Best Online Ministry Programs

If you are considering a career in the church, read on to learn how to get started with an online bachelor's in ministry.

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by Staff Writers

Updated June 3, 2022

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Most learners pursue bachelor's in ministry programs because they feel certain of their calling to perform mission-driven work. A bachelor's in ministry can lead to entry-level careers at churches and nonprofit organizations and further study in master of divinity programs.

Most on-campus and online bachelor's in ministry programs take four years to complete. Learners delve into biblical study, church administration, and leadership skills. Some programs focus on general ministry, while others focus on specific fields like youth ministry. After graduating, learners can pursue further education or careers in churches, the nonprofit sector, and Christian education.

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Ready to start your journey?

Read on to learn more about coursework, careers, and admission requirements for online bachelor's in ministry programs. You can also find answers to your most pressing questions about these programs.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Ministry Program?

An online bachelor's in ministry offers a good fit for students who know they want to dedicate their professional lives to the church. However, this degree can also lead to fulfilling service-oriented careers in nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations, administration, and education.

Nevertheless, all ministry students should feel a strong calling to service. While graduates with a bachelor's in ministry can earn solid salaries, they are unlikely to grow rich unless they change careers. Ministry students must also be good communicators who are comfortable with frequent public speaking. They also need strong leadership skills, which they can develop during their studies through courses like Christian leadership.

Most bachelor's in ministry programs require about 120 credits. Most full-time students graduate in approximately four years. However, online accelerated programs can sometimes shorten this timeline. Students who take courses during summer semesters can also graduate more quickly.

Some programs focus on general ministry, while others allow students to specialize in ministering to a specific population. Possible concentrations include urban ministry, youth ministry, church administration, and pastoral studies.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Ministry Program?

Foundations of Christian Ministry

This survey course covers historical, theological, and biblical topics to help students develop a basis for their preaching. This course helps learners shape their own personal philosophy as ministers.

Christian Leadership

Ministers are leaders of their churches. To help prepare them, this course delves into leadership in both secular and Christian contexts, delving into historical, biblical, and theological examples of leadership.

Church Administration

This course prepares students to become church administrators. Covered topics may include budgets, programs, strategic planning, and human resources.

Pastoral Care

This course may cover different skills and services that ministers need to provide, including counseling, funerals, marriage officiation, and hospital chaplaincy.

Teaching Ministry

This course examines the role of teachers and students in the ministry. Covered topics may include curriculum development, lesson planning, teaching philosophy, and evaluation methods.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Ministry Program?

Admission requirements for on-campus and online bachelor's in ministry programs are usually the same. In addition to the requirements listed below, some programs may require prospective students to complete an interview over the phone or via videoconferencing, since ministry is such a personal, people-facing field.

Application

All undergraduate programs require students to complete an application. Applicants can usually fill these forms out online. Prospective students can often save time by applying to multiple schools at once through the Common App. However, since ministry is a specialized field, many schools offering bachelor's in ministry programs require individual applications.

Test Scores

Some undergraduate programs still require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. However, more and more schools are eliminating this requirement in terms of more holistic evaluations. Fewer ministry programs require standardized test scores than STEM and humanities programs. Nevertheless, test scores can help you strengthen your application.

Letters of Recommendation

Most programs require 2-3 letters of recommendation. Most undergraduate programs expect recommenders to be former teachers. However, for ministry programs, you may be able to ask former youth ministers for letters. Make sure to give your recommenders at least 1-2 months to write their letters.

Essays

Bachelor's in ministry programs usually require fairly specialized essay prompts as part of their applications. You may need to discuss your faith journey or your commitment to the church. Give yourself several months to write, proofread, and edit your application essays.

Official Transcripts

All programs require applicants to submit all official transcripts from previously attended schools. If you are a first-year applicant, you need to submit high school transcripts. If you have completed some college coursework, you should submit transcripts from previous schools to earn transfer credit, especially if you are transferring from a community college.

For bachelor's in ministry programs, you may be able to earn transfer credit for general education courses.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Ministry Degree?

Career Outlook

Since ministry is a relatively specialized field and major, there are a limited number of positions available. As such, competition for ministry and pastor positions can prove fierce.

Nevertheless, there is significant demand for professionals in adjacent fields. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 15% job growth for social and community services managers between 2020 and 2030. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $69,600 as of May 2020, and those who work for religious organizations earned a median of $72,860 annually.

Graduates with a bachelor's in ministry can often find employment working for faith-based organizations. Even if they don't work directly for a church, ministry graduates can still make a significant difference in their communities.

See where a bachelor's in ministry can take you. Learn more about ministry and theology careers.

Career Paths

Youth Minister

Youth ministers lead Sunday school, mission trips, and other activities for church members who are under 18. They must plan lessons and trips and manage parent volunteers. They must also be willing to work nights and weekends. Different denominations maintain different requirements for youth ministers, so research each church position before applying.

