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Read in the name of the Lord Who created you.” (Quran 96: 1)

Key Takeaways

  • Seeking knowledge in Islam is an act of workship!
  • There are several colleges and universities that offer online Islam studies degree in several subject matters
  • Many of these Islamic institutions offer various degree paths ranging from Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s programs.
  • You may even be able to enroll in one of the classes that you are interested in without being formally enrolling in a degree path.
  • By enlarge, the majority of these institutions offer competitive tuition rates. 
  • Many students tend to take classes while pursuing their day to day career
  • Depending on your goals, gaining a degree from an accredited institution may or may not be important. Accredited institutions tend to cost significantly more. 

Islam is a religion where seeking knowledge is paramount. “To Read” was the first word revealed to the Prophet (SAW) centuries ago. With the right intentions, seeking and pursuing knowledge (both deen and secular education) can be considered as an act of worship. With the digitization of many aspects of our lives, many educational opportunities have become more accessible. Whether you are a newly highschool graduate or a working professional, there is a degree path that suits your needs. We’ve done the research and evaluated 5 Islamic colleges that have online programs in the US. 

The criteria we used to evaluate these programs include, the number of programs they offer, the overall program cost, potential scholarships, and notable graduates/affiliates with these programs. All pricing referenced in this article is based on published US dollar pricing at time of writing. 

Guidance College

Number of Programs:

Accreditation: Not Accredited (but are in the process of seeking accreditation)

Program Cost: $

Scholarships: Yes (mostly need-based scholarships) 

Languages: English 

The facts

  1. Based in Houston, Texas and offer in-person education at their Katy center location
  2. The college was founded by Dr. Main Alqadah
  3. Additionally, they offer a robust set of online programs for those who aren’t able to enroll in the in-person programs.  
  4. Established in 2012 under the name of Al-Huda University (was later renamed to Guidance College)
  5. Programs range includes Associate degree in Islamic Studies, Bachelor’s Degree in Islamic Studies, and Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies, and Master’s Degree in Islamic Economics and Finance
  6. Guidance college offers need-based scholarships. These scholarships have a minimum GPA requirements as well ensuring students are maximizing their educational experience. 
  7. While Guidance College is not currently accredited, they are in the process of requesting accreditation. This is a long journey that can take many years. That said, if you are looking to get a quality Islamic education at an affordable price, Guidance College will be hard to beat. 
  8. Beyond the traditional degree paths, Guidance College offers community based educational programs in an alacarte fashion like their Tajweed made easy course

Their Programs

  • High School Dual Credit ProgramThis program is a unique opportunity for high school students to jump start their college career by taking courses that help satisfy their high school curriculum while getting transferable credit hours for their future college education. The program costs are negligible considering the substantial value the student will receive (religious knowledge, practical research and critical thinking skills)
  • Associate’s Degree in Islamic Studies – This program is a total of 68 credit hours and can take two years to complete if done full-time. The cost per credit hour is $75 and the total cost for this program is approximately $5,000. This program is great for those who are interested in Islamic Studies but are not able to commit the time or funding for the bachelors program. 
  • Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies  – This is a four year program with approximately 132 credit hours with a cost of $75 per credit hour. The total program cost is approximately $9,900. With the quality and rigor of this course work at this price, this degree is definitely compelling. We recommend this program for those who are very serious about Islamic Studies and have not yet completed another bachelor’s program.   
  • Master’s Degree in Islamic Education – This degree can take two paths 1) those who already hold a teaching certificate 2) those who do NOT hold a teaching certificate. For the first path, the program is much shorter since some of the teaching prerequisites won’t be needed. If you have a teaching certificate, you will only need to complete an additional 19 credit hours to satisfy the master’s degree requirements. If you do not have a teaching certificate, the overall program will be approximately 40 credit hours to complete. Depending on the track you take, the program can take approximately 2 years to complete with a cost of $125 per credit. This program is compelling to current or aspiring teachers interested in working for a full time Islamic School. Year over year, Islamic Schools are becoming more of a norm versus an exception and there is no doubt there is a shortage of qualified educators. 
  • Master’s Degree in Islamic Economics and Finance – The overall program takes about two years to complete, with a total of 36 total Credits with a cost of $125/credit. The overall cost of this program is approximately $4,500. You have the option to complete a thesis based or a non-thesis based program depending on your goals and objectives. Completing the first-year courses, which is about 18 credit hours, gets you an Industrial Qualification of Islamic Finance Professional (certificate). This program is a great option for analytical individuals with a passion for all things finance looking to broaden their skillset and venture into the world of Islamic finance, commerce and economics. 

