Best Online Degrees in Ministry

Explore the top 50 schools with online ministry degree programs. Find out what degree levels and concentrations are available, as well as how to find financial aid to pay for your program. Schools offering Christian Ministry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Top 50 Schools with Online Ministry Degree Programs

When choosing a school for an online ministry degree program, you should consider flexibility, accreditation, cost and program length.

1. Johnson University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Knoxville, TN $16,060 99%

Johnson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and boasts a student-faculty ratio of 10:1. The school offers three undergraduate ministry programs online, which each had a tuition rate of $450 per credit hour for all students (regardless of residency) as of the 2020-21 academic year. Students can choose from an associate's degree in ministry leadership or a bachelor's degree in ministry leadership, each of which prepare students for leadership roles in Christian churches and ministries. The school also offers an online bachelor's degree in pastoral care and counseling which prepares students for leadership, care and counsel in pastoral ministry.

2. Bethel College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Hampton, VA $8,420 0%

Bethel College has an overall graduation rate of 83% and one of the best student-faculty ratios in the country at 3:1. The school offers both an associate's degree program and a bachelor's degree program in church ministries online, each of which has a tuition rate of $250 per credit hour. The associate's degree program consists of 65 credit hours, takes two years to complete, and includes courses in ministry administration, theology and Christian leadership. The bachelor's degree program includes 130 credit hours of coursework and offers concentrations in missions, biblical studies, ministerial leadership and Christian counseling.

3. Apex School of Theology

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Durham, NC $5,100 100%

Apex School of Theology offers several programs through distance education, including a Doctor of Ministry program that has a tuition rate of $4,300 per year. The program consists of 42 credit hours, including core courses as well as classes applicable to one of four concentrations: Christian counseling, leading for congregational change, biblical studies (Mentoring Relationships in the Old and New Testament) and developing effective series (Preaching and Christian Models for Leadership for the 21st century). Students can also pursue an associate's or master's degree in Christian education as well as a Master of Divinity.

4. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
New Orleans, LA $8,620 77%

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary boasts several online programs in ministry and ministry-related fields, including:

  • Associate of Arts in Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts in
    • Christian Education
    • Discipleship
    • Missiology
    • Pastoral Ministry

NOTBS's programs offer a unique online engagement model with asynchronous, NOLA2U Live (asynchronous) and NOLA2U Flex (mixed synchronous and asynchronous) format choices. Students have a tuition rate of $275 to $285 per credit hour, regardless of their state of residency.

5. Grace College of Divinity

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Fayetteville, NC $6,100 86%

100% of students at Grace College of Divinity are enrolled in at least some online courses and the school boasts an impressive student-faculty ratio of 7:1. Undergraduate students can pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in Christian leadership, divinity and worship ministry, and online graduate students can earn a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership, a Master of Divinity or a Doctor of Ministry. The school offers competitive per-credit tuition rates of $200 (undergraduate), $280 (master's degree) and $325 (doctoral degree).

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX $19,582 98%
7 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK $27,728 90%
8 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX $28,870 97%
9 Maranatha Baptist University Watertown, WI $15,410 97%
10 Lee University Cleveland, TN $17,690 98%
11 University of Northwestern-St Paul Saint Paul, MN $31,540 100%
12 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA $18,380 97%
13 Crown College Saint Bonifacius, MN $26,200 97%
14 Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL $13,056 92%
15 Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Kansas City, MO $7,920 96%
16 Bethel University Mishawaka, IN $28,590 100%
17 Grace College and Theological Seminary Winona Lake, IN $24,768 100%
18 Rochester College Rochester Hills, MI $23,282 99%
19 Freed-Hardeman University Henderson, TN $21,950 100%
20 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Wake Forest, NC $9,394 98%
21 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL $36,070 100%
22 Harding University Searcy, AR $19,845 99%
23 Piedmont International University Winston-Salem, NC $9,920 100%
24 Huntington University Huntington, IN $26,158 99%
25 Fordham University Bronx, NY $52,687 89%
26 Nyack College Nyack, NY $25,350 100%
27 Lubbock Christian University Lubbock, TX $22,440 100%
28 City Vision University Kansas City, MO $5,600 100%
29 Anderson University Anderson, SC $28,000 100%
30 Manhattan Christian College Manhattan, KS $16,260 100%
31 University of Valley Forge Phoenixville, PA $21,341 98%
32 Shasta Bible College and Graduate School Redding, CA $12,060 100%
33 Southeastern University Lakeland, FL $25,870 98%
34 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI $24,500 100%
35 Northwest Nazarene University Nampa, ID $29,800 100%
36 Geneva College Beaver Falls, PA $27,230 99%
37 Toccoa Falls College Toccoa Falls, GA $22,744 88%
38 Eastern University Saint Davids, PA $32,947 100%
39 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, KY $20,433 57%
40 Anderson University Anderson, IN $30,450 96%
41 SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary El Dorado Hills, CA $9,964 91%
42 Trinity Baptist College Jacksonville, FL $12,140 97%
43 Multnomah University Portland, OR $25,900 98%
44 Abilene Christian University Abilene, TX $34,850 100%
45 Calvary University Kansas City, MO $11,164 89%
46 Clarks Summit University South Abington Township, PA $23,890 100%
47 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA $22,584 97%
48 University of Dubuque Dubuque, IA $34,110 94%
49 Shorter University Rome, GA $22,370 100%
50 The King's University Southlake, TX $15,000 100%

