Pursuing an online masters in ministry degree can allow you to further develop your knowledge and expertise in ministry and prepare you for a variety of specializations within the field.
Whether you want to focus on youth ministry, pastoral studies, counseling, or another ministry specialty, ministry masters programs tend to offer a wide range of concentrations.
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Read on to learn more about what a masters in ministry program has to offer.
Online Masters in Ministry Degree Programs
There’s a healthy variety of career paths to choose from within Christian ministry. Some advanced ministry positions include:
- Senior pastor
- Executive pastor
- Licensed professional counselor
Christian ministry programs focus on key subject areas that are meant to build the foundational skills required to be effective leaders in whatever career path is taken.
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The course topics within a ministry masters program often include:
- Public speaking
- Conflict resolution
- Organizational leadership
An online graduate degree in ministry helps equip you to be professionally prepared in your theological and leadership service within the ministry area you’re wanting to work in.
Common Ministry Master’s Concentrations
There are many concentrations that can be explored within a ministry masters program. Each degree concentration calls upon its unique skills and educational know-how so you can be better prepared to lead in that ministry area with confidence.
Children, Youth, and Family Ministry
A concentration in children, youth, and family ministry focuses on the service of families and how they engage with the gospel.
Ministers in this field spotlight the importance of family and how parents are the key leaders in their homes. They work with families to promote a healthy homelife centered around sound doctrine and scriptural truths. The responsibility of the minister is to implement key strategies and resources that can help each family member grow in their respective roles as well as in their individual, spiritual walk.
Children and youth ministers may also produce Sunday programs for children and for middle schoolers and high schoolers, respectively.
Intercultural Studies (Missions)
A concentration in intercultural studies focuses on missions and the expansion of the gospel across neighborhoods and nations. You can learn to better understand the complexities that center around cross-cultural communications and adaptations.
To be effective in this field, ministers must be aware of various cultural concepts, such as—anthropology, psychology, and sociology—in order to effectively foster the growth of the Church. An intercultural studies major may want to direct a missions ministry at their local church. They might also want to live abroad to serve a church plant or an unreached people group.
A concentration in ministry leadership focuses on aspects of leadership. Rather than focusing on a singular area of ministry—like family ministry or worship ministry—this concentration covers effectively leading various church ministries and organizations as a whole.
It is beneficial to understand leadership theologies and how to best cater to the different needs within Christian ministry. Effective leadership can help establish strategic plans to implement new ideas and church support.
Pastoral Care and Counseling
A concentration in pastoral care and counseling can help you acquire a rich understanding of psychology and how it relates to the mental, physical, and spiritual care and well-being of church members.
Pastoral counseling requires a strong foundation of compassion and understanding along with the pairing of psychology theories and robust theology to best serve the ministry. In order to become a licensed counselor, it’s often necessary to fulfill the requirements established by your state board.
The goal of a strategic ministry concentration is clearly defined within the title itself. Its aim is to teach you how to create a ministry that is strategic and goal oriented.
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Effective strategies rely on several actions, such as resource allocation, decision making, organizational goal management, and more. Leading strategically in a ministry position requires effective communication and organizational skills.
Ministry Careers & Salaries
Once you earn your Master of Ministry degree online, you might be prepared to choose from a variety of different industries and areas related to your degree. A growing number of universities also offer online degree in theology programs as well as online Doctor of Ministry degree programs for students interested in these particular degrees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is a list of career paths that relate to Christian ministry training.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Postsecondary Philosophy and Religion Teachers||$76,160|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$69,600|
|Clergy, General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$55,990|
|Music Directors and Composers||$52,250|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$51,340|
|Clergy, Elementary and Secondary Schools||$48,240|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$47,660|
|Clergy, Religious Organizations||$46,720|
|Religious Activities and Education Directors||$45,110|
While this list doesn’t include every potential job opportunity for someone with a master’s in ministry, it can provide some insight into what careers can be explored both within and outside of the local church.
Positions related to ministry can also be found in a range of settings. Work settings can include religious organizations, healthcare organizations, schools, community and social service organizations, and, of course, local churches.
Online Ministry Master’s Curriculum & Courses
Here are examples of some common courses you will likely come across when pursuing an online Master of Arts in Ministry:
- Multicultural Communication: This course explores how various cultures interact with one another and how those formative relationships can build into communities and organizations.
- Pastoral Counseling: This course teaches how someone can approach people through the lens of theology, faith, and spiritual guidance.
- Philosophical Foundations of Ministry: This course emphasizes the importance of biblical doctrine and how it is interpreted to grow the ministry of the church.
