Individuals who complete an online ministry degree open themselves up to several career paths, including options in churches, nonprofits, and in international mission work. Completing an online ministry degree allows students the flexibility to continue making a difference in their communities while going to school, rather than devoting all their time to education.
Many distance students decide to take part in opportunities for leading children’s ministries or organizing homeless outreach, and virtual education frees up their time to do so. Rather than driving to campus at set times multiple days per week, students enrolled online can complete assignments, interact with peers, and watch prerecorded lectures whenever best fits their schedules.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 50,000 Americans currently work as clergy, but graduates of online ministry degree paths also fill many roles outside church leadership, making this a stable industry to pursue. Upon graduating, some individuals seek roles inside the church as music ministers or youth pastors, while others may want to work in faith–based organizations, finding families for foster children or reducing the number of individuals living in poverty. Keep reading to learn more about this exciting degree option.
Featured Ministry Online Programs
The Best Online Ministry Programs
Clarks Summit University
South Abington Township, PA
Founded in 1932, Clarks Summit University focuses its Christian education on career readiness upon graduation. Close to both New York City and Philadelphia, Clarks Summit University is ideally located for students who want to live and work in a major metropolitan area. For a private school, Clarks Summit charges relatively affordable tuition rates, and 95% of its students earn some type of financial aid.
As a Christ-centered institution, Clarks Summit's bachelor of science in Christian ministries ranks among its most popular degrees. This 121-credit degree is available entirely online, and students can complete it in four years. Transfer students can bring in up to 90 previously earned credits, significantly reducing the time it would take to earn a BS in Christian ministries. The major requires 18 credits of ministry leadership courses and 57 credits of elective courses.
All students pursuing this BS double-major in Bible and a major of their choosing, such as Christian ministries.
The same faculty who teach on-campus courses at Clarks Summit also teach its online courses, and the school's distance learners enjoy access to an online writing center and library.
Clarks Summit University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Lincoln Christian University
Lincoln Christian University began as a Bible institute and now represents a centerpiece of higher education in Lincoln, Illinois. The name change from Lincoln Christan College and Seminary came in 2009 to reflect LCU's quickly expanding catalog of degrees, which today includes degree completion programs, graduate degrees, and online offerings. Despite becoming a major private school in the area over the years, LCU has not abandoned its roots and still offers faith-based degrees.
For students who want to pursue careers in ministry but don't know what positions they want, the bachelor of arts in Christian ministry makes the best online ministry degree option. Potential careers stemming from this BA include associate pastors, small group leaders, and administrative pastors.
To earn the BA in Christian ministry, students must complete 120 credits, consisting of 30 Bible and theology credits, 37 general education credits, 30 Christian ministry credits, and 23 elective credits. The online BA in Christian ministry also requires several not-for-credit courses. These courses aim to get students active in ministry leadership and volunteering while they develop their faith. Online students who cannot commute to campus may be exempt from some of these courses.
Students can complete this BA in four years, and transfer students may apply some previous course credits toward the degree.
Lincoln Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The Baptist College of Florida
Founded in 1943 as the Florida Baptist Institute, the Baptist College of Florida has grown from a small school offering individual ministry courses to an accredited college. It grew exponentially starting in the 1990s, when it also added an online school.
One of the top online ministry degree options at Baptist College, the 120-credit bachelor of arts in biblical studies takes place entirely online, with all courses available through MyBCF. The major requires 66 credits, all of which focus on the Bible, its authors, and modern analyzation. Along with general education, general elective, and theological foundation courses, all students -- regardless of major -- must complete a student success course.
Outcomes for the BA in biblical studies include finding a position within a ministry or continuing on to complete a related graduate degree. Students from nearly every part of the country qualify to study online through college portal.
Baptist College applicants must demonstrate a "C" grade or higher on their high school and/or transfer transcripts. Transfer students may bring in previously earned credits, but the number depends on the school where they earned their prior credits, the degree to which they want to apply them, and the area of study in which they completed them.
The Baptist College of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls, GA
Toccoa Falls College began in 1907 as a Christian learning community. After earning accreditation in 1983, TFC expanded its programs to four unique schools, including a new nursing school. Today, TFC educates roughly 1,700 students, including those who study online. TFC gains attention for its nursing program, but its school of Christian ministries still stands as the college's foundation.
TFC offers 10 degrees online, including a BS in ministry leadership. The ministry leadership degree requires 126 credits, 12 of which students must come from ministry and leadership. Other required courses relate to theology, the Bible, undergraduate core classes, and general leadership courses. Required courses can change depending on how much professional ministry experience students hold; however, the degree requires 126 credits regardless of learners' prior experience.
TFC online students receive services similar to those offered to on-campus students, including advising, career counseling, and online library access. Online students who work full-time while earning their degrees, and who live in Stephens or Habersham counties, get every third course for free.
Toccoa Falls College is located in Toccoa Falls, Georgia. It boasts a sprawling campus, often considered among the most beautiful in the nation, and online students can come to the college's campus even if they aren't taking in-person courses.
Toccoa Falls College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Based in Wilmore, Kentucky, and just a short drive to Lexington is Asbury University, which blends religious denominations within its robust academic catalog. Home to nearly 2,000 students, most of its undergraduate learners live and study on campus, and 99% of all undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. In recent years, Asbury's online school has gained traction among adult learners with previous work experience or college credits.
Asbury's most popular online program for students interested in ministry, the BS in ministry management, combines online and on-campus studying. It requires students to attend regular face-to-face courses in Wilmore, though they complete most of their coursework online. Learners must first complete the Salvation Army officer training degree, an associate of applied science, as well. Admitted students progress through the program in cohorts.
