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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • A min­istry degree offers diverse oppor­tu­ni­ties, not only in reli­gious fields but also in sec­u­lar jobs.
  • A bach­e­lor’s in min­istry often inte­grate lead­er­ship train­ing with the­o­log­i­cal stud­ies, which can be applied in var­i­ous pro­fes­sion­al contexts.
  • Grad­u­ates can work in church man­age­ment, coun­sel­ing, or com­mu­ni­ty lead­er­ship, among oth­er roles.

Many peo­ple won­der how to become a min­is­ter or ask what can I do with a bib­li­cal stud­ies degree. Many of those same peo­ple may not even know about the edu­ca­tion­al path towards a min­istry degree. A bach­e­lor’s in Min­istry will pre­pare a stu­dent to work in or with church orga­ni­za­tions in var­i­ous capacities.

For some peo­ple who won­der how to become a min­is­ter, the ques­tion comes from a call­ing they can­not quite define. In many faiths, this is known as a “call to min­istry.” For some oth­ers, the ques­tion comes from a strong desire to want to fur­ther engage in their faiths by becom­ing lead­ers and tak­ing on larg­er chal­lenges that con­cern their faiths.

How­ev­er, obtain­ing Bach­e­lor’s in Min­istry degree is not just for peo­ple who want to pur­sue a career in a spir­i­tu­al field. A min­istry degree also offers sec­u­lar oppor­tu­ni­ties and var­i­ous oth­er career paths. This is because a min­istry degree is not strict­ly just a faith-based education.

Relat­ed Rankings:

Why Should I Consider a Bachelor’s In Ministry Degree?

A min­istry degree is not just a the­ol­o­gy degree; it is also, in many ways, an edu­ca­tion in lead­er­ship, and so it has a cer­tain amount of flex­i­bil­i­ty that grad­u­ates can take advan­tage of. Depend­ing on the school, a min­istry degree may have sig­nif­i­cant over­lap with pro­grams like busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion, man­age­ment, and lead­er­ship. Those skills can help any­one posi­tion them­selves in lead­er­ship posi­tions with­in their faith and out­side it.

Also, peo­ple who won­der how to become a min­is­ter may also have some ques­tions con­cern­ing ter­mi­nol­o­gy. For exam­ple, con­sid­er the rev­erend vs pas­tor, or the min­is­ter vs pas­tor ques­tions. For the min­is­ter vs pas­tor ques­tion, the terms can some­times seem inter­change­able. Nev­er­the­less, there are dif­fer­ences between these terms depend­ing on denom­i­na­tion. Most­ly, a pas­tor rep­re­sents a leader of a flock. The word pas­tor is derived from the Latin word for “shep­herd.” Heads or leads of a church can receive the title of pas­tor. Some­times, the pas­tor rep­re­sents a posi­tion rather than a title.

In Catholic faiths, the term pas­tor typ­i­cal­ly refers to a parish priest, which is some­thing alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent. By con­trast, a min­is­ter, which means preach­er, is some­one who receives their denomination’s autho­riza­tion to per­form a wide vari­ety of func­tions, such as tend­ing to the sick, advis­ing church mem­bers, or orga­niz­ing the busi­ness of the church.

To put it more plain­ly, a pas­tor can be a min­is­ter, but a min­is­ter is not always a pas­tor. It is pos­si­ble to gain the title of min­is­ter with­out ever per­form­ing any church duties.

A dis­tinc­tion exists for the rev­erend vs pas­tor ques­tion as well. The term can mean dif­fer­ent things depend­ing on faith and denom­i­na­tion. Usu­al­ly, rev­erend rep­re­sents an hon­orif­ic that any mem­ber of the cler­gy can earn through some form of mer­it or anoth­er. In some oth­er denom­i­na­tions, the term strict­ly applies to church lead­ers. In all cas­es, a min­is­ter, depend­ing on denom­i­na­tion, can also gain the titles of rev­erend or pas­tor. So if you ask how to become a min­is­ter, the answer depends on the church and faith you belong to.

