is provided for general guidance purposes. Although British degrees are widely accepted and respected globally, if you plan to use a qualification as an entrance qualification for ordination or a particular postgraduate programme, you should determine the suitability of qualifications with the relevant institution beforehand.
This page sets out fees for KEDS degree courses. Fees for the Knowing Your Bible and Jewish-Christian Studies programmes are detailed on those course pages.
Compared with most other UK theology degrees, our BTh fees offer outstanding value at under 5,000 GBP per year full-time (pro rata part-time). Our MA programme also represents excellent value and is competitively-priced among UK postgraduate degrees in theology.
Moreover, studying online saves on the additional costs of attending a traditional course at a university or college, such as accommodation and maintenance fees.
Download our 2022-23 fee sheet and notes for further details about paying fees.
KEDS Director of Studies Dr Stephen Vantassel explores the practical benefits of a theological education in a short but useful essay that ought to be read by anyone considering enrolling on a Bible college or seminary programme. This article is used with kind permission and was originally entitled The Benefits of a Bible College Education.
While teaching at a Bible School here in the United States, I had the opportunity to talk to a discouraged student. The student was questioning the value of being in Bible School "doing nothing". He opined about how he could be out working for God in evangelism rather than spending time in a classroom.
I responded by asking if it would be better for a farmer to plant seeds by hand or to spend some time in school learning how to plant crops by machine? The answer is obvious but he didn't seem to really believe that my story had any real relation to his dilemma. I continued by stating that Bible college isn't a waste of time because it will make you an even more effective tool in the service of Christ.
This article is a further explanation of my original point. Bible College training improves the effectiveness of ministers in a number of ways.
First, Bible College consumes time. It may sound stupid, but just the fact that the individual is a few years older before working in the ministry can greatly improve his/her ministry's impact. For with time, comes experience and with experience comes wisdom. It should also go without saying that sometimes people discover during their study time that they lack the needed gifts for full time ministry. Think of how much wasted time is saved both for the individual and the potential church, if the person found out that pastoring wasn't for him/her before taking the pulpit.
Second, Bible College engrosses the student in the study of God's word and Christian Theology. The Bible College experience exposes the student to ideas and insights that he/she were heretofore unaware. Bible College forces the student to develop his/her own positions on controversial issues like baptism, suffering etc. before that person is confronted with those dilemmas in the Church. However, Bible School also strengthens the faith and commitment of the student by showing how and why Christians believe in ways different than others around them. In short, the Bible School student will know why he/she believes and why he/she doesn't believe.
Third, Bible College improves the student on the social level because it brings him/her in contact with people he/she would otherwise probably never meet. In the church setting, a Presbyterian would probably never have a long relationship with an Anglican. Not because of animosity per se, but because they reside in different religious communities. Bible School changes all that by bringing Christians from different denominations and sitting them beside each other in class. This setting forces students to not only wrestle in the realm of ideas and beliefs but to face the meaning of loving fellow Christians even while they may be debating a point in theology. Arguing abstract ideas is one thing but arguing with someone who loves Christ but differs from you puts a whole new perspective on it.
Bible School offers benefits to those interested in lay ministry also. Bible School can develop students into more well rounded believers. Many non-ministerial students enter Bible School training because they are seeking how to integrate their faith in Christ into their work place. They want to learn how an understanding of Sin, Repentance and Salvation impact their roles as professional counselors, teachers, even public officials.
Others attend Bible College out of a desire to just learn more about the Bible. We must remember that (regrettably), the modern Church doesn't teach its members as systematically as it once did. In earlier times, new Christians underwent a thorough catechism where the great doctrines of the Church were impressed upon the young converts. Bible College today, fills that need that many Christians have. The benefit for the Church is the creation of highly skilled lay people who can assist the pastor in teaching, counseling and ministering to the Body.
Finally, Bible Colleges teaches her students how to learn. Bible School can't do everything or teach everything there is to know about theology, Scripture and Church History. But Bible School does provide the student with the skills on how to delve more deeply into areas previously unknown to the student. Bible School isn't the end of a students education. It is the launching pad from where the student can be directed to achieve new heights of personal, social and Spiritual development.
So who should consider coming to Bible School? Anyone who has a desire or need to learn more about the Christian Faith. Why should they consider Bible School? They should consider attending because they seek to better fulfill the commands of Christ and expand His Kingdom over their own lives and the lives of others.
Copyright Stephen Vantassel. Used with permission.