The BS in ministry management requires 124 courses, 75 of which may come from prior schools. The required AAS from the Salvation Army College automatically satisfies 60 required credits. Despite its cohort format, most of the program's online courses follow an asynchronous schedule, allowing students to complete most courses at their own pace. All online courses last eight weeks, and all students pay a flat, per-credit-hour tuition rate.
Graduates of the BS in ministry management may pursue leadership roles, including management positions for small businesses or nonprofits.
Asbury University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Northwest Nazarene University
Based on a large plot in Nampa, Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University leads Christ-centered private institutions in the region. It educates over 2,000 full-time students and teaches continuing education and concurrent credits to an additional 8,000 students. NNU's cost for quality has earned awards, and the school recently ranked among the Princeton Review's best western colleges.
NNU offers dozens of undergraduate degrees and majors, including nursing, education, and arts and sciences. The university's only online bachelor's degree is an accelerated BA in Christian ministry, which most students can complete in nine consecutive semesters, or three years. This timeline assumes students take at least 16 credits per term, with two sessions available in the fall and spring.
Students must also conduct summer study to follow this timeline. During this three-year program, students must finish 124 credits, 52 of which relate to the major. Transfer students can reduce how long it takes to complete the degree. NNU allows learners to transfer in 62 credits if they earned a "C" grade or higher. Credits may come from non-accredited schools on a case-by-case basis.
NNU structures its BA in Christian ministry to meet the requirements for ordination in the Church of the Nazarene. However, students from non-denominational groups may also benefit from the online ministry degree.
Northwest Nazarene University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca Nazarene University was founded 118 years ago on Christian teachings, and in 1917 it became an official college of the Church of the Nazarene. Since then, Trevecca has grown into an accredited private university offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Trevecca currently educates just under 1,500 on-campus undergraduate students, 99% of whom have received some form of financial aid.
Community composes a huge part of Trevecca's culture, and even online students benefit from a community atmosphere through their program's cohort system. The BA in Christian ministry uses an online cohort system and offers asynchronous courses, letting learners study as their schedule permits. The online program still integrates Christian morals and faith into its coursework.
Prior to applying for the BA in Christian ministry, students must have completed at least 40 credits from an accredited college or university. Learners may transfer in these credits or complete them individually through Trevecca. The bachelor's degree requires only 36 core classes, all of which students can complete in just 18 months of study.
Trevecca Nazarene University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Hope International University
Located in Fullerton, California, Christian Hope International University began over 90 years ago. Home to over 2,000 students, HIU caters to nontraditional learners, educating students from all over the world in online and on-campus courses.
HIU's online school uses accelerated, five-week courses, and online students only take one course at a time. Distance learners can complete these courses from anywhere with internet access. Students interested in HIU's BS in Christian ministry may use FastTrack, which allows credits to count twice -- toward the bachelor's degree and a potential master's degree.
Before earning a bachelor's degree, Christian Ministry students must complete 120 credits, 48 of which are major-specific. These courses follow an accelerated format, but students still complete the program in a typical four-year timeframe. Start dates occur throughout the year, and transfer students may apply previously earned credits toward the degree. Graduates may pursue careers in ministry leadership and or as pastors.
HIU offers resources for online students, including an academic coach assigned to each student. The coach helps set academic goals, providing students with the resources they need. The university also offers career services, including resume workshops, job fairs, and networking opportunities.
Hope International University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Founded as a Baptist theology seminary in 1925, the now fully accredited Eastern University has taught students in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, for decades. Recently, Eastern University started including online programs in addition to its on-campus degrees, including a BA in youth ministry leadership.
Before applying for the youth ministry leadership BA, distance leaders should know the online ministry program requires a week-long residency at EU's St. Davids campus in May. After completing the residency, students begin accelerated seven-week courses.
The BA in youth ministry leadership requires 45 credits, which students must complete through Eastern University. The program mandates a total of 121 credits for students to graduate from Eastern University. Before beginning their BA, students should complete either an AA in liberal arts through Eastern University or a similar degree from another school, or they may transfer in sufficient credits. Students who complete the AA through Eastern University also receive a discount on the BA.
Most students complete this degree in about two years, but the time it takes to finish depends on how many credits the student previously earned. The faculty who teach Eastern University's online courses interact regularly with their online students, and most learners who study online receive some form of financial aid.
Eastern University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Biola University, one of the nation's top Christian universities, educates over 6,000 students worldwide. Founded in 1908, Biola began as a Bible-focused school. Today, many of Biola's programs do not directly relate to theology or the Bible, though each degree integrates biblical studies into the curriculum. Regardless of which degree students pursue, they must complete 30 Bible and theology courses.
Students interested in the BS in biblical ministries must complete more Bible courses than the core 30 units. The degree mandates an additional 30 upper-division Bible courses, meaning Bible-related courses compose half of the 120 required credits. Each course takes place over an accelerated seven-week period, and learners can complete the entire degree online, typically in 24 months, though Biola allows busy students to take the time they need.
Transfer students may apply up to 70 credits toward their degrees. Biblical ministries applicants must hold at least 15 transfer credits, demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students without these credits must apply as transfers and submit their SAT and ACT scores. Applicants must provide evidence of their Christian faith by submitting a personal essay.
Biola University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Mount Vernon, OH
Mount Vernon Nazarene University, located in Mount Vernon, Ohio, recently celebrated its 50th year of educating students. This liberal arts school emphasizes Christian teachings, integrating theology and faith into many of its courses. MVNU is home to just under 1,400 students, half of whom are considered nontraditional. Anyone interested in earning a bachelor of arts in ministry leadership also falls in this nontraditional category.
