Worship Studies Programs: Education Options

Instruction in worship studies is usually offered at master's degree level. Students enrolled in these programs examine worship from academic and theological perspectives to prepare for careers in the church.

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Essential Information

Master of Arts and Master of Divinity in Worship Studies degree programs emphasize the biblical, cultural and theological aspects of Christian worship. Students learn to become effective worship leaders by balancing tradition and innovation in contemporary Christian worship. Some schools offer specializations in leadership, pastoral preaching and ethnomusicology. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is discussed, as well as the diversity of various evangelical and Pentecostal worship cultures. This curriculum may be offered in an online format that requires minimal campus visits.

Worship studies master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite and may also require students to be currently involved with a ministry.


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Master of Arts/Master of Divinity in Worship Studies

The curriculum of a master's degree in worship studies consists of 30-45 credit hours. In addition to the required coursework in worship, theology and leadership, students must complete a thesis project or an extended research paper at the culmination of the degree program. An internship is also an essential component of some schools' curriculum, and while not all schools require one, students are often strongly encouraged to participate. Some courses commonly found within the degree program include:

  • Contemporary Pentecostal spirituality and worship
  • Biblical principles, concepts and practices of worship
  • History of worship and its role in the church
  • Planning and leading worship
  • Postmodern views of spirituality
  • The impact of transculturalism on Christian worship

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree in worship studies are equipped to serve their church in a number of ways. Some positions require a thorough understanding of music, which candidates would have ideally acquired through their undergraduate study. Some specific careers available to graduates include:

  • Worship pastor
  • Music minister
  • Missionary
  • Worship leader
  • Director of worship ministries

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that clergy would see a 6% increase in jobs from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. The mean annual wages for these workers were $48,150 in May 2015.

Continuing Education

Though rare, doctoral programs in worship studies are also available for those seeking to expand their knowledge and advance to higher positions within the church. The doctoral program contains advanced classes covering topics such as forming congregational spirituality and the sacred actions of Christian worship. The doctoral program is intended to follow completion of a master's degree in any field.

Students looking to continue their religious studies education and pursue a career in ministry can benefit from gaining a master's degree in worship studies.

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