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Ministers don’t make a fortune. Outside of a handful of multi-millionaire megachurch pastors, the vast majority of ministers make a humble, honest living – and, all things considered (from preparing sermons to visiting sick church members to organizing church business), many pastors probably wouldn’t be making minimum wage if they were paid by the hour. They do the job for faith, for service to humanity, for the glory of God. But they still have their expenses, and getting a college education to build their skills and career is a big one.

The last thing working pastors and ministers need is to saddle themselves with a large student loan debt so they can do their job and fulfill their calling. That’s why Bachelor’s Degree Center has ranked the Most Affordable Online Ministry Degree Bachelor Programs. Online ministerial degrees allow working pastors to complete their bachelor’s degrees, or even earn a degree in full, without having to leave their flocks to go back to school. With the most affordable accredited online bible college degrees, they can do that without worrying about their financial futures either.

Featured Schools

Methodology: How We Ranked the Most Affordable Online Ministerial Degrees

Bachelor’s Degree Center features only reputable, accredited online programs, whether they are small bible colleges, large public universities, or anything in between. However, for the Most Affordable ranking, only one factor matters: tuition rate. Programs featured in the Most Affordable Online Ministry Degree ranking are ordered by tuition costs from lowest to highest, according to current IPEDS data.

1. Athens State University

When you’re looking for affordable online ministerial degrees, you may consider the Bachelor in Religion from Athens State University. The online degree offers flexibility to students who may face challenges with their responsibilities and still want to finish up a degree program. It allows students to focus on their goals and make a difference when they finish up their degrees.

Athens State University stands apart for its long history as a school with a religion program. The degree program started in 1938 and continues to teach students about religion and ministry. While the degree program has a long history, the school also recognizes that modern students may have limitations on their schedules. The online program allows students to earn the same degree without attending traditional classes. It gives students the flexibility to accomplish their goals.

Degree: BA in Religion
Cost: $$$$$

Athens State University

2. Baptist College of Florida

When you want to find accredited online Bible college degrees, then Baptist College of Florida offers a program to help with your goals. You can obtain a Bachelor of Art in Biblical Studies, Ministry, or Ministry Studies through their online program. The degree programs focus on specific areas of religious study based on the goals of students. The Ministry focuses on preparing students for pastoral ministry or graduate studies. The Ministry Studies program prepares students for a role in ministry within a church or related organization. The Biblical Studies program focuses on hermeneutical skills when interpreting the Bible or Biblical literature.

Baptist College of Florida stands apart for offering different ministry degrees based on the goals of the student. The online degree programs allow students to learn specific skills based on their goals for a career. That flexibility helps students determine if they want to pursue a higher level of education, or they want to start working as a pastor or under the guidance of a pastor to make a difference in their local communities.

Degree: Ministry, or Ministry Studies
Cost: $$$$$

Baptist College of Florida

3. Clear Creek Baptist Bible College

Clear Creek Baptist Bible College offers an online BA in Ministry to prepare students for their long-term goals. The degree program recognizes that students will need to take on a leadership position and focuses on preparing students for their role as religious leader as well as their study into the Bible and Biblical passages. It teaches students to understand the passages in the Bible while also preparing for the challenges of working with members of a ministry. The degree program helps students understand the process of counseling others and providing assistance based on the concerns of those in their church.

A key way Clear Creek Baptist Bible College differs from other programs and colleges is their focus on counseling and leadership in their ministry program. The school recognizes that leaders in a church must be competent leaders who provide guidance based on the Bible. By teaching students effective leadership skills and focusing on building a strong foundation, it helps students work on their long-term goals and provide help to those in their church.

Degree: BA in Ministry
Cost: $$$$$

Clear Creek Baptist Bible College

4. Eastern New Mexico University

When you want to focus on online ministerial degrees, you may consider Eastern New Mexico University. The Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Art in Religion is an affordable online program that allows students to learn the practical application of religious texts and the history behind religion. It also provides a foundation in religious philosophy and psychology that gives students a clear idea of how to counsel others when they work in a church or take on a role in ministry.

