Online Degree Programs for Becoming a Chaplain

Get info about online programs for becoming a chaplain. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Degree programs in chaplaincy are available online at the bachelor's and master's levels. Students are trained in the areas of crisis counseling, social ministry and apologetics. While online degrees in chaplaincy are hard to find, if not non-existent, there are several online bachelor's and master's degree programs that include courses useful to a chaplain. These degrees go by many names, such as Bachelor of Arts in Missions or Master of Divinity. Many of these programs are totally online, while others have some on-campus requirements. Some programs call for internships that give students experience in the field.

Degree programs in chaplaincy teach students to combine psychology and theology. In a bachelor's degree program, aspiring chaplains may take courses in counseling in which they learn to use Biblical principles to help troubled people. Other courses may cover the operation of a ministry and basic theology.

Some master's degree programs allow students to choose a concentration in chaplaincy. Courses may examine the role of a chaplain, conflict resolution skills and ethics. Master's degree students may have to complete a thesis.

Bachelor's Degree in Chaplaincy

Chaplains typically require at least a bachelor's degree in religion, theology, divinity or a related field. Online programs provide knowledge and training in the counseling of people and families in need. Online learners explore the fundamentals of faith and religion through in-depth study of the Bible and religious theologies.

Program Information and Requirements

Some institutions may require students to have completed prerequisite coursework in Bible studies, psychology or counseling. A number of programs are offered completely online; however, some may incorporate both online and on-campus classes. Online courses are viewed using online learning management systems, such as Blackboard. Communication with professors and fellow students is accomplished via message boards and chat rooms. A field experience may be necessary to complete the degree program.

Online learners must have reliable access to a computer, meeting hardware and software requirements, as well as an Internet connection. Some courses utilize online video conferencing software and require the use of a headset, webcam and speakers. Additionally, a printer may be useful in creating hard copies of assignments.

Chaplaincy Bachelor's Degree Program

Bachelor's students examine theories and methods used to assist people in crisis. They gain practical knowledge in providing care and guidance to people in times of emotional, physical and spiritual conflict.

Christian Counseling

This course introduces students to the basic principles of Christian counseling and the helping ministry. They utilize the Bible and religious teachings to help those in need to overcome real-world challenges.

Life Skills Training

This online course provides an overview of strategies in imparting basic life skills to those in need. Topics of discussion include providing assistance in literacy, employment and financial management.

Introduction to Church Ministries

In this online course, students explore the fundamentals of church ministries, as well as its biblical and philosophical foundations. Emphasis is placed on the leadership, vocational and biblical roles of ministers.

Career Information

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program are generally qualified for chaplain positions in a variety of settings, such as in communities and schools. In May 2015, U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that the median annual salary for a chaplain was $44,250.

Master's Degree in Chaplaincy

Master's degrees in chaplaincy are available online as a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Chaplaincy or a Master of Arts in Practical Theology. Students examine theological teachings and apply them in educational, professional and spiritual contexts. They observe the similarities and differences in various types of chaplaincies in formal and informal settings.

Program Information and Requirements

Applicants typically must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Some institutions may require students to have professional work experience or prior education in the ministry or religious counseling. A number of programs are offered completely online; however, some may blend online classes with on-campus lectures or group assignments. A thesis or field experience is generally required.

In addition to an Internet connection, students must have access to a computer with word processing software. Microsoft Word is typically preferred, but not required by most institutions. Online learners must also have up-to-date operating systems and Web browsers. Specific plug-ins may be required.

Chaplaincy Master's Degree Program

Master's students examine theological and cultural issues faced in modern-day society. They gain advanced knowledge of the application of balanced biblical and theological reasoning in developing practical solutions to challenges faced by individuals and families.

Applied Ethics

Students explore the application of critical thinking and decision-making skills in a variety of business, social and biomedical situations. They examine religious ethical systems, as well as how they are used in counseling others.

Counseling and Conflict

This online course provides students with strategies in developing effective emotional and healing techniques. Areas of study include church-based mentoring and biblical references in conflict resolution.

Chaplaincy Studies

The roles and responsibilities of chaplains throughout history are the focus of this course. Special emphasis is placed on military chaplains and their relationship with today's military.

Career Information

Master's degree holders are generally equipped for chaplaincy positions in environments such as the military, hospitals and correctional institutions. The average annual salary for a healthcare chaplain was $50,430 in May 2015, as reported by U.S. Bureau of Labor

Online programs for degrees in chaplaincy are rare; however, there are a few online programs at both the bachelor's and master's degree levels that offer coursework that would be useful to a chaplain, such as counseling.

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