Average Annual Salary (As of October 2021): $37,240

Pastor

Pastors lead a church's congregation in service, worship, and often music. Requirements for these positions vary by denomination. They usually need to gain official ordination from their denomination before they can practice.

Keep in mind that many ordained ministers hold a master of divinity degree, although an advanced degree is not always required. Pastors usually also need experience at the associate pastor level.

Average Annual Salary (As of October 2021): $50,070

High School Teacher

Graduates with a bachelor's in ministry can often pursue careers as high school teachers in religious schools. Since these schools are often private schools, prospective teachers usually do not need to earn state licensure or take the Praxis exam. Private school teachers plan lessons in their content area and may mentor a group of students as an advisory or devotional.

Median Annual Salary (As of May 2020): $62,870

Church Administrator

Church administrators manage day-to-day operations and budgets for the churches where they work. They allocate donations and income to fund church programming, services, and outreach efforts. You can qualify for some church administrator positions with an associate degree in ministry, but a bachelor's degree gives you an advantage during the job search.

Average Annual Salary (As of October 2021): $39,300

Nonprofit Executive Director

If they don't want to work directly for a church, graduates with a bachelor's in ministry can often find work at faith-based nonprofits. Executive directors are the CEOs of nonprofit organizations. They manage budgets, hiring, and operations. They also report to a board of directors. Graduates usually need significant professional experience before they can qualify for these roles.

Average Annual Salary (As of October 2021): $67,990

Ministry Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Ministry professionals should complete continuing education to make sure they provide their congregation with the best possible worship services. Ministers can complete individual donation-based courses through the Christian Leaders Institute. Methodist pastors can complete professional certification through the United Methodist Church's General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

However, the most common continuing education route for graduates with a bachelor's in ministry is pursuing a master's degree in theology or divinity. These advanced degrees can lead to senior pastor positions and ordination within several denominations.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Ministry Program?

Cost

According to 2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, students enrolled in a bachelor's program at a four-year, public college spent around $13,900 per year on their program. Private nonprofit schools cost an average of $27,200 that year.

Learners can reduce their true program cost by enrolling in online programs, which may offer reduced or in-state tuition rates. Furthermore, online students can save on room and board.

Students may also be able to save money by enrolling in public, in-state schools instead of private universities.

Program Format

Students who pursue online bachelor's in ministry programs should decide whether they want to learn synchronously or asynchronously. Students in synchronous programs need to attend scheduled, live online classes, while learners in asynchronous programs do not. Degree-seekers who want to graduate more quickly might also consider enrolling in accelerated programs.

Location

Even if you enroll in an online program, location should be an important consideration. Ministry programs may require internships at a local church, and you may need to visit campus to complete on-campus requirements. Living close to campus may also help you take advantage of program networking opportunities.

Accreditation

You should only enroll in accredited schools. If your school does not hold regional accreditation, you may not be able to receive federal financial aid or find work after graduation. Bible colleges may also hold accreditation from the Association for Biblical Higher Education.

Student Support

Ministry programs require plenty of intent and effort and can feel draining at times. As such, student support services are essential. Check to see whether your program offers internship opportunities, mentorships or advising, and specific support for distance learners.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Ministry Programs

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Best Online Ministry Programs

  1. Lincoln Christian University
    Location

    Lincoln, IL

    Tuition

    $18653

    Established in 1944 as a Bible institute, LCU now provides comprehensive academics to 1,000 students each year. The undergraduate catalog contains a bachelor of arts in Christian ministry that prepares candidates for careers in education and mission work. Graduates may also occupy pastoral care positions as associate and youth pastors.

    This online bachelor's in ministry program covers topics in church administration; evangelism, discipleship, and faith development; and global cultural intelligence. Students develop leadership skills for both religious organizations and secular institutions. LCU enables candidates to complete a fully remote curriculum or engage in hybrid learning through on-campus classes.

    To enroll, applicants submit a personal essay and a Christian character reference. LCU funds a variety of financial aid, including merit scholarships for incoming and transfer students. The university further supports students by offering service learning opportunities and career development resources.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $6,990/semester
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online or hybrid
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and/or asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 or higher recommended for freshman students; 2.5 minimum for transfer candidates
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT for freshman students under 22 years old

    Contact

    Phone: (217) 732-3168 ext. 2237
    Email: enroll@lincolnchristian.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  2. City Vision University
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $5004

    City Vision specializes in affordable distance education. The institution delivers a fully online bachelor's in Christian ministry and leadership that comes with four unique concentration options. Remote coursework spans an accelerated eight weeks, which enables full-time students to graduate in under four years.

    Required classes include biblical theology; vocation, calling, and purpose at work; and social entrepreneurship. Candidates who pick the urban missions concentration develop skills in case management, grant writing, and multicultural counseling. In addition to three designated tracks, students can create their own concentration through the diversified degree option.

