Christian Ministry Degree

A Master of Arts in Christian Ministry is perfect for anyone who plans on becoming a leader in their church or wishes to further their understanding of the Bible and the church. It can provide an excellent educational foundation for pastors or for those who want to teach in a religious school. This degree typically requires 36 total credit hours, which usually takes two to three years to complete. Those who have finished this degree may become pastors, church administrators, missionaries, or religious educators and Sunday school teachers. The degree requires taking courses in leadership, Christian ethics, church history, theology, pastoral counseling, and the Old and New Testaments.

Common Career Paths

Those who get a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry have a number of career paths they can pursue. The knowledge it provides of the Old and New Testament, Christian history, and theology are ideal for those who want to enter into the following careers:

  • Ministry - This program provides students with the foundation needed to go into ministry. In some denominations, it is enough to become ordained as a pastor, associate pastor, or discipleship pastor.
  • Christian Administration – Working at a Christian business, educational facility, or nonprofit requires a strong understanding of the church and faith, both of which students will get from the MA in Christian Ministry.
  • Sunday School Teacher or Christian Educator – This program adequately prepares students to go into Christian education, including teaching Sunday school. For those who want to teach at the university level, an MA in Christian Ministry is a solid foundation for a doctoral program.

Master of Arts in Christian Ministry

A Master of Arts in Christian Ministry provides students with detailed information about church history, the Bible, theology, leadership, and more. Depending on its focus, students will learn about counseling, public speaking, church leadership, missions, and the global religious community. Most Christian Ministry degrees include the following objectives:

  • Become knowledgeable in the Old and New Testaments, supplementary texts, and theological texts.
  • Comprehend, interpret, and apply Biblical concepts to their lives and the lives of their congregation and others.
  • Have a solid foundation for work in the ministry in various roles, including as church leaders, missionaries, and educators.
  • Be prepared to counsel members of their congregation through a religious lens.
  • Understand the Christian church, its history, its ethics, and its policies.
  • Be aware of the global Christian community and its culture.

Sample Coursework for Online Christian Ministry Programs

Most Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degrees begin with a very similar foundation in Christianity and religion, although these basics do vary some from institution to institution. Once these foundation courses are completed, many programs allow students to focus their degree in several different areas. Below are some of the courses you may take while pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry.

CourseCourse Description

Old Testament / New Testament

These two courses delve into either the Old Testament or the New Testament, providing in-depth studies of the scriptures and the context in which they were written.

Church History

A study of the beginnings of the Christian church, its role throughout history, and how it has changed over the centuries.


A systematic study of religion, its nature, and its function in the church, the community, and the world.

Foundation of the Ministry

A look at what the ministry is, its role in the church today, and the duties of its ministers.

Christian Ethics

Students study the ethics of the Christian church and how they can be applied to a number of different real-world situations.

Students may also take courses in a number of other topics:

  • Graduate writing
  • Understanding the role of the pastor
  • Writing and delivering sermons
  • Public speaking
  • Creating and maintaining a religious community
  • Leading a congregation
  • Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages
  • Other faiths, including Islam and Judaism
  • In-depth study of the Gospels
  • How to approach real-world problems through the Christian viewpoint

Field Education

Many Master of Arts in Christian Ministry programs do require students to complete a field education component. This may take several forms, including working in a church, doing student teaching, or working with Christian administrators, depending on what focus you choose. This practical component will give you a chance to gain on-the-job skills while learning from an experienced professional.

Christian Ministry Specializations

Many Master of Arts in Christian Ministry programs offer students the chance to specialize in one area. This allows students to gain additional knowledge in their chosen career area.

Community Chaplaincy

Being a community chaplain involves leading a church or working as a minister in the community. Some work with corporations, hospitals, or even the military following their ordination. While community chaplains may lead a congregation, many work one-on-one to provide support to individuals.

By focusing your Christian Ministry degree in community chaplaincy, you will gain the necessary skills to provide counseling, leadership, and assistance to those in a corporation, military, or non-profit organization. As a community chaplain, you might work with the police or fire department, with emergency medical services, or with veteran groups. While community chaplains are not full counselors, many do help others work through their emotions and reactions to traumatic events, including those who have PTSD.

In addition to working with corporations and nonprofits, some community chaplains also go into human resources or become supervisors in Christian organizations. By focusing on this area, students learn how to help people keep and strengthen their faith. They do so by studying Christianity, ethics, and the history of the church. Courses in leadership, theology, and faith-based counseling are also areas students may wish to study.

Discipleship & Church Ministry

Many who go into part-time or full-time work in the ministry will benefit from a Christian Ministry degree and the foundation it provides in leadership and discipleship. Those who go into this area become leaders in their religious community and prepares one for ordination. The skills learned from a focus in discipleship and church ministry have a strong foundation for becoming pastors and ministers.

In addition to working in the church, this specialization also prepares graduates to work as other types of church leaders, including going into missionary work or being a ministry worker. They learn how to nurture faith and how to share their faith and beliefs with others. Those who go into missionary work may even become church planters, creating their own religious communities in areas where the Christian faith is weak. Some also learn about counseling and may go into pastoral counseling or become chaplains in the military or at a hospital.

A Christian Ministry degree in discipleship and church ministry involves studying the scriptures, church leadership, discipleship, and taking courses in ministry. Some may also take courses in counseling and evangelism.

Evangelism & Church Planting

The Christian Ministry degree with a focus on evangelism and church planting prepares those who wish to undertake missions with the knowledge of how to teach the Bible to those of other or no faiths and how to create the foundation for a strong church. Those with strong faith and the desire to share their faith with others will find that this graduate degree will teach them the skills they need for successful missions and to create new churches following the conversion of others.

