A Master’s in Ministry is a degree that helps professionals cater to their religious communities. Developed first for ministry leaders, this field offers a wide range of career options and valuable challenges to Christian and like-minded students all over the country. Using Biblical teachings and a religious worldview, this degree was created to help usher in the new generation of ethical leaders.
But ministry leaders who are looking for a graduate degree are most likely already working in the field. They need a degree option that gives them flexibility and study options that will make it easier for them to complete a graduate education. They also need affordable choices.
That’s where an online degree comes into play. This ranking, which was compiled by using the National Center for Education Statistics and its College Navigator database, narrowed down the field to 40 excellent schools and programs; they all provide hybrid or 100 percent online programs. From the initial pool, 10 were selected on their affordability based on in-state graduate tuition rates. These are listed below in descending order.
Ranking Low-cost Online Ministry Master’s
10. Northwest Nazarene University
Online Master of Arts: Youth, Children and Family Ministry
Students interested in a Master’s in Ministry online will find a great program for them at Northwest Nazarene University. This school confers a Master of Arts in Youth, Children and Family Ministry, a 100 percent online program that provides students with a pathway to become ministers, pastors, and leaders. It is possible to choose from earning either a Master of Arts or a Master of Divinity for this field, although the MDIVYCFM track is not only possible to complete in as little as 50 months, but is also validated as adhering to the requirements for minister ordination in the Church of the Nazarene. Both programs do require a fieldwork experience; however, this can be done in a student’s community. Students can expect to complete an online orientation, 36 credit hours of coursework, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Development and Spiritual Formation of Youth, Children and Families, Family Ministry in Practice, and Theological Foundations of Christian Education.
9. Liberty University
Online Master of Arts in Christian Ministry
Liberty University offers a 100 percent online program for students who are interested in becoming Christian ministry leaders. The Master of Arts in Christian Ministry is a relatively new addition to the university’s offerings, but it is fast becoming a popular one; students often rank its biblical teaching courses and leadership strategies as some of the best in the country. Students will find it possible to take on this degree as part-time or full-time learners, enabling them to continue with their responsibilities while taking asynchronous courses. Courses remain small as well, allowing for an intimate forum in which to debate faith-based principles. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a fieldwork experience, and a comprehensive exam for graduation. Sample courses include Biblical Foundations of Leadership, Intercultural Communication and Engagement, and Foundations of Expository Teaching and Preaching.
8. Grace College and Theological Seminary
Winona Lake, Indiana
Online Master of Arts in Ministry Studies
Students who are aware of the Christian University GlobalNet, an online initiative to provide students with online ministry studies, will know that Grace College and Theological Seminary is the perfect place to earn a Master’s in Ministry. This school confers a 100 percent online graduate degree in the field that comes with three concentrations, including Camp Administration, Women’s Leadership Studies, and Counseling. Students will find asynchronous courses taught by respected religious leaders, all backed by the excellent academic reputation of Grace College. Depending on a student’s choice of options, a fieldwork experience may be required; however, this can be completed in a student’s community upon approval of the department head. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a fieldwork experience, and a comprehensive exam; this degree can be completed in two years. Sample courses include Ministry Philosophy for Church, Ministry and Cultural Diversity, and Historical Development of Doctrine.
7. The King’s University
Online Master of Divinity
One of the most comprehensive ministry master’s online degrees comes from The King’s University, which confers the Master of Divinity. This is a comprehensive degree that focuses on biblical and theological knowledge; combined with experiential learning projects, it remains a pioneer in ministry education. This 100 percent online degree is focused on building students into missionaries, ministers, and pastors, spreading the word of God all over the world. The curriculum follows this mission, providing students with an in-depth historical, contextual, and conceptual view of both the bible and religion. Students can expect to complete a total of 78 credit hours, a research project, language courses, a practicum done in a student’s community, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Life of Jesus in Historical Context, Old Testament Theology, and Current Issues in Biblical Interpretation.
6. Faith International University
Online Master of Arts in Leadership Ministry
Faith International University confers an exceptional master’s in ministry online program. This degree is designed for those students who wish to serve the Church in various careers and provides three concentrations, including Global Leadership, Life Coaching, and Christian Counseling. While the degree itself is 100 percent online, a field ministry or practicum is required for every option; this can be completed in a student’s community with the approval of the department. Students will note that this degree is specifically created for vocational opportunities within the church, and as such, provides certifications as it pertains to the Christian Church. Students can expect to complete 72 credit hours of coursework, a field ministry or practicum, and a comprehensive exam prior to graduation. Sample courses include Missional Thought and Theology, Communication and Conflict Management, and Vision, Mission, and Organizational Effectiveness.
