When you have decided to devote your life and career to church ministry, you may have the desire to advance your educational goals beyond just a bachelor’s degree. However, with all of your responsibilities to church, family, work, and other community activities, you might find it difficult to fit in another college degree. In today’s technologically advanced world, this is no longer an issue as online educational programs are growing every day and expanding to every major. Pursuing a graduate degree in the field of ministry has never been easier with the various online programs that are available today. These programs are flexible, convenient, affordable, and designed to allow more people drawn to the ministry to advance their personal and professional goals.
Whether you are already working in a pastoral position in your church or have the desire to change careers to the field of ministry, these graduate programs offer a broad range of options for you to choose. These programs will provide experienced ministers the opportunity to expand upon their current experiences and knowledge of religious practices with more in-depth biblical study and advanced leadership skills. Individuals with little to no practical ministering experience will also learn the tools and techniques necessary while gaining practical experience in the fields to confidently become ministers in their communities. The unique nature of ministry works well with online education because the subjects learned allow a student to apply their new skills in local churches, religious organizations, the workplace, and other community environments.
The online graduate programs gathered here are the 15 Best Online Masters Degrees in Ministry at some of the top Christian schools in the country. While there are plenty of other online graduate programs available in a variety of religious studies, these are specially designed for those who want to work as ministers, pastors, or in other church leadership roles.
The methodology used to rank these universities considered their overall reputation in graduate education, their reputation as a quality provider of distance learning programs, regionally accredited by a respected accrediting body, overall flexibility of coursework, and affiliation with established church organizations who are leaders in the area of ministry instruction. National rankings, such as U.S. News & World Report and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, as well as positive reviews from students and independent reviewers, were also considered to determine the final ranking order.
Grace College offers a Master of Arts in Ministry Studies that allow students to expand their ministry careers with a focus on Camp Administration or Women’s Leadership Studies. With a solid biblical foundation, this program provides graduates with the tools needed to develop further as leaders in their communities. Students learn leadership skills with a Christian worldview by studying ministry philosophy, cultural diversity, and spiritual formation courses. These strategies will sharpen your personal strengths while giving you the biblical, theological, and practical knowledge needed to minister with confidence. Coursework is flexible and convenient for busy adults with families and church responsibilities. This 36 credit hour program will allow you to complete the course in 24 months. Affiliated with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, the college welcomes students from all Christian backgrounds and denominations to join in the pursuit of a faith-based education.
Heritage Christian University offers a Master of Arts in Ministry that helps ministers who want to enhance their leadership skills and interact more efficiently with their congregations. Coursework is unique in that online students’ watch video lectures of the same courses taught on-campus. Students can watch lectures and interact with the class life, or after class on their own time. Supplement materials are available to online students, including video presentations, slideshows, handouts, and classroom notes. Students also have access to an online research database and their collection of religion and philosophy digital texts. This 36 credit hour program offers specialization in Ministerial Counseling, Homiletics and Ministerial Care, Biblical Studies, or the History of Biblical Interpretation and Theology. While the bulk of courses is available online, students will be required to visit the campus at the start of the program, for graduation exercises, and final exams before graduation.
At Ohio Christian University, you can obtain a Master of Arts in Ministry with a concentration in Practical Theology or Pastoral Care and Counseling. This program is meant to enhance the skills of ministers, pastors, and other active church leaders so that they can become more effective in providing support leadership to their communities. Program objectives include learning how to analyze crisis situations, conduct independent research for sermons, develop church administration skills, and demonstrate a deep love for God by practicing spiritual disciplines. Excellent instructors, flexible schedules, and affordable programs make this 34 credit hour degree a good option for working adults with families and active members of the military. Affiliated with the Churches of Christ in the Christian Union and rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, the University focuses on training ministers who put their faith first while developing them into graduates who are intellectual, professionally, and spiritually stronger.
