Online Ministry Associate Degrees

Updated April 10, 2023

Online Ministry Associate Degrees 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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Earn an Online Ministry Associate Degree Programs

An online associate degree in ministry prepares students for faith-based roles as ministers, church leaders, and missionaries. By earning an online degree in ministry, learners gain a fundamental understanding of how to serve Christ while exploring aspects of philanthropy, theology, and the role of the church in secular contexts.

By earning an associate-level degree, students also develop knowledge and skills applicable to continued study. Coursework in an associate degree program provides a strong foundation, preparing students to earn a bachelor's degree in church studies, theology, or religion. Learners who earn a bachelor's degree sometimes transition into a graduate program in divinity or a related discipline.

Quiz: Is an Online Ministry Associate Program Right for Me?

Q: Are you interested in religious studies for faith-based work in community organizations, schools, medical facilities, or social service agencies, rather than teaching within a religious school setting?

A: An online associate degree in ministry can prepare you to become a fully ordained minister in a religious organization. Students explore the foundations of religious beliefs and biblical interpretations, preparing for roles like parish priests and youth pastors.

If teaching at a religiously affiliated school is something you are more interested in, earning an online associate degree in teaching or early childhood education, with a minor in religious studies, may be a better option to explore.

Q: Does a two-year degree program feel like the right study timeline?

A: In general, online students in associate degree programs in ministry complete 60 credits, which takes approximately two years if they study full time. However, online students usually have more flexibility when it comes to accelerating or slowing down that timeline, depending on their goals and other obligations.

Talk to an admissions advisor about rolling admissions, synchronous and asynchronous formatting, and other completion programs designed to alter the standard two-year timeline of an associate degree.

Q: Do you have prior credits to transfer?

A: Perhaps you have completed related courses at another college or within a religious studies program. If so, some credits may transfer over. Prior religious work, military service, or professional experience may also qualify for credit towards your online associate degree in ministry. Check with the admissions office of your prospective school to learn more and determine your eligibility.

Q: Are you interested in eventually earning a bachelor's degree?

A: Students who earn an online associate degree in ministry learn about biblical studies, theology, and practical ministry. They build clear communication and leadership skills, and they acquire knowledge related to history and philosophy. Ministry electives include courses in church life, spiritual formation, and counseling, which can be useful to many careers within religious organizations. Further down this page, look at popular career choices for students who have earned their online associate degree in ministry.

For students interested in greater administrative, management, and leadership positions, going on and earning an advanced education can provide a greater depth of knowledge and training. A bachelor's degree in ministry -- or a graduate-level degree -- can give students the skills needed to advance beyond supportive roles into more supervisory roles. 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.

Associates in Ministry Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Ministry Program?

Students pursuing ministry associate degrees online take different classes depending on their school, but most programs incorporate similar concepts and principles into the curriculum. With an emphasis on the Bible and Christ's teaching, denominational differences may influence specific ideology. Generally, students who earn an associate degree in ministry build a holistic understanding of the Bible and the role of the church in society.

Ministry curriculum focuses on the basic Christian doctrine with coursework in verbal and written communication, sociology, and ministerial practice. While earning an online associate degree in ministry, learners also explore aspects of Christian thought, education, and leadership.

Common Classes and Coursework

Skills You Will Gain

Earning a ministry associate degree online introduces students to complex biblical concepts and principles, breaking them down in a way that allows for a deep, personal understanding. As learners explore the Old and New Testaments, Christian writers, and the development of doctrine through history, they learn how to communicate these ideas to others.

The curriculum also includes classes in written and verbal communication. Learners focus on ministerial theories, practices, and methods while developing effective language and public speaking skills. Individuals seeking to enter the ministry or advance within their current ministerial role can benefit from training in these areas.

Ministry programs also facilitate cultural awareness and engagement. Students who participate in missions or work within communities outside of the scope of Christian practice are prepared to do so with more empathy and respect, allowing for the effective, peaceful exchange of ideas.

Non-ministry professionals can enroll in these programs to build a closer relationship to Christ and his teachings. Christians seeking to enter the ministry or better understand Christian beliefs and ideas for personal growth can also benefit from in-depth analysis of doctrine and faith. Additionally, students who plan to continue to a bachelor's or graduate program in ministry, divinity, or a similar discipline can establish a solid foundation for further study.

Average Degree Length

An online associate degree in ministry includes roughly 60 credits of general education and degree-specific coursework. Full-time students can complete these programs in two years, while part-time learners graduate in 3-4 years.

Transfer students may shorten this timeline significantly. A large number of transfer credits may allow learners to earn a degree in as few as 12 months. Many programs award transfer credit based on previous religious training, work experience in the ministry, and/or similar life experiences.

Online classes benefit students by allowing full-time professionals and others to complete classes on a more flexible, convenient schedule. Part-time students may take 1-2 classes each term, depending on their personal and professional needs. However, part-time learners usually pay higher per-credit tuition rates.

