Why This Matters


    Christianity is truly a worldwide religion. The Pew Research Center counts 2.3 billion Christians worldwide, and many of these people are members of churches or congregations that need leaders.


    Religious groups need more leaders, with clergy job growth estimated to exceed 7.5% through 2026. In addition to these new positions, many current positions will become available as clergy members retire.


    A Master’s in Ministry can lead to careers in or outside religious organizations. Trained religious leaders also work for hospitals, home healthcare services, nonprofits, elementary and secondary schools, and other organizations.

Our Research

We looked at many Master’s in Ministry degree programs, including both Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Divinity (MDiv) degrees. Our list contains online, traditional, and hybrid program options to provide flexibility.

Every program listed has regional or national accreditation, if not both. The two main national accrediting bodies are the Association of Theological Schools’ Commission on Accrediting (ATS) and the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 68 hours to write this article
  • 160 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 397 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Ministry Degree Programs

Best Master's in Ministry Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

To become part of the clergy in most denominations, you must be ordained. Ordination requirements vary by denomination, but the standard ministry degree for ordination is generally an MDiv. An MA degree may not include enough practical coursework to qualify you for ordination. Check your denomination’s ordination requirements before enrolling, and choose a degree program accordingly.

Both MA and MDiv ministry degrees are offered by multiple institutions. You may choose to study at a secular school, a broadly religious school, or a school that has a specific denominational affiliation. Whatever school you choose, confirm that its perspective is compatible with your personal religious beliefs.

Many MDiv programs have an in-person experiential component, and MA programs sometimes do too. You should be prepared to complete an in-person requirement even if you enroll in an online program, and you’ll want to make sure your schedule allows for the hours needed to do this part of a program.

No matter where you ultimately find a job, working in ministry generally requires maintaining a high moral standard and working closely with others. Before pursuing this type of career, consider your own aptitudes and interests to ensure that they’ll meld well with the demands of being a religious leader.

What’s Next?

Consider these questions as you evaluate different Master’s in Ministry degree options further:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most Master’s in Ministry degrees require applicants to first complete a bachelor’s degree, but the bachelor’s can usually be in any subject. You’ll likely also have to furnish a statement that details your religious path and beliefs.
  • How long does it take to complete this degree? MA degrees generally take two years to complete, and MDiv degrees usually require three years. These estimates are based on full-time study, and attending part-time will extend the length of a program.

When you have a short list of potential programs, find out what application materials are required and the deadline for submission. You can get this information from a program’s website or by contacting the program directly.

Also consider how you’ll cover tuition costs for a degree. Ask programs about financial aid and scholarships. You might also get tuition reimbursement from an employer or a grant from your religious community.