There is so much good that you can do with a degree in theology and ministry besides the traditional path of religious leader. Not only will you help people along their own spiritual journeys, you’ll improve your personal understanding of religious practices, which will help you become a stronger leader and enrich your personal life. The online theology degree is earned by professionals who are preparing for a career in ministry, religious education, missionary work, Christian education or theological research. But, keep in mind that this degree can be applied to any vocation, many professionals who choose this major plan for active careers as clergy or in religious ministry. Laypersons—those who are simply members of a church—can also attend faith-based colleges and earn theology degrees simply to gain a more Christian worldview. The training received translates well into a religious nonprofit or community service, as well. An online theology degree or ministry program is best suited to those who wish to integrate their religious values with a career calling.
THE CAREER PATH
You can do much more than be a pastor or minister with a theology and ministry degree. While these types of careers are certainly rewarding for the right people, they are not the only option. For example, when you study theology, you will gain a wide range of critical thinking skills that can be applied to many different careers, including business and management roles. You gain excellent writing and communication skills, which apply to many different industries, and you could use your skills in a career as a journalist, manager, or writer. You also gain a strong understanding of ethics, which could be applied to a career as a police officer or politician, among many other careers.
There are numerous advantages to studying theology, but most importantly, you have the chance to work in an area that many people find rewarding and fulfilling. In the right position, you can help people through guidance and counseling. During your studies, you’ll gain skills like writing and communication that are applicable to virtually any industry, giving you plenty of choices after you graduate from an online theology and ministry program.
- Theology Professor—If you would like to shape the future or theology and ministry, you could work as a theology professor. In this position, you will develop courses, grade assignments, and (most importantly) teach the fundamentals that are involved in religious studies. With the right education, you can likely teach a wide variety of religion-related subjects, including ethics, history, and counseling. Although the numbers are for all postsecondary teachers, this career has a median income of $76,000, and the top 10% can expect to earn over $170,000 a year. This position is expected to grow by 12% between 2016 and 2026, making it a solid career for anyone interested in theology and religion.
- Marriage and Family Therapist—Eventually, we all have problems with our family. It happens, but fortunately there are therapists who have the skills and training, as well as the dedication, to help us get through these challenges. Although a master’s degree and licensing are generally required, an online theology and ministry degree is a great start to this profession, especially if you plan to provide religion-based counseling. This profession brings a median salary of $48,790, which might seem small for a career that requires a master’s degree. However, the job also has an expected job growth of 23%, making it one of the best for people who desire a steady, reliable career field.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Does a theology of ministry degree sound like a great option for you? Then your next step is to seriously consider whether or not you would be an ideal candidate for one of these online programs. There are many qualities that are important for a theology and ministry student, but it’s probably most important that you have a strong believe in the importance of religion. You certainly don’t have to subscribe to one set of religious beliefs to take the course; for example, you don’t have to be a Christian to study Christianity, but believing that religion is a useful, life-improving force is important, as this mentality will provide the foundation you need to stay motivated in your career.
You should also have a desire to lead people through guidance, advice, and support. People who study theology often become community leaders, either in their specific roles or by example, so you have to be willing to lead people through their faith journeys. Finally, a desire to apply your theological knowledge to help people will be critical. If you have these qualities, you may enjoy a career working with theology or ministry.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Students should note that not all ministry or seminary colleges hold recognized accreditation. Many degree mill scams invoke Christian phrasing to lure in online students. Also, some online ministry degree programs are offered by state-licensed schools, backed by unrecognized private accrediting agencies. An online seminary degree from these may not be accepted outside a specific state, denomination or religious group.
For the widest acceptance of an online ministry degree, look for programs accredited by agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) accredits Christian colleges that offer certificates, diplomas, associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees designed to prepare students for Christian ministries. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Commission on Accrediting is the main accreditation agency for seminaries. The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) is also a CHEA-recognized accrediting agency. The Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS) is CHEA-approved for Jewish programs.
Online theology programs typically cover topics such as scriptures, doctrines, history of religion, music, church administration and leadership. A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient to launch a career in theology or the ministry, but many clergy earn at least a master’s degree—either in theology (Th.M.) or divinity (M.Div.)—to obtain a position of leadership.
A theology doctorate degree is also available. Graduates of this degree can pursue careers as a theology professor or clergy member. Professors typically publish research on the field of religion, but some clergy also study and write. The top education credentials in this area include the doctor of ministry (D.Min.), doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) and the doctor of theology (Th.D.).
You can find the right degree for your needs while enrolling in an online theology and ministry program that fits your budget and schedule. Click on a program below to get information on tuiton, accreditation, and admission requirements.