Colleges for Aspiring Missionaries: How to Choose

Dec 05, 2019

Colleges, universities and theological seminaries across the U.S. offer programs which can equip aspiring missionaries with the knowledge they need. Students can focus on intercultural studies, communication or theological studies in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs.

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Missionaries are members of a religious group who travel internationally or locally to provide education and other services to a community, and to attract new members as well. Aspiring and experienced missionaries can enroll in academic programs that provide training in religion, cultural sensitivity and language acquisition.

Schools with Missions/Missiology Programs

The following list includes a number of private schools that offer missionary programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2018-2019)
Biola University La Mirada, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $40,488; Graduate $11,178
Dallas Theological Seminary Dallas, TX 4-year, Private Master's Graduate $16,560
Seattle Pacific University Seattle, WA 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $42,939
Baptist Bible College Springfield, MO 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $14,150; Graduate $8,100
Simpson University Redding, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $30,200
Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate Undergraduate $13,056; Graduate $7,740
Calvin Theological Seminary Grand Rapids, MI 4-year, Private Master's, Graduate Certificate Graduate $15,972
Wheaton College Wheaton, IL 4-year, Private Master's Graduate $20,400
Bethel University Saint Paul, MN 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $37,300

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a program for missionary studies, there are many things to consider.

  • Curricula which emphasize multiculturalism and communication, including foreign languages, best prepare students to ably interact with individuals from other cultures.
  • Schools with volunteer programs and student organizations that offer hands-on experience outside the classroom can be highly beneficial.
  • Some schools offer undergraduate and graduate programs, while other schools only offer one or the other. Students who don't want to transfer in order to pursue graduate studies may want to select a school that has both undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • Consider whether the school offers a missionary trip as part of the curriculum, or as an option during school breaks to gain practical experience in missionary work.

Bachelor of Arts in Missions

Missions degree programs typically culminate in a missionary trip, allowing students to apply their knowledge in the field. Some programs offer students the option to focus on international missionary studies through multicultural courses or work within the U.S. by volunteering locally.

Master of Arts in Missions

Master of Arts in Missions degree programs emphasize philosophy and cross-cultural communication and often require students to develop a proficiency in a foreign language. Some programs require applicants to have experience working as a missionary.

Doctor of Missiology

Doctor of Missiology degree programs offer specializations, such as intercultural studies or relief and development. Students are usually required to complete missionary work and research in the field and become fluent in a second language. Programs typically emphasize leadership and prepare graduates to develop as teachers, community developers or missions administrators.

Aspiring missionaries can opt to pursue an undergraduate certificate or degree, or graduate studies in missions or missiology. Although not always required, familiarity with a foreign language may be an asset for aspiring missionaries.

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