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the 2018-2019 school year for undergraduate students// Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose an Online Degree in Ministry

As you review different schools and online ministry degree programs, there are several things that you should consider when making your choice.

School

When choosing which program is right for you, consider what effects the type of school will have on your experience. A private, faith-based school may provide more religious support while a public school may offer more resources.

Transfer Policies

If you have previously completed college coursework, ask each of your candidate schools how many credits (if any) you can transfer into your program. Also, consider if the credits earned during your online program will transfer to other schools if you pursue further education.

Cost

Another consideration is the cost of programs, as costs differ by school and degree level. Most of these online schools charge tuition on a per-credit basis and the majority will have extra fees including things like distance education fees and technology fees. While it's important to consider the cost differences, keep in mind that there are different types of financial aid available to online ministry students (more on this below).

Program Length

Once you've determined what type of program is right for you, consider the amount of time that the program will take at your candidate schools. Some schools allow you to take more courses at a time and finish sooner, while other schools have specific program schedules. Some many have accelerated programs or shortened course terms, as well.

Practical Requirements

While not all online ministry degree programs have practical requirements, some programs do require students to complete on-campus or on-site components like seminars or orientations. Ask each of your school candidates about any practical requirements.

Overview of Online Ministry Degree Programs

There are a variety of online ministry degree programs to choose from, including associate's degrees to doctoral degrees. Students can often choose programs in different areas of ministry to further increase their applicable knowledge in those areas. Key characteristics of online ministry degree programs are listed below.

Degree Levels

Online ministry degrees are offered at different levels, each of which has different admissions requirements and program lengths. The table below summarizes these components of different levels of online ministry degree programs.

Degree Level Admissions Requirements Typical Program Length (full-time)
Associate's Degree High school diploma or equivalent 2 years
Bachelor's Degree High school diploma or equivalent 4 years
Master's Degree Bachelor's degree 2 years
Doctoral Degree Master's degree 3 years

Additional Admissions Requirements

Other admissions requirements may include applicable experience in ministry or other religious settings, a specific GPA on previous coursework and a personal essay of goals.

Concentrations

Online ministry students may choose a program that is specifically titled ministry or choose a program that integrates ministry with other areas of study. Some of the concentration and degree options for online ministry students are listed below.

  • Divinity - This focus area can include coursework in ministry and biblical studies and prepares students to become leaders in ministry.
  • Discipleship - Graduates of a discipleship program are prepared to lead in educational roles as well as mission roles, such as associate pastor or discipleship minister.
  • Christian Education - This concentration prepares students for leadership roles involving education, such as children's ministry leaders.
  • Missions/Missiology - Students in this concentration learn skills and applicable knowledge in preparation for roles in mission fields.
  • Ministry Leadership - This program provides practical and spiritual preparation for students that can be applied to leadership roles in different areas of ministry.
  • Pastoral Ministry - This program provides focused preparation for students who are pursuing (or are currently in) pastoral and similar leadership roles.

Common Courses

Courses included in online ministry programs vary by school, degree level and concentration. However, many students of online ministry programs take some of the courses listed below.

