The 6 Best Online Master's in Ministry Programs

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An online ministry degree helps graduates to lead others in spiritual observance and matters of spiritual and physical wellbeing. Members of the clergy often serve as educators and counselors on many practical issues, such as maintaining healthy families. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of new clergy jobs in the U.S. will increase 8% by 2026. If you enjoy studying the Bible from a religious and academic perspective and want to work with people in your community to improve their daily lives, an online ministry program may be perfect for you.

Choosing a Program

No two online ministry degrees are exactly alike. Choosing the right program for you depends on the topics you are most interested in studying. Some programs have a heavier focus on theology while others place a greater emphasis on biblical interpretation or ministry components. Students pursuing a ministry degree online may take supplemental coursework such as the history and present condition of the church. A number of programs also feature electives to foster the exploration of topics outside of the main program of study. Degrees in theology and divinity often cover similar topics, but the ministry degree is more geared toward hands-on community leadership.

You should choose a program that includes coursework most aligned with your personal interests and career goals. As a ministry student, you will likely take at least one class that instructs you on methods in counseling, since many spiritual leaders counsel members of their community. Courses in ministry leadership prepare students to lead church services and holiday observances.

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Online Master's in Ministry Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The Best Online Master's in Ministry Degree Programs

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Huntington University 

Huntington, IN Apply Now

About this school

Huntington University is a military-friendly Christian college of the liberal arts located in Huntington, IN. The school boasts impressive rates of student achievement across its 70-plus programs of study: 97% of graduates are employed within six months, and 90% of students receive financial aid. HU is also renowned for its distinguished faculty and the quality and affordability of its online education. Its online programs are available to students in all states approved by the National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.

HU offers two ministry graduate programs in online and hybrid formats, including the master's in global youth ministry. The two-year online ministry degree offers a unique international perspective by focusing on cross-cultural populations as well as specialized populations in the U.S. HU runs online classes in seven-week increments and offers each course every other year. Coursework includes pastoral counseling, intergenerational ministry, and multicultural partnerships. The program culminates in a field-based research project that combines qualitative and ethnographic research.

Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate coursework, and include at least six credits in biblical studies and three credits in theology. They must also submit recommendations and writing samples. HU prices its tuition by program, and the global youth ministry program is the most affordable.

Online Enrollment

Judson University 

Elgin, IL Apply Now

About this school

Judson is an evangelical Christian university located in Elgin, IL, a city roughly 40 miles from Chicago. The school educates over 1,250 students in the liberal arts, sciences, and professions. Classes feature a low student/faculty ratio of 9:1.

The master of leadership in ministry prepares graduates for careers in ministry leadership in church, parachurch, and nonprofit settings. Distance learners complete the accelerated, cohort-based program mostly online and usually within 18 months. Some face-to-face and experiential learning is required, including a weekend residency and two weeks of study in Israel, both covered by tuition. The curriculum integrates leadership principles, everyday ministry practices, and foundational knowledge of the Bible, human development, theology, and culture. Coursework includes developmental perspectives on ministry, spiritual formation through the eyes of pilgrimage, cultivating healthy and effective ministry teams, and strategic planning for ministry effectiveness. Students must complete a capstone, which involves an applied research project. In addition to its on-campus requirements, Judson's Department of Christian Ministries invites students to attend a Leadership in Ministry Forum, where distance learners have the chance to engage with leaders in the field.

Judson prefers (but doesn't require) applicants with an undergraduate degree in Christian Ministries or similar. Admission requirements also include a completed "Am I Ready?" survey, two references, and two short essays on beliefs and goals. As part of the Illinois Articulation Initiative, Judson welcomes transfer credits in general education courses from other participating schools.

Online Enrollment

Faulkner University 

Montgomery, AL Apply Now

About this school

Located in Montgomery, AL, Faulkner is a private Christian university with a student body of 3,200 that represents 35 countries. The school offers nine graduate degrees completely online at affordable, military-friendly tuition rates, with some fast-track options and two online ministry programs.

Faulkner's master of arts in Christian counseling and family ministry is developed for current church workers looking to provide ministerial counsel without licensure. The 26 credit, interdisciplinary curriculum features asynchronous classes and includes some face-to-face learning. Fifteen credits of family ministry courses include topics such as family dynamics, family strengths, and marriage and family theory; 18 credits of counseling courses cover suicide intervention, substance abuse, group counseling, and others; finally, students complete three credits of supervised ministry practice. Meanwhile, Faulkner provides distance learners the same resources as on-campus students with an online bookstore, career services, free writing labs, and tutoring.

Faulkner accepts students who hold bachelor's degrees from regionally accredited colleges or universities, and accepts up to six transfer credits. They must also submit three letters of recommendation and a 1,000-word statement of purpose. Faulkner does not charge an application fee.

Online Enrollment

End of list, bravo!

What Will I Learn in an Online Ministry Master's Program?

Although specific curricula vary by school, most ministry master's programs have certain elements in common. While the classes below will not be part of every ministry degree, students can expect to take at least one or more during their course of study.

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Online Master's in Ministry Careers

Graduates with a master's in ministry serve as clergy members, counselors, and educators. They lead services and maintain the community's spiritual well-being. Some spiritual leaders go on to teach religion in private schools or universities. Below are three possible careers for students in a master of ministry online program.

  1. Pastor: Pastors serve as leaders of their religious communities. They lead worship and administer other spiritual duties such as private prayer. In addition to advising on matters of the spirit, pastors often serve as counselors in topics such as marriage, family, and youth ministry.
    • Median Annual Salary: $45,740
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  2. Director of Religious Education: Religious education directors design and implement educational programming centered on Christianity and religion. They may work on their own or in conjunction with others. As educators, they sometimes provide guidance on matters related to spiritual education, health, and personal life.
    • Median Annual Salary: $38,610
    • Projected Growth Rate: 7%
  3. Director of Religious Activities: These directors create community or individual activities that are designed to promote religious observance, education, or spirituality. These activities may include seasonal events and holiday celebrations. Like religious education directors, they may provide some counseling when called upon.
    • Median Annual Salary: $38,610
    • Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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