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By completing a bachelor’s in ministry, students can enhance their understanding of biblical scripture and prepare themselves for a professional career in ministry or a related field. After obtaining this degree, students may be qualified to serve as a member of the clergy with a median annual wage of $55,550 per year.

Most of these online bachelor’s programs are 120 credit hours and are designed to be completed by full-time students within four years. Accelerated programs may allow full-time students to complete their work within three years. According to US News, a bachelor’s in ministry degree costs between $37,000 and $64,000.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Ministry Program

Choose your area of study

While some online programs for a bachelor’s degree in ministry provide a generalized approach to the subject matter, many programs offer students specific concentrations. These concentrations often include youth ministry, urban ministry, pastoral studies, and church administration.

Such concentrations often foster different skills (for example, the skills you learn for church administration are distinct from those you need for youth ministry), so students should carefully consider what they’d like their particular specialization to be. By choosing a concentration that aligns with the career they hope to pursue after graduation, students can ensure that this degree provides them with all the vocational knowledge they need to succeed.

Research schools and programs

Many schools offer an online bachelor’s in ministry program, so students must narrow the large list of schools into a smaller list of prospective programs.

One of the most important things to do is to make sure a program is accredited: students attending unaccredited schools or programs will not be able to obtain federal financial aid, and they will likely find degrees from such schools won’t qualify them for the jobs they want, post-graduation. Another important criterion is cost; students should strongly consider finding schools that fit their intended budget.

Finally, students should focus on applying to schools that offer the learning format that fits their needs. Synchronous learning means classes are delivered at set times, and this structure can help keep students on task and connected with those in their classes. Asynchronous learning provides enough schedule flexibility for those who prefer to study on their own, particularly those who can’t attend full-time or have other responsibilities.

Prepare for tests and applications

Many universities offering an online bachelor’s in ministry program will require students to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the application. Students worried about their scores not being high enough may wish to study for and take the test again, though it’s important to ensure there is enough time to do that before the application deadlines have passed.

Students should also review what other documentation each school’s application requires. Typically, this includes high school transcripts, a cover letter, application essays, letters of recommendation, and test scores.

Select your program

With the list narrowed down to a handful of promising prospective schools, students must then determine which program(s) they intend to apply to.

Here, again, cost should be a consideration. If two schools offer a similar education and one is much more affordable, it’s generally best to choose the affordable one and avoid taking on unwanted student debt. Students should also focus on schools that offer online tutoring and online communities so that remote learners have resources when they need help and don’t feel isolated.

Finally, students may wish to research who will be teaching which classes, as studying under certain big names in the world of religion and spirituality may help them learn more from scripture and attain a better job after graduation.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

To help pay for their bachelor’s degree in ministry, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. Simply filling out the application will qualify students for federal loans to attend accredited schools, and students may be offered additional loans and grants based on their economic status. Additionally, many scholarships require submission of the FAFSA as a prerequisite.

Incidentally, it’s worth taking the time to contact the financial aid department of any school that sounds interesting, as the counselors there can answer specific questions and point students toward additional financial aid programs provided by either the school or the state.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Ministry Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Ministry Programs Badge
Intelligent Pick
Toccoa Falls College
Best Christian Institution
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Best Focus on Music Ministry
Manna University
Best Theology Focus
Brescia University
Best for Adult Students
North Greenville University
Best Bible-Based Institution
Calvary University
Best in the Southern Region
Lee University
Best for Lay Ministry
Trevecca Nazarene University
Best for Working Professionals
Cornerstone University
Best in the Midwest Region
Lincoln Christian University
Best for Baptist-Based Students
The Baptist College of Florida
Best in the Northeast Region
Clarks Summit University
Best for International Students
Hope International University
Best Libraries
Johnson University
Best for Transfer Students
Liberty University
Best Faculty Mentors
Regent University
Best Leadership Training
Asbury University
Most Interdisciplinary Program
Southeastern University
Most Flexible Admissions
Bethel University
Best Private Institution
Tennessee Temple University
Best BS Program
Moody Bible Institute
Best in the Pacific Region
The Master's University
Best Organizational Leadership Focus
Horizon University
Best Church Planting Focus
Ohio Christian University
Most Affordable
City Vision University
Best Three-Year Program
Northwest Nazarene University
Best Asynchronous Program
Biola University
Best in the South-Central Region
The King'S University
Best Liberal Arts Focus
Welch College
Best Evangelism Focus
Oral Roberts University
Best Two-Year Program
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Best Mission Trips
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Best Grad School Preparation
California Baptist University Online
Best Financial Aid
Evangel University
Best for Parachurch Ministry
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Best Focus on Communications
Grand Canyon University
Best Hybrid Program
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Best Global Focus
Letourneau University
Best Minors
University Of Valley Forge
Best Hispanic Ministry Option
Nazarene Bible College
Best for Adventist Ministry
Andrews University
Best for Critical Thinking
Northwest University
Best Focus on Administration
Dallas Baptist University
Best Accelerated Program
Grace Christian University
Best for Global Ministry
King University
Best Concentration Options
Ascent College
Best Youth Ministry Focus
Eastern University
Best for Veterans
Belmont University
Best Student Experience
Barclay College
Best Spiritual Growth Opportunities
Warner University

