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Best Online Bachelor's in Ministry Programs

Feb 26, 2021

The Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs in Ministry

Study.com did the research and found the best online bachelor's degrees in ministry across the nation. We inched our way through U.S. Department of Education data looking for the tuition rates, graduation rates, and financial support that made the universities and colleges below stand out from the crowd. But we didn't stop there. We looked at each program to find the premier online programs that feature experienced staff, a focus on Christian principles, hands-on learning opportunities, and retention support. Check out our top choices below.

1. Grace College of Divinity

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6,100 95% 46% 80% No Yes AP Credits

The Bachelor of Arts in Worship Ministry at Grace College of Divinity in Fayetteville, NC, tops our list of best online bachelor's degrees in ministry because of its rigorous curriculum that combines biblical training with leadership skills in a low-cost, flexible degree program. Students apply Christian principles to their worship ministry practices and get hands-on training through actual worship team practices at nearby churches. Current students credit the encouragement they receive from faculty, and the receptive atmosphere, as key reasons for attending this program. Not only does this online program boast a low tuition rate per credit hour, but the college also offers a wealth of scholarships to help students attain their ministry education.

2. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,770 100% 79% 90% Yes No AP Credits

At Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's undergraduate college, Spurgeon College, students can find a top-rated online Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry. This degree program, located in Kansas City, MO, stands out for its small size and the accessibility that students have to their professors. The program is offered through the seminary's OnlineYou educational platform that features state-of-the-art technology, applied learning, and practicums. Flexibility is key as students can start their ministry studies in any of the seven terms that are offered here annually.

3. City Vision University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6,250 No Available Data (2019-2020) 100% 100% No No AP Credits

Based in Kansas City, MO, City Vision University is a top of the line Christian university with strong roots in Christian ministry having partnered with more than 8,500 ministries since its 1998 founding. One standout feature of this university is the active role that faculty take in the community, participating in ministry work or providing counseling to local citizens. The university offers a fully online Bachelor in Christian Ministry and Leadership with concentrations in counseling, missions, and management. The majority of graduates move into ministry or nonprofit work after graduation.

4. University of Valley Forge

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22,000 63% 45% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

The University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, PA, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership which prepares students for leadership positions both in and out of the church. This program provides a foundational education with a curriculum that includes the Bible and ministry leadership, as well as the opportunity to specialize in these ministry areas: pastoral, youth, or children. Students can take advantage of the internship requirement to get hands-on training in church ministry, or join in the mission trips to various countries that are offered through the university.

5. Nazarene Bible College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10,080 No Available Data (2019-2020) 36% % No Yes AP / ACE Credits

Nazarene Bible College proudly offers two unique options for earning an online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry. Students can choose the traditional route, which offers these majors:

  • Christian educational ministries
  • Hispanic pastoral ministries
  • Counseling for Christian ministries
  • Pastoral leadership
  • Leadership and ethics
  • Pastoral ministries
  • Bible and theology

Alternatively, the AdVantage route is an accelerated degree completion program that features these majors:

  • Leadership and ethics
  • Counseling for Christian ministries

This Colorado Springs, CO based college stands out on our list for its focus on students -- encouraging interactions between professors and students in a fully online format, offering counseling services, and providing online tutoring options.

6. Johnson University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16,920 53% 63% 97% No Yes AP / ACE Credits

Johnson University, in Knoxville, TN, is home to a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership that features training in Christian leadership, the Bible and theology. This standout program provides the education students need to pursue careers in ministry or pastoral leadership. The university offers students a generous transfer policy through the Tennessee Transfer Pathway - accepting up to 60 credits of coursework. This university stands out for its relatively low tuition rates offered exclusively to online students - around $450 per credit hour for the 2021-2022 academic year.

7. Southeastern University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$26,620 48% 45% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits

Located in Lakeland, FL, Southeastern University features an online Bachelor of Science in Ministerial Leadership with a host of options to benefit students in their varied career paths. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and provides the opportunity to delve into an array of subjects such as team leadership, discipleship, and nonprofit management. Students choose a concentration in humanitarian ministry, pastoral care and counseling, Christian ministry, or biblical studies. Students have the opportunity to learn from prominent Pentecostal members of the faculty and benefit from the teachings brought to the classroom from real-world experiences in missionary work.

