2021 Best Online Ministry Degrees [Guide]

If you are wanting to work with others in a spiritual, compassionate environment, you might consider earning an online ministry degree.

Best Online Ministry Degrees

Ministry work can make a difference in a community, and a ministry degree program can help build a strong foundation for your faith.

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If you have a previous interest in Christian ministry and biblical studies and enjoy the philosophical study of theological concepts, pursuing a ministry degree may be a good fit for you.

Online Ministry Degrees

An online ministry degree can branch off into many subsequent subject areas or specific programming. Here are a few degree concentrations you’ll likely encounter on your educational journey:

Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in ministry and related courses.

Christian Counseling

Christian Counseling degree

Christian counseling combines biblical knowledge with Christian psychology, aiming to meet individual psychological needs with a faith-based foundation.

Christian counseling focuses on helping people understand who they are in the eyes of God and why they should have hope for what their lives may hold for them.

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In this type of program, you may encounter coursework that covers basic psychology and sociology concepts, theories of personality, biblical psychology, diversity in counseling, and treatment through faith-based practice. You could also be required to complete supervised counseling training.

Some Christian counseling graduates find themselves working in churches, private schools, or private counseling offices.

Ministry

Ministry degree

A degree in ministry can help prepare you to be a leader in your parish and faith-based community. You can learn to apply biblical knowledge and theological practice to ministry life.

This program is usually directed around what particular ministry work you wish to do, and it may include a ministry practicum in another country or neighboring community.

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Your coursework can cover topics like leadership in faith classes, philosophy of theology, administrative coursework, Bible study, ministry for women, children and family ministry. A ministry program can include additional theological studies and case study work as well.

This undergraduate program focuses on educational leadership, so if you do not wish to focus on pastoral ministry, there are many opportunities for alternative career paths. For instance, some graduates pursue work in private schools or in communication sectors within Christian businesses.

Music & Worship

Music & Worship degree

A degree in music and worship combines the broad study of music and instrumental knowledge with ministry, focusing particularly on the role of music in ministry.

You can learn about what it means to be a leader in theological service and how music can be effective in ministry.

You’ll likely study how music motivates communities, how music is a universal language in God’s message, and how music trends influence congregations. Music and worship programs also cover the leadership and responsibility of administration in leading musical worship.

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Within the program, your course topics will generally include music theory, music trend study, vocal and instrumental lessons, digital recording, scripture studies, and administrative and leadership studies. You may also be required to complete an internship at a local church.

Following this degree, graduates may find work as music teachers in private schools, as congregational leaders in churches, or as worship music production leaders in their communities.

Theology

Theology degree

A theology degree differs from the other concentrations on this list because it has a broader focus.

It looks at the history of religion from multiple lenses. It also focuses on the study of religious texts and the analysis of theologians and philosophers who spoke about God and religion. You can hyper-focus your coursework so that it is primarily Christian focused, but you also have the opportunity to learn about the practices and beliefs of other religions.

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Courses you may encounter in this program can cover religious philosophy, religious history, and various ethical schools of thought. You can also study texts such as the Bible, the Torah, the Upanishads, or the Quran.

A degree in theology can be beneficial for any kind of faith-based work. It can also apply to secular roles. For example, theology graduates may work in social work or religious studies education sectors. They may also work on diversity and equity teams for various businesses.

Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry degree

A youth ministry degree focuses on reaching youth during one of the most developmental times in their lives. It focuses on what it means to be a leader in the administration of God’s Word and how to best reach young people and lead them toward discipleship.

You can learn how to speak to, engage with, and encourage youth toward a life of faith. You can also learn how to organize biblical programs. Your coursework can include communication studies, ministry leadership, Bible and scripture studies, childhood education, psychology, and sociology.

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Following this degree, graduates may pursue work in community services or social work. Some may work as youth pastors in a church or as youth counselors in a private Christian school. Others may also work as coaches.

