Choosing from the available bachelor of ministry degrees online can be tough, because there ministry is an area where there are so many different career paths. There are more and more degree options available every year, however, that can potentially meld a professional interest you may have in ministry with your goals for personal enrichment.
Like degrees in all specialties, bachelor of ministry degrees online are often categorized as BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science). Because many people study religious subjects purely for their own fulfillment, you might want to consider a bachelor of science or “bachelor of applied ministry” as some schools call it, to convey a sense that you are truly focused on a career in ministry. The truth, however, is that the curriculum on most BS degree programs doesn’t differ much from BA requirements. Both include a foundation of liberal arts subjects in English and Math/Science, followed by a series of “core” courses in subjects like “old & new testament” and “public speaking” that would be critical to a minister. Bachelor of science degrees in this area don’t, in most cases, actually involve much traditional science.
Many schools providing bachelor of ministry degrees online simply bypass this issue by calling their degrees “Bachelor of Divinity,” “Bachelor of Biblical Studies” or simply “Bachelor of Ministry.”
Not Just A Job
Ministry is, of course, as much a calling as a job. As a career path, it offers an extraordinarily wide range of options, from working as a minister of a rural church with less than 100 members that may be part-time and pay about $35,000., to a job as pastor of a denomination of 2,000. that may offer a salary of more than $80,000. and a full range of health and retirement benefits. A ministry degree may also open up options to work or volunteer in religious teaching, scholarship or missionary work, which do not involve actually ministering to a traditional Church congregation.
Having a degree in this area has become more important for the same reason as in many secular job specialties. There are simply so many job applicants now that have a divinity, theology or other targeted degree that you will tend to stand out if you don’t have one. And while it’s true that a bachelor’s degree alone is not likely to get you hired as pastor of a large church, it can certainly get you started on a career path where you can get a masters degree later on (possibly while you are working) to qualify for the most senior position in a large Church.
Because of the growth of Churches and the increasing complexity of their mission, it’s very possible to have a stable religious career without necessarily becoming the #1 pastor or minister in a Church. Jobs exist in specialties like youth ministry or “worship leadership,” a specialty that includes both speaking and musical expertise to lead high-quality Church services, and a number of different degree options have grown up to qualify students for them. One college, for example (Huntington University) offers a “Bachelor in Family & Children’s Ministries” degree that includes not just topics like Biblical teaching and educational psychology, but also a “discipleship-based” approach to training and developing young new leaders for the Church (it’s an interesting program that includes a seven-month internship, often served in Europe, Africa or elsewhere in the world).
Adult Learners and the Ministry
Bachelor of ministry degrees online are a sensible option for adults who are already doing paid or volunteer work in a Church setting (even if they also have a job in the secular world). It makes perfect sense, in fact, because most Churches that are hiring want to see not just a religious degree in your background, but the kind of work history that shows you have a deep commitment to your religious purpose.
While it’s true that many associates, masters and bachelor of ministry degrees online are completely non-denominational, you may want to study at a Baptist school or one operated by the Churches of Christ if you have a strong desire to work in one of those areas. Catholic schools tend to stand a bit apart from other Christian institutions. If you wish to work in a Roman Catholic setting, it probably makes good sense to get your theology or ministry degree from a Catholic school.
Here’s a useful list of
Christian Colleges and Universities with Online Degree Programs, and:
Catholic Online Schools.