8. Ohio Christian University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14,883 No Available Data (2019-2020) 32% 94% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The online Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Ministry at the Circleville, OH based Ohio Christian University is a flexible program designed with adult learners in mind. Students participate in short 5week courses and choose from these concentration areas: church planting, organizational leadership, pastoral ministry, intercultural ministries or biblical studies. The program encourages student interaction through online discussions and builds student confidence and knowledge through mentoring programs and interactions with professors.

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Online Ministry Degree Overview

Do you feel a calling? Is there something tugging at your heart for a career in ministry? A degree in the ministry field will develop great interpersonal skills, biblical knowledge and understanding, leadership training, and a heart for serving. With a degree in ministry, there are many doors the student can open to serve in worship music, counseling, teaching, church/charity administration, and even missions work. A student's level of time, talent, and commitment can be pursued from the full range of degrees from an online associate degree to a doctoral degree completion.

Types of Online Degree Programs in Minstry

Online Associate Degrees in Ministry

An online Associate of Arts in Ministry (A.A.Min.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.Min.) degree is great place to begin developing a student's skill set for a purposeful career in ministry. An associate degree at some schools can even come in a more specific worship ministry or the wider Christian ministry field. A degree program can be completed within 60 credit hours or even within a 5-week program. An associate degree in ministry may be the beginning for a student's successful training in the ministry world.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Ministry

A Bachelor of Arts in Ministry is an online degree that will prepare students for a rewarding career or life calling to serve. Coursework will cover academic topics like apologetics and theology, as well as provide a wide variety of specific Christian ministry opportunities, such as children, family, women, special needs, and global missions. Some online institutions also provide a Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership with an additional focus on the administration and financial management of a church. A typical bachelor's program takes about 120 credit hours or 3-4 years to complete depending on the student's class load.

Internships and Practicums as Program Requirements

While some offer a bachelors as 100% online, others programs recommend or require an internship or practicum for a real world on-the-job training experience. Each school may have their own requirements but generally it is a 3-6 credit hour mandatory course or elective at a local church approved by the school's program. This presents a wonderful opportunity to learn in person from preceptors who are often senior pastors with a heart for teaching. The internship experience involves committee meetings, calendar and special event planning, as well as visitor and outreach programs. Schools vary on the time schedule but some list 20 hours a week for a semester up to 180 total hours of commitment to the internship.

Online Master's Degrees in Ministry

For those wishing to further pursue an education in ministry, a student may advance and obtain an online master's degree. A Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree program typically takes about 2 years and 36 credit hours. This degree continues to build on the biblical history and teaching pathways as well as covers topics in the evangelism and global studies. Some of the more featured class work could include expository teaching or foundations of leadership. In addition to a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM), some online schools offer a master's degree in a range of other related fields including in Biblical Studies, Christian Apologetics, Divinity, Global Studies, Religion, Religious Education, Sports Chaplaincy, and Theological Studies. Successful online completion of this degree program will increase a student's career path to a wider horizon of possibilities.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Ministry

For those who wish to reach the highest level, a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree may be the final goal. The depth of knowledge this degree gives a student can lead to an administrative, professor, or board level position of a ministry organization. This degree also helps a student specialize in their desired strength and type of service they wish to minister. Academic research, scholarly writing, and thesis presentation will be essential to the completion of this program.

It typically takes 2 years and 30 credit hours to be awarded this degree. Other similar online doctoral programs to consider are a Doctor of Divinity (D.Div.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biblical Exposition, or Theology and Apologetics. These advanced degrees are available options for those wishing to pursue scholar or professorships.

