Bachelor of Theology
The Faculty of Theology consists of seven discipline-based institutes: the Institute of Old Testament Studies, the Institute of New Testament Studies, the Institute of Jewish Studies, the Institute of Historical Theology, the Institute of Systematic Theology, the Institute of Empirical Religious Research, and the Institute for Old Catholic Theology. Old Catholic and Protestant theology shape the degree programs. Approximately 300 students study the broader field of religions, mainly Christianity, here. The study of theology opens an astonishingly broad field and inherently raises questions. If you are interested in critically examining your religion and culture, you are well suited for this choice of degree programs.
Bachelor of Theology, Universität Bern, with special qualification in:
|Number of credits:||180 ECTS credits|
Offer for other degree programs:
|Beginning of studies:||Fall or, with the approval of the responsible study counsellors responsible, also in the spring semester|
Details of Program
The Faculty of Theology relies on discussion and dialogue, interdisciplinary cooperation, and proper mentoring to impart professional theological competencies as well as social and organizational core qualifications to our students. Tried-and-true, as well as new educational methods and practices, shape the groundwork for a wide variety of professional opportunities. Whether in the integrated full-time program of Old Catholic or Protestant theology or a minor course of study, the broad spectrum of topics of study range from creation theology to medical ethics and from Tibetan Buddhism to prison counseling. The Faculty of Theology opens new horizons for our students to engage with existential questions about living in a complex, rapidly changing world. The practical semester is notably goal-oriented for future Reformed and Old Catholic pastors/ministers; it offers a unique chance to learn through intensive participation in and observation and reflection of lived religion.
A study plan model is available in the Course Design Tab or see Study Model Plan.
For the distribution of required classes see The Required Classes Semester Plan.
The goal of this single-subject professional course of study is a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. The program takes 6 semesters to complete and is worth 180 ECTS credits and the study emphasizes either Protestant or Old Catholic theology. The degree program organization is as follows:
Do I have to be religious or pious to study theology?
Christianity is one of the key foundations of Western culture. Thus, everyone who wants to know more can study theology—whether a Christian or not, no problem.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is not merely a book. It is instead a collection of between 60 and 100 writings depending on the edition. The scriptures—written from the perspectives of different historical contexts—can be dated more or less precisely and comprise one book together. As Holy Scripture, this book has and has had an influence that swept through history and has repeatedly been the reason for heated debates. Even in the eleventh-century, books were already being written that pitted the opposing sides of biblical inconsistencies against each other.
Is everything in a theology degree about the Bible?
Yes and no. Although the Christian tradition is at the center of every discipline, we ask our questions in very different ways. The subjects of Old and New Testament are mainly focused on the biblical texts and their contexts. Historical Theology, on the other hand, may take up the question of how the Christian community went from being a persecuted minority to a superior state power or how the Church acted before and during the Second World War. Systematic Theology asks about the relevance of Christian statements in our lives. Dogmatics, for instance, is concerned with Christian truth claims and the diversity of religions. While ethics deals with current issues like abortion, pre-emptive war, and euthanasia. Practical Theology addresses topics including Christian life and practices in the Church and society, things like hospital counseling, church services, and educating the young. Each Semester we offer classes on interdisciplinary subjects: lectures on violence, events about the intersection of depth psychology and biblical interpretation or medicine and ethics, introductory classes on archeology, and much more. Classes in the empirical study of religions and Jewish studies teach exciting insights into other religious worlds.
Is the degree program about scholarship or personal faith?
Theology reflects on faith and life, God, and the world. The Faculty of Theology offers an academic/scholarly degree program. It is about the profound question of what faith is as such, not just personally! That is, what faith is, was and could be. As in other areas of study, different methods are applied to examine the subject. Despite a scholarly approach, one cannot ignore personal faith. Moreover, both influence each other. The study of theology leaves no one by the wayside.
Which strengths are necessary?
Studying theology raises more questions than not. You are suited to your choice of degree programs if you are not afraid to take a critical look at your religion. It requires curiosity and courage to discover new aspects of the Christian tradition and to question your conception of God and humanity.
How about other religions?
Other religions have played a determinative role since biblical times, and since its inception, Christian theology grew through encounters with other religious worlds. Additionally, we now live in a society in which people from different backgrounds live together and truth claims clash. It is, therefore, essential to consider other world religions like, for instance, Judaism. Studying theology opens up possibilities to do so.
Are there more exciting places to study theology?
There are not necessarily more exciting places; they are, perhaps, as exciting or they hold different interest. One specialty in Bern is its emphasis on an ecumenical direction. The Faculty of Theology unifies a Reformed Protestant and an Old Catholic direction under one roof, and the Roman Catholic Faculty of Fribourg is only 20 minutes away by train. There are many connections and our areas of cooperation are growing. Even practical education in Bern is impressive. For example, the core studies students can gain practical experience in social institutions, different companies, and in church communities for a semester. They can examine their questions in praxis and return to the university with new interests. Those who want to study Ancient Judaism or earlier cultures that significantly influenced the Bible (ANEC) can do so in Bern.
If I study theology, do I have to become a pastor/minister?
Many students do take up the pastoral office after they graduate with a degree in theology. Job descriptions show that ministry and other exciting career opportunities are out there for theologians.
Information on examination dates can be found at the faculty examination secretariat website.
A Bachelor of Arts in Theology, University of Bern, requires adequate knowledge of the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin languages:
Verification of previous studies or another certificate with a grade of 4.0 or its equivalent is required. If there is no certification, a student must gain language skills during the bachelor’s degree program. The Faculty offers such language courses. They are electives to the bachelor’s degree program.
Hebrew and Greek
All students, who do not have a certificate from previous studies or a degree, must attend these language courses, and the individual performance evaluations must yield a passing grade. The ECTS points for the Greek and Hebrew language courses apply to the bachelor’s degree.
Students, who prove they have enough knowledge through previous studies or a certificate, can either complete the Faculty’s language course with a grade of ‘pass’ or complete the Faculty’s classes, lectures or repetition classes in the number of said classes according to addendum 1.
Graduates of the Kirchlich-Theologischen Schule (KTS) are required to attend the Faculty’s Greek classes, two reading courses, of altogether 10 ECTS points..
For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.
The Bachelor of Arts in Theology, University of Bern, meets the requirements for admission to Master of Arts in Theology