    The online bachelor's in ministry program accepts up to 90 transfer credits. City Vision maintains a flexible admissions policy that does not require an application fee. The university provides ample financial aid, such as tuition discounts for military personnel and institutional scholarships.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor's in Christian Ministry & Leadership
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Urban missions; ministry management; counseling ministry; diversified concentration
    Tuition: $7,500/year
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Synchronous

    Contact

    Phone: (816) 960-2008
    Email: newstudents@cityvision.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  3. Manna University
    Location

    Fayetteville, NC

    Tuition

    $11862

    Founded in 1978, Manna University is headquartered in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The institution offers an online bachelor of arts in worship ministry that emphasizes both instrumental and vocal training. By completing this innovative program, graduates gain a keen understanding of music theory and its application in a spiritual context.

    The curriculum covers topics in applied instrumental techniques, cross-cultural ministry, and communicating to oral cultures. Students develop a personal leadership style through self-assessment and practicum training. Candidates gain additional hands-on experience by attending weekend retreats, where they connect with peers and learn from religious leaders.

    To enroll in this online bachelor's in ministry program, applicants furnish a 300- to 600-word personal statement detailing their conversion experience. They also submit a personal reference and a pastoral recommendation. Manna University facilitates a variety of financial aid, including scholarships for first-time students.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Worship Ministry
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $2,450/semester
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: Hybrid
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (910) 221-2224
    Email: admissions@gcd.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  4. The Baptist College of Florida
    Location

    Graceville, FL

    Tuition

    $9252

    Based in Graceville, BCF is a longtime leader in distance education. The school delivers 24 fully remote degree options, including two online bachelor's in ministry programs. Students can earn either a bachelor of arts in ministry or a bachelor of arts in ministry studies.

    The BA in ministry curriculum includes classes like personal evangelism, pastoral counseling, and history of southern Baptists. Candidates also develop practical skills in preaching and preparing expository sermons. The program culminates with an applied capstone project.

    Students who want to individualize their degree plan according to personal interests and career goals can enroll in the ministry studies program. They take three required classes and fill out their remaining credits with guided and open electives. To enroll in either program, applicants submit a personal recommendation and a church/pastor reference letter.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Ministry; Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Studies
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $360/credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

    Contact

    Phone: (800) 328-2660 ext. 460
    Email: admissions@baptistcollege.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  5. Toccoa Falls College
    Location

    Toccoa Falls, GA

    Tuition

    $21934

    TFC serves over 1,600 students each year, many of whom earn their degrees remotely. The undergraduate catalog contains two fully online bachelor's in ministry programs that prepare candidates for administrative and education careers along with graduate academics. Distance learners pick from either a bachelor of science in ministry leadership or a bachelor of science in youth ministries.

    Through the ministry leadership degree plan, students learn how to organize and administer ministry initiatives and serve as architects of organizational change. Coursework covers topics like spiritual formation, leadership and management theory, and ministry organization finance and systems.

    The youth ministries program includes classes in small group leadership and curriculum development strategies. Students learn to provide counseling services and spiritual care to children, teenagers, and families. Both programs require candidates to complete an intensive internship anywhere in the world.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership; Bachelor of Science in Youth Ministries
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $345/credit
    Credit Requirements: 126 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

    Contact

    Phone: (706) 244-7634
    Email: Admissions@tfc.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  6. Trevecca Nazarene University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $18996

    Trevecca maintains its flagship campus in Nashville, Tennessee, and facilitates online education with Blackboard. Distance learners pick from 20 degree options, which include a bachelor of arts in Christian ministry. Through a flexible curriculum, students develop the skills to occupy servant leadership positions in religious institutions and faith-based nonprofit organizations.

    The degree plan comprises classes like personal and spiritual development, biblical literature and interpretation, and congregational discipleship. Candidates learn to foster compassionate ministry by engaging current issues and assessing organizational impact. They round out undergraduate training by completing an integrative capstone project.

    As one of the best online bachelor's in ministry programs, the Trevecca option allows students to personalize their education with 54 general elective credits. Applicants must transfer at least 40 credits toward degree completion. Most distance learners complete major requirements in 18 months.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $275/credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 2-3 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (615) 248-1200
    Email: SGCSadmissions@trevecca.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  7. Johnson University
    Location

    Knoxville, TN

    Tuition

    $18684

    JUTN opened its doors in 1894 to a class of 40 learners. Today, the school enrolls over 1,000 students in more than 70 programs, including a fully online bachelor of arts in ministry leadership. In addition to success at the master's and doctoral academic levels, graduates are well-prepared to work as youth pastors, religious educators, and executive ministers.