California Islamic University

Number of Programs: 2

Accreditation: Not Accredited

Program Cost: $

Scholarships: Yes (financial aid and merit based funding) 

Notable Affiliates: Mustafa Umar

Languages: English 

The Facts

  1. The college was originally started as the Islamic Institute of Orange County and eventually turned into the College of Islamic Studies where they focused on offering a wide selection of onsite classes. 
  2. In 2016, after several years carefully curating the curriculum and courses all while surpassing thousands of enrollments, California Islamic University was spun up to meet the exceedingly high demand for Islamic education. 
  3. Pioneered by Mustafa Umar (who is also a research fellow at Yaqeen Institute), California Islamic University is now a premier destination for Muslim’s looking to further their religious knowledge.
  4. They are considered an “upper division college” meaning students who have completed two years of college at another educational institution can enroll to complete the remaining two years at California Islamic College to satisfy their Bachelor’s degree requirements. 
  5. Financial aid can be requested as part of their general application process. If you request financial aid, a separate application will be provided to you to assess qualification. 
  6. California Islamic University is a private, nonprofit academic institution based out of Fullerton, California. While they are not an accredited academic institution, they are allowed to operate by religious exemption by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. 
  7. For those not looking to commit to a degree path, on demand classes can be taken a la carte with prices ranging from $120-$150 per class.
  8. Recipients of financial aid must maintain a 3.0 GPA to ensure continued qualification. While students receiving merit based scholarships must maintain a 3.5 GPA to continue receiving funding. 

Their Programs

  • Diploma in Islamic Studies – The diploma program has nine main classes. After completion of these required courses, the student will receive a Diploma in Islamic Studies along with a solid understanding of the core fundamentals of Islam. Classes within this degree path cost $50 per unit. Unless otherwise noted, each class is four units. With nine classes at four units per class, the overall program cost is approximately $1,800.
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Islamic Law & Theology – At a quick glance, there is significant overlap in the course work between the diploma and the bachelor’s degree. In fact, the first year BA course work contains all the courses from the diploma along with two additional courses. Those who might start on the diploma path could easily pivot to the BA program relatively easily with minimal delays. The course can be completed in two years or more for part-timers. Keep in mind that in order to qualify for this program, you must have completed your first two years of college at another institution. The courses offered as part of this program only cover only the latter two years of a bachelor’s program. This program is approximately 90 units. Classes within this degree path cost $50 per unit. Unless otherwise noted, each class is four units. The overall program cost is approximately $4,500.
  • Audit program – The California Islamic University also offers an audit program. The program is for students who want to take courses without exams and homework. Instead, the students can participate in class and access the course materials. The Audit program courses cost $30/unit and you can choose from both the diploma and degree courses. Most courses are four units ($120 per class)

Respect Graduate School

Number of Programs: 1

Accreditation: Accredited

Program Cost: $$-$$$ (depending on scholarship level)

Scholarships: Yes (offer scholarships up to 50% of course prices) 

Languages: English 

The Facts

  1. Respect Graduate School was established in 2015 to provide Islamic opportunities for students of knowledge, teachers, and leaders. 
  2. In 2019, they partnered with other institutions such as the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia (ISRA) and Charles Sturt University (CSU) to provide an all encompassing educational program. 
  3. They offer an online Master’s degree in Islamic Studies in collaboration with both ISRA and CSU. Students will take a mix of classes at noth Respect College and ISRA while the degree is actually issued by CSU. 
  4. For the Respect Graduate School courses (eight in total), students can receive scholarships amounting to up to 50% of the tuition. 
  5. The ISRA/CSU classes (four in total) are pricey, just shy of $4,000 each. Respect Graduate School students are eligible for a 30% discount. 

Their Programs

Master of Arts in Islamic Studies – The program consists of 12 courses that students must complete, eight of which are offered by Respect Graduate School and the remaining four advanced courses are offered by ISRA. Upon completion of these 12 courses, a student will receive an accredited MA degree issued by CSU. Each of the eight courses offered by Respect Graduate School is $1,000 (all eight courses are $8,000). Each of the remaining four courses at ISRA cost $3,872 (this is the international tuition rate for non-Australian Residents). While that is much higher than all the other programs we reviewed, Respect Graduate School students will receive a 30% discount on the tuition. The cumulative cost of the four classes post discount is approximately $10,840. The overall cost of the program is approximately $18,840.