Ministry Careers & Salaries

Ministry Careers & Salaries

Getting a degree in ministry does not limit you to just becoming a leader in your parish community. Depending on the focus of your studies, you may find work in a variety of settings, such as churches, community organizations, social service agencies, and counseling centers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for clergy members is expected to grow 4% over the next ten years, and 12% job growth is projected for community and social service occupations.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Fundraisers $59,610
High School Teachers, Private Schools $58,550
Music Directors and Composers $52,250
Clergy $51,940
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners $51,560
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660
Directors, Religious Activities and Education $45,110
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,960
Religious Workers $33,530

Depending on your chosen specialty, there can be a variety of opportunities available to you following a ministry degree, in both faith-based and secular industries.

Ministry Curriculum & Courses

Ministry Curriculum & Courses

A degree in ministry also tends to cover ministry leadership and administration, so you may encounter a variety of courses during this program. Here are some examples of courses you may take while pursuing your degree:

  • Old Testament History and Literature: In this course, you’ll learn to analyze the Old Testament of the Bible. You can also learn how to organize Bible study workshops.
  • New Testament History and Literature: This course looks closely at the life of Jesus and his Word, which is the foundation to Christian living. You can also learn how to organize Bible study workshops focused on this aspect of the Bible.
  • Methods of Pastoral Counseling: This course takes a closer look at ethical issues and concepts in counseling. This course also looks at psychology with a Christian perspective to connect theology and practice.
  • Multicultural Ministry: You’ll learn how to serve multicultural and diverse environments, exploring the challenges involved with advocacy for underrepresented communities.
  • Women in Ministry: This course looks at the complex experiences of women working in religious institutions and living a Christian life. This course also looks at challenges that women may face in leadership positions in Christian communities.
  • Ministry and Business Administration: The focus of a ministry degree is leadership based, and understanding the basics of business administration and finance is necessary to running and leading a church or organization.
  • Theological Foundations of Ministry: This course takes a close look at the history of ministry and applies ancient concepts and principles to current contents.
  • Composition: Those who work in ministry must have the ability to compose and deliver meaningful, hopeful, and impactful speeches to their communities. This course can help you develop these skills.
  • Conflict Resolution in Ministry: You’ll learn how to analyze and manage conflict that arises and how to mediate these issues with a pacifist perspective. The goal is for you to learn how to foster resolutions.
  • The Church in Ministry: The church—as a building and as a community of people—plays an important part in the message of Christianity. You’ll look at biblical teachings that speak to the role of the church and at various church leaders.

These are just a few examples of the courses you may encounter while pursuing a ministry degree. You may also be required to have a placement, which would count toward your credit hours.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Ministry Program

Bachelor’s in Ministry Program

When you enroll in an online bachelor in ministry program, you are making a time and financial commitment. As such, it’s beneficial to do extensive research into the options available to you. Here are a few factors you can consider when choosing a program:

  • Time. How long is the program? Can you create your own schedule according to your needs? How many years will it take to graduate?
  • Finances. How expensive is the program? Will you require financial aid? Will you qualify for financial assistance?
  • Concentration. Does the school offer the concentration you are most interested in? Does the school teach from the denomination perspective that you prefer?
  • Accreditation. Is the school accredited from a reliable institution?
  • Additional requirements. Will you be required to do a practicum? Do you need additional certification following graduation in order to do the work you wish to do?

This choice is a personal and subjective one, so it can help to answer these questions and others prior to your enrollment.

Admissions Requirements

Ministry Degrees admissions

When applying for a degree in ministry, it helps to be aware of any admission specifications you may encounter. While requirements vary from school to school, here are a few you may come across while researching this degree:

  • SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Personal essay
  • Active church membership
  • Recommendation letters

Some larger schools focus more on grades, while private colleges tend to focus more on personal applications and essays.

Accreditation

Ministry Degrees accreditation

Regional accreditation is essential when applying for a degree in ministry. Unfortunately, this particular degree is often a popular option with degree mills who falsify their credentials and give out invalid degrees.

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You can ensure the accreditation status of the college you are interested in by using the US Department of Education’s accredited school and program database. Regional accreditation signifies that a school adheres to high educational standards. Accreditation can also be a determining factor when it comes to financial aid and the transferability of your credits.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Ministry Degrees financial aid

If you are deciding to pursue a career in ministry, you may be wondering what financial aid opportunities are out there.

