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Professionals who are interested in a career as a pastor, minister or member of the clergy often choose to obtain a master’s degree in Christian Studies.

A master’s in this field focuses upon conveying knowledge and methods to understand the historical, intellectual and social contexts of how Christianity developed, Christian thought, and the lift of Christ.

A typical master’s in Christian Studies will focus on the early origins of Christian thought, how it influenced the West, Christian reformation movements, and also contemporary reflections on the impact of Christian thought on the world today.

A Christian Studies degree will provide students with excellent skills that are very applicable to a career in clergy or ministry. You will have the skills to comprehend, analyze, interpret and integrate primary and secondary sources of biblical and theological thought.

Common career paths with this master’s degree are:

  • Recreation worker: These professionals design and lead many types of recreational and leisure activities for groups in churches, volunteer agencies, playgrounds, parks, senior centers and more. Most commonly, recreational workers plan, organize and lead many kinds of activities for recreation centers and churches. The responsibilities of this position will vary a lot depending upon where you work. For someone with a Christian background, you may work in a church or Christian setting in this role.
  • Minister: This is a member of the clergy who is usually in charge of a small, medium or large Christian church. He or she administers sacraments and provides in depth spiritual guidance to church members. They can also be called a priest, deacon, bishop, or even an ordained layperson in some cases. A minister is also responsible for conducting sermons, weddings, funerals and baptisms. Additionally, a minister is usually responsible for the overall operation of a church, including the building itself and its finances. The minister is the key person in the church as well who leads various volunteer activities in the community to spread the Gospel.
  • Missionary worker: This is a Christian spiritual leader who is sent by their church to work in evangelism or in related activities in an area in need, or in an area that has had limited exposure to the teachings of Jesus. Missionaries can be sent to different communities or countries to convert people to Christianity, and also to provide them with essential services. Some missionaries work on public health projects, and help the local community to build schools and stable sources of water.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Christian Studies?

People earn a master’s degree in Christian Studies because they feel the call to work with others as Christians and to help them to understand the faith and to seek help and guidance through the words of the Bible.

People also want to spend their lives helping others to live a more fulfilling life, which includes a strong spiritual component for many people.

Earning a degree in Christian Studies will provide you with the opportunity to be a Christian leader in many churches or organizations in the US and abroad. You also will be able to work on mission trips and to turn people to the Christian faith all over the world.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into a master’s program in Christian Studies, you will need the following:

  • 5 GPA
  • Liberal arts degree, preferably in theology, Christian Studies or similar field
  • GRE scores are usually not required
  • Complete transcripts
  • Three recommendations; one is often from a member of clergy

Curriculum and Courses

If you feel called to become a member of the clergy, you should consider Liberty University. It offers a 100% online Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. It is designed to offer you a graduate level degree in theological and Biblical foundations for many types of service in the ministry. It is designed largely for lay leaders who want to have more official training to be more effective in ministry in their church or community.

This degree also can provide experienced clergy with additional training for those who work in parachurch ministries, or work in support of missions or churches.

All students who graduate with this degree will be able to do the following:

  • Show a strong general knowledge of the Bible, and have a strong grasp of the major books
  • Show understanding of the historical development of the faith and be able to support your theological views with strong evidence from the Bible.
  • Provide ministry services in a local church or community organization with your leadership skills, service and evangelism
  • Show a strong interest in your local church or other ministry in which you regularly work

Required courses will include:

  • Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics
  • Old Testament History
  • OT History II & Poetry
  • OT Prophets
  • The Gospels
  • Acts & Pauline Epistles
  • Introduction to Islam
  • History of Global Christianity
  • Hebrews, General Epistles, & Revelation
  • Ruth, Psalms, Jonah, & Selected Epistles
  • New Testament Introduction
  • Theological Method and Bibliology
  • Trinitarianism
  • Angelology, Anthropology, & Hamartiology
  • Soteriology

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

You may enjoy the following job titles with your master’s degree:

  • Minister
  • Lay leader
  • Chaplain
  • College president
  • Mission director
  • Director of disaster relief
  • Recreation manager

Job and Salary Outlook

  • Recreation Worker — This job area will see 10% increase in demand by 2024. There are more people being encouraged to do things outside of the home to get more exercise for the body and mind. For some of these people and children, this can include going to Christian groups and churches for recreational activities. The median salary in this field $26,000 per year, but someone with a master’s can earn $41,000 per year.
  • Missionary Worker — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, missionary workers are ‘other’ religious workers. They earn a median salary of $31,000 or so per year. It should be noted that the salary for these workers does not usually have to cover housing and utilities. Missionaries often receive a stipend of several thousand dollars per year to be housed in their work area.
  • Minister — Job demand for ministers will depend upon the area of the country in which you live. In the south, where churches are more numerous, there will likely be more need for the services of ministers. The median salary for a pastor or minister according to Salary.com is $91,000 per year.

Scholarships and Grants

  • United Church of Christ: If you are going to study Christian Studies, you can get a Ministry Education Scholarship from this large national church body. This scholarship is open for students who are earning a master’s or doctorate in divinity and Christian studies.
  • Institute for Christian Studies: This organization in Toronto, Canada offers many scholarships for students earning a master’s degree in either Christian Studies or Divinity.

Additional Resources

  • Lifeway: This website provides people who want to study Christianity with the opportunity to form groups of small, medium and large sizes and study together online. There are many existing groups one can join as well as create your own groups.
  • The Christian Resource Group: This site offers you many free Christian resources that are designed to enrich your studies of Christianity and to improve your life. It features devotionals that are easy to read, as well as deep bible story analyses. This organization can be very useful in helping you in your studies of Christianity as you earn your degree.
Sady Brown
Written by Sady Brown
Sady Brown is Editorial Strategist for Nogre.com