Before beginning their BA in ministry leadership, students must complete 56 transferable credits. Credits transfer easily to MVNU, which accepts previous college credits regardless of when students originally earned them. Prospective students who don't have enough transfer credits may complete an AA through MVNU or enroll in general studies and transfer into the ministry leadership program.
The BA in ministry leadership comprises 40 core courses, including a one-credit personal development and research course. The time it takes to complete this program depends entirely on how many transfer credits students hold before enrolling. On average, it takes two years to earn the degree. Most of MVNU's online students are working adults, but they still receive access to career counseling, including mock interviews and optional in-person events.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Originally a Baptist seminary, Bethel University is now known as one of the top private schools in Minnesota. Faith still plays a role in Bethel's organization and curriculum, so students should expect to study theology and biblical courses regardless of their chosen degree. That said, non-religious students may attend Bethel. With over 5,600 students, Bethel represents one of the largest Christian universities in the nation, featuring a large campus near downtown St. Paul to fit its growing student body.
For students interested in ministry, the BA in Christian ministries is the best online ministry degree option. This 48-credit hour program requires students to hold at least 60 transferable credits before applying. Students can also earn credits from previous training, high exam scores, and military training, reducing the time and cost of completing the BA.
Because this is technically a degree completion program, graduates tend to earn the BA in 18-20 months. Courses take place over accelerated six-week periods, and they begin every six weeks, meaning students can study at their own pace year-round and still graduate in less than two years. Every course is available fully online, but students can also take in-person evening classes in St. Paul.
Online students receive similar services as on-campus students, including access to computer labs, a personal email, education and academic advising, tutoring, and library access.
Bethel University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts University is one of the region's largest private schools. The university aims to spread Christian values and the "whole person" education across the world, for which reason the school has implemented study abroad, missions, educational partnerships, and online education.
ORU's BA in ministry and leadership represents one of the nation's best online ministry degrees and the most popular degree at the university. Offered through the college of theology, the BA features six concentration options in church administration, evangelism and outreach, local church pastor, missions, sports ministry, and youth and family ministry.
Program outcomes depend on students' chosen concentrations, though most graduates find work as missionaries, pastors, or teachers. Students may also undergo internships to earn professional experience while also completing their college credits.
Each concentration features its own degree plan and 27 credits specific to the concentration. All options require 121 credits to graduate, which students can earn entirely online. The university offers online courses in an accelerated format, with two sessions available per term. Applicants do not need to submit an essay or application fee, but they must submit test scores and their high school GPA. All applicants receive automatic consideration for scholarship opportunities, as well.
Oral Roberts University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Founded by the Church of God in 1968, Warner officially became a university in 2008. Even so, the school leads theological institutions in the South, and it has since its years as Warner Southern College. Today, Warner educates roughly 1,200 students in the arts and sciences, professional programs, and adult and graduate studies.
Among the more popular degrees at Warner is the BS in Christian Ministry. This online ministry degree comes in a rigid format with two courses every eight weeks, with a required accelerated study format. All courses are offered entirely online, and despite the accelerated pace, the Christian Ministry degree is intended for working adults. Warner graduates should know how to interpret Scripture, define a call to ministry, understand two biblical books, and demonstrate two ministry skills.
The BS requires 36 credit hours specific to the church ministry major. Learners can earn the remaining 84 credits through Warner online, and transfer students may bring in previous credits. Prior to admission, students must submit their high school diploma and demonstrate a minimum 2.25 GPA. They should submit ACT or SAT test scores, as well. Full-time undergraduate students at Warner receive financial aid, which also extends to online students.
Warner University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Southeastern University has tripled in size over the past nine years. Part of this growth is due to SEU's prime Lakeland, Florida, location, which features plenty of cities and beaches within driving distance. SEU also attributes its growth to its high-quality academic programs, including those in its online school.
SEU began in 1935 as a school for ministers and missionaries, and its BS in ministerial leadership remains the best option for students interested in earning an online ministry degree. This 121-credit program takes an estimated 48 months to complete, charging a flat, per-credit tuition rate. Program length varies depending on how many previously earned credits students transfer, with up to 90 allowed. This program supports adult workers with ministry experience, though experience isn't required for admission.
Applicants must submit their high school transcripts, plus any transcripts from previously attended colleges or universities. They should also submit a personal essay, references, and either ACT or SAT scores. The program charges a flat tuition rate, and 98% of students receive some form of financial aid. Upon graduation, students often find positions as a pastor, a missionary, or working in outreach and leadership.
Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
In 1918, what is now Lee University opened its doors to 12 Bible students with one teacher. In 1997, the institution officially switched from a college to a university and now offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Lee's campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, serves as home for most of its students, but its distance education program, which includes an online school, have become a focal point for growth.
Adult workers aiming to pursue degrees in ministry online make up the target group for the bachelor's in ministry leadership. This four-year degree is available entirely online and allows students to choose how and what they want to study. The program offers eight concentration options, each available through a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science.
Each concentration requires 18 credits of religion core and 42 general education credits. Other credit requirements may vary by bachelor's degree and concentration, but students should prepare to complete 120 credits total. Lee's adult learning division charges a flat, per-credit tuition rate for distance learners in all undergraduate programs. The department offers courses through Moodle, and each course takes place over a seven-week period.
Lee University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Missouri Baptist University
Missouri Baptist University, a regional leader in private Christian education. Founded on Baptist principles over 50 years ago, MBU has grown steadily from an initial student body of 200 students to over 4,500 undergraduate students.
Despite its prime location in St. Louis, most undergraduate students at MBU study at satellite campuses or Missouri Baptist University Online. MBU's online programs follow an accelerated format, and each charges a specific, per-credit tuition rate, making it easy to determine degree cost. MBU boasts recognition as one of the most affordable online Christian schools.
