5 Graduate-Level Specialization Certificates for a Theology Degree
Many graduate-level theology students ask themselves, “Where can I best use my gifts? Where can I serve?” Fortunately, there are as many paths to service as there are servants. Graduate theology students who want to specialize in a specific type of ministry can get additional training by pursuing a graduate certificate. Here are five possible graduate certificates that they can pursue to obtain a rewarding career in ministry.
According to U.S. News and World Report, there isn’t always a big difference between the graduate certificate (or diploma) and the graduate degree. However, some professions actually require a graduate certificate in addition to a masters degree (like a MDiv.) However, some graduate-level certificate programs allow students to earn both the certificate and the degree at the same time. This allows students to receive the specialized training that the certificate provides.
Campus ministry allows theology graduates to work directly with college students on campuses across the U.S. and world. A program like Campus Crusade for Christ count as just one type of campus ministry program. Specialized programs would include coursework tailored to ministry on the college campus as well as basic foundational lessons in Christian ethics, biblical poetry, pastoral ministry, and grief counseling to name but a few. Some of these programs are non-denominational. However, it’s not unusual to see Catholic or Mormon campus outreach on college campuses to name but a few.
Conflict transformation ministries deal with faith-based conflict resolution. Theology students would learn about restorative justice, conflict studies, interfaith dialogue, and trauma healing. Additionally, depending upon the graduate certificate/ degree program, these students may also be required to take classes in research methods, political systems, and the history of war and violence. These studies seek to resolve conflict amid cultural and religious differences in an environment in order to promote peace. These graduates work as social workers, missionaries, prison chaplains, or lawyers.
Instruction in music ministry allows those who are passionate about music and about spirituality and faith to combine these two pursuits in one program. Students in this track receive musical training on instruments like the organ or piano as well as instruction on choral conducting and the selection of sacred music. They must also study religious philosophy, the history of the Christian religion, and the scriptures. Additionally, each student would be expected to study the basic tenants of the faith they hope to have a ministry in. For example, if the theology student plans on working in a Methodist church following graduate school, that student would learn more about the history and the philosophy of that denomination.
The graduate students on this track find positions on college campuses teaching religious history. They may also become religious scholars, which requires them to write and publish papers and books on subjects pertaining to their specialization. Coursework includes classes in church history from its very earliest days on into the modern day. Often, their graduate coursework will require a thesis of sorts, which would ask them to do directed research in a particular area like liturgical dramas or about religious figures like Martin Luther. The purpose of this research is to add to the student’s knowledge and to add new information or insights into a particular subject.
Some theology students dream of going overseas and becoming missionaries. Some of these students will set up schools and other social programs in foreign countries. They might teach English. Those with medical training ultimately become medical missionaries, not only treating the sick, but also teaching them about health and nutrition. Depending upon their specialty, these ministry students take coursework in church theology and church history. Medical missionaries take coursework in medicine and theology.
Graduate certificate programs in divinity offer students an array of career choices. These range from conflict resolution to music ministry. Each certificate trains that future ministry leader to use their gifts in a specific way. Finally, many masters programs also offer certificate programs and they allow students to earn both the certificate and the masters or doctorate at the same time they earn their degree.
Related Resource: The 40 Most Affordable Master of Theology Degrees