The online doctorate program in ministry is the highest level of education that one can achieve in the field. Prospective students should already have good ministry skills which they are seeking to strengthen and refine through the program. In addition, the online doctorate in ministry seeks to provide a better understanding of biblical principles as well as strategies for effective pastoral and church service.
Online PhD in Ministry Requirements
To apply for an online PhD program in ministry, one should already be in a ministry position, and in fact, full-time ministry as well as an endorsement from that place of ministry may be required to be accepted into a top program. The candidate must be dedicated in order to continue in a full-time ministry position while completing the program in the required time frame.
Students interested in earning an online PhD in ministry are required to have an accredited master’s degree within the field. The master’s degree should be one of or similar to the following:
- MA in Religion
- MA in Pastoral Counseling
- MA in Worship Studies
- MA in Theological Studies
- Master of Divinity
As is evident from the types of master’s degrees that are required, students seeking online doctorate programs in ministry will generally already be employed in a pastoral or other full-time ministry position. In addition to pastors, students may include other church leaders and missionaries.
Online PhD in Ministry Education
Online doctoral degrees in ministry should be completed within four to seven years. Online doctorate programs at top institutions may, in fact, be blended, meaning that the student will be required to attend minimal weekend or week-long intensive courses on campus. A thesis and ministry-related project must also be completed in order to complete the program.
Information on Ministry Courses
Courses of good online doctorate degrees in ministry will focus on providing students effective and contemporary strategies on how to lead and serve a congregation or group of people. In addition, students will be required to select electives related to their specializations.
The best program offering an online PhD in ministry requires the following courses:
- Twenty-First Century Techniques and Tools for the Church
- Growth and Development of the Contemporary Minister
- Creative Ministry Uses for the Computer
- Thesis Project
Specializations and Concentrations
While a doctorate in ministry may seem to be fairly specific, in fact, students can choose a specialization or concentration if so desired. Naturally, the degree completion plan will vary with each specialization.
The specialties and concentrations related to an online PhD in ministry include:
- Evangelism and Church Growth
- Evangelistic and Expository Preaching
- Pastoral Counseling
- Pastoral Leadership and Management
Careers in Ministry
A graduate of an online PhD program in ministry will most likely end up working at a post-secondary education institution or in a church or religious setting. Possible employment opportunities may include the following:
Professors who have completed a doctorate in ministry would obviously find themselves teaching at an institution that provides similar programs so as to pass on the knowledge, skills, and strategies they have gleaned and may also be granted research and writing opportunities. Depending upon the institution and experience, professors may earn as little as $36,000 to as much as $100,000.
Students seeking a pastoral position may find themselves facing a variety of duties depending upon the actual position, whether it is a senior pastor, associate pastor, or youth pastor. The size and denomination of the church may also vary. For these reasons, it is difficult to project what a pastor can expect to earn as pay is often dependent upon the congregation. Many pastors find themselves earning less than $30,000 a year while pastors of larger, wealthier churches may have an annual salary reaching $150,000.
- Church Consultant
Similar to business or education consultants, a church consultant’s purpose is to help a church run as smoothly as possible and can aid in areas such as strategic planning and leadership development. The salary of a church consultant will vary depending upon the company, location, and experience; however, the average salary quoted in one urban area is $62,000.
- Religious Counselor
A religious or Christian counselor would have the same duties as any other counselor or therapist in that he is familiar with mental health issues and implements appropriate counseling strategies; however, a religious counselor will use the Bible as the ultimate standard when providing advice and assistance to a client. A religious counselor can expect to earn anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000 a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of counselors in general is expected to grow 18% over the next decade; however, specific types of counselors may see more of an increase than others.
- Church Administrator
A church administrator will typically report to the senior pastor and may find himself planning and organizing church events and support services, performing clerical duties, and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the church. As with the pastor of a church, the salary of a church administrator is dependent upon the size and need of the church, with an average range being $24,000 to $41,000.
An online doctorate in ministry is an ideal choice for one seeking such a degree as the flexibility allows a student to remain engaged in ministry while at the same time strengthening the skills necessary to be an effective minister. And that doctorate degree may prove to be increasingly marketable, leading to further ministry or job opportunities.