Online Certificates in Ministry

An online certificate in ministry may be just what a student is looking for to explore a career in ministry as a first step. Some online schools offer certificates in Biblical Studies, Global Studies, and Christian Ministry. A certificate will often focus on beginning level knowledge of one particular area of ministry, like youth ministry or church outreach. Generally, online certificates can be completed in 20 credit hours or six months. To enroll, students do not require any previous degree completion besides a high school diploma, GED, or self-certification form. These online certificates serve as a good entry point into the world of a ministry.

Ministry Specializations/Concentrations

The sky is the limit to concentrations with regards to a degree in ministry. Some schools offer online concentrations in Biblical Studies, Youth Ministries, Christian Education Ministries, Hispanic Pastoral Ministries or Ministry Leadership. A concentration is an additional coursework track within an associate or bachelor's degree and it may even be considered a minor underneath a declared major.

Curriculum/Coursework for a Ministry Degree

The curriculum will cover a wide range of topics with some of the featured courses being:

  • Apologetics- A study of the defense and veracity of Christianity, with a foundation on the biblical and theological methodologies as well as addressing the contemporary challenges to the truth of Christianity.
  • Study and Interpretation of Scripture- Understand both the historical and contemporary approaches to the interpretation of scripture using literary and contextual analysis for word meanings and clarity.
  • Leadership of the Church- Learn the Christian principles of servant leadership by studying the biblical foundations of how a church is administered by both pastoral and committee roles.
  • Global Missions- Understand the Great Commission as commanded in scripture and how to serve and respond in countries and cultures around the globe.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Ministry?

An online bachelor's in ministry usually requires 120 credit hours and can be completed in 3-4 years as a full-time student. A part-time student who still has additional work obligations may need an additional year to complete the classes as prescribed. Coursework can vary by online school, but some have course lengths of 8 weeks per subject.

Accreditation for Online in Ministry Degrees

An accredited online school verifies that the coursework and degree program are valid and meet the expectations of the student and accrediting organization. An approved accrediting organization serves as a reassurance and guarantee that the online school and program have merit and comply with either national, state, or other governing bodies of academia. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or (SACSCOC) is one of the regional accreditation organizations that review, judge, and uphold online schools to these standards.

While larger universities have a wide range of online and campus degrees that may be accredited by a regional organization, there are dedicated religious or biblical school accreditation bodies like the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission (TRACS) that accredit ministry degree programs. There are many other accreditation organizations for each region of the United States and even international boards as well. It is in the student's best interest to make sure the degree program at their intended school is officially accredited.

Ministry Licensure & Certification

A bachelor's degree will allow a student to work and serve in many different roles and functions of churches, charities, and community groups. However, there are some roles that do require a ministry license, minister license, or to be ordained. There is not one simple rule since it varies state by state, but a minister license allows professionals to act as representatives of a church to visit hospitals, nursing homes, or jails for ministry encouragement purposes. Additionally, a minister license in some states grants the authority to officiate weddings.

An ordained minister is one who has been approved or recognized by a denomination, church board, or national association to officially preach or pastor a church in leadership or teaching. A traditional head pastor or licensed minister in a church will most always need a master's degree or higher before obtaining this license and ordination verification. Also, there are some denomination-specific licensures or regional districts that may recommend their license program for verification too. However, there is not an absolute required license for bachelor degree holders to serve in other ministry roles.

Ministry Career Information

A wide world of career descriptions opens up for those who have completed a bachelor's degree in ministry. A general job description and yearly salary estimation according to Payscale.com are listed below for the following:

  • Youth Pastor- $38,672 - A youth pastor or children's minister leads and oversees the youth ministry demographic of a church with duties including pastoring, counseling, and outreach to encourage a spiritual life and connection with the church.
  • Community Outreach Coordinator- $42,254 - Serves both the community and the church/non-profit by managing programs, charity drives, resources, and connections to benefit and grow the organization.
  • Camp Director- $40,435 - Organizes and manages a youth camp program and property. This includes managing the counselors, curriculum, and youth outdoor recreation and development.
  • Children's Ministry Director- $35,026 - Oversees a church's nursery and preschool program by coordinating education, music, staff, and parents while providing a safe environment under the leadership of the church.
  • Missionary- $43,840 - Fulfills the call to minister to other cultures, countries, and the world by learning their customs, needs, and history while sharing their good will and Christian beliefs and hope.

