The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

by TBS Staff

Updated October 10, 2022

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Individuals pursuing online pastoral degree paths often feel drawn to ministry in some form, with many deciding to seek roles as pastors or other Christian leaders in the church. According to data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roles for clergy are projected to grow by 8% between 2016 and 2026, while positions for directors of religious activities and education could grow by 7% during the same time frame. Given that the Pew Research Center found seven out of every 10 Americans identify with some form of Christianity, roles for these spiritual leaders should stay in demand in the coming years. This guide offers information on common coursework, degree outcomes, and potential careers.

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Best Online Master's in Ministry & Pastoral Leadership Programs

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Online Master's in Ministry & Pastoral Leadership 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.

Our Methodology

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Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

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The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

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Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Master's in Ministry & Pastoral Leadership Degree Programs

#1 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Clarks Summit University

  • South Abington Township, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, Clarks Summit University hosts a top-rated online master of ministry. Students train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree. Master's graduates can move into a new career or advance in their current field.

The curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in ministry or a related field.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through networking events.

Clarks Summit University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 41%

Total Online Master's Programs: 5

Program Name: Master of ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,160

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $8,160

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,082
Out-of-state
$26,082
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
41%
Students Enrolled
771
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Creighton University

  • Omaha, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master of arts in ministry at Creighton University, located in Omaha, Nebraska, prioritizes flexibility. The program provides specialized skills, preparing enrollees for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. Master's graduates can also pursue careers in new industries.

The curriculum emphasizes the best practices in ministry. Learners focus the program with electives or a concentration. The  program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in the field.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Creighton University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 74%

Total Online Master's Programs: 12

Program Name: Master of arts in ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $16,128

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,128

Average Tuition
In-state
$39,630
Out-of-state
$39,630
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
8,821
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Luther Rice College & Seminary

  • Lithonia, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online

From its campus in Lithonia, Georgia, Luther Rice College & Seminary offers an online master of arts in ministry. The program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the ministry field and related industries. A master's degree helps graduates advance in their current field or pursue a new career.

The curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. The admission requirements include a background in ministry or a related field.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students can also expand their professional network through online events.

Luther Rice College & Seminary at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 50%

Total Online Master's Programs: 5

Program Name: Master of arts in ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,130

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $5,130

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,080
Out-of-state
$7,080
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
782
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools

#4 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Hope International University

  • Fullerton, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Fullerton, California, Hope International University hosts a top-rated online master of ministry. The program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing students for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. A master's degree can also prepare graduates for opportunities in new fields.

The curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in ministry. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants without a background in ministry may need to complete prerequisites.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

Hope International University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 37%

Total Online Master's Programs: 9

Program Name: Master of ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,764

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,764

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,250
Out-of-state
$32,250
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
1,130
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Fresno Pacific University

  • Fresno, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Fresno, California, Fresno Pacific University enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online master of arts in ministry, leadership and culture program. The program emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing students for decision-making responsibilities. Earning a master's degree can help graduates advance in their current career or pursue a new career entirely.

The curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners individualize the program to prepare for focused careers. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in ministry or a related field.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. The program hosts networking events and other professional development activities to help graduate students expand their professional connections.

Fresno Pacific University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 66%

Total Online Master's Programs: 8

Program name: Master of arts in ministry, leadership and culture

Graduate Tuition In State: $14,940

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,940

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,458
Out-of-state
$32,458
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
4,300
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#6 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Cedarville University

  • Cedarville, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master of ministry at Cedarville University, located in Cedarville, Ohio, prioritizes flexibility. The program encourages career training throughout its curriculum, preparing students for leadership positions. A master's degree can also train graduates for roles in new industries.

The curriculum explores research and methodologies. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in ministry.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

Cedarville University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,065

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $9,065

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,122
Out-of-state
$31,122
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
4,302
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Dallas Baptist University

  • Dallas, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas-based Dallas Baptist University offers an online master's in family ministry. The program strengthens learners' industry-specific skills, preparing them for leadership responsibilities. Earning a master's degree can also help graduates pursue new careers.

The curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. Applicants without a background in ministry may need to complete prerequisites before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Dallas Baptist University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 90%

Total Online Master's Programs: 10

Program Name: Master's in family ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $18,072

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,072

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,220
Out-of-state
$29,220
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
4,487
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

North Greenville University

  • Tigerville, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Tigerville, South Carolina, North Greenville University hosts a top-ranked master's in Christian ministry. The rigorous curriculum prepares graduates for advanced roles in the field. A master's degree can also prepare graduates for opportunities in new fields.

The curriculum explores divinity research and methodologies. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. The master's program recommends that applicants bring a background in divinity or a related field.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through networking events.