The BS in ministry leadership represents a popular choice for online students. The 120-credit degree requires 42 major credits, which learners can complete in 14 courses. Transfer students can bring in up to 96 credits, including courses that may count toward their major. Program length depends entirely on how many credits students transfer. With no transfer credits, the program should take under four years to complete.
MBU doesn't charge an application fee for online programs, and prospective students can complete and submit their applications entirely online. Applicants must also submit high school and college transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.
Missouri Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Brescia University, a private Catholic school located in Owensboro, Kentucky, follows the Ursuline tradition, meaning it empowers students to promote social change through education. The university boasts a tight-knit student body, and those bonds extend to its online campus, as well.
Through Brescia University Online, students can complete a bachelor of arts in theology. This BA comes with an emphasis on pastoral studies, and career outcomes include becoming a minister, deacon, or religious leader. Intended for current church volunteers who want to deepen their connections to the church, the BA in theology also meets standards set the National Association of Lay Ministry for diocesan education. Brescia has offered this BA online for five years, and Brescia faculty teach all courses.
The BA in theology caters to adult workers who need to study entirely online. To provide flexibility, courses follow an accelerated eight-week format. Brescia estimates that students can complete this 128-unit program in as little as two years, though they may take longer.
Applicants must submit high school and college transcripts. Brescia Online does accept transfer credits, which may further reduce program length. Once accepted into the online school, students can access an online bookstore, an online library, tutoring, tech support, counseling, and career services.
Brescia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Point University's mission aims to make its students global leaders through a Christ-centered education. It currently educates over 2,200 learners either at its West Point, Georgia, campus or through Point University's distance education program. Whether learners study on-campus or from anywhere else in the world, they receive a faith-based education.
Point University's online bachelor of science in Christian ministries, a 120-credit program, takes four years to complete. However, students can finish their degrees more quickly by applying transfer credits. Point University allows up to 80 transfer credits for the BS. Program length also depends on the student's enrollment status. Full-time students can study year-round to accelerate their degrees, and working professionals who prefer to study part-time can complete the degree in four years.
At Point University, online degrees cost nearly 40% less than on-campus degrees. Courses charge a flat per-credit tuition rate, which students can further reduce through financial aid. Despite the cost difference, Point's faculty and education quality remain consistent between on-campus and online courses. Applicants must submit their high school transcripts, unless they hold 12 transferable credits, in which case they would submit college transcripts.
Point University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The King's University uniquely combines accredited education with ministry experience from regional churches. As a result, students blend a traditional education with one based on experience. Students who attend TKU often plan to work in the ministry field, making this an excellent way to earn a degree while gaining practical experience.
TKU's online program represents a unique approach to education, and the online bachelor of Christian ministries differs from any other online ministry degree. The program requires 124 credit hours, five of which fall under the "experiential learning" category. The three classes in this category are all practicums and available fully online.
Each online course at TKU follows either a traditional 15-week format or an accelerated seven-week format. Full-time students may enroll in as many courses per session as they want, completing the degree as quickly as they want. Tuition at TKU costs the same for on-campus and online students, though online students must pay an additional fee per course. Transfer students can bring in up to 90 credits, further reducing how long it takes to complete the program.
The King's University is nationally accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
The Master's University and Seminary
Santa Clarita, CA
Located in Santa Clarita, California, TMU is a liberal arts university that serves approximately 1,200 students each year. Established in 1927, the school is a nondenominational Christian institution. The school's online degree offerings feature an accelerated course schedule that allows distance students to complete a bachelor's degree in two years.
The school offers an online bachelor of arts in Christian ministries that teaches students a comprehensive understanding of biblical philosophy and ministerial service. Learners acquire the leadership and organizational skills needed to work in churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations.
TMU faculty teach classes in eight-week blocks over the course of three semesters each year using the Canvas system. Students need 120 units to graduate, including 42 units of major requirements. Major-specific courses include theology of the church, principles of discipleship, church history, contemporary issues in church ministry, and principles of effective teaching. Additionally, students need 65 units of general education classes and 15 units of electives.
Applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED and submit official transcripts for consideration. The school welcomes applications from anyone with a personal faith in Christianity. Incoming students with previous college credit may transfer up to 90 units toward the degree. Learners can also gain credit through advanced placement and CLEP exams.
The Master's University and Seminary is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Saint Louis Christian College
Established in 1956, SLCC is a private Bible college in Florissant, Missouri. The school is affiliated with the Restoration Movement of the Churches of Christ Congregation. The school offers an online ministry degree to help learners prepare for ministry careers in churches, schools, and parachurch organizations.
Distance students can pursue a full bachelor of science degree or follow a degree completion track. The degree completion track best serves incoming students with an associate or bachelor's degree from another institution. The degree completion program requires 54 credits, which learners typically finish in two years or less.
The full bachelor of science in Christian ministry program requires 120 credits for graduation. Aside from general education credits, degree-seekers complete 21 credits in the division of biblical education and 18 credits in the division of ministry education. Required classes include leadership and management, foundations for a biblical worldview, marriage and family counseling, and ministry formation. Degree-seekers also need to complete a practicum. Remote learners can complete this requirement at an approved location near their home.
Applicants must submit official high school transcripts and, if applicable, transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities. Applicants must also submit ACT or SAT scores.
Saint Louis Christian College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation and the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
San Diego Christian College
Established in 1970, SDC is a private college located in Santee, California. This nondenominational evangelical institution hosts approximately 700 students each year. The school offers several online bachelor's programs, including an online ministry degree. Learners acquire the theoretical insights and skills needed to work in churches, schools, nonprofit organizations, and parachurch institutions.