While some missionaries do remain within the U.S., many undertake their missions to other countries. With this degree, they will be prepared to journey around the world and present Christianity to those who have no understanding of it. They will be able to answer questions about their faith and about what it means to be a Christian in today’s world. While this degree does focus on evangelism and on founding new churches, it can also be useful for those who want to become leaders in the church or go into the administration side of ministries.

This specialization focuses on learning about the Bible, including both the Old and New Testaments, and about the church itself. You will learn how to discuss your faith, how to minister to non-Christians, and how to create and lead a church.

Global Studies

Those who want to minister around the world will find that this program gives them a foundation in various religious and intercultural communications. Learning how the church and Christianity fit into the global environment shows students how they can take their ministry from their local community to an international one. This degree discusses the Christian faith throughout history, especially in parts of the world where it is not the majority faith, and how other cultures view Christianity.

By focusing your Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree in global studies, you are preparing yourself to become a missionary to parts of the world where most people are not Christian. This degree readies you to present your faith to others and defend it to those who do not understand it. It is also a good degree for church leaders, educators, and church planters because it teaches communication skills and how to approach faith from a global perspective.

Courses in the global studies focus include intercultural and interfaith communications, cultural anthropology, the history of religion, world religions, and ministry. You may also study scripture in-depth, discuss theology, and learn other languages such as Greek and Hebrew. If you know what part of the world you wish to minister to, learning languages used in that region and taking courses on that particular culture may also be helpful.


The courses that are a part of this degree include courses in writing sermons, speaking, and hermeneutics, all of which prepare someone to write and deliver homilies. Studying Homiletics focuses on a detailed study of the Bible and, specifically, the sermons and homilies contained within. Students may also study famous sermons from history to help them learn how to create and maintain the beliefs of their congregation and to strengthen the individual faiths of its members. These homilies are different from some sermons in that they are not designed to teach a moral or provide any sort of instruction but instead to simply strengthen faith.

Focusing on Homiletics will give you the skills needed to write homilies and to deliver them to a religious community or congregation. It will also provide you with a foundation from which to answer, defend, and discuss these homilies and the scriptures they are based on with individuals. Those who get a degree in Homiletics may also teach Sunday school or Bible study groups or serve as missionaries.

The courses involved in a Homiletics degree mainly focus on the Bible, the sermons, and in writing homilies. However, students will also take courses in leadership, ministry, and speech. Students are also often required to visit churches and present their own written homilies to its congregation.

Pastoral Counseling

The Christian Ministry degree can be combined with a psychology degree or supplemented with counseling courses for a career in pastoral counseling. Those who go into pastoral counseling use spiritual and Biblical methods to help those who come to them with their emotional, spiritual, and interpersonal problems. They may help members of their congregation with PTSD, relationships, marriages, addictions, and other issues. These counselors do learn psychological treatment methods, but they present them through the Christian faith.

Those who get a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry with a focus in pastoral counseling can work through their church as a counselor, pastor, missionary, or chaplain. However, some may decide to become a licensed marriage and family therapist or a clinical professional counselor so as to treat those outside their congregation as well. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state. In some states, the MA in Christian Ministry with a focus in pastoral counseling is enough, but in other states, you may need a second degree.

Those who focus on pastoral counseling will study both religious topics and psychology. Religion courses include scripture, theology, leadership, and ethics while psychology courses may involve pastoral counseling, family counseling, addictions, and other specialized courses.

Pastoral Ministries

Pastoral ministries involves teaching and leading others in theology and worship. A Christian Ministry degree can help one become prepared for a career in pastoral ministries by providing a strong background in the Bible and theology. The broad foundation furnished by this focus includes learning about many different areas of the church. Those who complete a pastoral ministries degree will be ready to lead their congregation. In some denominations, they can become ordained with this degree.

A Pastoral Ministries degree teaches all of the skills needed to be an associate pastor, pastor, or other church administrator or leader. It can also be used to prepare one for missionary work, teaching, and serving in Christian nonprofit organizations.

A degree in pastoral ministries involves taking courses that cover a wide variety of topics, including theology, scripture, faith, evangelism, ministry, counseling, and leadership.


Focusing your degree in worship will prepare you to work as a ministry or worship leader/pastor. It involves learning how to lead worship, including writing sermons and leading the church. These ministers work in the church, often as ordained church leaders, and may be the pastor or associate pastor of a congregation.

Those who focus their Christian Ministry degree in this area will study, in detail, what worship is, what it means to worship individually and as a group, and what the role of a leader is in a worship service. Those who go into worship have a strong passion for their faith, their church, and their religious community.

Students who pursue a focus in worship will take courses in evangelism, the history of worship, philosophy and faith, principles of worship, leadership, and church ministry. They will focus both on leading a community and on working one-on-one with individuals.

Resources for Christian Ministry Students

If you are pursuing an MA in Christian Ministry or if you are considering it, the following resources may be able to help answer any questions you may have. Most universities do have organizations and religion departments that can provide assistance to students with specific questions about a university’s program. The following organizations may also help students.


Church Law & Tax

This website provides information for church leaders on the laws and tax regulations regarding churches in the United States.

LIfeway Ministries

This organization provides a number of different guides and tools for ministering to a congregation, including resources aimed at different age groups.

Ministry Tools Resource Center

Another group that offers a variety of tools that can help ministers and other church leaders.

Family Christian

A non-profit organization that offers various teaching aids and books for church leaders.

CRM Leaders

An organization of ministers dedicated to helping reach those who do not know Christ. This group offers a number of resources and leadership positions to those interested in joining them.