Those interested in distance learning chaplaincy training can find several options through private, religiously 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 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 they may be 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.
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.
Online courses in a chaplaincy program can include:
- Leadership values
- Spiritual leadership
- Theological organization
- Church history
- Vision, mobilization and management
Graduate-level training programs for chaplains are available fully online or in a hybrid format. These programs include advanced courses in religion alongside ministry-specific classes that chaplains need to connect with the individuals they work with on a spiritual level. Students can choose between master's and doctoral programs based on their previous qualifications and future career goals.