Divinity Studies Degrees by Degree Program Level

Divinity studies degree programs prepare graduates for positions within the church, typically as pastors, missionaries or ministers. Divinity studies in the U.S. are generally based in the Christian faith, but often include surveys of other religions.

Essential Information

Degree levels include associate's, bachelor's and master's programs, which may take two, four or three years to complete, respectively. Among the topics of study are sermon preparation, evangelism, ancient biblical languages, biblical interpretation, church ethics and theology. A program, of any level, requires students to first have a high school diploma.

Associate of Divinity

An associate's degree in divinity studies is designed to prepare students who feel they've been called to a career in Christian ministry. Students learn about the theology of the Christian religion, and devise interpretations from both biblical and historical perspectives. Emphasis is placed on communicating this understanding with others, as well as personal growth, maturity, professionalism and leadership skills. Practical ministry skills include problem solving, computer applications and counseling.

An Associate in Divinity is generally a 2-year program, which combines classroom instruction with the real-world practice of ministry.

  • Old Testament literature
  • Biblical interpretation
  • Sermon preparation and delivery
  • Evangelism
  • Marriage and family counseling

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ministry Studies

A B.A. in Ministry Studies is a liberal arts degree for students wishing to pursue careers of service within the Christian church. Students learn about the history of Christianity and its relation to the worldviews of other religions. They also pursue advanced Bible study, including the study of significant biblical figures and events. Practical aspects of ministry are also emphasized, such as sermon preparation and delivery, relationship counseling, worship and youth ministry. Students may be asked to select concentrations such as missions, biblical languages or music ministry.

A bachelor's degree program in ministry studies generally requires four years to complete. An internship, which provides graduates with real-world experience in church ministry and leadership, is often a requirement.

  • History of Christian education
  • New Testament doctrines
  • Introduction to theology
  • Christian church ethics
  • Foundations of Christian preaching and teaching

Master of Divinity

A master's program in divinity studies prepares graduates for a lifetime of servitude to the Christian church. This degree program offers a comprehensive education in theology and paves the way for many career options within the field of ministry. Emphasis is placed on communication skills and pedagogy, which are deemed essential to the field of ministry. Master of Divinity students must choose a concentration area, which might include leadership, theology, chaplaincy or philosophy of religion. A Master of Divinity program generally requires three years to complete. Common coursework includes the following:

  • Philosophies of world religions
  • Ministering to an intercultural congregation
  • Ancient biblical languages
  • Homiletics

Popular Career Options

Most career options for a person with an educational background in divinity studies are related directly to the church. However, many career opportunities may be enhanced by the related training in analytical thinking, mediation and leadership. Common positions include:

  • Pastor or Associate pastor
  • Christian minister or Deacon
  • Missionary
  • Counselor
  • Minister of music
  • Church educator

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clergy were projected to see fast-as-average growth of 6% between 2014 and 2024. The mean annual wages for clergy were $48,150 in May 2015. The top employers were religious organizations and hospitals, stated the BLS.

Students interested in some capacity of work in the divinity field can earn a degree at the associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree level. Graduates commonly work in counseling or some capacity of ministry.

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