Online Chaplain Training Programs

Find out about online chaplaincy courses and in which programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Chaplains perform an important function by providing counseling and spiritual guidance in the military, prisons, nonprofit organizations, hospitals and hospice. Those interested in distance learning chaplaincy training can find several options through private, religious-affiliated universities and colleges. These programs are typically at the master's or doctoral levels and include a chaplaincy concentration within divinity or ministry programs. Several programs are offered totally online, but some -- especially doctorate options -- are hybrid in nature. They may include a few on-campus residencies and research presentations.

To enter an online chaplaincy master's degree program, students are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Those seeking admission to a doctoral-level program generally need to have a master's degree, which may need to be in a religious field such as divinity; these programs may also prefer applicants who are ordained pastors or ministers. In all of these cases, schools could require prospective students to submit a pastoral recommendation from the student's church or pastor.

Online Availability Fully online and hybrid programs available
Degree Levels Available Master's and doctoral
Majors with Chaplaincy Courses Divinity, ministry
Important Prerequisites Bachelor's or master's degree in related field; some schools require prior ordination to ministry or pastoral recommendation

Online Master of Divinity - Chaplaincy

Most online chaplaincy programs are based in the Christian faith, although there are also Islamic programs and inter-faith programs designed for military chaplains. Depending on the program, courses may be completed asynchronously at the student's convenience or online classes are held at a specific date and time. Typically, coursework is accessed through the school's distance learning portal and students communicate with professors and fellow students via e-mail, instant messaging and online forums.

Master's degree programs in this field may take up to four years to complete and provide in-depth study of various Bible interpretations, often in the original written language.

Course Topics

Common coursework includes:

  • Non-Christian ministry
  • Family life ministry
  • Greek language
  • Bible interpretations
  • Christian ethics

Online Doctor of Ministry with Chaplaincy Concentration

Online or hybrid doctoral programs in ministry may allow students to concentrate in a specific chaplaincy field, such as military ministry or institutional chaplaincy. Often these programs have a pastoral component that must completed in-person at an affiliated institution or military branch. Core coursework in a doctoral program is usually combined with research projects and a dissertation. Distance learners can typically complete their degree in around three to five years.

Course Topics

Online courses in a chaplaincy program can include:

  • Leadership values
  • Spiritual leadership
  • Theological organization
  • Church history
  • Vision, mobilization and management

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