5. Shasta Bible College and Graduate School
Online Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Pastoral Ministry Specialization
Students wishing to work within the Christian Church as ethical leaders will find a great Master’s of Ministry program at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School. The Master of Arts in Christian Ministry comes with four concentrations: Bible Exposition, Biblical Studies, Biblical Interpretation, and Pastoral Ministry. All of these options were designed for students who have completed accredited undergraduate work in ministry; however, students who have no previous work in the field may still apply, but it is best to note that they may be required to complete up to 24 credit hours of coursework, including coursework on Greek and Hebrew languages, prior to attending the graduate program. Although this is a 100 percent online program, students will be expected to complete a practicum in their community. Other requirements include 36 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Church Planting, Growth and Development, Advanced Homiletics, and Pastoral Leadership and Church Management.
4. Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Online Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies
Holy Apostles College and Seminary confer a Master’s in Ministry that is delivered 100 percent online. This program is designed for students who wish to take layperson leadership or ecclesial ministry leadership positions within the Roman Catholic Church; as such, it is a degree that will attract Roman Catholic students. This program offers six concentrations, including, but not limited to, Catechetical Ministry, Spiritual Direction, and Catholic Women’s Leadership Studies. All concentrations were created to provide the Roman Catholic Church, as well as civilian business and social services, with Christ-centered ethical leaders who understand how religion can positively affect a person’s worldview. Regardless of which option a student chooses to earn, all must successfully complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a summative evaluation. Sample courses include Pastoral Counseling I: Spiritual Helping and Accompaniment, Catholic School Teaching, and Nurturing the Domestic Church: Fostering Authentic Marriage, Family Life, and Spirituality.
3. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
New Orleans, Louisiana
Online Master of Divinity
The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary provides students with a cheap online Master’s in Ministry that is both comprehensive and inspiring. This degree offers an astounding 24 specializations, all of which are available as 100 percent online concentrations or hybrid; students are encouraged to speak with an admissions advisor about residency requirements. Sample concentrations include Christian Education, Christian Apologetics, and Church Music. The Master of Divinity is built for those who are interested in working in religious organizations, for the Church, or as a layperson in leadership and ministry positions. Students can expect to complete a minimum of 84 credit hours of coursework, including Greek and Hebrew, field experiences, a research project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include History of Christianity: Early-Medieval, Encountering the Biblical World, and Introduction to Spiritual Formation.
2. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Online Master of Divinity
Students interested in an online Master’s in Ministry will be happy to hear that the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary confers a Master of Divinity that may be perfect for their needs. This degree offers four concentrations, all of which are available wholly online. They include Advanced MDIV, Christian Ministry, Missiology, and North American Church Planting. Some concentrations are even available as Spanish options, providing bilingual students with the chance to minister to Spanish-speaking populations. This is a comprehensive degree that can be completed in as little as three years with full-time study. Students will be required to take a practicum, which can be completed in their community; international placements are also available. Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 82 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, and a comprehensive exam for graduation. Sample courses include Personal Discipleship and Disciple-Making, Pastoral Ministry and Leadership, and Christian Philosophy: Patristic, Medieval, Reformation, and Modern Eras.
1. Luther Rice College and Seminary
Online Master of Divinity
Luther Rice College and Seminary provides students with a 100 percent online master’s in ministry. This nationally accredited degree, which requires no residencies, offers two tracks: elective and languages. Students who take on the Elective Track will be able to choose from a variety of electives to build upon their own specializations and interests; those in the Languages track will be offered the opportunity to learn Greek and Hebrew for the purposes of translating ancient texts and for educational purposes. This is one of the most comprehensive degrees on this ranking, requiring a student complete 90 credit hours of coursework, but it is also the most versatile; students will be able to find careers in both religious and civilian workplaces. Along with the credit hour requirement, students can also expect to complete an original research project as well as a practicum. Sample courses include Marriage and Family Counseling, Personal and Church Evangelism, and Preparing an Expository Message.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master’s in Ministry Degree?
The question really should be, what can’t someone do with a Master’s of Ministry degree?
This graduate offering provides a variety of options for professionals, far too many to go into detail, so here is a list of possible career paths:
- Youth Group Leader
- Military Chaplain
- Social Worker
- Executive of a Nonprofit Organization
- Biblical Scholar
- Sunday School Teacher
- Camp Administrator
- Biblical Translator
The list is endless, but the above is a few of the most common career options. Whether working within the church or serving as an ethical layperson, a master’s in ministry offers professionals the chance to chase their dreams, regardless of what that may be. The only question is, what will a graduate in this field do with the knowledge that they have?
