Online Ministry Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online ministry school. Some program options, length factors, and common topics offered for the field of study are shown below.

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It is important to choose the most appropriate online ministry school that fits your individual goals. Online ministry education programs vary in award level, delivery, and time commitment.

How to Select an Online Ministry School

Choosing an online ministry school depends on the award level desired and the online format. Some distance ministry programs are offered fully online, while others require some on-campus attendance. Online ministry programs are offered by several private colleges and seminaries around the country.

Award Level

Students can earn a certificate, an associate degree, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree or a doctorate in ministry online. While an undergraduate can be appropriate for community ministry and working on a church staff, many denominations require a Master of Divinity or other advanced degree to become clergy.

Program Delivery

Some programs are delivered completely online, allowing students to log in for lectures and assignments whenever it's convenient. Other programs combine online courses with on-campus sessions, which sometimes requires up to four weeks of attendance at the school or an off-site location.

List of Online Ministry Programs

Online Certificate in Ministry

Online certificates in ministry require from 12 to 30 hours of study. Most schools allow students to customize their own coursework from any of the available online courses. Course topics focus on:

  • Survey of Biblical literature
  • Theological ministries
  • Religious studies

Online Associate of Arts in Church Ministry

An online associate degree in ministry is designed to prepare students for ministry, with classes involving research and biblical studies and thinking. Other course topics include:

  • Personal and Bible study skills
  • Philosophy and worldview
  • Ministry management
  • Evangelism
  • Group counseling

Online Bachelor of Arts in Transformational Christian Ministries

An online bachelor's degree program in ministry usually requires about 120 hours to complete, including general education requirements. Coursework may include:

  • Spiritual mentoring
  • Christian theology
  • Paul and the early church
  • Congregational leadership
  • Church history

Online Master of Divinity

Online Master of Divinity programs can take up to six years to complete and often requires an internship during the fifth and sixth years. Students study topics in early and medieval church history and the foundations of preaching. Other topics include:

  • Christian apologetics
  • Church reform
  • Homiletics
  • Systematic theology

Online Doctor of Ministry

Online Doctor of Ministry degrees are offered as a way for students to broaden their knowledge of biblical canon and increase job opportunities within the Church. Coursework includes:

  • Discipleship
  • Pastoral counseling and leadership
  • Expository preaching

Schools with Online Programs in Ministry

Many schools offer fully online theology programs that help prepare individuals for the ministry.

The University of Dallas School of Ministry offers a Master of Theological Studies degree completely online. This program focuses on practical application of theological knowledge. Courses include but are not limited to church history, systematic theology, and litergy. A variety of elective courses are available for students who want to explore different subject areas.

Regent University offers a number of fully online ministry programs at many different levels ranging from an associate's degree to a doctorate. For example, they have an Associate of Arts in Christian Studies that works to educate students on their faith as well as prepares them to move into bachelor's level education. At the bachelor's level, Regent has an online Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry that prepares each student to become a minister, build a strong foundation in biblical and theological studies, and become best equipped to practice. The school also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies with two different concentrations to choose from.

While many ministry programs are available online, the appropriateness of the degree and level depends on the goals of the individual. Most programs will provide students with a solid general foundation while also allowing them freedom to explore areas of interest.

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