Luther Rice College and Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Ministry degree that specifically prepares those being called to a pastoral or ministry support role in the community. This program provides students with a foundation in biblical and theological studies, along with exposure to the various church related ministry functions. It is perfect for individuals already serving as pastors or anyone wanting to enter the ministry field. It provides advanced practical skills in how to function biblically and efficiently in church settings. The 36 credit hour curriculum has a basis in biblical and theological studies but focused on practical ministry. Successful graduates will be able to interpret the Bible from a historical and grammatical context, prepare inspirational sermons, and evaluate, develop, and implement church ministry programs. The college has been providing online degrees for more than a decade and ranks as one of the country’s most affordable online schools.
Grand Canyon University offers a Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Pastoral Ministry. The pastoral ministry degree prepares students for a career as a pastor, spiritual advisor, healthcare chaplain, religious educator, or Bible study leader. Students learn how to become ministers through biblical and theological coursework, along with practical applications in church settings. Graduates will be well-prepared to create and deliver sermons, identify the needs of a congregation, deal with the stresses that come with pastoral life, and have the evangelical tools to counsel individuals effectively. This 38 credit hour program is flexible and convenient for career-minded individuals who have a passion for helping others and want to become leaders in their community. Small online class sizes and dedicated faculty members will make your online education individualized, engaging, and challenging. The school of Theology and Ministry offers additional online master’s degrees in Urban Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Global Ministry.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers a Master of Arts in Children and Family Ministry to develop skills specifically needed to address the spiritual needs of children and families. Students will learn advanced leadership, marriage and family counseling, cultural diversity, and at-risk youth diplomatic skills. This program gives students the tools needed to minister the word of God to children with challenging issues and families with special needs. Upon completion of the 36 credit hour program, you will gain an advanced understanding of the study, interpretation, and application of God’s word to be used to help children and families grow in their faith. Distance learners will develop interpersonal relationships with online classmates and faculty through daily worship, streaming seminars, campus sports, and other Christ-centered activities through their online learning portal. It is the mission of SAGU to provide qualified candidates for leadership roles in the community, churches, and missions around the globe.
The University of the Cumberlands offers a Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Ministry degree that prepares graduates for a professional career in ministry or Christian education. Students will gain a broad understanding of the Bible, theological principles, and contemporary religious cultures that will result in strong leadership and ministerial skills. An emphasis on strong academic content with practical applications in the community is the cornerstone to success in the ministry. The program also provides online students the opportunity to interact with respected and influential Christian guest speakers through the virtual classroom portal and the web conferencing. This 36 credit hour program covers Old Testament, New Testament, and Christian Theology courses with a concentration in Youth Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, or Missions Ministry. A practical final ministry project focused on the concentration area will also be required. The program takes just 12 months to complete, with convenient classes that fit into your schedule.
Indiana Wesleyan University has a Master of Arts in Ministry program that offers six areas of specialization. Students will choose four elective courses to specialize in Pastoral Ministry; Children, Youth, and Family Ministry; Leadership Ministry; Church Planting and Multiplication; Worship Arts; or Church Revitalization. While the majority of courses for this 36 credit hour degree are online, the program includes a unique summer program that requires students to enhance their ministry skills in an approved church setting. The University has partnered with several churches in the Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Cedar Falls communities to give their graduate students real-world ministry training. This program provides online students the opportunity to develop leaderships skills, learn from trained ministers in the field, and develop fellowship with your classmates. The online environment includes access to academic advisors, library services, and spiritual advisors to provide you support and encouragement along the way.
Anderson University in South Carolina offers a Master of Arts in Ministry that will equip students with biblical and theological knowledge with an emphasis on leadership training. The program curriculum prepares students to serve as church leaders or to continue with additional seminary training. An alternative model of ministry education, the goal of the program is to develop leaders with the practical skills and experiences to serves as effective leaders in the 21st century. This extensive 42 credit hour program takes 24 months to complete in a structured and convenient 8-week course format. In addition to only study tools, the college provides every online student with a personal journey coach who will help you will all aspects of online learning. This coach serves as your point of contact for academic advising, transcript analysis, financial aid assistance, and personal support for any issues that may arise during your online educational journey.