Career Opportunities With an Associate Degree in Ministry

An associate of ministry program prepares students for positions within church organizations, nonprofit agencies, and faith-based institutions. Associate degrees build communication skills and foster cultural awareness, allowing learners to pursue careers in social and human services, public service, and pastoral education.

Individuals who earn ministry associate degrees online also learn how to handle the managerial aspects related to working in religious settings. Ministry students train to work with congregates of all ages, often developing youth, Bible study, and outreach programs in the process.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Students who earn a ministry associate degree online prepare for entry-level and support roles in the church. For example, learners can build the knowledge and skills needed to work as an associate pastor or minister. By gaining theological and ministerial competencies, ministry students can work as youth ministers, developing and implementing programs aimed at children and adolescents.

Ministry associate degrees can also lead to roles working within community and social agencies. With ministerial training, learners who want to help others as relief workers, social service assistants, and personal aids develop communication and interpersonal skills to perform their duties through a Christian lens.

Church Administrator

Church administrators oversee church operations, facilities, and finances. Administrators keep track of contributions and income while working with other church officials to implement faith-based programs. They may also develop newsletters and maintain schedules.

Median Annual Salary: $39,000

Associate Pastor

An associate pastor works alongside a senior or executive pastor, providing support in ministerial duties. Associate pastors may develop and implement educational programs, visit groups within the larger congregation, tend to congregates at hospitals and nursing homes, and represent the church at public events.

Median Annual Salary: $47,000

Social and Human Service Assistant

Social and human service assistants work with social workers, sociologists, and other community and social service professionals. They tend to clients, families, and groups, assisting them in daily activities. Social and human service assistants may work exclusively with elderly populations or veterans. They may also work in faith-based contexts.

Median Annual Salary: $33,750

Youth Pastor

Youth pastors develop, implement, and supervise faith-based programs aimed at children and adolescents. Youth pastors may meet with individuals or groups, offering guidance and spiritual support. They also recruit and train young members of the church for missionary work and promote outreach efforts.

Median Annual Salary: $38,000

Religious Missionary

Religious missionaries perform pastoral duties while teaching individual groups about church doctrine, theology, and practice. Religious missionaries may work in classrooms, at churches and religious organizations, or within the community in an informal capacity.

Median Annual Salary: $45,000

Ministry Scholarships to Apply For

Ministry students have access to a variety of scholarships through professional organizations, faith-based institutions, and church foundations. Some scholarships and grants award funds to learners studying a certain denomination while others provide financial support to students studying Christian faith/belief in any capacity.

United Church of Christ Scholarships and Grants

Who Can Apply: The UCC offers awards to students studying church leadership, global ministry, and ministry education. Applicants must be members of a UUC congregation and enrolled in an appropriate program for consideration. Additional requirements vary by depending on the award.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Young Christian Leaders Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The YCL scholarship funds students entering or currently enrolled in an undergraduate program. Applicants must be active in their local church; maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA; and reside in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. However, students can attend programs based outside of those states.

Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

United Methodist Women Grants

Who Can Apply: United Methodist Women awards women entering and working in the ministry financial support. For example, the Theressa Hoover Community Service and Global Citizenship Award funds young women studying, exploring, and researching a subject area that matches the United Methodist Women's priority issues of climate justice, economic justice, and criminalization of communities of color.

Amount: Up to $10,000

Apply for Scholarship

Christian Ministry Scholarship Foundation

Who Can Apply: The Christian Missionary Scholarship Foundation supports children of missionaries seeking a college education. Applicants must enroll in one of the schools approved by the organization and have parents currently or recently returned from missionary service.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Educational Advancement in Ministry

An online associate degree in ministry establishes a solid foundation for continued study. Students can often transfer credits earned in an associate program into a four-year program.

With coursework in theology, Christian teachings, and the Bible, learners can transition to bachelor's tracks in divinity, Christian studies, or the ministry. The associate degree curriculum also prepares students to pursue bachelor's degrees in fields such as history, communication, and social work.

Should You Transfer to a Four-year Degree Program?

Students interested in transferring to a four-year program should consult with an academic advisor as soon as possible. Advisors help learners complete coursework on an established timeline, preparing them to advance into a bachelor's program.

Many colleges and universities have articulation agreements in place, facilitating transfer from two-year programs to bachelor's programs. Learners should consult with their current institution and potential schools to see if any articulation agreements exist. Students should also contact admissions departments about transfer policies and procedures as they move to a four-year program.

What Degree Paths Should You Consider?

Students who earn ministry associate degrees online can go on to earn bachelor's degrees in religion-related disciplines. Students can enter bachelor's tracks in religious studies, theology, or Christian ministries to prepare for many careers in religious settings. Additional bachelor's degree options include history and social work. A bachelor's degree in one of these disciplines also serves as a springboard to graduate study.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations bring together students, educators, scholars, and practitioners. Ministry organizations and associations may provide opportunities for networking and training, as well as additional resources like job boards, publications, and updates related to ministerial practice.

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