The bachelor of arts in Christian ministries is available entirely online or in a hybrid format with evening classes on campus. In total, degree-seekers need 123 credits for graduation. In most cases, full-time students graduate in four years. Required courses include communication for ministry, counseling theory, current issues in theology, and historical perspectives of the gospels.
Students can tailor the degree to their interests by pursuing a minor concentration, choosing from options such as leadership, communication, business, and psychology and human development. Each minor concentration requires an additional 12 credits of coursework.
Applicants must submit a personal essay and official transcripts from all prior colleges. California residents and students transferring with less than 24 college credits also need to submit high school transcripts.
San Diego Christian College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Grand Rapids, MI
CU is a private Christian college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Established in 1941, the school serves approximately 3,000 students each year. The online ministry degree at CU covers essential components of the Christian worldview, culturally sensitive communication and collaboration techniques, and leadership and management strategies.
Students can complete the 120-credit bachelor of science in ministry entirely online with no on-campus obligations. Required classes for the major include organizational behavior and processes, ministry ethics and values, principles of biblical studies, and interpretive analysis of New Testament literature.
Applicants need at least two years of full-time work experience and a minimum of 56 transferable credits from an accredited college or university. Applicants must submit official college transcripts, a statement of Christian faith and church involvement, and a letter of recommendation from a church or ministry leader.
Remote learners can access 24/7 support for the Moodle learning system and Logos Bible Software. Pupils can also view tutorial videos through Khan Academy online. CU graduates can pursue careers in student ministries, nonprofit leadership, worship leadership, missions organizing, and other types of ministerial work in the church.
Cornerstone University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Welch College is a private, four-year institution located in Gallatin, Tennessee. Established in 1942, the school is affiliated with the Free Will Baptists Congregation. The school offers an online bachelor of science in theological studies in general Christian ministry. Full-time learners typically complete the program in four years.
This program prepares students to become lay leaders and preachers in various ministerial contexts. Graduates can articulate biblical theology and ministry philosophy. Additionally, they can provide organizational leadership in church communities, implementing teaching and outreach programs.
Online ministry degree-seekers need 124 credits to graduate. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to remain in good standing. Students complete 67 credits in theological studies, including classes such as biblical interpretation, evangelism and discipleship, and introduction to biblical studies. Additionally, learners complete 16 credits of ministry studies, taking classes such as local church in world missions, Christian counseling, and education in the local church.
Applicants must submit three references — including one pastoral reference — and official high school transcripts. Welch College also requires prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores. Accepted learners with a 19 or lower on the math portion of the ACT must take remedial courses upon enrollment.
Welch College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
California Baptist University
Established in 1950, CBU is a private liberal arts institution located in Riverside. This Christian university is affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention. CBU features a variety of fully online and hybrid degrees, including an online bachelor of arts in Christian ministries.
Faculty designed the curriculum to create the next generation of servant leaders who understand Bible-focused theology and can communicate biblical ideas to others. Graduates may pursue careers as pastoral ministers, missions organizers, or biblical studies educators.
In addition to general education requirements, required classes for the online ministry degree include latter prophets and writings, Jesus and the gospels, biblical interpretation, and history of Baptist thought. In total, learners need 124 units to graduate.
Applicants need 24 transferable college units to apply. Applicants must submit official transcripts that reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA. Incoming students may transfer up to 100 units toward their degree, although CBU limits the number of transfer units awarded based on examinations to 30 units per applicant.
California Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Arizona Christian University
ACU is a private Christian institution located in Phoenix. Established in 1960, this nondenominational liberal arts university offers a variety of online degrees, including a bachelor of science in Christian ministries.
Learners pursuing this online ministry degree develop communication and writing skills to deliver God's message and disseminate the teachings of the Bible. Online degree-seekers need at least 122 credits to graduate. The program requires a minimum of 38 credits in the liberal arts core and at least 66 credits in Christian ministries.
Required major classes include biblical interpretation, management of nonprofit organizations, foundations of Christian education, and early Christianity literature. Degree-seekers must also complete a Christian ministries capstone course. Accelerated online classes feature eight-week terms with six start dates each year. Incoming students can transfer up to 60 credits based on previous college coursework or exams.
Applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 high school GPA and submit SAT or ACT scores. Competitive applicants typically earn at least an 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT. Online students gain access to personal and academic counseling, library services, and tutoring support through the academic center.
Arizona Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Manhattan Christian College
Manhattan Christian College was founded in 1927 to provide students with educational opportunities that blend academics and evangelism. This Kansas-based school's distance education program focuses on learners already engaged in ministry who are interested in advancing their careers. The school's BS in biblical leadership requires general education courses in subjects such as math, history, and a foreign language.
The curriculum devotes 24 credits to Bible study and theology, including a survey of Old Testament literature and the life and teachings of Jesus. The 24-credit leadership/ministry component of the online ministry degree examines topics such as leadership theories, group dynamics in leadership, small group ministry, and evangelism and church growth strategies. Learners must also complete three credits of Christian service.
Degree completion students must transfer at least 40 credits into this online ministry degree program. The school accepts transfer credits earned with a "C" or higher from regionally accredited schools or schools accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. First-year applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores and school transcripts.
Manhattan Christian College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Established in 1923, Life Pacific College is affiliated with the Foursquare Church and maintains a Pentecostal mission. The school enrolls about 700 students who study on campus and online. LPC's catalog of degrees includes majors in ministry, biblical studies, and strategic leadership.
LPC offers online degree completion options, such as its BA in ministry and leadership. The school designed this program for ministers and field leaders seeking to acquire biblical, theological, and ministry/leadership skills. Faculty use a cohort model consisting of 15-30 learners who progress through the material as a group. After students transfer at least 60 units into this program, they complete 15 accelerated five-week courses over 18-20 months.