Amridge University offers a Master of Science in Christian Ministry that will prepare students to serve as ministers in churches, correctional facilities, hospitals, or the Armed Forces. The goal of the Theology Department is to develop qualified students, such as church leaders, educators, and religious scholars, by using their gifts, knowledge, and skills to spread the gospel, strengthen the faith, and serve humanity. Achieved through academic and practical graduate level studies, this 36 credit hour program is biblically oriented, scholarly in intellectual development, and relevant to modern life. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the Bible, develop critical thinking skills, enhance communication skills, and develop the values and attitudes needed to succeed in life as a Christian leader. The program offers a broad range of online resources, including videos, writing workshops, career services, library assistance, and a weekly only chapel service attended by student, faculty, and staff.
At Wayland Baptist University, you can earn an online Master of Christian Ministry (MCM) in just 18 months or less. This master’s degree will prepare students for a career in church ministry or other ministry-related fields. The curriculum allows students to focus on the practical applications of ministry, as well as advanced understanding of Old Testament, New Testament, and Christian Education studies. In addition to online coursework, students will be expected to apply their skills in their congregations at home while enrolled in the program. An additional six credits, for a total of 43 credit hours, is required for graduation since the program does not require a final thesis. Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the university’s focus is to offer academically challenging programs to their online learners in a professional environment from a strong Christian perspective. Online resources include a digital library, reference materials, and individualized faculty assistance.
Liberty University offers a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry that meets the growing demand for trained ministers in Christian discipleship. Graduates with a ministry degree can expect to find careers as pastors, Christian educators, church administrators, and Sunday School teachers. There are multiple specialization options in different areas of study, and all of them can be completed online or in their intensive residential program. These hands-on learning experiences allow students to apply their coursework knowledge in a real-world ministry environment. All degree tracks require 36 credit hours to complete and provide students with a firm understanding of biblical leadership fundamentals, individual counseling skills, and the tools needed to build up disciples in your local church. Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, it is the country’s largest private, online university. Their distance learning platform provides students with 24/7 access to academic advisors, free tutoring, writing assistance, Bible-based chat rooms, and live campus events.
Abilene Christian University offers a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry with a flexible program that will prepare students for ministry leadership roles. This program encourages students to specialize in a particular field of ministry, such as youth, family, children’s, or education ministry. The 48 credit hour curriculum provides a solid biblical foundation and the ministerial tools needed to succeed in the ministry. Coursework includes biblical studies, Christian scripture, church history, and theology, followed by nine hours of specialization electives that are the most relevant to individual career goals. Affiliated with the Church of Christ, the University aims to train future church leaders in a convenient, flexible, and accessible online environment. Courses offer students the convenience of studying at home while also providing opportunities to work with classmates on group projects. Blogs and discussion boards give students a unique opportunity to create bonds and interact with like-minded, Christ-centered individuals.
At Dallas Baptist University, you can earn a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree in multiple areas of specialization, including Family Ministry, Counseling Ministry, and Christian Scriptures. This program is designed to prepare Christian leaders for ministry careers in the church or church-related organizations. The 36 credit hour curriculum focuses on biblical, historical, theological, and practical ministry courses that provide a multifaceted understanding of ministry for modern life. The online courses are asynchronous, meaning you will complete them at your convenience each week. However, they are also highly interactive and require weekly participation in discussions, group projects, and communication with faculty members. The program also offers multiple dual degree options in Student Ministry, Christian Education, and Global Leadership, and more. Dallas Baptist University boasts a 92% student completion rate and an accelerated timeline for their online programs, which means you will most likely be successful and graduate at a faster rate.
At Southeastern University, you can earn a Master of Arts in Ministerial Leadership degree. Graduates with the advanced ministry and leadership degrees are in high demand. These degrees are useful in pursuing a career both inside and outside the traditional ministry setting. This program is specifically designed to give students strong leadership skills that will help you succeed in all professions, including church ministry, mission work, and evangelism. At 36 credit hours, coursework will include topics such as Pentecostal theology, practical leadership skills, holistic counseling methods, and conflict management. Students will be expected to integrate their Christian faith with critical thinking, research writing, and advanced communication skills, and then apply them to actual leadership situations. Associated with the Assemblies of God Church, the University aims to train Christian leaders of all denominations to work in all areas of the community, including the church, secular environments, and on the global stage.