Christian ministry degree programs are designed to prepare graduates to provide spiritual guidance and motivation, as well as write and deliver sermons and speeches. Students learn how to work in Christian ministry through field exercises like internships and volunteer events in addition to classroom lectures.Work experience and prior education, depending on the degree level, are standard prerequisites to these programs.
Associate's degree programs typically last two years or at least 60 hours of coursework. Bachelor's programs average four years with master's degree programs taking approximately two years.
Associate's Degree in Christian Ministry
Associate's degrees in Christian ministry offer entry-level training for those wishing to begin work in Christian ministries or pursue advanced academic studies in the field. In addition to general education, students focus on historical Christian thought, social shifts and Bible study. Common courses include:
- World views and history
- Church and field ministries
- Biblical and church leadership
- Christian evangelism
- Theological social issues
Bachelor's Degree in Christian Ministry
Bachelor's degree programs in Christian ministry offer areas of specialization, such as education, youth leadership, worship direction or Biblical studies. Candidates may also choose to focus on preparation for global missionary work. Depending on the chosen specialized field of study, students may take concentrated courses in specific Biblical texts, languages, leadership roles or education studies. Students in these programs are required to take general education courses in math and English, among other subjects, as part of the degree program. In addition to coursework, students must usually complete an internship, which can last from several months to a year. Some schools may require volunteer work with a local church or Christian organization. Practical experiences often develop skills necessary for youth ministry, music and worship leadership. Some major-related course topics may include:
- Advanced Bible study
- Intercultural studies
- Church management and organization
- Counseling and communication
- Biblical and pastoral theology
- Christian traditions
Master's Degree in Christian Ministry
A Master of Christian Ministry degree program concentrates on a specific area of ministry, such as youth ministry leadership, evangelism or counseling. In addition to Biblical studies, master's curricula includes considerable research in historical and contemporary Christian faith and effective communication strategies. A considerable amount of research and independent study is required, as well as the successful completion of research projects and a master's thesis. Some core courses include:
- Professional leadership
- Societal influences on Christian faith
- Child & adolescent counseling
- Leadership roles
- Theology and Biblical interpretation
- Religion and church history
Individuals with undergraduate degrees in Christian ministry qualify for entry-level ministry positions within a church or Christian organization. Smaller congregations may only require an associate degree and/or substantial experience for a pastoral position. Some common occupations may include:
- Associate pastor
- Youth ministry leader
- Worship leader
- Christian field minister
Graduates of a master's program typically qualify for advanced pastoral or ministry positions, military chaplaincy or leadership roles in academia. Many states require public school teachers and administrators to hold a master's degree and licensure. Those with administrative training may seek executive positions within Christian churches or associations to provide organization, strategy and direction for ministry endeavors.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a salary range of $26,160 or less to $85,040 or more for members of the clergy in general. Figures from the BLS indicate secretaries and administrative assistants who worked for religious organizations made a mean salary of $38,030 annually in 2018. According to the BLS, clergy positions were expected to increase 6% between 2018-2028.
Associate's degree graduates may extend their education in the field through Christian ministry organizations, churches or as missionaries. Individuals may participate in a variety of professions that promote Christian faith and goodwill among congregations or foreign populations. Some schools may offer degree completion programs, allowing credit from an associate's degree program to be applied toward a bachelor's degree.
Opportunities for individuals to grow and learn within the field of Christian ministry are provided through conferences, lectures and retreats. Some schools also offer local or foreign ministry programs for graduates or as part of a bachelor's degree program. Additionally, students may enroll in a short graduate certificate program to focus studies on a particular ministry or leadership role.
Those with a master's degree in ministry may enroll in a Doctor of Christian Ministry (DMin) program. Offering extensive core instruction in ministry leadership, doctoral programs include concentrated studies based on a student's intended goal, such as church building, counseling, foreign ministries or evangelism. Several schools offer the DMin curriculum online for working pastors, foreign missionary workers and church ministry leaders.
Christian ministry degrees give students the skills required to work in various positions from within the church to the military and beyond. Entry-level positions are open to undergraduate degree holders and research or academic careers are available for graduates of the master's degree program.