Why This Matters

  • GLOBAL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY TOPS 2 BILLION

    As of 2011, there were more than 2.18 billion Christians in the world, accounting for almost one-third of the global population, according to the Pew Forum.

  • DEMAND FOR CLERGY TO INCREASE 6% BY 2028

    The employment of clergy of all religious affiliations is expected to continue rising at an average pace, with an additional 29,200 jobs available in the U.S. within the next decade.

  • MASTER’S DEGREE REQUIRED FOR CLERGY ROLES

    Because of the important role clergy members play in their religious communities, they are expected to have an extensive educational background.

Our Research

This list focuses on master’s degrees in ministry. Students may earn either a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in this field.

This list includes schools that have either regional or national accreditation. Many programs are accredited by specialized accrediting bodies like the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), or the Association of Theological Schools’ Commission on Accrediting. Please note that degrees from regionally accredited schools are generally more transferable and recognized than those from nationally accredited institutions.

All programs can be completed through online coursework. In instances where coursework is offered both online and on-campus, students may be able to take classes in-person or online, depending on their learning preferences and schedule.

Our team reviewed the programs based on their outcomes, reputation, flexibility, faculty, and price. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each program. Our top picks for the best online master’s in ministry are customizable, affordable, and highly respected. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 55 hours to write this article
  • 186 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 411 education programs we compared

The Top 35 Online Master’s in Ministry Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Pursuing a career in ministry is a serious decision that should be given careful consideration, as it will have ramifications for your personal as well as professional life.

Clergy leaders are held to high standards within the communities they serve, as well as the larger community of their religion. Depending on your denomination, you may have to take vows of celibacy and poverty. Failure to honor those vows can have severe consequences. Therefore, you should reflect on your personal beliefs and aptitudes before committing to this path.

To become a full-fledged clergy member in most denominations, you must become ordained. The ordination process varies by religious denomination. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the ordination process for your denomination, so you can select a master’s program that meets its educational standards.

There are a few different types of institutions where you can complete a master’s in ministry. These include traditional four-year universities, which may or may not have a religious affiliation; Bible colleges, which use the Bible as the focal point of education, and seminaries, which focus on graduate-level education for those interested in pursuing ministry leadership roles. You can also choose a school based on its denomination, including Catholic, Baptist, or Jesuit.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Ministry programs:

  • Does this program offer the specialization that I want? There are a number of specialization options available to students in master’s in ministry programs. These include hospital chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, theological studies, and more. If you are considering a specialization, be sure to select a program that offers this kind of opportunity through electives or focused tracks.
  • Are there any in-person requirements? As ministry is a field that involves working closely with individuals and communities, hands-on experience is beneficial, and may be required by the program. When researching programs, find out if they have any field experience requirements, and in what type of setting you are expected to complete them. This will help you plan your schedule and budget.

During the research process, you should also gather your application materials, and start thinking about how you will fund your master’s degree. Financial aid resources include student loans, scholarships, assistantships, grants, and tuition assistance benefits from your employer, if you are currently working.