Earning a degree in ministry is a stepping stone to becoming a religious professional. In the U.S., a career in ministry is broadly defined and includes diverse disciplines. Graduates of bachelor’s in ministry programs work in churches, schools, medical facilities, religious organizations, and communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clergy members receive an average annual salary of $49,220, while other religious professionals make a mean salary of $36,380. Bachelor’s programs focus on biblical study, religious leadership, community outreach, and theology, preparing students for a career centered on helping people and spreading the word of God.
According to the BLS, clergy members receive an average annual salary of $49,220, while other religious professionals make a mean salary of $36,380.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Ministry?
A bachelor’s in ministry focuses on biblical study, theology, religious leadership, and discipleship. This degree is ideal for students interested in devoting their lives to Christian church service. Earning a Christian ministry degree is often a requirement for working in a ministerial career. Graduates seeking higher employment may pursue a master’s in ministry to obtain additional certifications and licensures for which the degree is required. By earning a bachelor’s in ministry online or on campus, students gain skills in leadership while expanding biblical and theological knowledge.
Bachelor’s in ministry programs are completed online or on campus. The flexibility of online coursework is ideal for working students or those with family obligations. On-campus programs are more popular among students directly out of high school. Regardless of the program’s format, students receive networking opportunities with fellow students, faculty, and professionals in the field. Many schools offer career counseling services to students. Graduates with a bachelor’s in ministry are competitive in the job market.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Ministry?
Earning a bachelor’s in ministry prepares students for diverse careers. Degree holders may find work in schools, healthcare facilities, churches, and community outreach centers. Religious professionals are often motivated by helping individuals and communities through Christian teachings.
- Social and Community Service Manager
Social service managers are responsible for the coordination and supervision of community organizations. These professionals manage workers providing social services to communities. Often, community service managers are employed by churches and other nonprofit institutions.
Median Annual Salary: $64,100
Projected Growth Rate: 18%
- High School Teacher
Professionals with ministry degrees may work in religion-based schools or schools that offer religious studies classwork, from elementary school to high school. A master’s in ministry is typically required to become a professor.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Business as a Mission
Religious organizations look for individuals with a background in business to spread theological and biblical messages in various industries. People aiming to work in business with a Christian viewpoint benefit by studying business and ministry.
Median Annual Salary: $60,360
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Ministry Program
When choosing a bachelor’s in ministry program, students should consider factors such as the program’s length, cost, and curriculum. The average bachelor’s in ministry takes four years to complete; however, factors such as whether students enroll part time or full time, take classes online or on campus, and possess transfer credits impact the time to completion.
With respect to cost, in-state students at public schools pay less tuition than out-of-state students, and private school students typically pay the most. Online students may need to pay an additional technology fee per class. Factors beyond tuition also impact the cost of a degree, such as housing, technology, and commuting expenses. Students should research scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities to reduce the cost of the degree.
Bachelor’s in ministry curricula vary by school. Because the degree offers the potential to pursue diverse career paths, students should research each prospective school’s curriculum to ensure it offers classes and experiences aligned with their career goals. For instance, some programs offer internship and practicum experiences. Regardless of the curriculum, students should also ensure their chosen school is accredited.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor’s in Ministry Programs
Accreditation indicates a school upholds quality academic standards. There are three forms of accreditation: national, regional, and programmatic. National and regional accreditation apply to an entire institution, while programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs within a school. There are three faith-based accrediting bodies in the U.S.: the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Accreditation is looked upon favorably by employers and is often necessary to transferring credits and receiving financial aid.
Bachelor's in Ministry Program Admissions
Admissions requirements vary by school, but most schools require an application detailing a student’s professional and educational background, including transcripts, letters of recommendations, and test scores. Applications for online programs may involve additional interviews and meetings. Typically, students apply to at least three schools to increase chances of admission: a preferred school, a safety school, and a reach school. Because applications are expensive and time-consuming, most students do not apply to more than eight schools.
- Minimum GPA: Most colleges require a minimum GPA for admission. Minimum GPAs range from 2.0 to 3.5, but most students need at least a 2.5 for acceptance. Some schools waive the GPA requirement for exceptional test scores or experience.
- Application: Students must submit an online application detailing their professional and academic background. Many schools accept The Common Application, which allows students to apply to multiple schools simultaneously.
- Transcripts: Applicants must submit transcripts from all prior learning. Some schools provide transcripts for free while others charge a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many colleges require at least one letter of recommendation from a former teacher or employer who can speak to a student’s readiness for college. Applicants should give writers at least three weeks to complete the letters.
