Ministry studies programs allow students to become knowledgeable in biblical and Christian history, organizational leadership and religious doctrines. Students in these programs also learn to foster spiritual growth in others through leadership and communication skills. Candidates looking to gain entry-level ministry positions may complete a certificate program, which can generally be completed in about a year of full-time study. Prospective ministers usually complete associate's and bachelor's programs, which include courses in leadership, preaching and counseling. Applicants to master's degree programs often have extensive experience as pastors. These programs often have specialized areas of focus, such as music ministry, youth ministry, evangelism and Bible education. The programs take about two years to complete and typically require a thesis or final research project.
Because of the introductory nature of certificate programs, there are generally no educational prerequisites. Associate's and bachelor's degree program applicants need a high school diploma and may be required to submit SAT or ACT test scores. Some programs require students to demonstrate an active involvement with a church or ministry. Master's degree programs require students to have a bachelor's degree, though not necessarily in biblical or ministerial studies. Many programs may also require past ministerial experience before being accepted.
Certificate of Ministry Studies
Most certificate programs are 2-3 semesters long and prepare students for entry-level jobs with church ministries. Students in associate's degree programs learn to identify and analyze key concepts from the Bible, and communicate with other ministerial leaders. Common ministry studies courses include:
- New Testament and Old Testament
- Biblical interpretations
- Spiritual guidance
- Sermons and religious rituals
- Ministry administration
Associate of Science in Christian Ministries
A 2-year associate's degree program in Christian ministries teaches students how to lead and organize ministries and church groups. Students receive training in the Bible and Christian history, and learn how to express Christian messages through sermons and other teachings. Typical courses include:
- Christian evangelism
- Pastoral counseling
- Christian rites and traditions
- Ministerial ethics
Bachelor of Arts in Ministerial Studies
A 4-year bachelor's degree program in ministerial studies teaches students advanced ministerial concepts, combining religious education with principles of leadership and ministerial administration. Students learn to manage religious organizations, communicate with church members and provide necessary guidance. The program also teaches students to meet administrative goals for ministries and churches. A bachelor's degree program in ministry studies includes courses on Christian history, biblical study and religious leadership. Other courses may also include:
- Biblical counseling
- Theological leadership
- Christian philosophy
- Multicultural studies
- Youth ministry services
Master of Arts in Ministerial Leadership
A 2-year master's degree program in ministerial studies focuses on advanced leadership, Christian education and biblical analysis. Students pursuing a master's degree in ministry studies typically already have a solid pastoral background. Students in this degree program can expect to take philosophical, theological and historical courses on Christianity and religious counseling. Many programs include a final capstone project that ensures proficiency in religious leadership and ministerial understanding. With this degree, students can pursue Christian education positions with colleges, churches, seminaries and other organizations. Common courses include:
- Ministerial research and study
- Applied counseling principles
- Ministerial philosophy
- Ministry supervision and administration
- Organizational theology
Popular Career Options
Although most pastoral and ministerial positions require a more advanced degree, a certificate can prepare students for various entry-level opportunities, such as ministry assistant, church representative or religious organizer. With an associate's or bachelor's degree in Christian ministries, students can seek jobs with churches, ministries and pastoral communities. Common jobs include youth and adolescent minister, pastor or adult minister. Students can also seek careers as:
- Church administrator
- Worship leader
- Executive ministers
- Ministerial educators
- Pastoral counselors
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A master's degree in ministry studies allows students to pursue advanced pastoral and ministerial positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, clergy jobs are projected to see an average 6% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. The mean annual wages for clergy members was $48,150 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
After completing a certificate program, students can gain better job opportunities by pursuing a 4-year degree, which will provide an advanced ministerial education and greater ministerial experience. Although an associate's degree can qualify students for pastoral jobs, a bachelor's or master's degree can lead to greater salary opportunities, as well as advanced ministerial positions, such as executive church director or Christian educator.
Ministry studies programs are intensive and include coursework relating to Bible studies and Christian education. Advanced degrees and certificates can lead to additional job options.