American Open University

Number of Programs: Approximately 9 (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate)

Accreditation: Possibly (By an Overseas Ministry of Higher Education)

Program Cost: $$$

Scholarships: No

Notable Graduate: Dr. Main Alqadah (Founder of Guidance College)

Languages: English 

The Facts

  1. American Open University is one of the first Islamic higher educational institutions to offer virtual/online degree paths. Founded in 1995, they aimed to provide the best tools for students to ensure academic excellence. 
  2. In addition to being based in the Commonwealth of Virginia, American Open University has roots in Egypt and other areas in Africa. 
  3. Dr. Main Alqadah, a notable expert in the field of Islamic Finance received his PhD from American Open University. He is currently the president of Guidance College (mentioned earlier in the article).
  4. Out of all the institutions covered in this article, American Open University is by far the most mature institution in terms of programs, faculty and overall expertise. That said, they are also the most expensive of the options. 
  5. They are one of the only institutions to offer an online based PhD program. 
  6. American Open University promotes themselves as an accredited educational institution through the abroad Ministry of Higher Education. That said, it does not appear that they are accredited within the United States as they mentioned they are excluded from state oversight & regulation in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  7. At the time of the article, the American Open University doesn’t offer student scholarships, although financial aid might be available. We advise checking with the university directly to further assess your options.

Their Programs

  • Bachelor’s in Islamic Studies – This Bachelor’s program at the American Open University is a four year program. This program gives students a strong foothold in Islamic Sciences and makes it easy for them to specialize in other studies after graduation. The program is a total of 126 credit hours and costs approximately $16,000 in total. 
  • Bachelor’s in Islamic Economics –  This Bachelor’s program at the American Open University is a four year program with a total of 130 credit hours. This program provides students with foundational knowledge about Islamic Economics & Empirical analysis bridging the gap between theoretical and practical application. This program costs approximately $16,000 in total. 
  • Master’s of Islamic Business Administration – This Islamic MBA program focuses on building future business leaders and executives who are interested in promoting and transacting within their organizations based on Islamic principles. Having the added skills you will gain from this program can enhance your professional credentials especially as corporations are continually targeting the middle east and other Muslium centric geographies. This program is a total of 56 credit hours and can be completed in as little as  two years with a total cost of $13,000. Having a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or economics is preferred, however other bachelor degrees will be considered on an applicant by applicant basis. 
  • Masters in Islamic Banking – The program is to teach students the knowledge of marketing, leadership, and human resources management about Islamic rulings. Knowledge of Islamic banking is currently in high demand worldwide, this program will set potential graduates up for success in a banking (financial and investment) based career. This program is 36 credit hours and can be completed in as little as one and a half years with an overall cost of $13,000. A relevant bachelor’s degree is strongly recommended before enrolling in this program. An entrance exam may be required to assess aptitude, knowledge and foundational skills. 
  • Masters in Islamic Finance – This Master’s program is designed to empower students to understand and manage both Islamic and Commercial laws as it relates to finance. Graduates from this program will have gathered an impressive set of skills  and knowledge to confidently bridge the gap between the Islamic and Commercial finance realms. This Master’s program is a total of 42 credit hours and can take as little as one and a half years to complete with a total cost of $13,000. A relevant bachelor’s degree is strongly recommended before enrolling in this program. An entrance exam may be required to assess aptitude, knowledge and foundational skills. 
  • Master’s in Islamic Studies – This Master’s program is geared towards students with a keen interest and passion in learning all things Islamic Studies from the core tenants of Fiqk, Ahadeeth, Tafseer, Quran,  judicial system, and so on. The knowledge gained from this program can be applied across many career paths ranging from education, public policy, non-profit work, or corporate settings. This Master’s program is a total of 39 credit hours of which 30 credits are course work and 9 credits towards a thesis. This program can take as little as one and a half years to complete with a total cost of $13,000. An entrance exam may be required to assess aptitude, knowledge and foundational skills. 
  • Master’s in Islamic Commercial Law – This Master’s program is designed for individuals passionate about all things law. Whether you are a practicing lawyer or a paralegal, this program will bridge the gap between secular laws and sharia. This program will cover subject matters such as conflict resolution, family law, business ethics, sharia compliant business dealings to name a few. This Master’s program is a total of 36 credit hours of which 30 credits are course work and 6 credits towards a thesis. This program can take as little as one and a half years to complete with a total cost of $13,000. An entrance exam may be required to assess aptitude, knowledge and foundational skills. 
  • Master’s in Islamic Education – This Master’s program is targeted towards existing teachers or aspiring teachers looking to expand their school of teaching into Islamic Education. With a degree like this one, prospective teachers can land jobs working at Islamic and traditional schools. This Master’s program is a total of 45 credit hours of which 39 credits are course work and 6 credits towards a thesis. This program can take as little as two years to complete with a total cost of $13,000. An entrance exam may be required to assess aptitude, knowledge and foundational skills. 
  • PhD. in Islamic Studies – This is one of the only online PhD programs available to students in the United States. This program is a total of 85 credit hours. Of which 50 credits are classes and the remaining 35 credits are towards the dissertation. You can expect to spend as little as two and a half years up to seven years to complete the program (on average four years). The approximate cost of this program is $26,000. 

