Your Complete Guide to

Online Religious and Ministry Degrees

The best bible and ministry programs, benefits, list of Universities, rankings, FAQs and everything you ever wanted to know.
Grant Aldrich on March 14, 2023

Why We Love Them

  • Fulfilling Work
  • Profound Learning

If you’re reading this article right now, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about heading back to school to earn your degree. That’s an excellent idea! Numerous surveys have found that those with college degrees earn a significantly higher yearly income than those without a degree.

But now the question is, what is the right degree for YOU? Well, if you’re looking for a career that allows you to help people through Christian teachings, then a degree in religion and ministry is most likely the best fit. These degrees can serve as a stepping-stone to seminary school or prepare students for a variety of rewarding careers in varying settings such as schools, churches, businesses and community outreach centers.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about earning a religion or ministry degree. We’ll cover the best degrees that offer the biggest career potential. But we won’t stop there. We’ll also compare online programs with traditional programs, so you can determine which one is right for your goals, and also take a look at the differences between Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral / PhD degrees.

But be sure to read this ENTIRE article because we’re also going to tell you exactly how could help you save a LOT of time and money on your tuition!

Let’s get started…

5 Best Online Religious and Ministry Degrees

Before we talk about the specific online religion and ministry degrees we believe are worth your time and effort, let’s talk about WHY we believe these degrees are the best.

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They Offer a Competitive Salary

At the end of the day, everyone wants a career that will offer them financial security. While throngs of people may not go into Christian ministry for “the money,” these degrees can help you get a financially stable career. Remember, these careers can set you on numerous career paths (and we’ll get into some of those in a bit) that can offer a competitive salary.

With a degree in Christian ministry, there are plenty of ways to professional success and each one of those come with security and professional advancement. Some of these positions are chaplaincy or social work and a degree prepares students with the relevant skills and knowledge of performing competitively in the field.

Perfect for Changing Careers

Have you been in the workforce for some time but don’t have a passion for your day-to-day work? Nothing says job satisfaction like the ability to help people for a living. If you are in need of a career change, these degrees can get you the rewarding career you’ve been dreaming about.

In these economically and politically challenging times, young and adult professionals alike, are chasing opportunities that bring a sense of fulfilment to their lives, With opportunities in Christian ministry, professionals find a place in a communal space where not only job security is guaranteed but also a great deal of personal gratification.

Flexible and Affordable

We’re focusing on those religion and ministry degrees that can be earned online because they allow busy adult students the opportunity to make a positive change in their life. While many traditional programs are too costly and cause scheduling conflicts, online programs cost a fraction of the price and can be earned at your own pace and on your own schedule.

An online program will allow you to study at your own pace and during those hours that are convenient for YOU.

Now that you know why we chose the online religion and ministry degrees we did, let’s dive in:

Applied Ministry

Would you like to diversify your skillset and become a valuable team member to any ministry? The Applied Ministry bachelor’s degree combines biblical training with secular subjects, helping students to hone their skills so they may take their passion and combine it with nearly any subject.

For instance, most Applied Ministry degrees will offer you the option to choose a variety of subjects to study. You might choose to learn about business, fine arts, communication, health sciences and more. This unique combination allows you to build additional, marketable skills so you can reach far and wide with your Christian teachings and example.

Some dynamic classes you may enjoy include:

  • Methodical Study of Scripture
  • Research and Writing for Religious Discussions
  • Practical teachings of Scripture
  • Theological Interpretations of Scripture
  • Religious Ethics
  • World Religions
  • Church Administration
  • Preaching
  • And more…

What Can You Do with Your Degree?

Your Applied Ministry degree will prepare you for numerous career options such as working as a children’s ministry director, assistant pastor, worship leader or church administrator. Some graduates may decide to become a teacher in a Christian school, offering guidance and biblical instruction.

Biblical Studies

A Biblical Studies degree can be its own degree, though often it is a concentration of a Christian Studies degree. Either way, through historical and contextual exploration of scripture, you will be equipped to interpret the bible for yourself and others.

In addition to deeply understanding the teachings of the bible, graduates will come away with a solid foundation for seminary, various ministry positions, missions, social service, and/or for personal spiritual development.

What Can Graduates Do with This Degree?

Graduates with a degree in Bible Studies have many different options to choose from. Some may decide to find work in youth ministry services or assisting at Christina schools and colleges.

Others may decide to continue and earn their master’s, eventually working as a bible translator, pastor, missionary, teacher, chaplain, or academic researcher. Whichever path you choose, you can feel good knowing your career will be one that offers personal satisfaction at the end of each day.


Those who minister the world of God need a very special set of skills they often can’t get through personal study. It is for this reason that many churches and parachurch organizations require accredited degrees from the ministry leaders they hire. If you are interested in a career as a leader within a Christian organization, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Religion will help you stand apart from other candidates.