The curriculum examines topics such as biblical interpretation, Christian counseling, Old Testament foundations, intercultural ministry, and mentoring and team-building. Students supplement classroom learning with weekly discussion boards where they interact with peers and instructors.
Applicants interested in one of the nation's best ministry degrees need at least 60 units of prior college coursework earned with a "C-" average or higher. All students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency, and new cohorts convene in the spring and fall.
Life Pacific College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Palm Beach Atlantic University
West Palm Beach, FL
Located in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Atlantic University is a comprehensive interdenominational Christian college. Undergraduates study in classrooms with a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. PBA also offers online degrees in fields such as organizational leadership and ministry.
The 120-credit BA in ministry teaches nontraditional learners the skills necessary to grow their ministry. The synchronous format immerses participants in a biblically conservative, multi-denominational curriculum. Students examine topics such as spiritual formation, evangelism and apologetics, the Old and New Testaments, church in society, and conflict and crisis in ministry.
Students acquire hands-on experience during a practicum that explores an area of ministry such as pastoral ministry, Christian education, or cross-cultural ministry. During a capstone, participants develop the theological basis for their focus area and formulate a vision for their ministry.
Faculty deliver the program using accelerated eight-week terms. Students may transfer up to 42 credits of upper-level coursework into this online ministry degree program. Graduates can serve in roles such as pastor, director of children's ministry, discipleship pastor, and worship director. The BA in ministry also prepares learners for admission into PBA's master of divinity program or MA in Christian studies program. Admission requires official high school or college transcripts and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Palm Beach Atlantic University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Central Baptist College has grown from a small women's school to a comprehensive college that enrolls about 700 men and women. Located in Conway, Arkansas, CBC offers personalized learning with a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Some CBC students learn on campus in one of the state's fastest-growing cities, while others choose a distance learning format.
Students in the BS in church administration program can complete their degree online or on campus. This online ministry degree requires a general education core that includes subjects such as math, communication, and history. Students also complete religious coursework examining the life of Christ, the Old Testament, and the New Testament.
The 45-credit major develops learners' competencies in areas such as financial management, management principles, basic counseling skills, basic church growth, and leadership team and challenges. Students customize the degree by selecting 12 credits of electives.
The school also offers a BS in leadership ministry for students seeking ministerial positions within the church. Students in this program study topics such as the Pentateuch, Pastoral Epistles, evangelism, church leadership, and counseling. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores for first-year learners and college transcripts for transfer students.
Central Baptist College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Springfield, Missouri, Evangel University offers comprehensive degree options for first-time students and nontraditional learners. The 124-credit BS in church ministries prepares students to serve in the church as pastors, lay leaders, or other staffers. This online degree completion program develops participants' teaching, preaching, and leadership skills. Students learn from professors with practical ministry experience.
Designed for nontraditional learners, applicants should have already completed general education courses in subjects such as English, natural science, and the Old Testament. The church ministries core examines topics such as biblical theology, spiritual formation and discipleship, hermeneutics, homiletics and church ceremonies, and pastoral counseling.
Students pursuing an online ministry degree can access the same student support services as their on-campus peers, including academic support, counseling support, and career services. Students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency. Admission requires a high school diploma or the equivalent, a minimum 2.0 GPA, and at least 79 credits of general education and elective courses. The online ministry program admits students in January, May, and August.
Evangel University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Campbellsville has a long tradition of cultivating effective ministers for the church and communities.
The school offers eight online bachelor's programs, including a 120-credit BS in pastoral ministries. Students learn from faculty with practical Christian ministry experience. In addition to 41 credits of general education courses, the curriculum requires 18 credits of Christian studies courses that explore issues such as spiritual formation, Christian theology, and church history.
The pastoral ministry core examines Christian evangelism, ministry of proclamation, ministry of Christian leadership, and how to grow a healthy church. During an internship, students serve in a ministerial position at a local church under the supervision of an experienced minister.
Campbellsville's generous transfer policy allows learners to bring in up to 72 credits from a regionally accredited school. The school further facilitates transfer by offering scholarships for students transferring in with associate degrees. Students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores for first-year learners and college transcripts for students transferring with more than 24 credits.
Campbellsville University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Oklahoma Wesleyan University — a liberal arts college in Bartlesville — is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. OKWU offers residential, evening, and online programs to meet the needs of diverse learners. Students enrolled in online adult education programs study asynchronously. The school's BS in ministry and leadership equips learners to effectively lead their church or ministry, teaching skills in preaching and evangelism.
The 126-credit curriculum contains general education courses in subjects such as math, communication, and social science. Students also gain an understanding of biblical perspectives and the New and Old Testaments through general education courses.
Major-related courses for this online ministry degree examine subjects such as pastoral care, evangelism and discipleship, and ethical challenges and contemporary issues. Participants learn how to lead a Christian organization by completing coursework on topics like budgets and fundraising and church administration.
Learners may transfer credits, including those earned in an associate program, into the online ministry degree track. The school also awards credits for AP, CLEP, and DANTES exams. All students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Oklahoma Wesleyan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Wayland Baptist University
Established in 1908, Wayland Baptist University is the oldest college in continuous existence on the High Plains of Texas. Affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the school operates campuses in Amarillo, Lubbock, Wichita Falls, San Antonio, and in other states. The system enrolls about 5,000 students who study in small classrooms that foster personalized learning.
