Master's Degree in Pastoral Ministry: Schools & Programs

There are many colleges and universities throughout the United States that award master's degrees in pastoral ministry. Take an in-depth look at the master's programs, including curriculum, at five schools.

Students can choose from part-time enrollment, online classes, or a specialization in Hispanic Ministry when selecting a master's degree in pastoral ministry. Graduates will take coursework that will prepare them to work in a variety of church and lay positions.

School Comparison

These five private, not-for-profit institutions providing master's degrees in pastoral ministry range in location from California to Pennsylvania.

Institution Location Average Graduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018)*
Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA $22,662
Aquinas Institute of Theology Saint Louis, MO $18,190
Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA $28,836
Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI $26,522
Anna Maria College Paxton, MA $10,530

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

Master's Programs in Pastoral Ministry

Duquesne University

Duquesne University's master's program focuses on Catholic tenets and prepares graduates to work in various positions within the church. Students will complete 30 credits, a portfolio, and a practicum experience in order to graduate with a master of arts. They will take classes in areas like social ethics and sacraments. Students who follow the recommended course schedule usually earn their degree in three years, while part-time students do so in five-six years.

Potential students will need a bachelor's degree in theology or a similar discipline. They will provide an online application, official transcripts, three recommendation letters, official GRE scores, and a statement of purpose for the admissions process.

Aquinas Institute of Theology

Candidates can earn a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry at the Aquinas Institute of Theology. The program combines tenets of spiritual development, ministerial foundations, and theological studies, and is offered through a partnership with the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. The degree requires 48 credits and includes four months of a field ministry experience. There are close to 15 required classes, including foundations of pastoral care and canon law for ministry.

Candidates with a bachelor's degree are eligible to apply for the program. The application process involves the following:

  • Three recommendation letters
  • Autobiographical essay
  • Miller Analogies Test
  • Personal interview

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and offers both traditional and online formats for the 60 quarter-credit master's program. Those enrolled full-time usually complete the program in two years, while those who complete one class per semester will finish up in five years. Students can add a specialization in Hispanic Ministry, which requires the completion of the U.S. Latino Theology course.

The university requires prospective students to hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. They will submit an online application and $50 fee, along with two official transcripts and two recommendation letters.

Andrews University

The master of arts program at Andrews University is ideal for experienced pastors who are interested in part-time enrollment. They will need to earn 48 credits for graduation, which is usually done within four years. A unique feature of the program at this school affiliated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church is that candidates can apply at any time, as there are no set deadlines for applications.

Andrews stipulates that candidates possess a bachelor's degree with a 2.50 GPA; however, some candidates may be admitted that do not meet this requirement. The application process consists of three recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Candidates will also need to complete a 16-question personality factor test.

Anna Maria College

Students will complete a 39-credit master of arts program at Anna Maria College, which seeks to integrate the personal, spiritual, and intellectual aspects of the Catholic faith. The degree is usually earned in two years and includes classes about the history and mission of the Church as well as skills for ministry. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate.

Potential students must provide documentation of their undergraduate degree and 2.7 GPA when applying. The admissions process includes the following:

  • Contact information for two references or two letters of recommendations
  • Personal statement detailing interest and commitment to the program
  • Resume
  • Optional submission of GMAT, GRE, or MAT scores

Master's degrees in pastoral ministry may be found in different parts of the United States and affiliated with various faiths. Applicants should possess a bachelor's degree, and some programs require a minimum GPA for admission.


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