Eastern New Mexico University offers students scholarships and grants to help with the cost of the degree. The school also offers unique opportunities for students in religious studies to work with religious affiliations to gain leadership skills and experience working in their field. The school helps students connect to appropriate religious groups based on their personal beliefs and their plans for their careers.

Degree: BS or BA in Religion
Cost: $$$$$

Eastern New Mexico University

5. American Public University

A BA in Religion from American Public University takes a multidisciplinary approach to religious study and gives students multiple perspectives on specific areas of study within religion. It teaches students to participate in the discussion and criticize aspects of religion that may arise due to differences in beliefs. It recognizes that different perspectives shape the way students understand and view religion, so the online degree program helps students learn from others.

American Public University is an accredited online degree program through the Higher Learning Commission. That means students have access to grants and federal aid to assist with the cost of the online degree program. Although the online program is an affordable option, the extra assistance via grants and scholarships helps students stay on track to accomplish their goals when obtaining a degree.

Degree: BA in Religion
Cost: $$$$$

American Public University

6. Holy Apostles College & Seminary

When you’re looking into accredited online Bible college degrees, the BA in Theology from Holy Apostles College & Seminary is a good choice for your goals. The online degree program offers flexibility to help with your long-term goals. It also ensures that you have theological research and writing skills to handle different careers within theology. You will learn about scripture and morality, as well as the challenges of leadership within religion.

A key way the Holy Apostles College & Seminary stands out from other programs is their flexibility. Students can complete an undergraduate degree in 2.6 years by using online tools. That allows you to move forward with your career or take on a higher level of education when you are younger. The fast-paced environment also helps with affordability and students have options for on-campus classes if they want to take more traditional courses for their degree program.

Degree: BA in Theology
Online $$$$$

Holy Apostles College & Seminary

7. Florida International University

Florida International University offers a BA in Religious Studies that gives students a well-rounded view of religion and different types of religions from around the world. Before students move into more advanced studies, they take a class on world religions. That means they have a strong foundation in religion from different cultures to help them decide on their path through the remaining courses. Students can then study specialized courses based on different regions of the world and types of religions.

The way Florida International University stands out for its religious studies degree program is the focus on different types of religions. It does not limit students to the Abrahamic religions, which means students can learn about Asian religions, indigenous religions, or the role of culture, society and ethics on religion. That focus on specialized study gives students an opportunity to take on unique roles within a ministry or to advance into more theological studies and philosophy.

Degree: BA in Religious Studies
Cost: $$$$$

Florida International University

8. Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a BA in Religious Studies that focuses on religion, culture, and public life. That focus on the way religion shapes culture and the lives of individuals in different communities prepares students to handle the challenges of working within diverse communities and communicating with others from different backgrounds. The degree program studies the way religion impacts daily life to ensure that students are able to think critically about different situations and analyze information based on the context of the situation.

Arizona State University differs from other ministry programs by taking a global approach to the topic. It examines religion from the perspective of daily life and culture, which teaches students to understand how to communicate and interact with others on a global scale. The degree prepares students to work in a variety of careers and settings by giving them a clear understanding of diverse communities and groups.

Degree: BA in Religious Studies
Cost: $$$$$

Arizona State University

9. Central Baptist College

The BA in Leadership and Ministry from Central Baptist College provides students with a firm grasp of Christian beliefs and the Bible. The degree program prepares students for their role in a church or ministry, as well as the challenges of working in a leadership position. Students learn Christian Doctrine and how to interpret the Bible, as well as the practical skills they need to teach as a minister or pastor. It provides the foundational skills students need to start working in the church.

A key aspect that sets Central Baptist College apart for their online degree program is the focus on leadership as it applies to the church. The degree program offers several leadership classes based on the needs of a church as well as the role of a leader within a church. It also provides a strong foundation in Christian beliefs, values, and studies to ensure that students are prepared for their role as a leader within the church. Students will know how to teach, counsel, and lead a church when they finish their degree.