- Theology and Practice of Worship: This course teaches about how the focus of worship is meant to be Christ-centered and how it should be properly applied within the context of the local church.
- Pastoral Ministry Skills: This course helps equip you with the pastoral skills required to lead a ministry through speaking, teaching, and biblical guidance.
- Transformational Bible Teaching: This course is designed to not only help you memorize Scripture but also teach you how to actively apply what you’ve learned in your daily life to grow in your Christian faith.
- Discipleship Ministries: This course challenges you to study a variety of biblical principles and to appropriately apply them to fit the needs within the ministries of the church.
- Contemporary Evangelism: This course focuses on Scripture memorization in the context of personal evangelism and discipleship.
- Christian History: This course delves into the history of Christianity, doctrines, and creeds, looking at how the church spread throughout the nations.
- Biblical Foundations of Leadership: This course focuses on leadership skills that are rooted in both Old and New Testament contexts and how they’re applicable to the modern church.
Your exact coursework requirements will depend on your specific program and chosen degree concentration.
How to Choose an Online Master of Ministry Degree Program
There are a variety of online programs available if you want to pursue a Master of Ministry degree. To select the best program option for you, you might want to consider a few of these factors:
- Cost. Finding an affordable program is often a priority. Aside from comparing tuition costs, you can also research any additional fees or purchases that will be required for various programs.
- Financial aid. You may want to determine if financial aid is available and applicable to your program of choice. You can also research scholarships and other grants to help cushion your budget.
- Time. Some programs can be completed within 2 years or less, while others can take about 3 years or longer. It’s beneficial to find a program that works best for your goals and preferred timeline.
- Accreditation. Attending a school with proper accreditation can help ensure that you’re receiving a quality education through a program whose standards are well-received by employers and organizations.
- Courses offered. Depending on the concentration you want to focus on, one online program may offer more educational substance than another. You can research your particular concentration and see which program best aligns with your goals.
- Online vs. hybrid. Some programs are entirely online, while others may offer hybrid classes or contain some in-person course requirements.
Determining which factors are most important to you can help you narrow down your list of prospective graduate schools and programs.
Master of Ministry Online Admissions Requirements
The admission requirements for an online master in ministry degree can vary for each institution, but here are some common requirements for these types of programs:
- Admission application
- Official college transcripts
- Personal essay
- Reference form or letters of recommendation
While some schools still request GRE or GMAT scores for graduate admissions, a growing number of schools no longer require them. Paying attention to application and admission deadlines can help you stay on track during the process.
Regional accreditation can play a significant role when it comes to selecting a master’s program—or any degree, for that matter.
An institution with the status of regional accreditation has been found to meet high quality standards for education and student services. The US Department of Education offers more information on accreditation and how to find accredited schools.
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Attending an accredited school can help you feel confident that the education you’re receiving is high quality and that its standards are respected, recognized, and well-received by potential employers. Schools and programs undergo a strict criterion when being assessed for formal accreditation, and students may be eligible to receive full financial aid benefits if they select a program that has met those criteria.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
You have the opportunity to apply for financial aid for your graduate studies. There are various types of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, employer programs, grad PLUS loans, etc.
To see if you’re eligible for federal aid or state aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’ll typically submit your FAFSA paperwork every academic year so it remains active throughout your studies.
Some ministry programs will offer scholarships during certain terms, so it can be beneficial to reach out to your institution’s financial aid office to discuss those opportunities.
Ministry Professional Organizations
As you pursue your masters in ministry, it can be beneficial to connect with a professional ministry organization. Joining an organization can offer networking and job opportunities, and you can apply what you learn to real-life scenarios and direct experiences.
Some examples of professional ministry organizations include:
- Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)
- Association of Professional Chaplains (APC)
- National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM)
Connecting with an organization can help you create a solid foundation as you navigate toward your ministry goals. You can also gain additional training and ministry insights from professionals in the field that may enhance your educational experience in your master’s program.
Can You Get a Master’s in Ministry Online?
It is possible to get a master’s in ministry online. Online masters programs are becoming more popular since they allow for greater flexibility, often allowing you to better balance your studies with other life responsibilities.
There’s a wide selection of online masters in ministry programs from accredited schools, so you can choose the program that best suits your goals and ministry purposes. In accredited programs, professors are diligent to provide thorough instruction so you can obtain a high quality educational experience.
What Can You Do with a Masters in Ministry?
A master’s in ministry degree program can help qualify you for a variety of career paths. Also, you are not limited to jobs within the walls of the local church. You can take your skills and expertise into the broader communities and organizations you feel led to serve.