It’s helpful to begin your search by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will let you know what federal and state cost-saving opportunities are available for you in your program. As a member of a church community, you could also find out if there are any scholarship or credit opportunities offered by your church.

There are also a number of public and private organizations that offer need-based and merit-based scholarships to students who qualify. In addition, your particular school may offer scholarships based on high school grades and test scores.

Do You Need a Degree for Ministry?

Degree for Ministry

Some denominations do not require a degree in ministry for you to become a leader in your community or to do ministry work, but others see it as the foundation to filling this role.

While you may not need a degree in ministry to do ministry work, it can certainly help you develop valuable skill sets. A bachelors degree may make you a more well-rounded, knowledgeable, and committed candidate. A degree in ministry may also help you further develop a solid foundation for your faith and convictions.

What Degree Should I Get for Ministry?

The degree you decide to pursue for ministry is a personal and subjective choice. It can be helpful to consider these factors when you are exploring programs:

  • The school’s accreditation status
  • Tuition costs
  • Online or in-person learning options
  • Available concentrations
  • Practicum requirements

You can also investigate whether a school teaches from the denominational point of view that you prefer. In addition, it’s beneficial to choose a program that aligns with your career goals following graduation.

What Can You Do with a Ministry Degree?

Ministry Degree careers

Graduates with a ministry degree do not only become parish leaders or do ministry work. They may also pursue careers in the social work, healthcare, education, or business industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the many industries that employ clergy are seeing employment growth as the older members retire and leave their roles.

Depending on their area of specialization, a professional in this field may work as a Christian social advocate, preacher, fundraiser, religious studies teacher, youth minister, or even ministry event planner.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Ministry Online?

The length of time it takes to get your degree in ministry depends on a number of factors. For instance, if you follow a traditional, 16 week semester and attend full-time, you can typically complete your degree in 4 years.

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If you decide to follow an accelerated schedule or an 8 week semester, you may finish in less time with full-time, year-round study. In addition, different programs have different requirements, such as certifications or practicums, which may shorten or lengthen your graduation time.

Is a Degree in Ministry Worth It?

Is a Degree in Ministry Worth It

Yes, a degree in ministry is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment for clergy is projected to grow 4% over the next ten years. Meanwhile, community and social service occupations are expected to experience 12% job growth.

Ministry studies can help you create a foundation of knowledge and skills that you can take with you into various career and life experiences. A ministry degree can also help prepare you to pursue work that can make a difference in your community.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Ministry Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Bethel University

Bethel University campus

Bethel University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministries. The program may be completed online, with courses starting every 6 weeks. To graduate, students must complete 48 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants must already have 60 transferable credit hours with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Bethel University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

California Baptist University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies. The program requires 48 credit hours to graduate and can typically be completed in 16 months.

Those interested in the program must have 24 transferable credits and a minimum GPA of 2.0. Personal admissions counselors are available to assist applicants through the application process.

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University campus

Campbellsville University offers a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministries. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Each class is 8 weeks long. To be eligible for the program, applicants may apply online through the school’s website with official transcripts from any schools previously attended.

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Eastern University

Eastern University campus

Eastern University offers an Adult Accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Youth Ministry Leadership. The online program requires students to complete 120 credit hours to graduate, with 33 dedicated to the major. Applicants must submit official transcripts from either high school or a post-secondary program with more than 30 credit hours.

Eastern University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Grace Christian University

Grace Christian University campus

Grace Christian University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Ministry. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, including a final capstone project. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit an online application with copies of their official high school transcripts.

Grace Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Grace College

Grace College campus

Grace College offers an online degree completion program for those interested in a Bachelor’s of Ministry Leader. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours from Grace College. Those interested in the program must have already completed 60 transferable credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Grace College and Theological Seminary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Grand Canyon University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with an emphasis on Youth Ministry. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate. All classes can be completed online and are 7 weeks long. Applicants must submit an admissions form and their official high school transcripts.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Hope International University

hope international university campus

Hope International University offers a Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry. The program requires students to complete 120 credit hours and 2 field practicums to graduate. Classes are taken one at a time and are each 5 weeks long. Applicants may start the program at the beginning of any month.