In this fascinating degree program, students will look at the different faiths and how worshipers express their spirituality though organized and individual worship, communion, behaviors and more. You’ll have the opportunity to study incredibly interesting topics such as history, anthropology, philosophy, religious texts, and the development of different religions around the world.

This program will equip you with knowledge pertaining to biblical studies, theology, evangelism, and many more. Each area of study is developed to help the student delve deeper into the Word of God while at the same time add important credentials to their ministry.

What Kind of Career Can You Have?

A degree in religion sets graduates up for a variety of career options. Formal training and education in Christian ministry are quite wholesome – preparing students not just in religious themes but also equipping them with transferable skills such as communication, research, and analysis. These skills are in demand and equally valued in many industries. Entering a different profession should be made quite easy with these handy skills and training.

Many graduates use their religious studies degree to pursue professional and graduate programs, and eventually careers in various arenas including education, journalism, sociology, law, social work and medicine.

Here is just a partial list of job titles available to graduates with a degree in religion.

  • Campus Minister
  • Cantor
  • Clergyman/Woman
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Cultural Administrator
  • Evangelist
  • Liturgist
  • Diocese Director
  • Military Chaplain
  • Volunteer Coordinator

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Christian Leadership & Management

Have you always had an interest in business and management and wondered how you could combine this with your passion for Christian ministry? If so, a degree in Christian Leadership & Management may be the perfect fit for you!

Managing others requires a special set of skills such as active listening, creativity, strategic thinking and more. Christian management helps students take these foundational leadership concepts from the business world and apply them to a position within the Christian church.

Students will have a blast looking at biblical leaders such as Paul the Apostle, King Soloman, and yes, even Jesus, to learn from their actions. In addition to biblical study, students will also dive into classic business principles, studying topics such as accounting, business law, marketing, and economics. The goal of this program is to help you know how to run an effective ministry or non-profit organization.

Here are some of the exciting classes you may take in this program:

  • Spiritual Formation & Christian Discipleship
  • Principals of Hermeneutics & Theological Thinking
  • The Gospels
  • Introduction to Business
  • Communication and Influence
  • Leading Teams
  • Strategic Planning
  • And More…

Career Opportunities with This Degree

Graduates come away with a comprehensive set of skills that will allow them to lead and manage in a variety of settings. You may choose to work as a:

  • Ministry Entrepreneur
  • Non-profit or For-Profit Operations Director
  • Missions/Social Services Professional
  • Communications Specialist

Youth Ministry

This degree is often a concentration of Christian or Biblical Studies and perfect for those seeking to develop counseling skills, understand youth culture and build strong leadership skills. If your goal is to work in youth ministry, then this is the degree for you.

Students will study Christian principles while mastering the leadership and communication skills required to lead today’s youth. In addition to learning core theology concepts, students will also enroll in liberal arts and humanities courses.

Other courses of study include:

  • Pastoral counseling
  • Youth ministry communication skills
  • Intercultural learning
  • Global youth culture
  • Principles of children’s ministry

What Might Your Future Look Like?

Graduates are equipped to immediately enter youth ministry careers including:

  • Youth Minister at various churches around the country
  • Camp/Retreat Leaders
  • Missions and Ministry Leaders

If your dream has been to help kids become their best selves and to one day administer the Word of God as well, this degree is a great fit!

Online Vs Traditional Campus Religious or Ministry Degrees

As we mentioned earlier, we are specifically focusing on those religion and ministry degrees that may be earned online. Here are three reasons why we feel online degrees are superior to traditional campus degrees:

  1. Flexible Learning

Online degree programs offer busy adults the flexibility to successfully obtain their degree. Students are allowed to learn on their own time and at a pace that suits them. This means gaining the skills and knowledge you need to pursue your dreams AND never having to miss important work or family events.

Online programs for education in Christian ministry offer quite some flexibility for students that find themselves with more than one important commitment in their lives. Students choose when and how much to learn, making the experience more enjoyable than having to worry about giving work or family for higher education.

  1. Affordability

Typically speaking, online degree programs cost only a fraction of what traditional brick-and-mortar tuitions cost. In addition to these initial savings, you also don’t have to pay for room and board AND you can keep working, so pay off your fees even sooner! These online programs allow students to obtain their degrees without ending up with huge student debt at the end of their journey. Many programs offer additional financial help in the form of aid and scholarships which once again can be a huge help for struggling students.

  1. Religion and Ministry Degrees Fit Online Learning Perfectly!

Pretty much any degree can be learned online these days. But unlike some, say those in the health sciences where lab work is required, the field of religion and ministry is perfect for online learning. Compared to the traditional way of learning, online courses in religious practice and ministry are frequently more economical, making them a desirable choice for students who are seeking to save money without compromising the educational experience that they receive.

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Benefits of a Religious or Ministry Degree

Still uncertain if a degree in religion or ministry is right for you? Here are a just a handful of benefits of obtaining these degrees:

Incredible Learning and Insights

As you’ve just read, what you learn with these degrees in incredible. From business and communication skills to biblical study and theological thinking, your mind will be expanded at the same time as your heart and soul.

