Christian Studies Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Class Info

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Bachelor's and associate degrees in Christian studies can lead to careers in the church. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Associate and Bachelor's Degrees in Christian Studies at a Glance

Associate degree and bachelor's degree programs in Christian studies are degrees that place emphasis on Biblical studies as a framework for communicating the message of Christ. They provide a spiritual foundation, as well as communication, leadership and organizational training. Graduates may choose to obtain positions as clergy, religious educators or other religious support roles upon completion of their degree programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clergy and other ministry-related positions were expected grow at a rate about as fast as average from 2010-2020. Entry-level positions may require at least a bachelor's degree. Some careers may require a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.).

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this Degree for? Individuals who want to begin their education and further their religious training People seeking to further their religious education or seeking employment with their congregations
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Minister ($44,000)*
- Missionary ($26,000 - based on salary for all unlisted religious workers)
Same as associate degree, also:
- Director of religious education ($36,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full time Four years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 15-25 courses - Roughly 30-45 courses
- May have a language requirement
Prerequisites High school diploma High school diploma
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate Degree in Christian Studies

For those who may feel a call to ministry, Christian studies at the associate degree level can be the first step in spiritual formation and formal education. In some denominations, this degree may lead to leadership positions, and it may also serve as a stepping stone to further education and spiritual development. Careful selection of courses and following up on opportunities for both growth and career development can leverage this degree into a formative experience that serves both the student and the church.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Traditional face-to-face teaching programs often take place in religiously homogenous environments.
  • In some denominations, these programs fulfill the requirements for lay ministry, although this must be determined on a church-by-church basis.
  • These 2-year programs provide preparation for continuing religious education.

Cons

  • Associate degrees in Christian studies are often tied to specific denominations, which may place some limits on the job search.
  • Outside of specific denominations, the requirements for religiously-oriented positions may be higher, requiring a bachelor's degree for lay ministry, and an M. Div. for ordination to the clergy.
  • Church-related positions are positions of service, and may offer relatively low salaries.

Courses and Requirements

The courses required for a Christian studies associate degree cover a number of topics including Christian theology, Biblical studies, spiritual development and ministry basics. These courses give a broad overview of the spiritual and religious mission of the denomination, preparing students to take part in ministry.

  • Biblical studies and evangelism
  • Education principles for religion
  • Global perspectives on world religions
  • Gospels and the mission of Jesus
  • Ministry: purpose and meaning
  • Spiritual formation
  • Theological principles

Online Degree Options

For those seeking to earn an associate degree in Christian studies online, many options exist. Students should select a program consistent with their congregation and denomination's teachings, and seek the advice of religious mentors in the church before committing to a program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

In order to get the most out of this degree, students should either already be participating in ministry, or seeking opportunities to do so. Religious service activities and opportunities for leadership may help students discern their calling, and deep involvement with the church may foster mentoring relationships with church leaders. Internship, service and leadership activities may be available through the school for those attending this program on a traditional campus. For those seeking ministry positions, developing and communicating character consistent with church leadership, even at this early stage, can be part of formative experiences that will assist in career development.

Bachelor's Degree in Christian Studies

A bachelor's degree in Christian studies is a 4-year program and a significant commitment from people who seek to make a career of spiritual leadership. Whether heading a religious education program, seeking work as a pastor or continuing on to an M.Div. program, this degree program can help prepare students for religious leadership. Such programs focus on religious and spiritual formation in addition to imparting a working knowledge ministry concerns, theology and Biblical knowledge.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A Christian studies bachelor's degree program can aid in the process of vocational discernment for those who feel they are called as church leaders.
  • These programs are often offered at denominationally-linked institutions, where leadership qualities can be noted and developed.
  • Programs can provide chances for students to reach out to communities in need, helping develop real-world experience of service.

Cons

  • These programs are often offered at small, church-funded schools which may lack name recognition outside of the denomination.
  • Programs are denominationally focused and may be theologically inconsistent with the beliefs of students from other denominations.
  • A bachelor's degree in Christian studies prepares students for a life in the church, but may have limited applicability with outside groups.

Courses and Requirements

Coursework offered in a Christian Studies bachelor's degree usually includes Biblical interpretation, theology, apologetics, denomination-specific history, global perspectives, Biblical languages and hands-on experience in ministry duties. Some programs may offer internships, assisting students in developing work experience, contacts and professional relationships.

  • Church doctrine
  • Church foundations
  • Denominational history
  • Historical perspectives on the Church
  • Interpreting the Bible
  • Interpreting the Pentateuch
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Spiritual formation
  • Supervised practicum in ministry
  • Gospels of Jesus

Online Degree Options

Many options are available for those seeking online programs that offer a bachelor's degree in Christian studies. As with an associate degree program, interested students should check to make certain that the programs and the student's home congregation are theologically consistent. Seeking the advice of religious mentors within the church and communicating with the schools directly may assist in this choice.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To take advantage of all the opportunities that a bachelor's degree program in Christian studies can provide, students should make the effort to develop relationships with professors. Whether they are considering working in the church upon completing the degree program, or continuing on to an M.Div. program as they seek ordination, they need formal recommendations regarding both academic performance and character. Both service and spiritual consistency can help students develop as Christians and as leaders. As spiritual formation is part of both these programs and of discerning a vocation, finding mentors who can assist and counsel through that process can be of help.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Biblical Studies, B.A.
      • Biblical Studies, B.A.
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. in Christian Studies - Biblical Studies
      • BA in Christian Studies
      • BA in Christian Studies - Worship Leadership
      • B.A. in Christian Studies with an Emphasis in Global Ministry
      • B.A. in Christian Studies with an Emphasis in Philosophy
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Religion
      • BA: Liberal Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Biola University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Online BS in Bibilical Ministries
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Biblical Studies
      • B.S. General Studies - Religious Studies
      • B.S. General Studies - Liberal Arts
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies - Biblical Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies - Theological and Historical Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Biblical Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Christian Ministry
  • Pepper Pike, OH

    Ursuline College

  • Bismarck, ND

    University of Mary

  • Jackson, TN

    Union University

Featured Schools

Colorado Christian University

  • Biblical Studies, B.A.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • B.A. in Christian Studies - Biblical Studies
  • BA in Christian Studies
  • BA in Christian Studies - Worship Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Religion
  • BA: Liberal Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Purdue University Global

  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
  • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership

Which subject are you interested in?

Biola University

  • Online BS in Bibilical Ministries

What is your highest level of education completed?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Biblical Studies
  • B.S. General Studies - Religious Studies
  • B.S. General Studies - Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies - Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies - Theological and Historical Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Ursuline College