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Earning an online associate degree in Christian ministry opens multiple doors for faith-driven students. Graduates from ministry associate programs can either pursue associate pastor positions and ordination or work toward advanced degrees in the field. According to theU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), religious workers make an average salary of over $40,000.
Learn more about online ministry associate degree programs, including typical coursework in ministry programs and postgraduate careers.
What Will You Learn in an Online Ministry Associate Degree Program?
Students who enroll in online associate ministry programs receive a thorough grounding in the foundational knowledge they need to serve as associate pastors. As such, topics covered in associate ministry programs generally include:
- The New Testament
- The Old Testament
- Church history
- Christian leadership
Students can expect to spend significant time discussing Bible passages and more abstract theological topics.
This course introduces students to leadership through a biblical lens. Students and professors discuss how they can lead their congregations in a Christ-centered manner. As many careers for ministry graduates involve leadership, this course is particularly relevant.
Old Testament courses in ministry programs generally combine a survey of all literature, specifically studying leadership figures like the priest, prophet, and king.
New Testament courses in ministry programs combine a survey of all New Testament literature with specific leadership case studies. Most courses pay particular attention to the leadership styles and decisions of Paul and Jesus.
All ministers, pastors, and Christian leaders must possess a basic knowledge of church history. This survey course usually covers all historical periods, using case studies, primary sources, and textbooks.
This course often takes a survey approach, with students reading, analyzing, and discussing primary sources and works from different schools of theology.
In addition to specific course materials, online ministry associate degree programs provide students with hard and soft skills that can serve them in any profession — ministry-related or not. Here are a few specific skills:
- Public Speaking
Most graduates of online ministry associate degrees work in positions that require public speaking. For example, graduates who serve as associate pastors, lead pastors, or ministers must prepare to give sermons, speaking in front of large groups of people. They must also prepare to deliver fundraising speeches to ensure that their church and congregation remain financially healthy and viable.
What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Ministry?
Most positions graduates can pursue exist in the church, hospice, or nonprofit sectors, and most require skills like counseling and public speaking.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Lead pastors plan, organize, and lead worship services for congregations. Before practicing, they must earn ordination within their chosen church or denomination. An online associate degree in ministry is a good first step toward becoming a lead pastor.
Average Annual Salary: $64,945
Associate pastors assist lead pastors in planning, organizing, and leading worship services for congregations. Graduates who hold an online associate ministry degree can often serve as associate pastors as they work toward higher degrees that open up doors to lead pastor positions.
Average Annual Salary: $49,355
Hospice chaplains serve patients in hospice care and their families by providing spiritual services, such as traditional worship services and one-on-one and group counseling. A degree in ministry or a related field such as theology or divinity can help professionals earn chaplain jobs.
Average Annual Salary: $49,467
Ministers provide similar services as pastors, preaching on Sundays and providing spiritual services to others. Ministers can work in hospitals, churches, or army camps. All ministers must earn ordination in their chosen denomination before practicing professionally.
Average Annual Salary: $51,534
Getting a Bachelor's Degree After an Online Associate Degree in Ministry
Students do not necessarily need to enter the workforce after graduating from their two-year online ministry program.
Students earning a bachelor's in ministry can go on to pursue a master's in ministry and then a doctorate in ministry if they choose. You could also pursue a higher degree in another field.
Bachelor's in Ministry
A bachelor's in ministry provides students with a deeper understanding of the information they learned in their two-year program.
Bachelor's in Therapy
Students who enjoy the one-on-one element of ministry may wish to pursue a bachelor's in therapy, which helps students hone skills in helping others.
Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies
Students who enjoy preaching and speaking to large groups may wish to pursue a bachelor's in communication studies, which opens up more professional possibilities than a degree in ministry.
Master's Degree Ideas for Making a Career Change
Making a career change can be difficult but rewarding for those who take the leap. Learn which master's degree programs may provide the best paths towards changing your career.
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