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How We Rank Schools

All of the online degrees on our list prepare you for a career in Christian ministry, but some focus on a particular kind of religious leadership, such as children’s ministry.

When researching online ministry programs, you should look for regional accreditation. Ideally, you’ll choose a program that has also been accredited by a national organization for religious higher education, such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Ministry Program?

Students taking an online bachelor’s in ministry program can expect coursework that blends instruction about community leadership and teaching small groups with courses steeped in the wisdom of scripture from the Bible.

Such programs are designed for students who intend to work with churches or other religious organizations after they graduate. However, there is enough skill transfer with the lessons taught that graduates will also be able to thrive in more secular careers such as non-profits or community education. There is a commonality linking all the coursework; because students all feel a calling to help serve their local communities, these courses prepare students to put those good intentions into practical acts of service.

The typical online program to earn a bachelor’s degree in ministry requires 120 credit hours, and it will take full-time learners four years to complete all the necessary coursework. Students attending part-time may need five years or longer to finish classes, and full-time students who sign up for an accelerated program may be able to complete everything in as few as three years. Many online programs are fully remote, as most do not have any on-campus residency requirements. However, it is worth asking an admissions counselor to be sure.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in ministry degree program

  • Ministry Life and Calling: This course is built around the idea that students who devote themselves to the ministry need to feel a divine calling to do so. It serves as a light introduction to many of the essential concepts in serving as a minister as well as teaching students how to navigate the personal and professional complexities that often come with this particular job.
  • Discipleship and Spiritual Formation: This course is very precisely focused: it is designed to teach students to share their own expertise in biblical scripture with small groups, including church congregations. As such, the course emphasizes how to preach, organize and hold seminars, and even the different approaches to teaching in Sunday School versus teaching in a mid-week service.
  • Ministry Leadership: This course helps students learn to foster and implement leadership skills through the lens of ministry and spirituality. In these classes, students will learn various theories of leadership and how to put those theories to the test, specifically in a local church or other religious organization, though many of the skills are just as applicable to secular leadership as well as spiritual leadership.
  • Ministry of Administration: This course focuses on the many aspects of administration that help keep the ministry alive and vibrant long after the fiery sermon has concluded. Students will learn more about interacting with boards and committees, recruiting spiritual leaders and volunteers, budgeting church funds, and everything else that goes into keeping the ministry’s lights on and a congregation growing.

Online Bachelor’s in Ministry Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor’s in ministry degree program?

Students must navigate to the university’s website in order to apply to an online bachelor’s degree in ministry program.

The website should either have an internal application or link students to a common application portal. Applying is typically a matter of filling out the application, attaching necessary documents, and hitting “submit,” though submission by mail is probably also possible. Speaking of documents, the application should specify what all students need to attach for a complete application, including test scores, application essays, and letters of recommendation.

If there is any confusion, contact the school’s admissions office. The counselors can answer any questions and verify if an application is complete and successfully submitted.

How much does an online bachelor’s in ministry degree program cost?

According to US News, an online bachelor’s in ministry degree can cost between $37,000 and $64,000. This extreme range is because some schools are inherently more expensive.

For example, private schools almost always have higher tuition than public schools. Other factors may also affect the cost, including how many credits students must complete and how long it takes them to complete their coursework. Attending a school as an out-of-state student can also be more expensive. Fortunately, the cost of the online program is nearly always lower than that of in-person programs because students won’t have to move to a new town or pay for things like campus parking passes and student fees for on-campus students.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in ministry degree?

The online bachelor’s in ministry usually requires 120 credit hours and can be completed by full-time students in four years. Full-time students who enroll in an accelerated program may be able to complete coursework in only three years, and part-time students can expect their online education to take up to five years or even longer.

Ultimately, students should choose a program and a course pace that best fits their needs, goals, and schedule. This approach allows students to tailor their education and achieve a higher degree of academic success.

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