What Schools Offer a Bachelor’s in Ministry Degree?

It is easy to think only faith-based schools and pro­grams offer min­istry degrees, but the truth is min­istry degree pro­grams are found prac­ti­cal­ly every­where. As a min­istry degree is a the­ol­o­gy degree, many sec­u­lar or unaligned edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams offer them. Nev­er­the­less, there are numer­ous faith-based col­leges and pro­grams avail­able, as well as many online min­istry degree programs.

For appli­cants who want an edu­ca­tion steeped in a spe­cif­ic ide­ol­o­gy, denom­i­na­tion, or faith-based niche, a good place to start is by look­ing at the min­is­te­r­i­al guide­lines for their own church. Many denom­i­na­tions want and expect their min­is­ters to attend spe­cif­ic types of schools or programs.

Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, it is usu­al­ly pos­si­ble to find a qual­i­fied school or pro­gram no mat­ter the denom­i­na­tion of the appli­cant. And, as with any school, col­lege, uni­ver­si­ty, or pro­gram, appli­cants must do their due dili­gence to make sure they receive a good high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion from a rep­utable school.

Accreditation for Ministry Programs and Degrees

As with any high­er learn­ing edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty, the best way to deter­mine which school will offer a qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion is to look at who gives the school or pro­gram accred­i­ta­tion. An intact accred­it­ed sta­tus should tell appli­cants quite a few things about a min­istry degree program:

  • The insti­tu­tion has a clear pur­pose and goal
  • The insti­tu­tion hires high­ly qual­i­fied instruc­tors and staff
  • The insti­tu­tion has every­thing a stu­dent needs to meet goals
  • The insti­tu­tion con­stant­ly strives for improve­ment and excellence
  • The insti­tu­tion meets or exceeds stan­dards set by the accred­i­ta­tion agency

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion agen­cies set edu­ca­tion­al stan­dards for most col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in the coun­try. Each region of the coun­try has a ded­i­cat­ed accred­i­ta­tion agency, hence the term regional.

Accred­i­ta­tion from a region­al agency means the school meets or exceeds edu­ca­tion­al stan­dards set by the accred­it­ing group. Schools must will­ing­ly sub­mit an appli­ca­tion for accred­i­ta­tion and main­tain their stand­ing with their region­al accred­i­ta­tion group.

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion has the high­est recog­ni­tion and it can help stu­dents that want or need to trans­fer to oth­er schools for their edu­ca­tion. This is because cred­its from region­al­ly accred­it­ed schools are wide­ly accept­ed at oth­er schools.

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion is not the only type of accred­i­ta­tion to look for. This is espe­cial­ly true for those seek­ing a cer­tain type of min­istry degree or a spe­cif­ic type of edu­ca­tion based on a denom­i­na­tion. Oth­er, spe­cial­ized or pro­gram­mat­ic accred­i­ta­tions can also help an appli­cant decide if a school or min­istry degree pro­gram is the right one for their needs.

For min­istry degrees, there are numer­ous spe­cial­ized and pro­gram­mat­ic accred­i­ta­tion agen­cies. Appli­cants may even find their own church or faith group appre­ci­ates min­istry degrees from a school or pro­gram with a spe­cif­ic type of accreditation.

Gen­er­al­ly, the most rec­og­nized accred­i­ta­tion agen­cies for min­istry pro­grams include:

  • Asso­ci­a­tion for Bib­li­cal High­er Education
  • Asso­ci­a­tion of The­o­log­i­cal Schools in the Unit­ed States and Canada
  • Transna­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Chris­t­ian Col­leges and Schools

By far, the most known and respect­ed min­istry degree accred­i­ta­tion agency is the Asso­ci­a­tion for Bib­li­cal High­er Education.

