Ministry is a calling to serve a particular Christian faith through a church, parachurch organization, community development mission, or school. Unlike biblical or theological studies, online ministry degrees emphasize the practical components of church leadership, mission, and discipleship. The curriculum includes courses on the Bible, theology, and general education. Upon graduation, students can work as church staff members, religious education teachers, and leaders in Christian organizations. Graduates may also enroll in seminary for a master's degree or a doctorate in ministry, theology, or religion.
Ministers earn an average wage of about $50,000, and many senior pastors and organizational leaders earn more.
Christian ministers can work in rural, urban, local, or international settings at a large church or small parish. Some ministers work as chaplains in the military, hospitals, or prisons. Others manage social service or evangelistic organizations. Ministers earn an average wage of about $50,000, and many senior pastors and organizational leaders earn more. Starting a career in Christian ministry begins with earning a bachelor's degree. Few colleges offer associate degrees in ministry, which are not generally sufficient for pastoral roles. About 65% of clergy have obtained a master's degree.
Earning a bachelor's degree online is a fast, effective way to accelerate your impact in ministry. By taking classes online, mature students or those already employed can learn while serving God and supporting a family. Since most distance learning is asynchronous, working professionals and students with family or church obligations can study when it's convenient. Not only does internet-based learning make earning a degree flexible, it also makes ministry education affordable. Distance learners can avoid paying for on-campus housing and costly commutes.
One of the benefits to choosing a Christian college is the opportunity to integrate faith with academic knowledge. Like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, online ministry degrees allow students to take a spiritual perspective on their coursework. Many distance students can also participate in their university's live-streamed chapels, counseling programs, and student discussion forums. Students seeking a bachelor of ministry degree need an internship, which online learners typically complete at an approved site.
How Long Does it Take to Earn Your Ministry Bachelor's Degree Online?
A bachelor's in ministry usually requires 120 credits. In addition to coursework, many schools expect students to attend worship services and participate in internships and community service. Full-time students can typically complete an online ministry degree in four years or less if students take advantage of transfer credits.
An online ministry degree draws from courses in biblical studies, practical ministry, Christian theology, and missiology. In this interdisciplinary curriculum approach, students blend the theoretical with the practical and the spiritual with the professional. Students mine Scripture for insights while gaining needed vocational ministry skills.
|New Testament Survey||Learners receive an overview of the world of the New Testament, its writers, theologies, and cultural contexts. Students examine the theme of each individual book in the context of Jesus' life and ministry.|
|Administration and Leadership in Ministry||Students explore all areas of church administration such as budget and finance, team development, building campaigns, fundraisers, and facility management within a relational and theological context.|
|Worship Leadership||This course prepares worship leaders, pastors, and other church staff to create a meaningful corporate worship experience, including music, public scripture reading, and performing arts ministry.|
|Introduction to Preaching||This course examines methods of sermon development and practice in the context of the preacher's life and work.|
|Discovering the Mission of God||Focused on foundational, theoretical, and theological foundations of missions and evangelism, this course serves as the introduction to global missions.|
Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in Christian ministry often concentrate their studies in a particular area. By choosing a specialization, students determine their career path and ministry setting. Many Christian ministry majors offer concentrations in specific ministry areas such as Christian education or missions. Each college or university provides its own unique blend of specializations and concentration options. Below are some of the most common concentrations Christian ministry students can choose.
Combining courses in biblical studies, theology, preaching, and church administration, this concentration prepares students to serve in senior pastor or associate pastor roles at local churches.
This concentration is ideal for students who plan to focus on music, the performing arts, and studio art as applied to corporate worship in a church setting.
Equipping students with a broad philosophical and theological foundation of Christian education, this concentration prepares future religious education teachers and directors.
Focusing on youth ministry prepares students for careers in local churches as well as in national and local youth ministry organizations. Courses may include contemporary youth problems and spirituality for youth.
A missions concentration usually requires anthropology courses, studies in global Christianity, and practical courses in intercultural communication for students planning to cross cultural borders in ministry.
Ordained ministers typically must hold a master's degree to serve in church leadership, although some denominations only require a bachelor's degree. Earning a master's degree in ministry can open new opportunities for ministry in larger churches or with greater responsibilities. Many students who earn a youth ministry degree online later pursue a master's in ministry in order to move from a youth pastor role to a senior pastor's post. Others may elect to serve a small congregation while working part-time on a master's degree. Ministry students who envision careers as organizational leaders often need additional training in administration, human resource management, and program development. Counselors, too, can access clinical positions and earn far more lucrative salaries when they hold a master's degree.
An online ministry degree can open up exciting careers in church work, community service, or counseling. Senior church pastors lead congregations, preach sermons, and oversee all ministry components. Their staff may include youth pastors, children's ministers, Christian education directors, and music ministers. Many Christian ministry professionals work outside the church by leading community organizations or serving as counselors.
|Occupation||Minimum Degree Required||Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||Bachelor's||21,430||$21.86||$45,470|
|Other Religious Workers||Bachelor's||8,210||$17.49||$36,380|
|Social and Community Service Managers||Bachelor's||141,830||$33.91||$70,530|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||Bachelor's||241,930||$22.38||$46,560|
Students graduating with a bachelor's in ministry may choose to become pastors, church staff members, counselors, nonprofit leaders, or parachurch ministry staff. Some of these positions require state or denominational licensure. Pastors typically must be ordained with their church's denomination or governing body. Ordination is a process by which a church approves and commissions a minister. The process varies slightly by denomination, but typically includes rigorous education requirements, multiple interviews, and many hours of guided practical ministry experience. In almost all denominations, ordination requires a bachelor's or master's degree. Church staff members may also need to hold ordination depending on their roles. In some cases, an online youth ministry degree or online children's ministry degree may be acceptable.
