Is a Youth Ministry Degree Right for You?

An online youth ministry bachelors program prepares students to work with children through religious programs and/or churches. Bachelor’s degrees in youth ministry are commonly offered by religion departments at online and traditional universities or by faith-based universities. Youth ministry is not for everyone. Students should be prepared for a thorough foundation in Christian theology, evangelism, and hermeneutics. There will also be a focus on counseling, leading, and harboring youth spirituality. Students should have a strong desire to pursue work in youth ministry as part of a clergy or be a part of youth services or education within a faith-based organization. Job prospects for religious workers in the U.S. is projected to rise by 5.9%.

Advice for Earning Your Youth Ministry Degree Online

Before enrolling, make sure the program is accredited. Check the U.S. Department of Education database of accredited colleges and universities to see if your program is accredited. Because these programs are faith-based as well as academic, it is important for students to choose institutions that support their personal values. Students should search for professors and programs that will help their passion for youth ministry flourish and provide preparation for advancement in the direction of the student’s choosing.

Online youth ministry bachelors programs are structured to function like traditional, on-campus degree programs, except all lectures, discussion and coursework takes place online. Students will spend time discussing ministry issues with fellow classmates and instructors in chat forums. They upload lectures and do reading on their own. Aside from assignments and test times, an online program is completely self-paced, so discipline and good study habits are a must.

Required Courses

Core courses in a youth ministry bachelor’s program will often include introduction to ministry, early Christian literature, ancient Israel, and introduction to theology. These courses provide a foundation in Christian theology and prepare students to integrate themselves into any Christian organization with a thorough understanding of the faith’s history. Students may also take courses in public speaking, music, literature and history, especially if they are seeking an interdisciplinary approach to ministry. Ministry courses will include classes like foundations of youth ministry, youth counseling, and modern youth issues, communication in ministry, and sociology of ministry.

Common Career Paths

Most students in an online youth ministry bachelors program intend to become youth ministers with a Christian church. However, there are plenty of career options for graduates with this degree, both within faith organizations and in other areas, including:

  • Youth Minister

    A youth minister, or youth pastor, works in a church clergy to provide worship services and programs for the children and teens of a parish. Youth ministers may, at times, give separate sermons to youth groups, or they may simply direct the activities of youth programs. They often provide counseling and advice to the young adults of the parish. They work to serve a model for those seeking inspiration and advice about dealing with life challenges through faith and transitioning into adulthood.

    There are several ways to become a youth minister. One of the top paths is to get experience working with teens and/or receive an education in youth services. According to the BLS, clergy in the U.S. make an average annual salary of $48,490.

  • Teacher at Faith-Based School

    Those with degrees in youth ministry do not always work directly inside a church. Many also work with children in other realms, such as education. Those pursuing online bachelors degrees in youth ministry can become certified to teach by taking required courses and passing state exams. Faith-based elementary and high schools look for teachers with good academic backgrounds and strong foundations in religious faith.

    A youth ministry bachelor’s degree will help prepare future teachers both academically and in a religious context. According to the BLS, secondary school teachers in the U.S. made an average annual wage of $56,760 as of May 2011. Figures will vary depending on the location, the type of school, and the level of position held. The lowest percentile of teachers made $35,940, and the highest percentile made $84,000.

  • Non-Profit Director

    Graduates can also direct youth activities and organizations. This type of experience can extend to directorship of entire non-profit faith organizations. Either within or independent of a church, non-profit directors can lead organizations that provide assistance and support to young people. Non-profits can serve as activist programs to combat issues such as homelessness, drug abuse, teen violence, or child abuse.

    According to the BLS, managers in the non-profit sector make an average wage of $34.24 per hour. While this will definitely vary depending on the size of the program and the amount of outside assistance, there are ways to make a living in the non-profit sector while doing quite a bit of good. The BLS also states that, as of 2007, nonprofits employed 5.9% of all workers.

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