Certificate programs in biblical studies are designed for students who are looking to improve their understanding of Christianity and to develop skills for mentoring others in the Christian faith. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs prepare students for careers as ministers, religious counselors, missionaries and other areas of service. Some degree programs require that students be involved in church work and Bible study groups. Courses in all of these programs include Bible history, Bible study methods and using the Bible to minister to others. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent and references from a Christian leader. Certificate programs take 1 year to complete, while an associate's degree takes 2 years.
Certificate in Biblical Studies
Generally a program for non-degree seeking students, the curriculum explores Christian philosophy and theology with an emphasis on values and spirituality. Students study the Old and New Testaments, the history of the Christian church and bible study techniques. Other focus areas are Christian and Israeli history, Genesis and biblical prophets. Coursework covers studies in Psalms, scriptures and issues in ministry services. Topics discussed in courses include:
- Egyptian history
- Religious movements
- The Messiah
- The Holy Spirit
Associate of Biblical Studies
This program is founded on the teachings of the Bible and designed to develop independent-thinking Christian minds. The curriculum is a combination of liberal arts and Bible studies courses, with a major focus on the Christian faith and methods of ministering others through the teachings of Christ. Studies include the history of religion in America and Europe, controversial religious figures and biblical influences on relationships and family. Biblical studies courses consist of a wide-range of topics, from lessons in the Old and New Testaments to modern issues in Christian theology. Other topics might include:
- The divine covenant
- The Gospels
- Mission theology
Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies
This program is offered as a major and it is possible to link it up with a minor such as church, pastoral and youth ministries. It includes a comprehensive survey of Bible history, teachings and education. Studies in the history of Christ provide the background of Christian faith across the globe and the biblical doctrines behind Christian theology and philosophy. Some programs offer an internship experience where students gain hands-on experience working with others in a ministry setting. Students prepare to lead and support others in pursuing spiritual growth through studies in Christian doctrines and social responsibility. Coursework includes studies in:
- Biblical language
- Biblical research
- Human origins
- Church organization
Popular Career Options
Graduates go on to work in churches, youth ministries and in a variety of other settings. Options can also be found at religious non-profit organizations, hospitals, corrections centers, in the armed forces and more. Some job titles for graduates are:
- Sunday school teacher
- Bible studies leader
- Youth activity assistant
- Youth minister
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Since denominations and churches differ widely on the training, credentials and level of education required for becoming ministers, counselors or education directors, individuals should research carefully to be sure specific degrees will move them in the desired direction. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that clergy members made a median annual salary of $44,250 in 2015, and religious activities and education directors brought home $38,780 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also projected 6% job growth for members of the clergy, from 2014-2024, while religious activities and education directors could expect 4% growth.
Master's degrees are available in Biblical studies. Many of the same topics covered at the baccalaureate level - such as the Old and New Testament and theology - are explored in more depth at the graduate level, but a thesis will also be required. Finally, a doctorate in Biblical studies (Bs.D.) is also available.
Undergraduate degree programs in biblical studies prepare students for roles as clergy, religious activities directors, and other related jobs, as they'll have in-depth knowledge about biblical concepts, theology, religious movements and church organization.