- Test Scores: Most schools require SAT or ACT scores. Students may be able to offset a low GPA with a high test score.
- Application Fee: Applications typically cost between $40 and $60. Some schools waive these fees for students with demonstrable financial aid.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Ministry Program?
Many bachelor’s in ministry programs offer concentrations allowing students to specialize in certain areas and tailor the degree to their interests and goals. The following chart outlines common concentrations for bachelor’s of ministry students.
|Biblical Studies||A more generalized concentration, biblical studies focuses on bible teachings and how to apply them to modern day life.||Ministry, clergy|
|Church Planting||A concentration in church planting prepares students to establish a new church. Classes cover the fundamentals of biblical study as well as community outreach practices and business.||Missionary|
|Global Missions||The goal of global missions is to spread the word of Christianity worldwide. This concentration prepares students for missionary work through classes in international studies and community relations.||Missionary, clergy member|
|Youth Ministry||Youth ministry classes focus on the intellectual framework and communication skills necessary to teach religious studies to children and young adults.||Teacher, youth counselor|
|Disability Ministry||This concentration is based on the biblical ideology of inclusion and accommodation. Students learn how to accommodate people with various abilities in the church.||Minister, counselor, social worker|
Courses in a Bachelor’s in Ministry Program
Most accredited ministry degrees cover the same fundamental aspects of biblical study and general education, but specific courses vary by institution. The following list includes some common courses in ministry programs.
- Biblical Counseling
Classes in biblical counseling focus on how to apply Bible teachings to modern day life to help individuals and communities overcome daily struggles.
- Theological Leadership
In addition to studying the bible and theology, this class addresses the psychological and sociological aspects of leadership. Coursework includes Bible study, psychology, and leadership practices.
- New Testament Introduction
This course introduces the history of the early Christian movement. The course focuses on the New Testament within historical and social contexts.
This class combines studies of worship, theology, and spirituality. Classwork includes studying hymns and their authors.
- Human Rights and Christian Ethics
This class focuses on human rights worldwide, focusing on how a Christian perspective can address global human rights issues.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s in Ministry?
A bachelor’s in ministry requires about 120 credits, and the average student completes it in four years of full-time study. Some students may graduate sooner if they take additional courses per term or attend an accelerated program. Some schools do not offer accelerated programs and some put caps on how many credits students can take per semester. Many students, particularly those who are employed, may prefer to enroll part time. Part-time students typically take a year or two longer to complete the degree. Online schools offering asynchronous coursework allow students to study at their own pace, lengthening or shortening their degree depending on need.
How Much Is a Bachelor’s in Ministry?
The cost of a bachelor’s in ministry program varies depending on the school, residency status, and program format. The average cost of this degree ranges from $310-490 per credit, with students spending between $37,000 to $64,000 in total tuition. In-state students attending a public, state school on campus receive lower tuition rates than out-of-state students at the same school. Private schools charge the same tuition regardless of residency status and typically cost the most. On-campus students may have to pay commuting, housing, and food expenses that online students avoid. However, online programs often charge students an additional technology fee per class.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor’s in Ministry Prepares For
- Certified Pastoral Counselor
Applicants must have a master’s or doctorate in ministry and be ordained. They must also submit at least 375 hours of pastoral counseling experience.
- Minister License
Applicants must have a master’s degree from a seminary program and must be ordained.
- Certified Children's Minister
This certification for ministers seeking to provide biblical education to children is awarded to ministers who completed relevant seminars and workshops.
Resources for Ministry Students
This leadership program teaches early-career pastors how to positively guide congregations through an understanding of community issues.
The BTB is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal with reviews and articles written by biblical and theological experts.
Offered to members of the Society of Biblical Literature, this journal was established 132 years ago. It is a quarterly publication that includes notes and articles written by biblical scholars.
Established nearly 30 years ago, this bimonthly publication provides readers with insights on missiology topics. Articles are written by church leaders worldwide. Mission Frontier is dedicated to supporting a global, church-planting movement for indigenous populations.
This publication is dedicated to the global advancement of the Church of Christ. Articles are written by scholars and include in-depth research and review of international biblical issues.
Professional Organizations in Ministry
Professional organizations provide students and professionals with many benefits, including professional advancement opportunities and student resources. Members receive access to seminars and lectures, networking opportunities, and resume-building advice.