    Major coursework comprises exegetical methods, pastoral counseling, and leading effective churches. Students develop advanced skills for biblical teaching and preaching with emphasis on applying the Scripture to listeners' lives. This online bachelor's in ministry program requires candidates to complete an internship.

    JUTN operates six entry dates each year. The university powers online education with the Sakai platform. While distance learners cannot access institutional scholarships, they may apply for state and federal funding through the FAFSA.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $450/credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and/or asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

    Contact

    Phone: (865) 251-3416
    Email: JSnell@JohnsonU.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  8. The King's University
    Location

    Southlake, TX

    Tuition

    $23252

    TKU supports more than 600 students every year, offering flexible academic programs at its Southlake, Texas, campus. Learners may also obtain their credentials remotely by enrolling in online programs like the bachelor of Christian ministries. The curriculum centers on charismatic theology, equipping candidates with the skills to communicate the gospel and provide organizational leadership in diverse settings.

    Course topics include biblical background and interpretation, cultural apologetics, and sermon preparation. Students learn to offer counseling services that foster healthy family dynamics. Candidates round out their education with a senior capstone project.

    This online bachelor's in ministry program emphasizes hands-on skill development, requiring learners to complete an internship and several junior ministry practicums. TKU offers a variety of financial aid options, including institutional and external scholarships. The university also powers distance education with Blackboard.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Christian Ministries
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $470/credit
    Credit Requirements: 124 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online or hybrid
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and/or asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 minimum
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

    Contact

    Phone: (817) 722-1700
    Email: info@tku.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  9. Bethel College
    Location

    Hampton, VA

    Tuition

    $8420

    BC was founded in 1996 as a bible school dedicated to training church leaders and missionaries. The institution carries on that tradition by offering an online bachelor of science in church ministries that comes with five concentration options. Students can earn their credentials through a fully remote curriculum or they may create a hybrid learning experience with on-campus classes at the Hampton, Virginia, campus.

    The online bachelor's in ministry program covers core topics like spiritual formation and Old Testament literature. Candidates who pick the missions concentration examine the cross-cultural dynamics of service work, learning to contextualize their message for diverse communities. Students who pursue the ministerial leadership track can further focus their training on either children's or youth ministry.

    Admissions materials include pastoral and personal references. Prospective learners also must send in a two-page biographical essay.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Church Ministries
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Ministerial leadership; biblical studies; missions; worship and worshiping arts; Christian counseling
    Tuition: $260/credit
    Credit Requirements: 130 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online or hybrid
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and/or asynchronous

    Contact

    Phone: (757) 826-1883
    Email: studentaffairs@bcva.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  10. Northwest Nazarene University
    Location

    Nampa, ID

    Tuition

    $18786

    Located in Nampa, Idaho, NNU serves over 8,000 students annually. The school powers distance education with Canvas, offering a fully online bachelor of arts in Christian ministry. Through a comprehensive degree plan, candidates learn to lead, disciple, and evangelize their churches for ministry.

    Coursework covers topics like history of the Christian tradition, worship theory and development, and missional growth and health. Students strengthen pastoral leadership and preaching skills by completing an internship and capstone project. They can expand the curriculum by pursuing a family ministry minor.

    As one of the top online bachelor's in ministry programs, NNU operates flexible classes that span five or seven weeks. This accelerated model enables students to complete major requirements in just 36 months. The university accepts up to 62 transfer credits.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Christian ministry
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $405/credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (208) 467-8688
    Email: cmo@nnu.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Ministry Programs

Is a bachelor's in ministry worth it?

While the value of your degree is often subjective, many graduates with a bachelor's in ministry derive great personal satisfaction from their careers. For example, according to PayScale, pastors report an average job satisfaction of 4.5 out of 5, which rates as "extremely satisfied."

Graduates with a bachelor's in ministry can also find stable employment and earn solid salaries in the nonprofit sector.

What can I do with a bachelor's in ministry?

Graduates with a bachelor's in ministry can pursue careers in ministry, nonprofit and mission-driven organizations, and church administration. Possible job titles include youth minister, associate pastor, program coordinator, and church administrator. To become ordained, they may want to pursue further education by enrolling in master's programs in divinity or theology.

Are ministry majors in high demand?

The BLS does not list significant data for ministry careers. As such, it is tough to determine demand. However, ministry majors can find significant demand by pursuing careers in faith-based nonprofit organizations. The BLS projects 15% job growth for social and community services managers between 2020 and 2030.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in ministry?

While most students do not pursue ministry for the money, church professionals can still earn solid wages. According to PayScale data from October 2021, pastors earn an average annual salary of $50,070. Entry-level positions pay less, as youth ministers earn an average annual salary of $37,240.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in ministry?

The highest-paying jobs for graduates with a bachelor's in ministry are likely in the nonprofit sector. For example, social and community services managers who work for religious organizations earn a median annual salary of $72,860. Keep in mind that these positions often require significant nonprofit experience.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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