The specific skills and experiences you can gain in an online masters program will also depend on the ministry concentration you choose to pursue. Professionals with ministry training may work in healthcare, pastoral ministry, administration, education, and more. Some teach, while others counsel or lead ministries, often in a local church or a nonprofit organization.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree in Ministry Online?
The time it takes to earn a master’s degree in ministry online typically ranges from 1 year to 3 years, on average. If the program you choose is a 36 credit hour program with no thesis required, it might be possible to complete it in 1 year with full-time, year-round enrollment.
A thesis requirement will add some additional time to completion, as will attending only part-time. Online programs can be convenient because they can be taken in accelerated or part-time formats to best fit the demands of your current lifestyle.
Is a Master of Ministry Worth It?
Yes, a Master of Ministry is worth it for many students. First and foremost, a master’s in ministry allows you to deepen your knowledge of Scripture and build a stronger faith-based foundation and relationship with Christ.
You can also learn how to better serve or lead a nonprofit or church ministry with theological guidance and organizational support. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9% job growth for management occupations and 12% job growth for community and social service occupations.
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The need for ministry leadership is also present in various fields. Pursuing a degree concentration that fits your goals can help you prepare for the field of your choice. A master’s in ministry can also open the door to future doctoral programs.
Universities Offering Online Masters 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.
Anderson University offers an online Master of Ministry degree program. Students are required to complete 36 credit hours, including at least one on-campus, summer course, to graduate. Students have a maximum of 5 years to complete the program. Those interested in the program must submit an online application through the school’s website.
Anderson University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Cedarville University offers a Master of Ministry degree that can be completed online. Students must complete 38 credit hours, including an internship, to graduate. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.3 or higher and submit a pastoral reference and an academic reference.
Cedarville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Clarks Summit University offers a Master of Ministry online degree program. Students must choose between the Pastoral track and the General Ministry track. Both tracks require 30 credit hours to graduate. All classes are 8 weeks long. Applicants must submit an online application through the school’s website.
Clarks Summit University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Columbia International University offers a Master of Arts in Ministry. The degree can be completed online and requires 36 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and submit official transcripts, an application essay, and a church leader reference.
CIU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Crown College offers a Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership. Students may add one of 14 different emphases to their degree. All classes can be completed online and are 8 weeks long. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a spiritual life essay, and a statement of faith.
Crown College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dallas Baptist University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and need to submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a professional resume.
Dallas Baptist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Grace College offers a Master of Ministry Studies. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. All classes can be completed online and are 8 weeks long. A total of 36 credit hours are needed to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools attended and a spiritual reference.
Grace College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Harding School of Theology offers a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. Students must complete 48 credit hours, including two residency requirements. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a GPA of 2.7 or higher. Those who do not meet the GPA requirements may be admitted for a probation period.
Harding School of Theology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lancaster Bible College offers a Master of Arts in Ministry. Students may add one of five concentrations, such as Pastoral Studies or Church Planting, to their degree. All classes are 8 weeks long. To graduate, students must complete 42 credit hours and a field placement worth 6 credits. Applicants must submit official transcripts, two references, and an autobiographical statement.
Lancaster Bible College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Lee University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Ministry Studies. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours with a GPA of 3.0 in six years. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.75 from an undergraduate program, submit an admission essay outlining career goals, and complete an interview.
Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Liberty University offers a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours. All classes are offered online and are 8 weeks long. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher from an undergraduate program and submit official college transcripts.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Mercer University offers a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. The online program can typically be completed in 3 years and requires the completion of 38 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation, an academic writing sample, a background check, and an autobiographical essay.
Mercer University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University offers an online Master of Ministry program. All courses are 6 weeks long. To graduate, students need to complete 30 credit hours. Those interested in the program must submit copies of official transcripts from any schools attended along with their application.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northwest Nazarene University offers a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry. To graduate, students must complete 40 credit hours. Classes are taken one at a time. Applicants must submit an online application through the school’s website along with proof of having completed an undergraduate degree.
NNU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Northwest University offers an online Master in Ministry program. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate. The program can potentially be completed in four semesters. Applicants must submit copies of their official transcripts from a bachelor’s program, an autobiographical essay, and a letter of recommendation.
Northwest University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Getting Your Masters in Ministry Degree Online
A Christian ministry masters program can enable you to gain rich knowledge and learn how to implement key skills as you further your theological education.
Earning your masters degree online is often a more convenient and flexible path toward reaching your goals. If you’re ready to take the next step in your educational and theological journey, you can start researching and exploring accredited universities to find the ministry program option that best suits your personal needs and ministry goals.