This does not dimin­ish the oth­er accred­it­ing agen­cies, as appli­cants will need to look at more than just the accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus of a school or pro­gram. How­ev­er, appli­cants should look up any accred­i­ta­tion agency a min­istry degree pro­gram lists so they can see what exact­ly that accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus entails. Any legit­i­mate accred­i­ta­tion should ensure that the school has been vet­ted by an inde­pen­dent third party.

What Are the Different Types of Ministerial Degrees Available?

Numer­ous types of min­is­te­r­i­al degrees exist. In addi­tion, many min­is­te­r­i­al degrees do not fall under the title of Bach­e­lor of Arts in Min­is­te­r­i­al Stud­ies. Once again, the types of min­istry degrees can have a lot to do with the denom­i­na­tion or faith-based nich­es. In addi­tion, the degree can also come with any of a num­ber of specializations.

Some­times, what peo­ple think of as a min­istry degree is real­ly a divin­i­ty degree. A BS in The­ol­o­gy can also rep­re­sent a min­istry degree if that the­ol­o­gy major has a faith-based spe­cial­iza­tion. Anoth­er exam­ple comes with degrees in bib­li­cal studies.

Bib­li­cal stud­ies degrees can also rep­re­sent a viable min­istry degree, but the edu­ca­tion that accom­pa­nies these degrees is geared towards the Bible specif­i­cal­ly. Careers in min­istry can start from any type of min­istry degree.

Appli­cants must pay close atten­tion to what the cur­ricu­lum for any min­istry or the­ol­o­gy degree is offer­ing. This is espe­cial­ly true if the appli­cant is seek­ing an edu­ca­tion that adheres specif­i­cal­ly to a denom­i­na­tion or oth­er nar­row­ly defined group.

Spe­cial­iza­tions also mat­ter as well when it comes to the types of min­istry degrees avail­able. Some­one specif­i­cal­ly look­ing for pas­tor edu­ca­tion for a Protes­tant con­gre­ga­tion should make sure they‘re tak­ing cours­es that will give them the best chance at becom­ing a church leader, as opposed to just a bib­li­cal schol­ar. Whether it is pas­tor edu­ca­tion or some oth­er form of the­o­log­i­cal study, a spe­cial­iza­tion can put an appli­cant in a good posi­tion to achieve their goals. 

Some Min­istry degree spe­cial­iza­tions can include:

  • Bib­li­cal Counseling
  • Chap­lain­cy
  • Chris­t­ian Leadership
  • Chris­t­ian Philosophy
  • Chris­t­ian Studies
  • Church Min­istry
  • Evan­ge­lism
  • Inter­cul­tur­al Ministries
  • Ministerial/Ministry Lead­er­ship
  • Pas­toral Ministry
  • Youth Min­istry

The list of avail­able spe­cial­iza­tions is long, which means appli­cants can find pro­grams that offer cours­es that will give them the best pos­si­ble edu­ca­tion that meets their per­son­al cri­te­ria and goals.

There are many approach­es to a Chris­t­ian min­istry pro­gram, and min­istry majors may take course­work in

  • fam­i­ly ministry
  • inter­cul­tur­al studies
  • Chris­t­ian faith
  • Old Tes­ta­ment
  • New Tes­ta­ment
  • Bib­li­cal interpretation
  • Local church outreach
  • Non­prof­it management

You don’t have to go to an on-cam­pus Chris­t­ian uni­ver­si­ty either — you can choose an online bach­e­lor program.

Can I Earn My Ministry Degree Online?

Gain­ing a min­istry degree online works in much the same way as pur­su­ing a min­istry degree through tra­di­tion­al cam­pus class­es or pro­grams. The same rules apply for choos­ing a min­istry degree online as well. Careers in min­istry can def­i­nite­ly start with an online min­istry degree pro­gram, so appli­cants should not wor­ry that choos­ing a min­istry degree online will lessen their chances or mess up their goals. An online degree com­ple­tion pro­gram can take as lit­tle as two years if you’re work­ing full-time, and a lit­tle longer study­ing part-time.