Source: Payscale.com

How to Become a Youth Pastor

A youth pastor or minister position can be obtained by following the right educational steps and personal checks along with the successful completion of a bachelor's in ministry degree. While working on an online bachelor's degree, there are opportunities for students to serve at local church voluntarily or within an internship for a more hands-on approach and on-the-job training. In addition to volunteering, churches may require both background security check as well as personal interview about the student's spiritual life and motivation due to the sensitive nature of working with youth.

Once educational training with a degree has been completed, volunteer time has been proven, and a clean background check and personal motivation has been established, a youth pastor role becomes a great experience that allows a student to apply their education and social skills to serve. According to Payscale.com, a typical youth pastor will have an average salary around $38,672 depending on location, church size, and previous experience. The salary and job opportunities do increase with experience ($47-51k for 10-20 years) and greater metropolitan cities (San Diego 9%, Dallas 8% higher) for compensation. Many students will work as a youth pastor as they obtain their master's or Doctor of Ministry to become a future administrative or head pastor.

How to Become a Community Outreach Coordinator

A community outreach coordinator, which falls under the larger category of social community service managers since there is no specific data for that exact job title according to BLS.gov, is another career option for a graduate of a bachelor's degree in ministry. This role exists within many churches and other non-profit charitable organizations, like Habitat for Humanity and the Alzheimer's Association. The duties include creating and managing outreach programs in hospital visitations, food drives, fundraisers and awareness campaigns. The community outreach coordinator role requires excellent communication and management skills as well as a solid foundation in Christian and humanitarian principles. Most opportunities for these positions require at least a bachelor's degree with some work experience or volunteer service.

A Community Outreach Coordinator earns on average $42,254 a year depending on location and years of experience according to Payscale.com. The job outlook for the category of social community service managers is expected to grow 17% according to BLS.gov due to the rising number of the elderly and mental health population needs. A community outreach coordinator is a wonderful career option that will use both a student's education and fulfill the heart with goodwill.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Ministry Degrees

Any prospective student should take advantage and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This is a nationwide application form that allows a student to receive potential grants, loans, or opportunities for work-study financial aid. In addition to federal aid, many religious denominations and organizations have scholarships and trusts available to those seeking to enter a ministry program. Scholarships from these groups may have different requirements including those awarded to significant financial need, academic achievement, or agreement to serve in a future destination or role.

Lastly, individual institutions may offer scholarships to their school to help lower costs for those who apply. Whether through federal, denominational, benefitting organizations, or even the schools themselves, a student should pursue all avenues to seek financial aid and commit to the process.

Differences between a Ministry & Other Biblical Studies Degree Programs

It is important to note that there are some similar degree programs that have separate levels of focus and goals. A Bachelor's in Applied Ministries,

as some schools label it, is a hybrid program with a foundation in biblical knowledge and traditional coursework in business, counseling, and even worship music classes. A Bachelor's of Science in Biblical and Educational Studies is a program focused on teaching biblical history, principles, and subjects for the younger school setting or children. A Bachelor's of Arts in Religion is described as the traditional degree from which there is a more intensive theological, world religions, and evangelical course plan leading to a more established minister occupation. Many online schools may have slightly different names, but be sure to research the degree, whether it be administrative, education, or a traditional pastoral training, and make sure it matches the goals envisioned.

Career Advancement in Ministries

For those truly wishing or have a calling to serve as an ordained pastor or licensed minister, a career advancement beyond a Bachelor's degree in Ministry can be obtained by earning a Master in Ministry (M.Min.). Traditionally, with most churches and denominations, an ordained or licensed pastor/minister candidate is required to have a master's in ministry. While it is possible to serve as a pastor at smaller churches or with other background experience, most see this degree as the standard for which to hire a pastor. This is definitely within the reach for those who have completed their bachelor's. Additionally, a Doctor of Ministry lies as yet another milestone for those who wish to serve as a professor, author, or dean at a seminary.

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