A number of schools have online master's degree programs in worship and religious studies, though often they are offered as separate disciplines. We'll take a look at some of the considerations involved in selecting the right school as well as some online degree offerings from three institutions.
How to Select an Online Worship and Religious Studies School
Master's degree programs in worship and religious studies, even if not available in a combined form, are both available online. Students should be aware of a college's accreditation status and the doctrines and philosophies that dominate at a particular college before enrolling. Students should then weigh program accreditation with the institution's philosophies.
When choosing a program, students should be aware that some Christian colleges choose not to be accredited, often because they believe that accreditation is at odds with their mission. This is acceptable for some students, but those who plan to transfer their earned credits later to complete a higher-level degree will be unable to do so from an unaccredited program. Students should determine before applying whether an institution is appropriate for their future educational goals.
Institutional Doctrines and Philosophies
Different colleges have different beliefs and doctrines, and while much of the time colleges that have religious studies or worship degrees are Christian colleges, some secular colleges also offer religious studies degrees. Students must consider why they are pursuing a degree in religious studies and choose their institution based on which will best fulfill their needs. For those who wish to study religions from an outside perspective, a secular university with religious studies programs may be the best choice. For students who will go into the ministry, a Christian college is often more attractive.
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Online Program Options for Worship and Religious Studies
Master of Religious Studies
A master's degree in religious studies is intended for those who are studying religion in general as well as for those who plan to go into a ministry leadership position. Secular colleges often offer religious studies degrees that study religion from the outside, while Christian colleges, and especially seminaries, are normally focused on preparing students for ministry work. Online degrees of this type are normally offered through unified education software, though some may be offered simply through e-mail correspondence. Depending upon the focus of the program, course topics might include:
- Buddhist thought and practice
- Conflict and diversity
- Exegesis Hebrew
- Religious texts and interpretation
- Ethnography of religion
Master of Worship Studies
A master's degree in worship studies is usually designed specifically for worship leaders and those in the ministry who lead worship on a regular basis and who wish to get a more comprehensive background knowledge in their field. Course topics in this program might include:
- Personal development of the minister
- Theology of music and worship
- Conflict management in the ministry
- Heritage and leadership
Schools with Online Programs in Worship and Religious Studies
Graceland University offers an online master's degree program in religion, giving students a strong foundation in biblical studies and a thorough academic education into Christian history and theology. The program is designed to prepare students for work within the ministry or further study. Some online classes in the program include an in-person session at the Community of Christ Temple, which is located in Independence, Missouri.
At Liberty University, students can complete a wholly online master's degree program in worship studies, preparing them for a career as a religious leader. Applicants will need to submit a statement of purpose to outline their reasons for choosing worship studies, and those who are accepted can specialize in worship techniques, ethnomusicology, or leadership.
You may also choose to study religion at the master's degree level at the Harvard Extension School, a part of Harvard University. These programs are mostly online but at least three of the nine courses must be taken on campus. Students will develop a thorough understanding of central religious teachings and history and assess the role of religion both in the past and the present.
Master's degree programs in religion and worship studies are quite readily available both online and partially online, giving students a wide range of choices about how to pursue their studies. While content varies from school to school, most programs focus on giving students a deeper understanding of Christianity and the bible as well as preparing them for leadership roles within the ministry following graduation.