This all applies to oth­er types of min­istry degrees as well. Appli­cants can just as eas­i­ly pur­sue a bib­li­cal stud­ies degree online or an online the­ol­o­gy degree Catholic denom­i­na­tions will accept. Just as with brick and mor­tar pro­grams, appli­cants must vet the online schools and check their status.

Online pro­grams will offer the same gen­er­al edu­ca­tion cours­es and elec­tives as a cam­pus-based pro­gram, and the same num­ber of cred­it hours. If you already have an asso­ciate degree, you may shave off some time by skip­ping some online cours­es. Some online pro­grams also set stu­dents up with mentors.

Accred­it­ed online bible col­lege degrees will have the same guide­lines and stan­dards. An online the­ol­o­gy degree Catholic parish­es want will still need prop­er accred­i­ta­tion. Get­ting a the­ol­o­gy, min­istry, or bib­li­cal stud­ies degree online will take just as much effort from appli­cants. Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams are high­ly demand­ing, but faster.

Oth­er than accred­it­ed online bible col­lege degrees and oth­er pro­grams, appli­cants can also seek out some of the free online min­istry degrees and cer­tifi­cates out there. Appli­cants should under­stand many places offer some form of online min­istry degree free of charge, but those degrees are not always accept­ed by a church.

Occa­sion­al­ly, free online min­istry degrees can help an appli­cant earn cred­its towards an accred­it­ed degree or some form of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Claims of an online min­istry degree free can also mean the pro­gram has a very low cost or will need the appli­cant to pay a fee of some sort before they can grad­u­ate the program.

When check­ing out free online min­istry degree cours­es, class­es, and pro­grams, it is still a good idea to check for some form of accred­i­ta­tion. For exam­ple, free accred­it­ed online sem­i­nary degrees will still need the appli­cant to fig­ure out what group gave the accred­i­ta­tion and what that accred­i­ta­tion means.

A good online pro­gram will also set you up for a master’s degree or doc­tor­al program.

What Type of Ministry Certifications or Ministry Licenses Will I Need?

Depend­ing on the goals of the appli­cant, some cer­ti­fi­ca­tion or licens­ing may become nec­es­sary. Of course, the major license for min­istry and cer­tifi­cate in min­istry is ordi­na­tion. Many peo­ple won­der how to become an ordained min­is­ter. How­ev­er, the answer to the ques­tion will depend on what type of ordi­na­tion the appli­cant wants.

When search­ing for how to become an ordained min­is­ter, appli­cants will like­ly come across a slew of web­sites and con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion. An online min­istry cer­tifi­cate may help some­one offi­ci­ate a wed­ding or a funer­al, but if the appli­cant does not receive ordi­na­tion from his or her group or denom­i­na­tion, then he or she can­not claim the title of ordained min­is­ter for that group or denomination.

A licensed min­is­ter is not the same as an ordained min­is­ter in many cas­es. Some states grant min­istry licens­es, which can allow a min­is­ter to prac­tice cer­tain func­tions with­in that state. Nev­er­the­less, the state license is not a form of ordination.

Gen­er­al­ly, a state-licensed min­is­ter can per­form wed­dings, work in pub­lic insti­tu­tions, such as jails, and do oth­er things the state requires licens­ing for. Yet, a license for min­istry from the state can require a grad­u­ate to already have an ordi­na­tion cer­tifi­cate in min­istry already.

The sub­ject of licens­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion can become quite con­fus­ing. This is espe­cial­ly true for denom­i­na­tions that require extra steps to gain ordained status.

The best thing an appli­cant or grad­u­ate can do is to find out the ordi­na­tion require­ments for their par­tic­u­lar group while also check­ing with the licens­ing require­ments for their state. A cer­tifi­cate, whether it is an online min­istry cer­tifi­cate or not, and a license for min­istry typ­i­cal­ly work with each oth­er. Grad­u­ates should try to obtain both if need­ed and possible.