Touching Others’ Lives

How great would it feel to know that every single day you are spreading the Word of God and helping people of all ages in a profound way? The positions in the field provide many opportunities to influence people for positive change. Imagine going to work every day and being rewarded on a personal and professional level.

Your Skills are in High Demand

You may not think so at first, but the skills and knowledge you will gain from any one of these degrees is in high demand. In fact, many secular businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations value the diversity of thought you possess. And this can open a lot of career opportunities for graduates.

Cost and Tuition of Obtaining a Religious or Ministry Degree

A lot of prospective adult students never go after their dream of pursuing higher education because they simply can’t afford it. Or at least they THINK they can’t But we’re here to tell you earning your degree is FAR MORE AFFORDABLE than you think.

Read our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition, and also use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country by taking advantage of free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.

Choosing the Right Type of Religious or Ministry Degree

Are you starting to seriously think about how a religion or ministry degree could set you on a rewarding career path? Great! Because those with formal education in Christian ministry are always in demand making the field recession-proof to a huge extent. For young students afraid of economic challenges, this may be the right investment to make. Moreover, skills acquired in a Christian ministry education are transferable and are valued in very many industries and career paths.

Associate’s Degree in Religious Studies

An associate’s degree is typically a two-year degree obtained through a vocation school or community college, though there are online associate’s degrees as well. These degrees can be a good way to gain some knowledge so you can get your foot in the door somewhere working as an assistant. For instance, an associate’s degree in Biblical Studies is great for those students who want to work for churches or ministry programs as a production assistant or church librarian assistant.

Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies

The degrees we discussed in this article are bachelor’s degrees, which traditionally take 4 years to complete, though there are ways you can shave some time off your studies. Employers in all fields and industries tend to select candidates who have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree as it shows you’ve gained a lot of valuable skills and knowledge. A bachelor’s degree will help you get noticed and also help you start earning more.

Master’s Degree in Religious Studies

Once you’ve obtained your bachelor’s degree, you may decide to continue your education and obtain your master’s degree. These programs typically require another two to four years of coursework and when all is said and done, the student is considered an expert in their field.

What can you do with a master’s degree in religion and ministry? Well, a master’s in Christian Ministry, as an example, prepares the student for a career as a pastor or minister, leading communities and congregations.

Doctoral Degree

Doctoral degrees typically require another 2 – 3 years of coursework and are suited for those who have an interest in teaching or researching. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Religious Studies degree, as an example, is a scholarly, research-oriented degree intended for students looking to conduct in-depth academic investigation or become educators at the postsecondary level.

Choosing the Correct University or College for Religion or Ministry Studies

Now that you have a good idea of which online religion and ministry degree interests you, now you’ve got to find the right school for you to get degree…as quickly and painlessly as possible, while gaining the most benefit.  Here are a few things we think are hugely important for adults, and you’ll want to choose a university with:

  • Online Programs
  • $0 application fees
  • Doesn’t require SAT/ACT testing
  • Faculty and professors that understand adult students’ needs
  • Offer discounts or scholarships
  • Convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
  • Accredited

Finding adult-friendly schools that match these can certainly be challenging!

BUT, that’s why we created our Smartplan.

We know that each student is an individual with unique goals and required criteria. By using our Smartplan, you can find those schools that match what you’re looking for, making pursuing your degree that much easier.

Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>

Salary Data for Ministry Professionals

While you are most likely not going into this field for the money, it is nice to know that you can make a very decent living! With this in mind, let’s look at some common job titles and reported salaries of each:

Clergy: $57,230  (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Youth Ministers: $42,714 (

Community Outreach Coordinator Salary: $45,728 (

Campus Minister: $51,870 (


Q: Can a Religion degree help me have a secular career if I so choose?

A: Absolutely! As you saw, we’ve listed many different fields that look for those people that possess a certain skillset that includes research, writing and communication. Your degree will put you in a position to work either in churches, schools, businesses and even government organizations!

Q: How long will I have to be in school?

A: That really depends on the type of degree you wish to obtain. Most students pursue a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes 4 years. However, when you earn your degree online, you study at your own pace. This means some students may be able to earn their degree in less time!

Q: What does this degree prepare me for?

A: All of these degrees prepare you to minister the Word of God in a church or parachurch, school, or youth ministry. But again, if your goal is to take the teachings of Christ into the secular world, then these degrees can absolutely help you land a job in different fields and industries!

How to Get Started

Wow, we’ve just covered a LOT of information. You may be wondering what you should do next.

We highly recommend you take a few moments to use’s Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for.   We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you make the right decision, and find ways that could end up saving you a TON of time and money toward your religion and ministry degree!

Register today for free >>

Full List of Online Religious and Ministry Degrees

About the Author
Grant Aldrich
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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