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
The field of ministry offers a variety of career options, as evidenced above; it should then stand to reason that salaries will vary as well. The following is a short introduction to possible salaries and it should be noted that these salaries fluctuate and cannot possibly include every career avenue available to graduates of a masters in ministry. The average salary range for all careers spans $28,000 for social workers and ministers to $85,000 for Bible translators and scholars.
Already a professional can see that specialty and experience plays a large role. Bible translators and scholars make a hefty sum based on their understanding of biblical history and languages while ministers and social workers make far less but have more satisfying careers.
But professors of ministry, those who work in seminaries and colleges all over the country, make an average of $95,000. This is because they have developed and obtain a vast amount of religious history and understanding. Additionally, because seminaries tend to be private schools, they can afford to pay their professors far more than their public school counterparts.
It is advised that a student do research on their particular career option to see what salary options are available. They will find that many so-called low paying jobs also provide incredible benefits, such as housing allowances, that may make up the difference for their workload.
What are the Various Disciplines of Ministry?
Ministry requires a great knowledge of several fields, especially at the graduate level. While it could be simple to just lump it into the discipline of religion, the truth is far more comprehensive.
A student of ministry must be facile in religion, this is true. However, they must have a deep understanding of the history, theory, theology, politics, and social issues that surround not only their faith but other faiths as well. This means that students must be prepared to visit all the aspects of all faiths while in school and during their work in the field of ministry.
But it doesn’t stop at just religion. Professionals in this field must often face social justice issues, requiring a knowledge of world history, world politics, social issues, social work, sociology, and psychology. Economics and class warfare also play a role and will come up time and again in their work.
Still, their work is not done. Ministry graduates must also understand ethics, philosophy, leadership, anthropology, languages, and cultures. This is because so many work internationally and must understand the cultures which they are surrounded with.
All of these disciplines play a role, but the amount in which they show themselves in someone’s career depends on that professional’s chosen specialty and career. Whatever role a professional plays, they will have to contend with various disciplines in order to be effective in their position.
What are Some Prerequisites for Entering an Online Graduate Degree in Ministry?
There are few prerequisites for entering an online graduate degree in ministry for public and even most private schools; however, for seminaries, there remain some requirements that must be met before a student is offered placement in a program. For example, regardless of religious affiliation, many seminaries will require some knowledge of biblical teachings for applicants. If none can be found but a student is a viable candidate, they may be required to take introductory courses in the Bible and theology in general; historical context courses are also considered prerequisites.
Some schools, especially seminaries, may also require language prerequisites. These are generally Hebrew and Greek, although Latin is also sometimes required. These are generally required prior to taking on graduate programs because an understanding of these languages is required for translation and research purposes; however, some degrees do require languages as part of their graduate core curriculum.
Many schools do require a demonstration of religious adherence. Many include a personal statement about religion in their application process, while others include a mandatory signature of an honor pledge; this often requires abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. This is a general requirement that students should expect and will come as no surprise to those who are seeking a degree in this field.
Can Work Really Be found in the Layperson Sector?
In a word, yes. It is definitely possible to find work outside of the religious sector, as evidenced above. However, it may be useful to discuss why having such a degree may be useful in the layperson sector.
Businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit agencies are in need of ethical leadership. While they may not be religiously affiliated, having a person on staff that is may be useful when discussing ethical and leadership issues. Students with a graduate degree in ministry are strong advocates for justice in all forms, something that is sorely needed in the layperson sector.
Additionally, many nonprofit organizations that are not religiously affiliated may operate in regions where religion is a large part of the culture. It is useful for them to have ministry leaders or faith-based leaders on their team that understand the cultural differences. It may also make their work easier, as professionals who understand the religious needs of displaced populations may work as better diplomats when working in conflict zones.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that while many professionals in other industries would like to deny the impact of religion, it remains a large part of human culture. Some of the degrees above not only focus on Western religion, but also other religious cultures as well, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Understanding the impact of religion on a culture is important, especially in business, as the two are not mutually exclusive in many cultures.
A degree in ministry at the graduate level may not be for everyone, but for professionals that feel their faith is a strong motivator for their career options, it may be the perfect choice. Offering chances to be a valuable voice for everyone from young children to the elderly, this graduate degree provides the perfect combination of faith and professional options. Students who are interested in an online Master’s in Ministry should begin their journey to find God’s calling for them.