Some spe­cif­ic groups or orga­ni­za­tions may also want a grad­u­ate to obtain spe­cial­ized cer­ti­fi­ca­tion through their own pro­gram. This is a whol­ly dif­fer­ent sce­nario and will depend on the groups the grad­u­ate is try­ing to join or work with.

What Are the Different Types of Careers in Ministry?

It may not seem like it on the sur­face, but the types of careers in min­istry are wide and var­ied. Jobs in the min­istry exist and oth­er min­is­te­r­i­al jobs as well. For those who want to lead a con­gre­ga­tion, lead pas­tor jobs do show up. In addi­tion, grad­u­ates can start the process of build­ing their own con­gre­ga­tions if their denom­i­na­tions allow.

Lead pas­tor jobs and jobs for ordained min­is­ters aside, there are many min­istry career oppor­tu­ni­ties that exist in sec­u­lar busi­ness­es and pro­grams as well. A min­istry degree can come with lead­er­ship class­es, things like musi­cal his­to­ry, and oth­er forms of edu­ca­tion that can lead to careers with jobs in the min­istry or careers com­plete­ly out­side the scope of min­is­te­r­i­al jobs.

Some min­istry career oppor­tu­ni­ties and jobs in min­istry specif­i­cal­ly can include:

  • Church Admin­is­tra­tor
  • Coun­selor or Youth Counselor
  • Mem­ber of the Clergy
  • Min­is­te­r­i­al Educator
  • Mis­sion­ary
  • Pas­tor or Youth Pastor
  • Reli­gious Activ­i­ties Director
  • Teacher (Phi­los­o­phy, The­ol­o­gy, or Religious)

Many oth­er career paths exist as well when it comes to jobs in the min­istry. Not all jobs entail the same things. Grad­u­ates need to con­sid­er the job require­ments care­ful­ly when look­ing for min­istry careers. For exam­ple, a youth pas­tor job descrip­tion is not the same across all denom­i­na­tions or in all places.

The dif­fer­ent types of careers in min­istry are not always what some­one may think of as careers that involve serv­ing God. How­ev­er, faith insti­tu­tions can require a ton of peo­ple work­ing in dif­fer­ent fields and sec­tors to achieve goals, stay rel­e­vant, and deal with the admin­is­tra­tion that comes with run­ning small and large organizations.

Appli­cants should always keep in mind a min­istry degree also makes them eli­gi­ble and high­ly qual­i­fied for many sec­u­lar occu­pa­tions. Occa­sion­al­ly, busi­ness­es specif­i­cal­ly seek out those who can per­form a job while still bring­ing a faith-based aspect to it.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn with a Bachelor’s In Ministry Degree?

The salaries earned by those in min­istry can vary a great deal based on a tremen­dous num­ber of fac­tors. Some peo­ple assume faith-based careers bare­ly pay at all, but, in truth, there are many reli­gious jobs that pay well.

Some high­ly sought-after posi­tions can pay a min­is­ter salary wor­thy of the work the appli­cant put into achiev­ing their bachelor’s degree in min­istry. $47k is the medi­an wage for cler­gy. The aver­age gen­er­al min­is­ter salary is $52k. Aver­age youth pas­tor salary or youth min­is­ter salary hov­ers around $37k.

Peo­ple often won­der how much do youth pas­tors make. Typ­i­cal­ly, they make less than gen­er­al pas­tors do at any giv­en time. Even faith orga­ni­za­tions can have a hard time try­ing to fig­ure out how to deter­mine pas­tor salary, whether it is how much do youth pas­tors make or how much do small church pas­tors make.