The 124-credit online bachelor of Christian ministry at WBU prepares professionals with experience in the church or related settings to move up the church hierarchy. The curriculum requires general education courses in subjects such as math, history, and composition. Students' religious studies include coursework covering the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Major coursework covers areas such as biblical interpretation, Christian theology, and Baptist ministry. Students acquire hands-on experience through a 12-credit ministry practicum. Students with paid ministry experience may use this to fulfill the practicum requirement.
All learners pay the same tuition, regardless of residency, although active-duty military personnel pay reduced tuition rates. Admission into this online ministry degree program requires SAT or ACT scores and official school transcripts.
Wayland Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Founded in 1885, Southwestern College hosts programs online and on campus in Winfield, Kansas. The school's 124-credit online BA in Christian ministries prepares learners for roles such as church minister, chaplain, and director of youth ministries.
Experienced ministry professionals teach this accelerated program through six-week sessions. Students begin the program with foundational courses in subjects such as composition, professional communication, and information literacy. The core curriculum of this online ministry degree covers the Old and New Testaments, systematic theology, the church and mission, and Christian ministry in a pluralistic context.
Students can pursue a pastoral studies or youth ministry emphasis. The pastoral studies emphasis examines topics like theological systems and issues, denominational heritage and structure, and church administration and finance. The youth ministry emphasis explores adolescent spirituality, teaching methods in youth ministry, and applications in youth ministry.
A practicum gives learners hands-on experience in a ministry setting. Admission requires at least six college-level credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Southwestern College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Affiliated with the Horizon Christian Fellowship of San Diego, Horizon University offers distance-based learning options, such as its online bachelor of leadership and ministry. This program teaches ministry professionals and church leaders biblical knowledge and practical ministry skills.
The degree requires general education courses in subjects such as English, math, philosophy, and critical thinking. The major delves into issues such as biblical worldview, pastoral epistles, Christian theology, and preaching and teaching. Participants also hone their management skills and acquire an understanding of organizational behavior. Students can use 12 elective credits to pursue topics of interest. They must also engage in 12 hours of ministry service in each of their first three years and a practicum during their final term.
Horizon's generous transfer system allows learners to apply up to 90 previously earned credits (earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA) to this online ministry degree. Most students at Horizon qualify as transfer students, bringing in an average of 30 credits. Students pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of residency status, and can take advantage of the school's tuition installment plan. Admission requires school transcripts from all previous colleges.
Horizon University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
Ohio Christian University
Ohio Christian University was established to educate clergy for the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. While remaining true to the school's Christian heritage, OCU offers degrees in various fields, including business, psychology, and emergency management. The school's Adult and Graduate Studies division also offers evening and online programs for nontraditional learners.
The 120-credit online BA in leadership and ministry at OCU offers five concentrations: biblical studies, church planting, intercultural ministries, organizational leadership, and pastoral ministry. Students complete the same set of general education courses regardless of their concentration.
Major-related core coursework covers advanced Bible study methods, a survey of church history, investigating Christian theology, and spiritual formation in the evangelical church. Students use elective credits to complete their concentration. A capstone course allows learners to apply their learning to solve complex leadership and ministry challenges.
Students can transfer in up to 95 credits from accredited four-year colleges. Online learners pay the same tuition, regardless of residency. The school offers financial aid opportunities and payment plans. Students who serve in the military and their dependents receive significant tuition discounts. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores for first-year learners, and transfer students must have earned a "C-" or higher for credits to be transferable.
Ohio Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
We selected these accredited bachelor in ministry programs based on the quality of the program, types of courses provided, faculty strength, school awards, rankings and reputation, including the reputation for providing online degree programs.
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Why get a Ministry Degree?
Before pursuing an online bachelor’s in ministry degree, some students decide to pursue an associate degree in ministry to get a sense of the field. Because many roles within church settings do not mandate specific levels of degree — they focus more on receiving a calling from God — some students find they do not need a bachelor’s degree.
Individuals can receive ordination in some denominations after completing an associate degree, while those who want to work outside the church typically need to follow more traditional standards surrounding educational requirements. Bachelor’s degrees allow individuals to seek positions including program manager, director of children’s development, and community organizer.
Some students decide to go beyond a bachelor’s degree in ministry and pursue a master’s in ministry. These programs allow individuals to work in higher education teaching roles as well as senior–level positions. The next section looks at common careers and the salaries that graduates can expect to earn.
Ministry Degree Salary Information
Online ministry programs prepare graduates for clergy positions, such as priests, ministers, and pastors. Graduates also go on to pursue careers as church directors, youth leaders, missionaries, and religion and Bible study teachers in churches, faith–based schools, or nonprofit organizations.
- Pastors and ministers lead church congregations by providing spiritual direction, giving sermons, overseeing other staff, praying with church members, teaching others about biblical history, and offering leadership.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $40,000
- Mid-Career: $46,000
- Experienced: $50,000
- Late Career: $51,000
- Youth Minister
- Youth ministers provide many of the same services as pastors but tailor them to teenagers and adolescents. These compassionate individuals walk alongside youth group members and provide guidance on tough questions as well as organize fun group outings.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $33,000
- Mid-Career: $37,000
- Experienced: $39,000
- Late Career: $30,000
- Children’s Ministry Director
- Working within church settings, children’s ministers share the gospel with nursery through elementary students. They create programming, develop Sunday school curriculum, oversee other staff, and create special events.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $31,000
- Mid-Career: $36,000
- Experienced: $39,000
- Late Career:
Choosing an Online Ministry Degree Program
With so many online ministry degree paths now available, prospective students can afford to take their time and find a program that ticks all their boxes. While in–state programs tend to offer distance students the more affordable option since they can take advantage of resident tuition, they can also look at programs with significant endowments that offer enough scholarship or grant funding to bring the cost down. All ministry programs put their best foot forward on website marketing materials, but remember to keep going back to your list of needs and wants to find the program that suits your lifestyle and goals.
