Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Youth Ministry

Oct 20, 2021

What is an Online Bachelor's Degree in Youth Ministry?

For students considering a vocation in ministry who feel called to share their religious knowledge with young people, an online bachelor's degree in youth ministry could be the perfect choice.

Online bachelor's degrees in youth ministry are available as either Bachelor's of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor's of Arts (B.A.) degrees. Designed for nontraditional students, online bachelor's degree programs in youth ministry can offer more flexibility than traditional on-campus programs, allowing students to earn a degree remotely around other personal, family or professional obligations.

Although educational requirements for clergy and youth ministers vary by employer and religious denomination, a bachelor's degree is generally required to enter the profession.

Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Youth Ministry has compiled this list of the best online bachelor's degree programs in youth ministry based on affordability, accessibility, and other factors important to students - like caring professors and career help. The programs on our list prepare you for ministry with families and children anywhere you want to go - and online education means you can work while you learn and take your education with you no matter where you are. It also means you'll be able to talk with other theology students in other parts of the world.

1. Moody Bible Institute

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13,290 94% 67% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, is the first on our list. Online study at Moody Bible Institute means students can connect with other students from around the globe to learn about theology worldwide and broaden their understanding and knowledge. This school offers a unique Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership with a concentration in children and family ministry designed to help students develop meaningful and practical communication skills to work with children at various points in their faith journey. The courses cover a variety of audiences, including special needs children, parents, and families. Moody Bible Institute helps students find work after graduation too; in fact, the school has a 90% graduate job placement rate.

2. University of Valley Forge

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22,000 63% 45% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

The University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, PA, has made our list for its online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership with two separate tracks/minor options targeted towards working with children: children's and family studies or youth and family studies. Along with the core requirements related to pastoral ministry and preaching, students can take focused courses related to youth culture, parenting perceptive, age-specific ministry, and pastoring children. This means online students are able to tailor their education to their desired career path. And the flexible courses are still taught by the same experiences, caring professors found on campus.

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Difference Between Theology & Youth Ministry Degree Programs

Youth ministry and theology both fall under the same general umbrella of religion-focused academic programs, but they differ in important ways including their specific focus areas and careers.

Both programs place a special emphasis on equipping students with in-depth knowledge about religious doctrine, church history, ethics, and ministry techniques. However, youth ministry programs tend to focus more narrowly on serving younger members of a church's congregation, preparing individuals for careers as youth pastors, K-12 educators in private religious institutions, or work at youth-centered religious nonprofits.

In contrast, theology programs tend to prepare individuals for ministering to, and interacting with, more general audiences and adult members of their congregation. Theology programs typically focus on preparing graduates for careers as future members of the clergy, church leadership, or scholarly roles in academia with an emphasis on scriptural and doctrinal education, cultural studies, and church history.

Youth Ministry Specializations and Concentrations

Choosing a specialization or concentration while pursuing a bachelor's degree can enable students to focus more intently on specific areas of interest within their chosen field. Some specializations within youth ministry include:

  • Children's Ministry
  • Sports Outreach
  • Camp and Outdoor Adventure

Youth ministry, itself, is often considered an area of specialization within broader degree programs that can include:

  • Religious Education
  • Religious Studies
  • Pastoral Ministry

Curriculum and Coursework for a Youth Ministry Degree

Like traditional on-campus bachelor's programs, online bachelor's degrees typically require coursework in general educational prerequisites, as well as coursework and electives within the student's program and area of specialization. While the specific requirements for the completion of a degree depend on the school, students working toward an online bachelor's degree in youth ministry might expect to take courses focused on subjects including:

  • Christian Theology
  • Morality and Ethics
  • Religious Philosophy
  • Old Testament Bible survey
  • New Testament Bible survey
  • Adolescent Psychology

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Youth Ministry?

