A number of different online ministry degrees are available today if you hope to work professionally as a minister, pastor or church lay workers, or if you simply want the personal enhancement from a higher level of Christian study. Online ministry schools provide opportunities for everything from certificates to full-fledged masters degrees in specialties like youth ministry, Christian evangelism, sacred theology and Biblical studies. A big focus of just about all online ministry degree programs is leadership, one of the most important skills needed to be the head of any denomination.
Degree Requirements Vary
Educational requirements are not very standardized in this field, because churches can be so very different from each other. A pastor or other religious professional at a small rural church would need somewhat different skills than the head of a large church in a major city. Smaller churches tend to be less strict in requiring an advanced degree, often hiring ministers who may have only a certificate in ministry. The same can be said of the less senior positions or part-time jobs in a large church. A director of a Christian youth ministry or summer camp, for example, may be hired with only a certificate in Christian studies. It’s worth keeping in mind that, while college degrees have become generally more important in getting hired to ministry positions, the sense of commitment that a job candidate projects to his or her religious calling is, in many ways, just as important as one’s educational credentials.
Most people considering online ministry degrees are already involved in church work of some kind. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated specialty, a certificate in ministry can often be your best choice for opening up an opportunity to be an assistant minister, for example, or to become manager of a particular program in your church. There are associates and bachelor’s degrees available online in ministry, primarily to prepare the graduate for mid-level positions in Church management, missionary work, social services, and ministries specialized in community work or health and welfare or various other pastoral jobs. Most of these positions will focus on local congregations.
Master’s degrees in this field are either for current ministers who want to enhance their knowledge and leadership skills or for those who want to move into ministry jobs that require an advanced degree. There are many online ministry degrees available at the master’s level in specialties like Christian leadership, “Marketplace Chaplaincy” (a unique course of study for those who want to commit to doing religious work in hospitals, prisons, eldercare homes or even industrial environments) or theological studies.
Salaries for ministers run in a wide range, from less than $25,000 per year in smaller churches (where the job may be part time) to $60,000 plus in larger denominations. Whether you’re seeking a professional position or simply looking to increase your understanding of the Bible for your own personal enhancement, however, there are a growing number of Christian schools where you can do your studies online. There’s no doubt that the two powerhouse schools in the ministry area are Liberty University and Grand Canyon University. But other Christian schools have gradually begun to provide ministry degrees online. Many also offer other degrees in business, healthcare and other categories, taught in a religious context for those who want to work in the secular world, but carry a strong religious understanding with them. Here’s a list of Christian colleges and universities online.