- Program Cost
- Students need to consider all their options before taking on significant student debt. In addition to federal, state, and local scholarships and grants, prospective students should ask about institutional and programmatic funding that does not need repayment.
- Transfer Policies
- Because many students elect to complete at least some of their classes at a community college before transferring to a four–year institution, finding schools that maintain transfer agreements or offer transfer–friendly policies is critical.
- School Size and Type
- Some students enjoy the hubbub of large classrooms while others want a more intimate learning experience. Generally, speaking, public/state schools tend to maintain higher caps for class sizes than private school counterparts, but this is not always the case. Check with individual schools to learn about average class sizes.
- Program Length
- Most online ministry programs at the bachelor’s level require students to complete four years of full–time study to move from matriculation to graduation. Some accelerated programs can be finished in as few as three years, while those enrolled on a part–time basis may need as many as six years.
- On–Campus Requirements
- Most online ministry programs do not mandate that students visit campus, but students should speak with individual departments to verify any on–campus requirements.
Accreditation for Online Ministry Degrees
In addition to considering factors such as program cost, length, and campus requirements, students must also ensure they find a properly accredited program if they do not want to face issues down the road related to transferring credits, competing for jobs, or receiving licensure. Within the world of higher academia, two types of accreditation exist: institutional and programmatic.
Institutional accreditation further divides into regional and national accreditation. Most four–year schools seek out regional accreditation, as it exists as the more rigorous of the two options. Trade and vocational schools tend to apply for national accreditation.
While programmatic accreditation does not necessarily exist for online ministry degree paths, several Christian accrediting agencies exist to help students find programs that meet their spiritual and academic needs. Names to look for include the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Other names students will likely come across include the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Neither provides accreditation, but both ensure high standards are upheld within accrediting agencies.
Because online ministry degree paths offer such a wide variety of careers to consider after graduating, many schools allow students to specialize their knowledge in an area by completing a concentration. Some options are listed below, but check with individual schools about specific offerings.
- Youth Ministry
- Students in these concentrations learn how to effectively conduct outreach and provide pastoral counseling for teenagers as they move through high school and take their first steps as adults. Specific topics include adolescent issues, adolescent faith formation, and administration in youth ministry.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Youth Ministry Director
- Youth Ministry Assistant
- Youth Outreach Manager
- Ministry Leadership
- This concentration exists for individuals who know they want to take on pastoral roles upon graduating. Students learn how to prepare evangelistic messages, exegete Bible verses, and minister to a diverse congregation.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Lead Pastor/Minister
- Assistant Pastor
- Director of Spiritual Formation
- Pastoral Counseling Director
- Designed for the distance learner who knows they want to go out in the world and spread biblical messages, this course teaches them how to reach out to diverse communities, plant churches, maintain cultural sensitivity, and work to bring light and support to communities.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Church Planter
- Biblical Counseling
- Students who follow these concentrations know they want to serve others by providing counseling services from a biblical perspective. They learn about how the Bible can apply to modern day life while also studying topics such as therapeutic strategies, counseling methods, and interventions.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Pastoral Counselor
- Church Counselor
- Director of Counseling Programs
- Music Ministry
- Individuals in this concentration want to work in worship music. During their enrollment, students develop their musicianship while also learning about worship leadership and how to convey biblical principles through music.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Worship Leader
- Music Minister
- Director of Music Programs
- Choir Director
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Ministry?
Most programs require between 120–130 credits and take four years to finish if studying on a full–time basis. Some of the characteristics affecting the overall time requirement include number of credits, internship requirements, and student schedules.
Individuals who want to graduate more quickly may decide to take additional credits during the fall and spring semesters or enroll in summer courses. Others may decide they want to move through the program more slowly and not feel stressed by school work alongside all their other personal and professional responsibilities. If enrolled on a part–time basis, the actual credits still cost the same amount, but students will pay more in semester–based fees due to being in school for a longer amount of time.
Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Ministry Program
Most online ministry degrees require 120–128 credits, consisting of general education courses, Bible and theology coursework, and electives. Core classes include ministry leadership, congregational dynamics, Old and New Testament studies, history of the church, systematic theology, church life, spiritual formation, and world missions. Many online ministry programs culminate with a capstone course, ministry internship, or practicum in which students gain hands–on experience in churches and other religious settings.
- Survey of Old and New Testament
- Students in survey classes examine the historical background, translations, and key themes of the Old and New Testaments. Coursework covers the development of the Gospels and the nature of the intertestamental period. Online students learn to prepare sermons from both texts and practice sermon delivery through preaching experience.
- Christian and Pastoral Ethics
- Christian and pastoral ethics courses examine the contemporary and historic development of Christian values. These courses help students learn how to think critically and make wise and faith–driven choices as a representative of Jesus Christ. By examining case studies and traditional ethical codes in religious settings, students gain a solid understanding of the foundations of Christian ethics and the relationship between values and contemporary issues.
- Leadership classes help students develop strong leadership qualities and administrative competencies. These courses emphasize the importance of communication, interpersonal abilities, and teamwork. Students examine training, organization, supervision, program evaluation, and financial management within the church, Christian workplace, and other religious–based settings.
- Biblical Studies and Interpretations
- Biblical studies and interpretation courses examine the historical, cultural, and literary contexts of the Bible. Focusing on the methods and principles of biblical interpretation, students examine the structure, content, key themes, and messages of the books of the Bible. Online students examine the important relationship between the church’s scriptures.
- Religions and Cultures
- These courses examine the world’s major religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Online students examine various cultures and how they influence the mission and growth of the Christian church. Students reflect on their own cultural worship and the effect of religious participation and spirituality on society.
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