Taking Religious Studies to the Next Level
Prisoners who have completed several free Bible studies programs, or who already have a meaningful biblical foundation and desire to further their knowledge of the Bible, should consider taking a fee-based correspondence Bible studies program. At this level of study, meaningful theological discussions start, not just basic biblical readings, reflections, and understandings.
Fee-based Bible studies are at a level similar to vocational courses except they are of a religious nature. One of the challenges for Bible studies is that they fall into a gray area between ministry work and school, between religious and academic.
While any prisoner can enroll in this level of study (which equates to a religious career-level program), those who desire to go into their prison’s ministry should pay special attention to these types of courses. Fee-based Bible studies cost less than a true religious college education and can be completed in a fraction of the time, while still being meaningful and impactful.
If you know an incarcerated student looking to take their religious studies to the next level — and who doesn’t desire the rigor or expense of college-level study — then fee-based Bible studies are a great option.
Factors to Consider
As with trade and vocational courses, you won’t be able to transfer credits to a college but accreditation will assure quality (Some credits could potentially be transferred as electives to a school that offers fee-based Bible studies and college-level studies like Global University or Moody Bible Institute.). Seek a reputable school that offers a college-like study experience at a fraction of the cost and time. Naturally, you can’t obtain a college education or degree from a fee-based Bible school but studying these courses could prepare you for college-level religious studies.
For anyone who wants to learn what the Bible has to teach, who wants to know more about God, or who has thought about becoming a minister, Bible studies provide a rich experience. For many, this is the most deeply satisfying experience during incarceration. It can turn down the volume of chaos in prison life, tune into the channel of God, and open up a greater understanding of yourself. Bible studies can give a direction and an internal compass to a life blowing in the wind. If this path calls to you, open your heart and mind to the joy of God’s message.
Religious studies fulfill an important spiritual need but in the practical, secular world you should document your study. If, for instance, you want to go into the ministry, you can’t just become a minister because you feel the calling. You will need a certificate or diploma from a respected school to certify that you have completed a recognized course of study and passed written and/or oral exams.
Courses at this level tend to be practical and fulfill the requirements of a specific position or particular area of ministry. However, they do not provide as broad an understanding as those in a religious college. They are also much less expensive than a religious college and are faster and easier to complete. Exams do not require a proctor, and the courses emphasize hands-on projects more than pure knowledge.
There are three main factors to consider when choosing a fee-based Bible study program.
- The program should offer a series of courses in line with what the incarcerated student wants to learn about. Unlike college-level studies, accreditation agencies don’t accredit fee-based Bible study programs.
- The program should be Paper-based: The correspondence program should be able to be completed in a paper-based format with authorization for any applicable examinations to be proctored at the prison’s education department.
- The school should align with the incarcerated student’s religious tenets. After all, there are many Christian denominations in the United States and abroad. Luckily, most religious schools – even at the fee-based Bible study level – have a statement of beliefs and will furnish this statement upon request. If an incarcerated student is concerned about the foundational beliefs of the school, they can always review these tenets.
Recommended Fee-Based Bible Study Programs
We are firm believers in incarcerated students furthering their education, spiritual education included. We firmly stand behind the following schools due to their extensive course offerings, long-standing history and tradition of excellence, and high quality of instruction:
Global University provides some courses comparable to the college-level and will give a 20% tuition discount to prisoner-students. A number of Global University certificates and diplomas fulfill various educational requirements in the Assemblies of God Church. Global University also offers several courses in Spanish. If you achieve a grade of 80% or better on a particular course, they will apply that course to elective credit in their college program. Global University awards CEUs for course completion.
Moody Bible Institute is world-renowned and regionally accredited. They offer a number of certificate programs, CEUs, and extensive testing for each course. Their program has two branches: CEU in-depth religious studies and Scofield studies, which are even more advanced. You will undoubtedly find the Moody Bible Institute curriculum challenging and mind-expanding.
Seminary Extension offers many courses leading to a variety of certificates and diplomas, including some in Spanish, at high-school and college levels. Several of their courses might be eligible for college credit.