When look­ing at the salary num­bers, job seek­ers should bear in mind these num­bers rep­re­sent aver­ages. Salary can start or grow far beyond the aver­age rates depend­ing on things like loca­tion, the orga­ni­za­tion involved, and the needs of that orga­ni­za­tion. A youth min­is­ter salary or aver­age youth pas­tor salary in one place can dou­ble in anoth­er place.

Also, church min­is­ter salary is one thing, but the salary for spe­cial­ist posi­tions can come with very high pay. In most cas­es, grad­u­ates will not start with a pas­tor salary megachurch con­gre­ga­tions fund.

A small church pas­tor salary may require a grad­u­ate to use their degree in oth­er ways to sup­ple­ment it. For exam­ple, a small church pas­tor salary can work well with a reli­gious teach­ing assign­ment or faith-based free­lance writing.

For many who receive the call, salary is not the most impor­tant part of their min­istry careers. Nev­er­the­less, it is still impor­tant to con­sid­er salary. Help­ing, heal­ing, preach­ing, and guid­ing peo­ple can offer men­tal and spir­i­tu­al rewards. But, a good salary or good oppor­tu­ni­ties to make more mon­ey can help ease any bur­dens for grad­u­ates and their families.

Are There Any Professional Organizations For Ministry Degree Holders?

The min­istry space comes with a lot of pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions. The very nature of faith orga­ni­za­tions and denom­i­na­tions means there are a stun­ning num­ber of both broad and niche pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions out there for min­istry degree hold­ers. These orga­ni­za­tions exist as the local, state, nation­al, and inter­na­tion­al levels.

Because of the sheer amount of these orga­ni­za­tions, min­istry degree grad­u­ates should focus on find­ing the orga­ni­za­tions that will ben­e­fit them best. No mat­ter what, it is always a good idea to become part of a pro­fes­sion­al mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tion for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons. These asso­ci­a­tions can provide:

  • Con­fer­ences, sem­i­nars, and programs
  • Live forum to exchange ideas with oth­er min­istry professionals
  • Net­work­ing opportunities
  • Oppor­tu­ni­ties for career advancement
  • Oppor­tu­ni­ties for fur­ther education

Some­times, these orga­ni­za­tions cre­ate pol­i­cy and con­tain min­istry lead­ers. Pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tions can also come with exclu­sive resources grad­u­ates can take advan­tage of. Alto­geth­er, these groups are well worth it for any­one who wants to learn, grow, advance, or find new ways to improve things for their church or reli­gious institution.

Often, busi­ness­es and oth­er groups seek­ing a faith-based coun­selor or some­one to speak at an event will con­tact a pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion first. The net­work­ing and shar­ing of infor­ma­tion can help a min­is­ter or oth­er min­istry-relat­ed pro­fes­sion­al stay afloat. This can become extreme­ly impor­tant for min­is­ters and pas­tors of small churches.

For peo­ple seek­ing the right pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion, it can help to nar­row the search down to specifics. For exam­ple, a grad­u­ate who will prac­tice min­istry with­in a Catholic insti­tu­tion should look for Catholic organizations.

If that job seek­er specif­i­cal­ly wants to deal with youth min­istry, they can find a Catholic youth min­istry orga­ni­za­tion. If that per­son worked with Catholic youths in an edu­ca­tion­al capac­i­ty, they could seek out a Catholic edu­ca­tion­al society.

The oppo­site is also true. Min­istry degree grad­u­ates with a broad­er focus on reli­gion or the­ol­o­gy can join pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions that also have a broad­er focus. Even with­in the broad­er reli­gious cat­e­gories, sub­cat­e­gories exist.

A good way for a min­istry degree grad­u­ate to fig­ure it all out is to con­tact and speak with oth­ers at the local lev­el. The peo­ple they will work with or around may have some ideas as well. If part of a spe­cif­ic denom­i­na­tion, oth­er min­istry-pro­fes­sion­als with­in that denom­i­na­tion will like­ly have some good ideas on which orga­ni­za­tions to consider.