Mishkah University

Number of Programs: Approximately 3 (Associates, Bachelors, Masters)

Accreditation: Accredited (Abroad Ministry of Higher Education)

Program Cost: $

Scholarships: No

Language: Some English but Mostly Arabic

The Facts

  1. Formerly known as the Sharia Academy of America, Mishkah University was originally established in 2004 
  2. Founded by Salah Assawy and a few others, their mission was to establish an institution that provides flexible and affordable programs for students seeking an Islamic education. 
  3. While they are not currently accredited, Mishkah University is pursuing accreditation, this is a lengthy process and can take several years to complete.
  4. This is one of the only online programs that offer both an English and Arabic version. Students can choose to take an Arabic based Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree which is pretty rare in the US. 
  5. All graduate programs (Master’s and Doctorate) are offered in Arabic only. 
  6. They offer Scholarships specifically to imams working at Mosques in the US as a way to further their religious knowledge and expertise. Recipients of this scholarship can expect up to a 50% scholarship and will have to remain in good academic standing with the university to ensure they continue receiving the scholarship. 
  7. For students who refer potential students to the university, they can expect a discount of up to 10%. It is worth clarifying with the university if this 10% applies for one semester, one year or the full duration of the program. 
  8. Mishkah University also offers installment plans to students. The installment plans are only for tuition and not other university related expenses. 

Their Programs

  • Associate Degree in Islamic Studies – This Associate program is offered in both English and Arabic depending on your comfort level with the Arabic language and personal goals that you hope to achieve by taking this program. This program is geared towards individuals looking to get a foundational education on Islam. This is a two year long program.
    • English Version – Total of 22 classes (58 credits). The cost per credit hour is $85 with an overall program cost of $5,440.
    • Arabic Version – Total of 28 classes (81 credits). The cost per credit hour is $50 with an overall program cost of $4,050.
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Islamic Studies – Similar to the Associate program, this Bachelor’s program is offered in both English and Arabic. This program is a logical next step from the Associate program or for individuals looking to pursue a Bachelor’s degree directly from high school. This Islamic Studies program is a total of 41 courses across several competencies (125 credits in total). For example, some departments are Islamic history and civilization, Arabic language, Quranic studies, etc. Likewise, it costs $50-$85 per course. $10,795
    • English Version – Total of 41 courses (125 credits). The cost per credit hour is $85 with an overall program cost of $10,795.
    • Arabic Version – Total of 42 courses (127 credits). The cost per credit hour is 50 with an overall program cost of $6,350.
  • Master’s Degrees (Taught in Arabic) – All Master’s programs at Mishkah University are offered in Arabic only. A prerequisite to pursuing this type of Master’s degree is a Bachelor’s degree in a similar area of study (i.e. Bachelor’s in Islamic Studies). The cost per credit hour ranges between $75 – $100 with a total program cost of $4,525. 
    • Master’s in Shari’ah (Islamic Law)
    • Master’s in Fundamentals of Religion (Usool ul Deen)
    • Master’s in Arabic Language
    • Master’s of Islamic Politics
    • Master’s in Islamic Culture
  • Doctorate Degrees (Taught in Arabic) – Similar to the Master’s programs, the Doctorate degree paths are only taught in Arabic. There may be additional prerequisites required for these types of programs, check with the university directly. The cost per credit hour is $100 with a total program cost of $6,000. They offer the following doctorate degrees in Arabic only. 
    • Doctorate in Shari’ah (Islamic Law)
    • Doctorate in Fundamentals of Religion (Usool ul Deen)
    • Doctorate in Islamic Studies with a concentration in Arabic Language
    • Doctorate in Islamic Culture
    • Doctorate in Islamic Politics

Conclusion

Gaining an Islamic education not only makes you stand out career wise but also increases your rewards with Allah (SWT). Finding the right institution for you will be important as you go through this journey. Fortunately, this post highlighted the top 5 institutions where you can get an online Islamic degree in the United States and some of the facts you should consider as you make a decision.

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