Distance Learning Ministry Degree Program Options

Dec 04, 2019

Get info about online programs in ministry. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

A master's degree in ministry program, which might also be called ministry leadership or Christian ministry, helps teach the student how to effectively pastor a congregation. Students study leadership, finances, missions, Christian education and pastoral counseling. Other courses examine Old and New Testament topics, theologians and contemporary theology. Computer requirements may include word processing software and a webcam for videoconferencing

A student in a master's degree in ministry program must hold a bachelor's degree in Christian ministry, Biblical studies or a related field. Some programs require four years of experience as a religious leader (such as a pastor or missionary). These programs are designed to be completed in about 18 months to 2 years of full-time study, but they may take longer.

Master's Degree in Ministry

Online master's degree programs in ministry are rare and represent a separate degree path from those in theology or divinity. Programs are designed to prepare students for the challenges of leading complex, dynamic congregations. Church size, finances, ethnic diversity, evangelism and sermon delivery are among the topics addressed in a program's coursework. Applicants need to have earned at least a bachelor's degree and have four years of experience working as a pastor or missionary.

Program Information and Requirements

Courses in an online master's degree program in ministry can be completed entirely online. Students may access all readings, lectures and assignments at their convenience through a school's website. Interactions between students and instructors are conducted via e-mail, videoconferencing, chat functions, phone or online forums. A master's degree in ministry can be earned in 1-5 years, depending on how much time is dedicated to the program.

Students need a personal computer, Internet access and basic word processing software to participate in an online program. A dial-up connection is adequate, but most schools recommend a cable or DSL connection.

Common Ministry Courses

Master's degree programs in ministry are divided into a set of core courses and a group of electives. The core component may include courses on biblical interpretation, as well as analyses of particular chapters of the New Testament that have relevance to leadership.

Ministry Leadership

Students in this course learn concepts and skills that help them adapt their personal style to the leadership of a church and its congregation. Course content gives special attention to motivation, earning credibility and coping with pressure.

Legal Issues For Ministers

This course covers the limitations on and responsibilities of churches and ministers as codified by secular authorities. Laws at the local, state and federal levels are among the topics covered.

Church Revitalization

Planning, promotion and overcoming lay resistance to church participation are the focus of this course. Coursework emphasizes setting goals and using community surveys to identify and establish programs that meet spiritual needs.

Disciple Training

This course outlines the philosophy of disciples and explores the process of training others to assist with the duties of running a ministry. Students learn techniques for instilling their knowledge, skills and behavior in disciples.

Career Information for Ministry Graduates

An online master's degree program in ministry is generally intended as a continuing education degree for people already involved in pastoral ministry. It prepares graduates to assume more decision-making authority and responsibility in the positions they presently hold. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts employment of ministers or clergy will increase roughly 6% from 2018-2028, an average rate of growth compared to that of other occupational categories. As of May 2018, the median salary of ministers was $48,990.

Continuing Education Information

The master's degree is the terminal degree level in ministry. Graduates who want to further their religious education need to consider pursing a master's degree or doctoral degree in divinity or theology. Online programs for both subjects at both degree levels are available.

Distance learning degree programs in ministry are available completely online, with courses in topics such as ministering to a congregation and legal issues that may arise in a church. These programs require both a bachelor's and ministry experience for entry.

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