While online degrees are offered remotely and generally offer more flexible schedules, the requirements for graduation are still similar to traditional on-campus degree programs. An online bachelor's degree in youth ministry usually requires around 120 credit hours of coursework to graduate. Students enrolled in a full-time program can generally expect to invest around four years of study to complete the program.

How to Choose an Online Youth Ministry School & Program

To avoid wasting time and resources, prospective youth ministry students should choose an online school and degree program after they've spent time defining their individual career goals, based on their own skills and interests.

Once students have defined their professional goals, they should research and compare different schools that offer online youth ministry programs while paying attention to how well each school and program aligns with their goals and interests.

Prospective students should also take into consideration whether or not the schools or programs to which they are applying are accredited.

Beyond academics, there are other important considerations for students selecting the right school for their needs. Some students might value the reputation of institutions with well-recognized names and reputations. Others, however, may want to consider competitive tuition rates or financial aid and scholarship packages available to eligible applications. It could be wise for students with financial needs to compare tuition costs and scholarships available to students through different schools and programs, including merit- and need-based awards.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Youth Ministry Degrees

Like other degree programs, many theological degree programs are accredited. Since accreditation provides verification that a program's curriculum meets specific standards according to field- and denomination-specific educational guidelines, selecting an accredited school can be a wise choice for prospective students. Some online programs with religious programs may be accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools.

In addition to the benefit of a strong curriculum, many employers also seek graduates from accredited institutions to ensure that their new employees will have an adequate level of knowledge and skills to perform their work competently.

Youth Ministry Licensure and Certification

The requirements for becoming licensed or certified as a minister often vary by state, congregation or parish, and religious denomination. Although some ministers are only asked to have a bachelor's degree, others are required to have more advanced training through a master's program or seminary.

In addition to formal education, ministers typically must also go through their specific denomination's ordination process prior to becoming licensed to practice ministry. These credentials are generally not transferable between denominations, so it's important that ministry candidates take time to select the religious denomination that best fits their particular religious beliefs, education, and background prior to becoming ordained.

Clergy that want to specialize in youth ministering typically receive specialized training working with youth in religious situations. This might include choosing youth ministry as a specialization or area of concentration while studying theology or earning a certificate in youth ministry.

Youth Ministry Career Information

For those interested in a career in youth ministry, understanding what the job entails and how to get started in the profession can be helpful.

According to the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS), ministers and members of the clergy typically have at least a bachelor's degree, but individual churches or denominations may have their own requirements for youth ministers.

According to salary data from, the average hourly wage of a youth minister is $15.09 per hour, or $36,694 per year while the average wage for children's ministers was $38,396 the same year. According to data from the BLS from 2019, the median annual salary for all members of the clergy nationally was $50,400. The occupational outlook for ministry also remained steady compared to other years, with a projected growth rate of 4 percent between 2019-2029.

In addition to maintaining a thorough knowledge of religious doctrine and scripture, youth ministers are expected to have strong public speaking and communication skills in order to effectively communicate with young people in public and within their congregation on a regular basis.

Beyond those skills, youth ministers should also have some familiarity with youth culture, including staying current on trends and issues that are relevant to more youthful demographics.

Youth ministers can expect to be employed by a church or religious nonprofit organization, but some also offer their services on a volunteer basis. They should also be prepared to travel locally or nationally within domestic communities, and internationally while leading mission trips.

How to Become a Children's Minister

Some youth ministers might have an interest in working specifically with younger children, rather than teenagers. Children's ministers teach religious concepts to children, and are often of great importance for the development of religion and spirituality within communities.

While the requirements for becoming a children's minister can vary by denomination, the position typically requires at least a bachelor's degree or higher in the field of religion or children's ministry.

Prospective children's ministers should plan to obtain at minimum a bachelor's degree with a concentration or emphasis on children's ministry. They should also expect to gain experience working with children, possibly in an educational role.

Once a prospective children's minister has gained experience working with children, they should create a teaching philosophy that combines educational theory with church doctrine in a way that will allow the minister to effectively communicate religious concepts to young children.

