Earning a ministry degree allows students to wed Christian faith with academic pursuits. Attending ministry school offers an opportunity to explore theological coursework while taking liberal arts and science classes. Graduates can serve as a church minister or work within a nonprofit organization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary of ministry graduates depends on the industry. For example, those who work in religious organizations earn an average annual salary of $49,200, while those who work in medical and surgical hospitals earn an average of $52,740 annually.

Should I Get an Associate Degree in Ministry?

The decision to enter a ministry program should reflect your acceptance of biblical principles, which are the fundamentals of ministry coursework.

You may decide to enroll in an on-campus or online ministry program, whichever allows you to achieve your academic and occupational goals. On-campus programs generally attract recent high school graduates who wish to enroll in full-time studies, experience campus life, and connect with professors and students. Online programs tend to attract part-time students who work full-time or have family commitments.

Associate programs in ministry strengthen counseling abilities and communication skills,. Students can expect internship opportunities to apply skills in a real-world setting. Additionally, schools can offer career placement services to help students find jobs after graduation.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Ministry?

Completing a ministry degree helps students develop the skills necessary to lead a church, serve as clergy, or work for a nonprofit. Graduates demonstrate a willingness to give back to their community.

Youth Pastor

A youth pastor leads instruction and activities centered around the Bible for young church members. In addition to supporting the spiritual needs of this age group, they work closely with young adults and may also focus on troubled young people.

Median Annual Salary: $36,456*

Church Administrator

This professional oversees a church's day-to-day operations from a business perspective. They ensure appropriate communication between the congregation and ministerial staff, pay bills, and lead website and media initiatives.

Median Annual Salary: $38,657*

Youth Minister

To ensure spiritual development, a youth minister engages preteens and teenagers in church activities and Bible study. In addition to recruiting and supervising volunteers, they also counsel parents and guardians.

Median Annual Salary: $35,430*

Children's Ministry Director

This professional oversees church activities that involve children. They may teach classes for youth, in addition to coordinating special outreach activities.

Median Annual Salary: $31,804*

Source: PayScale

How to Choose an Associate Program in Ministry

Give careful consideration to your academic and professional goals when exploring associate programs in ministry. Consider the length and cost of programs. Also, check if the program is taught in both part-time and full-time formats, as one may fit your schedule better than the other. Transferring previously earned credits allows you to complete your program quickly. You should also consider the scholarships your school offers and financial aid eligibility.

Attending school on-campus usually means paying room and board charges. An online ministry degree program eliminates room and board fees and allows you to live at home and continue working full-time.

Check if your school offers internship opportunities, which can help you gain real world experience. Most importantly, check that the program you select reflects your beliefs and values and aligns with your faith.

Associate in Ministry Program Admissions

When seeking admission to an on-campus associate program in ministry, research the schools' religious philosophy. Admissions can require an essay about your beliefs, in addition to an application, letters of reference, and transcripts. Your school might also require an interview with an admissions officer or faculty.

Admission Materials

  • Application: An application is required for admission.
  • Transcripts: These records from previous schools verify your grades and academic performance. A transcript request may cost a small fee.
  • Application Fee: Applications typically cost $50 for an associate program. Some schools waive the expense for students with financial need.

Educational Paths for Ministry Associate Programs

Some students opt to earn a bachelor's degree after an associate degree in ministry. A bachelor's degree allows you to pursue a wider range of professions. Data shows that associate degree holders earn an average annual income of $52,000, while those with a bachelor's degree earn an average annual income of $61,000. Below are some educational paths to consider once you have received your associate in ministry.


In addition to building your research and critical thinking capabilities, psychology coursework prepares you to understand human behavior. You can specialize in a specific area of psychology such as addiction, criminal justice, and child and adolescent development.

Social Work

This degree prepares students for social work, with topics such as social change, welfare, and human behavior. Studies focus on helping individuals that require intervention and support. Students develop an understanding of cultural competencies and a respect for human diversity.


A bachelor's in religion requires examination of world religion history, influence, and meaning. Courses explore the ritual and ethical foundation of religions in a global context.

What Else Can I Expect From an Associate Program in Ministry?

While Christian faith is the core of an associate degree in ministry, each program offers different coursework and services. Remember to look at each program in order to make an informed decision about the best college for you.

Courses in an Associate Program in Ministry

Specific classes for your degree depend on your school. The following list highlights the content you can expect to study.

New Testament

Students examine these biblical books to deepen their understanding of the scriptures. The course teaches students to apply the principles of the Bible to personal life and professional pursuits in a ministry-related career.

Exploring God's World

The class addresses concepts in environmental science, such as sustainability. Students examine the importance of caring for the earth's natural resources.

Issues in Christian Leadership

This class prepares students for challenges they may encounter in church and parachurch settings. Topics include integrity, conflict and crisis management, effective communication, and self-care.

Philosophy and Worldview

This course explores and evaluates belief systems around the globe. As a result, students develop their own worldview through topics such as God, morality, truth, and human nature.

Personal and Bible Study Skills

This course develops skills in effective communication, which facilitates dialogue with faculty and classmates. Students learn to analyze content and think critically in academic and professional settings.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Ministry?

An associate ministry degree can be completed in two years if enrolled full-time, but will take longer if enrolled part-time. Some schools accept transfer credits for other college courses and might permit experience-based credits. Entering a program with credits can reduce tuition costs. Most programs require students to earn 60 to 70 credits to graduate. These credits include required classes that all students must take, like writing and English, ministry studies, and electives.

How Much Is an Associate in Ministry?

Data shows most associate degrees total $14,000 to $25,000 for tuition. The cost of an associate degree depends on the type of college. Enrolling in a public, state institution costs significantly less than enrolling in a private institution. There is no difference in the cost of a secular or Christian school.

Remember other fees affect the cost of schooling, such as the price of books. Students may also need to pay transportation fees. Choosing an online ministry school might require a technology fee.

Financial aid and scholarships can help with expenses, check with your school for available aid. If necessary, you could also consider a private loan or working while in school.

Professional Organizations in Ministry

Joining a professional organization creates networking opportunities while in school. Organizations provide continuing education, career openings, and allow students to learn from experts in the field. Joining an organization before you graduate helps build relationships with professionals outside of your program. Doing so can also make a difference when searching for internships.