North Greenville University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 63%

Total Online Master's Programs: 11

Program Name: Master's in Christian ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,800

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,800

Average Tuition
In-state
$21,120
Out-of-state
$21,120
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
2,426
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Veritas Baptist College

  • Greendale, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online

Located in Greendale, Indiana, Veritas Baptist College offers an online master of ministry. The program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. Master's graduates can advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in ministry. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants who majored in ministry or a related field typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complement the classroom experience with local internships. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through networking events.

Veritas Baptist College at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 100%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,860

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $5,860

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,760
Out-of-state
$5,760
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
225
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools

#10 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

  • Mount Vernon, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online degree can enroll in the master of ministry program at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, located in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The program builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. Earning a master's degree helps graduates move into a new career or advance in their current field.

The curriculum emphasizes theory and practice in ministry. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. Applicants with prior experience in ministry or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete local internships to gain hands-on experience. The program hosts networking events and other professional development activities to help graduate students expand their professional connections.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 73%

Total Online Master's Programs: 10

Program Name: Master of ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,964

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $8,964

Average Tuition
In-state
$21,047
Out-of-state
$21,047
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
2,205
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Northwest Nazarene University

  • Nampa, ID
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Nampa, Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University offers an online master of arts in pastoral ministry. The program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the ministry field and related industries. Earning a master's degree helps graduates move into a new career or advance in their current field.

The curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in pastoral ministry. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in ministry before applying.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Internships and other networking events help graduate students expand their professional network.

Northwest Nazarene University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 86%

Total Online Master's Programs: 11

Program Name: Master of arts in pastoral ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,464

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,464

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,550
Out-of-state
$30,550
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
2,111
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#12 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Point Loma Nazarene University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in earning a master's can pursue the master of arts in Christian ministry at Point Loma Nazarene University, located in San Diego, California. The program builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. A master's degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new career.

The curriculum explores research and methodologies. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. Applicants without a background in Christian ministry may need to complete prerequisites.

Online enrollees participate in approved local internships. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Point Loma Nazarene University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 74%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of arts in Christian ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,880

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $11,880

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,350
Out-of-state
$36,350
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
4,567
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#13 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Franciscan University of Steubenville

  • Steubenville, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of arts in theology and Christian ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville, located in Steubenville, Ohio, uses a flexible distance learning format. The program encourages career training throughout its curriculum, preparing graduates for leadership positions. Master's graduates can explore a new career path or advance in their current field.

The curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to ministry. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with prior experience in ministry or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

Franciscan University of Steubenville at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 77%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of arts in theology and Christian ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $12,600

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $12,600

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,420
Out-of-state
$28,420
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
3,039
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#14 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Southern California Seminary

  • El Cajon, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of arts in Christian ministry at Southern California Seminary, located in El Cajon, offers a flexible online format. The program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. After completing a master's degree, graduates can advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The curriculum emphasizes theory and practice in Christian ministry. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. The admission requirements include a background in Christian ministry or a related field.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

Southern California Seminary at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of arts in Christian ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $15,588

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $15,588

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,588
Out-of-state
$15,588
Retention Rate
100%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
176
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
74% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools

#15 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Ohio Christian University

  • Circleville, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's can earn their master of arts in ministry at Ohio Christian University, located in Circleville. Students train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree. A master's degree can help graduates advance in their current field or pursue a new career path.

The curriculum explores research and methodologies. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. Applicants who majored in ministry or a related field typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees can often complete professional internships at approved locations in their own community. The program hosts networking events and other professional development activities to help graduate students expand their professional connections.

Ohio Christian University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of arts in ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,765

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,765

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,533
Out-of-state
$13,533
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,843
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
84% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#16 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Olivet Nazarene University

  • Bourbonnais, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of arts in pastoral leadership at Olivet Nazarene University, located in Bourbonnais, Illinois, uses a flexible distance learning format. The  rigorous curriculum prepares enrollees for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree can also train candidates for roles in new industries.

The curriculum explores pastoral leadership research and methodologies. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants with prior experience in ministry or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

Olivet Nazarene University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 58%

Total Online Master's Programs: 9

Program Name: Master of arts in pastoral leadership

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,420

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,420

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,080
Out-of-state
$36,080
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
4,317
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#17 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Simpson University

  • Redding, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's degree can earn their master of arts in ministry leadership at Simpson University, located in Redding, California. Students prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous program. Earning a master's degree helps graduates move into a new career or advance in their current field.

The curriculum emphasizes theory and practice in ministry leadership. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The admission requirements include a background in ministry or a related field.