  • Pastoral Ministry - This course provides an overview of methods for pastoral ministry positions, including relationship building, church leadership and delivering church sermons.
  • Spiritual Formation - Students explore characteristics of spiritual development within individuals as well as topics such as ministry calling and religious education.
  • Conflict Resolution - In this course, students learn effective methods for resolving conflict and crises within churches and how to consider individuals' backgrounds during conflict management.
  • Biblical Teaching - Students learn methods for developing Biblical education programs and best practices for successfully implementing educational programs.
  • Christian Leadership - This course examines various leadership positions and relationships within churches, including pastors, deacons and administrators and their applicable duties in Christian institutions.
  • History of Christianity - Students explore various topics on the history of Christianity, such as the Protestant Reformation, and other Christian ideas, movements and people.

Accreditation for Online Ministry Degree Programs

Schools that offer online ministry programs can have regional or national accreditation. Either type of accreditation shows that a school has met specific quality standards, such as those regarding curriculum and graduation rates. Schools that do not have institutional accreditation aren't necessarily lower quality, but attending a school that is accredited increases the chance of receiving a quality education. In addition, many types of financial aid (such as federal aid and some private scholarships) require students to be enrolled at accredited schools.

Financial Aid for Online Ministry Degree Programs

Students interested in using financial aid for their online ministry degree programs should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can have the results of their FAFSA sent directly to their candidate schools and will also see some of the types of aid that they are eligible for after submission.

Work-Study

Work-study programs allow students to earn funds towards their program by working part-time during their studies. Work-study is offered by the federal government and participating schools as well as some employers.

Student Loans

Student loans are available through the government and private organizations, but students should avoid private loans when possible. Government loans have well-regulated interest rates and allow students to select from several flexible repayment options (including income-based).

Scholarships

Scholarships are available through countless sources, including the government, colleges and private organizations. Online ministry degree students can find scholarships through sources such as their churches and religious organizations, the school they are enrolling at, the U.S. Department of Labor's Career One Stop and many more.

  • The Mary E. Bivins Ministry Scholarship Program - $2,500 to $3,500 is awarded to students from qualifying counties in Texas who are pursuing a program in ministry.
  • Journey Toward Ordained Ministry Scholarships - This scholarship awards $5,000 to minority religion students who are pursuing a bachelor's degree or graduate degree.
  • Gordon and Eleanor Spykman Memorial Scholarship - $2,000 is awarded to students with a GPA of at least 3.0 who are pursuing a program in religion.
  • Milton and Edith Brown Memorial Scholarship - This scholarship is awarded to students residing in Ohio who work in ministry or whose relatives worked in ministry.

Careers for Online Ministry Degree Graduates

Graduates of online ministry degree programs are equally qualified for various careers as graduates of on-campus programs. The specific roles that graduates can qualify for vary based on their specific degree and concentration, interests and previous work experience.

Clergy

Clergy are responsible for directing and conducting various religious events and functions, including delivering sermons. They may also provide guidance, religious education and counsel to members of their churches. Clergy member titles include priest, pastor, missionary coordinator and children's minister. Although educational requirements vary greatly, clergy need to have extensive knowledge and experience in related roles. The median annual salary for clergy was $48,990, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the field is expected to grow 4% to 6% between 2018 and 2028.

Directors, Religious Activities and Education

Directors of religious activities and education are responsible for creating and managing programs that promote religious activities and education. Their duties may also include providing guidance and counseling, relating to issues such as marital and religious concerns. These roles include director of children's ministries, religious education director, youth director and Christian education director. Candidates typically need a 4-year degree or higher for these positions as well as applicable work experience. The median annual salary for this field was $40,810 and it is expected to see a 4% to 6% growth from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Professional Organizations for Ministry Graduates

Graduates of online ministry degree programs can connect with other ministry professionals and gain access to various resources by joining professional organizations. While this is not a comprehensive list, several professional organizations that are available to graduates of online ministry programs are listed below.

  • National Association of Christian Ministers - This organization is open to Christian ministers from all denominations, and offers networking, event and meeting opportunities and support through regular prayer.
  • The Association of Youth Ministry Educators - This organization is open to leaders of youth ministry programs and activities and offers professional development, collaboration, publication subscriptions and awards.
  • Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) - With several types of memberships available, CBA offers benefits such as publication subscription, discounts, networking, support and collaborative research and discussion.
  • The North American Patristics Society (NAPS) NAPS focuses on understanding theology and the history of Christianity and gives members access to publications and networking.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

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    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Master
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  • Liberty University

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    Popular programs at Liberty University:

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      • Master of Theology (No Thesis)
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  • Purdue University Global

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    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
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    Popular programs at Columbia Southern University:

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  • Florida Tech

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    Popular programs at Florida Tech :

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    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
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