A minister is responsible for educating and leading a congregation through the teachings of the Bible. Ministers conduct a variety of religious activities, including worship services, baptisms, weddings and funerals. Educational programs for aspiring ministers exist at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, as described below. Students who want to study from home can enroll in one of the many online programs in this field.
Bachelor's Degree in Youth Ministry
A bachelor's degree in youth ministry educates students in worship leadership, children's ministries and educational teachings. This program offers students an opportunity to articulate the philosophy of the Bible and understand the issues facing youths in contemporary society. Graduates leave the program with the ability to counsel adolescents and communicate concepts of the Bible in teaching situations.
Students interested in pursuing a youth ministry degree program must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many programs prefer that students have experience within a church or have participated in ministry programs.
Coursework introduces students to theology. It also provides a background in Christian literature and public speaking. Students can expect to take the following courses:
- Interpreting the Bible
- Communication for ministry
- Contemporary youth problems
- Foundations of youth ministry
- Practical theology
Bachelor of Ministry
A Bachelor of Ministry degree prepares individuals to begin a career in Christian ministry. This is a pre-professional degree program that gives students a foundation in biblical teachings and prepares them for a graduate degree program. The curriculum teaches students to develop practical skills in Christian ministry, such as teaching, leadership, preaching and counseling in various situations.
Students interested in enrolling in a Bachelor of Ministry degree program must have completed their general educational requirements. Many programs also want to see a recommendation from a church leader and an essay. The essay states the objectives and reasons for pursuing this degree program.
Coursework provides a foundation in preaching and pastoral care. Courses that provide this instruction include:
- Christian counseling
- Church conflict
- Church administration
Master of Divinity
Students enrolling in a Master of Divinity degree program receive extensive knowledge of church history, biblical teaching and theology. This degree program focuses on Christian texts, practices and traditions and encourages students to deepen his or her spiritual growth. Students learn to integrate the principles of theology and psychology to offer spiritual counseling to those in need. The curriculum teaches students to examine contemporary issues facing the church and society.
Prospective students interested in enrolling in a Master of Divinity program must have completed a bachelor's degree in ministry from an accredited university. Programs require that students have high academic scores and letters of recommendation from Christian leaders.
Students learn about the Old Testament, the New Testament and world religion. They also learn about systematic theology through the following courses:
- Christian ethics
- Principles of Bible study
- Church and ministry
- Biblical languages
Doctor of Ministry
A Doctor of Ministry is the highest professional degree possible in this profession. Most students that pursue a Doctor of Ministry have experience in this field and are looking to further their understanding of the gospel and improve their teachings. Students are given an opportunity to examine and reflect on their ministry experience and relationship with God.
A Master of Divinity is the prerequisite for anyone interested in enrolling in a Doctor of Ministry degree program. Applicants must submit recommendations from individuals who can attest to his or her commitment to ministry.
Coursework provides instruction in life, values and spiritual formation. Courses include:
- Prophetic leadership
- Ministry leadership coaching
- Creative ministry
Salary Info and Career Outlook
Clergy are projected to have an average job growth of 6% from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reported that the median annual salary for all clergy was $44,250 per year in 2015 (www.bls.gov). A minister's wages depend on the size of his or her congregation.
Popular Career Options
Graduates with a youth ministry degree should focus on areas that best fit his or her strengths and where they can make a difference in the lives of young people. Opportunities are available as:
- Youth minister
- Youth pastor
- Church administration
- Youth program coordinator
Graduates of the bachelor of ministry program are prepared to be ordained into the Christian ministry. Career opportunities are available as:
- Spiritual counselors
Graduates with a Doctor of Ministry degree are able to work in ministry related vocations and teach in academic settings. Career opportunities are available as:
- Senior Pastors
Minister school programs are designed to prepare students to become spiritual leaders or various other roles within the church. Those who graduate with a doctorate can become religious authorities such as ministers or senior pastors, or may choose to pursue careers within academia.