Online enrollees can often complete professional internships at approved locations in their own community. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

Simpson University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 52%

Total Online Master's Programs: 5

Program Name: Master of arts in ministry leadership

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,000

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,000

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,180
Out-of-state
$31,180
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
52%
Students Enrolled
854
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#18 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Grace College and Theological Seminary

  • Winona Lake, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online ministry degree can enroll in the master of arts in ministry studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary, located in Winona Lake, Indiana. The program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the ministry field and related industries. After completing a master's degree, graduates can pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to ministry. Learners focus the program with electives or a concentration. Applicants who majored in ministry or a related field typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Grace College and Theological Seminary at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 80%

Total Online Master's Programs: 10

Program Name: Master of arts in ministry studies

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,386

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $7,386

Average Tuition
In-state
$24,078
Out-of-state
$24,078
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
1,957
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#19 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Grace Christian University

  • Wyoming, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Wyoming, Michigan, Grace Christian University offers an online master of arts in ministry. The program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the ministry field and related industries. Earning a master's degree can also help graduates pursue new careers.

The curriculum emphasizes the best practices in ministry. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in ministry before applying to the program.

Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Grace Christian University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 100%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of arts in ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,975

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $8,975

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,150
Out-of-state
$13,150
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
1,097
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Association for Bibical Higher Educaiton

#20 The 30 Best Online Master’s in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Programs

Abilene Christian University

  • Abilene, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's can earn their master of arts in Christian ministry at Abilene Christian University, located in Abilene, Texas. The program strengthens industry-specific skills, preparing learners for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree helps graduates advance in their current field or pursue a new career.

The curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on ministry. Learners focus the program with electives or a concentration. The program recommends a background in ministry or a related field when applying.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

Abilene Christian University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 61%

Total Online Master's Programs: 12

Program Name: Master of arts in Christian ministry

Graduate Tuition In State: $22,356

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $22,356

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,250
Out-of-state
$36,250
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
61%
Students Enrolled
5,292
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Choosing a Program

Students considering an online master's degree in Christian leadership can expect an immersive and comprehensive plan of study that exposes them to topics within Christianity and church membership. In the program offered by Grand Canyon University, degree seekers study topics such as ministerial ethics, biblical hermeneutics, Old and New Testament foundations, and best practices in Christian leadership. Upon completion of a program, many graduates become junior pastors or take up administrative roles in churches. Others may decide to plant their own churches in an underserved area.

Because Christian leadership serves as an umbrella term covering a large field, many programs allow learners to focus their degrees in a concentration area. While these vary by school, options include organizational management, music ministry, youth ministry, systematic theology, and audio/visual ministry. These programs help students tailor their studies to future ministry opportunities. Depending on the program, some students may complete an internship at a church as part of graduation requirements, while others may undertake a research project or thesis.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Program?

When reviewing online pastoral degrees, prospective students will notice programs vary by institution. Common classes and concentrations are highlighted below, but students should research individual programs to find out exactly what courses are offered.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master's in Ministry & Pastoral Leadership Degree

Sample Courses for an Online Master's Degree in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership

  • Preventing Ministry Failure:
    This course addresses some of the common pitfalls of both new churches and established ministries. It provides an overview of how Christian leaders can properly manage finances, create attainable goals, and set appropriate boundaries.
  • Theories of Leadership:
    Students in this class look at both secular and biblical leadership models as a way of understanding the theories behind each. They then take part in role-playing activities to understand the pros and cons of each.
  • The Ethics of Ministry:
    This course helps students understand some of the common issues surrounding Christian ethics and looks at how Christian leadership should behave. Other topics include self-care and shepherding diverse populations.
  • Addressing Conflict and Change:
    While all pastors hope to avoid difficult situations in their churches, the reality is that sometimes these arise. This course helps them understand how to diffuse conflict and mediate between leaders and congregants.
  • Foundations of the Old Testament:
    This class provides learners with a refresher on the themes and historical context of the Old Testament, with the goal of helping them interpret the Bible correctly to share with their congregations.
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Online Master's in Ministry and Pastoral Leadership Careers

Online ministry degree paths prepare students for a variety of roles related to leading a church or faith-based organization. Most are tasked with traditional responsibilities such as leadership, finances, or education but fulfill their duties in accordance with their denominational faith.
  1. Members of the Clergy: Regardless of denomination, members of the clergy act as spiritual leaders within the church and convey messages from the Bible to their congregations. Some may work as head pastors while others may focus their efforts on youth ministry or music. They may also lead Sunday School and small group meetings.
    • Median Annual Salary: $47,100
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  2. Religious Activities & Education Directors: These professionals coordinate extracurricular activities at the church and encourage participation from members and visitors. They may oversee the annual Christmas outreach program, develop Vacation Bible Camp in the summer, or oversee counseling programs at the church.
    • Median Annual Salary: $38,980
    • Projected Growth Rate: 7%
  3. Other Religious Workers: This category serves as an umbrella term for other employees of the church and can include administrative staff, janitors, pianists and organists, personal assistants, finance directors, or anyone else who helps keep the church running smoothly.
    • Median Annual Salary: $29,310
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Return to the top

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