Hope International University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Johnson University

Johnson University campus

Johnson University offers a Bachelor’s in Ministry Leadership. The degree can be completed online and requires students to complete a ministry leadership internship to graduate. Those interested in the program may apply online with copies of their high school transcripts, their ACT or SAT scores, and a reference.

Johnson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln Christian University campus

Lincoln Christian University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry. The program is designed for those who are interested in vocational ministry. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit an online application, an admissions essay, a Christian character reference, and official high school transcripts.

Lincoln Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Mid-America Christian University

Mid America Christian University campus

Mid-America Christian University offers a Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministries. The program is designed to help students interested in gaining a master’s degree in ministry, bible and theology, or other related fields. Applicants may apply online with a copy of their government-issued identification, ACT or SAT test scores, and high school transcripts.

Mid-America Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Moody Bible Institute

Moody Bible Institute campus

Moody Bible Institute offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership.

Students may add a concentration in Leadership, Preaching, Ministry to Women, Disability Ministry, or Children and Family Ministry. Applicants must submit an online application, a personal essay, 2 references, SAT or ACT test scores, and official high school transcripts.

Moody Bible Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwest Nazarene University

Northwest Nazarene University campus

Northwest Nazarene University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry.

The online program requires 124 credit hours to graduate and can typically be completed in 36 months. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit an online application with official high school transcripts and 2 letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a pastor.

NNU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Oklahoma Wesleyan University campus

Oklahoma Wesleyan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Ministry and Leadership. To graduate, students must complete 126 credit hours. Each of the online classes is 5 weeks long. The school offers continuous enrollment. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Palm Beach Atlantic University

Palm Beach Atlantic University campus

Palm Beach Atlantic University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry. Each of the classes is designed to be completed in 8 weeks. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Those interested in the program may apply online with copies of their official high school transcripts.

Palm Beach Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Point University

Point University campus

Point University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministries. The program is offered online and requires students to complete 120 credit hours, with 45 degrees dedicated to the major. Applicants may apply online with copies of their official transcripts from any schools they’ve attended.

Point University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Tabor College

Tabor College campus

Tabor College offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry program.

To graduate, students must complete 124 credit hours. Courses are taken one at a time and are 6 weeks long. Students may choose to transfer in up to 84 qualifying credit hours. Applicants may apply online with an Enrollment Specialist to help them through the application process.

Tabor College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Toccoa Falls College

Toccoa Falls College campus

Toccoa Falls College offers a Bachelor’s in Ministry Leadership. To graduate, students must complete 126 credit hours.

The program is designed to allow students to complete a minor in Pastoral Ministries, Youth Ministries, or Counseling in Ministry along with their major. Those interested in the program may submit an online application through the school’s website.

Toccoa Falls College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Trevecca Nazarene University

Trevecca Nazarene University campus

Trevecca Nazarene University offers an online Bachelor’s in Christian Ministry program. Students must complete 120 semester hours with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher to graduate. Applicants must have 40 completed credit hours from another institution, a GPA of 2.0 or higher, and a copy of a government-issued ID.

Trevecca Nazarene University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Warner University

Warner University campus

Warner University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry program for mature students. The program allows students to take two 8 week long courses at a time. Those interested in the program must have a high school GPA of 2.25 and either a composite score of 18 on the ACT or 940 on the SAT.

Warner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Ministry Degree Online

Getting Your Ministry Degree Online

Pursuing a ministry degree can help you gain the necessary skills and faith-based foundation to bring hope and guidance to your community, regardless of the industry you choose to work in.

If you choose to earn your ministry degree online, much like with an online theology degree, you can often schedule your coursework and classes around your personal obligations. Online learning options can also let you stay close to home, allowing you to continue being a member at your local and trusted congregation.

If you’re eager to get biblical and ministerial training, you can get started today by exploring accredited universities and finding the program and concentration that best fits your ministry goals.

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Claudia Amendola Alzraa
WRITTEN BY
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia has a Master's in Library and Information Studies, a Bachelor's in Education, and a Bachelor's with Honors in English and Philosophy. With a history working in Special Education, Claudia is an advocate for diversified and equitable education, and student success initiatives.