In order to move into higher-level full-time positions within the field of children's ministry, prospective ministers should plan to continue their education beyond a bachelor's degree to a master's or doctorate level degree.

How to Become an Ordained Minister

In Christian churches, ordination is the process of formally dedicating ministers as members of the clergy within the church. Those with a degree in youth ministry may be interested in moving into full ordination or adult leadership at some point in their career.

The process and requirements differ between churches and denominations to become an ordained minister, so it's important that those seeking ordination carefully research their specific denomination's requirements, usually by visiting their denominational website or asking a member of the clergy within that domination for guidance.

After gaining familiarity with the requirements for their denomination, prospective ministers should look into earning a master's degree. It's often a good idea to choose a school that is affiliated with your denomination in order to acquire more specific religious guidance and training.

After completing any necessary educational degree programs, candidates for the ministry will usually complete the pastoral interviews or evaluations required by their denomination for ordination.

Finally, candidates for the clergy will be ordained in a ceremony and will seek placement. In certain denominations, a bishop or other religious official will place a minister in an assigned position within the church. In other cases, ministers will be responsible for securing their own employment.

What Other Kinds of Youth Ministry Degrees Are There?

In addition to bachelor's degrees in youth ministry, those seeking employment in a religious vocation might also consider pursuing coursework or degree programs in theology or Bible studies, or attending a seminary or theological school for more specialized training in their field. There are also programs below and above the bachelor's level that students interested in youth ministry careers might consider pursuing as part of their formal education.

Online Associate Degrees in Youth Ministry

Often available as Associate of Arts (A.A.) degrees, online associate degrees in youth ministry typically require between 60 to 65 credits and take around two years to complete on a full-time schedule.

In general, associate degree programs are intended to help students complete prerequisites and basic educational coursework while preparing them for further study at the university level.

Students planning to continue their education after receiving an associate degree from an accredited institution will typically have the option to transfer all or some of their credits to a four-year university where they can apply them toward a bachelor's degree.

Online Master's Degrees in Youth Ministry

Like other online degree programs, online master's programs are designed with the nontraditional student in mind. For students that have already graduated with a bachelor's degree and are hoping to pursue a graduate degree while continuing to meet family or professional obligations, an online master's degree in youth ministry can offer more flexibility than traditional on-campus programs.

Typically available in the form of a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, online master's programs in youth ministry generally require the fulfillment of 36 to 75 credit hours and can take anywhere from a year-and-a-half to two years to complete, depending on the program.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Youth Ministry

Students at the post-graduate level seeking doctoral degrees in youth ministry can pursue advanced-level degrees, often available in the form of Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. These advanced academic degrees are often centered around specialized theological disciplines and principles.

Students enrolled in an online program may take four to five years of study in pursuit of this advanced-level degree.

Online Certificates in Youth Ministry

In addition to traditional degree programs, individuals seeking careers in youth ministry might also want to consider the option of an online certificate.

There are both beginning certificate programs as well as those offered after a bachelor's program. Some are designed for those who are not yet ready to pursue advanced degrees.

Requirements for online certificates in youth ministry differ by program and range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree in a related area. Curriculum and completion times generally require between 12 to 18 credit hours of coursework to complete.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Youth Ministry Degrees

Just like traditional bachelor's degree programs, students enrolled in online degree programs have several options to receive financial support while earning their degree.

Each year, students should fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to learn about their eligibility for federal student loans and grants. It's important that students submit FAFSA applications by the deadline each school year in order to receive the highest amount of aid available to them.

Students should also consider making an appointment with their school's financial aid office to learn more about institutional scholarships or grants that might be available to them through their school or program.

In addition to federal and institutional funding, private scholarships are another option for students pursuing online degrees. Eligibility for private scholarships is based on a variety of factors, and students should make sure to pay close attention to deadlines when researching and applying for outside scholarships.

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