Degree: BA in Leadership and Ministry
Cost: $$$$$

Central Baptist College

10. Grace Christian University

Grace Christian University offers a BS in Leadership and Ministry. This degree prepares students for practical skills they need to work in ministry. It focuses on Biblical study as it applies to a student’s personal life and spirituality. Also, it gives the opportunity to serve as the role of a leader when guiding others on their spiritual journey. The program recognizes that leaders in a church need real-world skills as well as research skills to reach out and help others. The online degree program focuses on helping students prepare for their careers with a leadership position.

The way Grace Christian University differs from other programs is the focus on challenging students to develop their research skills and build up their knowledge. It focuses on teaching students to understand their own spirituality as part of taking on a leadership role in the church. By having a strong foundation in practical skills as it applies to their own life, students are able to assist others and provide the guidance their church needs to handle real-world challenges.

Degree: BS in Leadership and Ministry
Cost: $$$$$

Grace Christian University

FAQs: Can I Get a Degree in Ministry for Free?

There are many people interested in free online ministry degrees. But actually getting an online ministry degree free can be tricky. Finding accredited tuition-free Bible colleges and seminaries will be difficult, no matter where you are. However, finding a free online theology course with a certificate is not that hard. This is a good alternative for those who want to get a free Bible college degree. There are quite a few free Bible degree correspondence course options on the Internet. Also, students looking for free online ministry degrees should instead look at the cheapest online Christian colleges. 

A 100% online ministry degree free may not be possible. However, the cheapest online Christian colleges will help you save money while still getting your degree. It will also be hard to find free accredited online seminary degrees. A student that wants to go to a seminary free online can get a pastoral certificate.

Getting an online ministry degree free may not be possible, but students may be able to use financial aid to cover the costs. This tactic could essentially make your school a tuition-free Bible college and seminary, even if they do charge tuition. Instead of having to settle for a free online theology course with a certificate, students could effectively get a free Bible college degree, or at least not pay anything at the time. Even if you just want to take one free Bible degree correspondence course, you can use financial aid to do so. The types of financial aid that may offer you the opportunity to get free accredited online seminary degrees include scholarships, grants, and even student loans. The financial aid could also be used to get a free online pastoral certificate.

Does a Degree in Ministry Pay Well?

Students interested in getting a ministry degree often wonder what a minister’s salary is like. The most accurate answer is that a church minister’s salary can vary widely, with a small church salary being significantly less than a pastor’s salary megachurch. Prospective ministers, that want to know how to determine pastor salary will find it challenging especially when trying to answer the question ‘How much do small church pastors make?’ The bottom line is that religious jobs that pay well can be a challenge to obtain. Answering another important question ‘How do ministers get paid’ shows why this is.

As previously mentioned, a small church pastor’s salary and a pastor’s salary megachurch are quite different. A minister’s salary at a big church can be in the six figures. Alternatively, small church pastors might make just enough to pay the bills. Churches setting a church minister’s salary face the always difficult question of how to determine pastor salary.

Of course, churches know that clergy members are familiar with just how do ministers get paid. In conclusion, there are religious jobs that pay well, but they generally go to highly experienced pastors. Full-time pastors with a master of divinity (MDiv) or another master’s degree make more than those who pastor part-time or online went to high school or a theological seminary.

There are a lot of factors that go into becoming a minister, starting with ordination. An ordained pastor in good standing is qualified for baptisms, bible studies, and other pastoral care in Christian churches. A local church can ordain a pastor, but higher education is required for an ordained minister, especially for denominations like the Methodist Church.

How Much Does a Youth Pastor Make?

Prospective ministers that want to go into youth ministry are understandably interested in the average youth minister’s salary. The short answer is $40,000, which is the approximate average youth pastor salary for a medium-sized church. The question ‘How much do youth pastors make?’ is a little more complicated, however. Data is hard to come by, as most churches do not release this info.

The average youth pastor’s salary varies, largely depending on the size of the church. A youth minister’s salary is also generally significantly less than a head pastor’s salary. It looks like the inquiry ‘How much do youth pastors make?’ can only be answered with an estimate, not an exact figure.

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