Students looking to become Christian counselors often must meet stringent state licensure requirements, which may include earning a master's degree or acquiring other significant education beyond an online ministry degree. They may also have to pass national or state exams and complete hours of approved clinical practice.
In the U.S., accreditation is a voluntary process that allows colleges and universities to demonstrate their credibility as educational institutions. Most financial aid goes only to students at accredited institutions. Accreditation can be regional, national, or specialized. Regional accreditation is the most highly regarded, and most regionally accredited institutions accept transfer credits only from other regionally accredited schools.
National accreditation agencies focus on accrediting schools that prepare students for a specific career, including Christian ministry related vocations.
National accreditation agencies focus on accrediting schools that prepare students for a specific career, including Christian ministry related vocations. While Christian universities, Bible colleges, and seminaries can hold regional accreditation, some of these schools also seek national accreditation through organizations such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education, which primarily accredits Bible colleges.
Ideally, a school holds regional accreditation as well as national or specialized accreditation. Students who plan to become counselors, chaplains, or theology teachers and must hold a state or national license to practice should ensure their school's accreditation meets licensure standards. Likewise, students pursuing ordination should check with their denomination about accreditation requirements.
Professional organizations offer many benefits to students and young professionals such as annual conferences, regional networks, online job boards, and continuing education opportunities. Some associations also offer local, national, or international missions, which may help students meet practical ministry requirements in their bachelor of ministry curriculum.
Composed of 5,000 members, APC provides certification, continuing education, and publications for chaplains. It also establishes professional standards in chaplaincy and maintains a job board.
CCDA helps Christians engage in community transformation. Members can take online courses, attend the annual conference, join a local network, and browse the online job board.
Young professionals called to preach the Gospel can take part in several preaching festivals throughout the year. The academy also offers alumni classes, an e-zine, and an online marketplace.
A coalition of denominations, churches, colleges, and other ministries, NAE connects and represents evangelical Christians. The organization provides a podcast, a magazine, and a series of events including one for Christian student leaders.
An ecumenical organization that encourages everyone to learn and tell biblical stories, NBS offers an annual festival gathering, several international mission trips, and the Academy for Biblical Storytelling.
Focused on reconciliation, the NBEA is an umbrella organization of African-descended leaders and ministries that seeks biblical and cultural integrity through prayer, fellowship, and evangelism.
While many students question how to finance an online ministry degree, scholarships help many Christian college students earn a ministry degree online.
Online Bachelor's in Ministry Scholarships
Baptist Life Scholarship $1,000
COGIC Charities Scholarship Varies (renewable)
National Presbyterian College Scholarship $2,500
WMU Foundation Scholarships Varies
HELM Leadership Fellows Varies
Higher Education for Ohio Students State Convention of Baptists in Ohio $450
SC Baptist Convention Church-Related Vocational Scholarship Varies
Christian Community Credit Union's $1,000 (renewable)
GBGH General Scholarship Application $1,000
Free Ordination Resources
Conferring formal authority as a minister is called ordination. Typically granted through denominations, ordination can also come through a para-religious organization that offers it for free.
- Open Ministry This non-denominational church provides ordination services to those wishing to perform weddings, conduct worship, engage in spiritual counseling, or start their own church.
- Universal Life Church A multi-denominational religious organization claiming millions of members around the world, ULC offers ordination to people of all backgrounds. Students take required free training online.
- Christian Leaders Institute CLT's ordination program requires applicants to complete free ministry training through the organization.
- North Carolina College of Theology NCCT is a non-denominational Christian ministry that provides ordination to anyone of legal age and who meets scriptural qualifications. Ordination is lifelong except in extraordinary circumstances.
- American Marriage Ministries AMM requires no religious backgrounds from applicants for its ordination program nor does it maintain a list of other eligibility requirements. An AMM ordination certificate never expires.
Free Ministry Apps and Tools
- Life.Church Life.Church provides numerous apps that keep users abreast of church metrics, manage the church's online platform, create a culture of team development, and manage online giving.
- Planning Center his church management software allows users to check in children or volunteers, manage donations, track member data, and maintain the church facilities calendar.
- YouVersion YouVersion offers a Bible App and a Bible App for Kids. The free adult version contains 1,730 Bible versions in 1,134 languages, and users can compare translations, create related art, and share their study with others.
- Logos Designed to help people study the Bible deeper, this app includes several versions of the Bible, a collection of commentaries ad devotionals, and a chance to highlight and share with friends.
- Blue Letter Bible BLB offers devotionals and study tools, including commentaries, references, and theological resources. Its Treasury of Scripture Knowledge correlates related Bible passages.
- ACS Church Life This app makes it easy to stay abreast of church calendars, offer opportunities for online giving, manage staff, and locate members' contact information.
- Christian Business Network An international organization of Christians in professional service, CBN provides one-on-one, group, and social media networking opportunities. Students can connect with Christian groups around the world.
- Youth Specialties YS sponsors the National Youth Workers Convention as well as an online archive of youth ministry resources and an extensive blog. Students can access the organization's job board.
- Catalyst Catalyst offers annual events around the country as well as a library of articles and a series of educational courses designed to empower and equip current church leaders with skills and training in leadership.
- International Orality Network Ideal for students interested in international mission work, ION offers extensive resources, local networks, and national events on culturally appropriate communication of God's word.