Is a Christian Studies Degree Right for You?
An online bachelor’s degree in Christian studies is a good fit for students who are interested in a career in Christian ministry, leadership, or missions, as well as careers with parachurch organizations. However, as a liberal arts degree with an emphasis on Christian history and theology, you can also apply your degree to careers outside ministry that require strong skills in critical thinking, writing, communication, and cultural analysis. The degree is appropriate both for Christians and for those who want to learn more about the Bible and how Christianity has influenced different civilizations over time.
Advice for Earning Your Christian Studies Degree Online
Students who wish to pursue careers in ministry should consider what area of ministry they are most interested in before enrolling so that they can select a relevant specialization, such as youth ministry, biblical studies, or Christian education. For students who do not wish to pursue careers in ministry, an online bachelor’s in Christian studies can be a difficult degree to market in the greater job field. For this reason, we recommend choosing a broad minor, such as business or communication, which will be applicable to a wider range of jobs.
As with any degree from a Christian college or university, evaluate ahead of time whether the school’s mission, values, and denominational views line up with your own. Finally, consider schools that encourage volunteer work with Christian nonprofits or a practicum in evangelism or ministry, as this will help you put feet to your faith and gain valuable experience to prepare you for a life of Christian service, inside or outside the church.
Course work in a Christian studies degree emphasizes biblical and theological studies, the life of Christ, the major movements and turning points in Christianity, and the works of major Christian thinkers, reformers, and pastors. You will also learn research and writing skills throughout your required courses. A sampling of courses you may take in a Christian studies degree program might include:
- Survey of the Old/New Testaments
- World Religions
- Biblical Interpretation
- Systematic Theology
- Christian History and Heritage
Common Career Paths
Although you are not limited to a position within the clergy, it is common for graduates to establish careers in churches and faith-based nonprofits. However, other careers may be available in Christian writing or education. Consider the following careers, bearing in mind that salaries may vary greatly depending on your experience, roles and responsibilities, and the size and type of your employer.
- Expected Growth: N/A
- Average Annual Salary: $48,490
Pastors are considered the shepherds of their congregations, providing leadership and guidance in Christian living through their preaching and teaching and in counseling members of their congregation. In many churches, they also play a role in the daily operations of churches, or direct the work of the pastors who oversee various church ministries. While a degree is not always required to be a pastor, many denominations do require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area, such as Christian studies, biblical studies, or theology, so that the pastor has a firm grounding in the Bible and church doctrine. The above salary average for clergy was provided by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Christian writer or author
- Expected Growth: 6%
- Average Annual Salary: $68,060
Christian writers write for online and print publications on topics pertaining to Christian living or religion, and may even provide commentary on current events and issues from a Christian perspective. Christian authors may write fiction or nonfiction books for a Christian audience, and may focus on anything from historical fiction to self-help.
A college degree is often required for salaried writing positions, the BLS explains, and a bachelor’s degree in Christian studies could equip you with the writing skills and immersion in the Christian faith you need to write for Christian audiences. A minor in writing, English, or journalism may boost your chances of success in this career, however. The above employment growth projection and salary average were provided by the BLS.
- Expected Growth: 17% (for kindergarten and elementary school teachers)
- Average Annual Salary: $52,350
Christian educators teach children in private Christian schools, where they may provide instruction in the Bible and Christian living. They plan age-appropriate Bible lessons for their students, assess their students’ grasp of the material through tests and quizzes, and encourage the memorization of scripture. While the completion of a state-approved teacher education program and state licensure is required for public school teachers, this may not be required in private schools, the BLS explains. The job outlook and salary average provided above were taken from the BLS.
- Expected Growth: N/A
- Average Annual Salary: $35,000
Christian missionaries are sent out from churches and parachurch organizations in the U.S. to other countries, where they spread the gospel, plant churches, and may also work on humanitarian goals, such as building wells or schools, or working to promote health and literacy. Missionaries often have one or more ministry connections in the country they are headed to, who help them get acclimated to the new culture and the most effective ways of evangelizing within that culture. Salaries in the field vary greatly, with some missionaries fully supported by their churches in the U.S., while others must supplement their income by working in the country in which they are doing missions work. The above salary average was provided by SimplyHired.
- Expected Growth: N/A
- Average Annual Salary: $33,829
Youth pastors teach teenagers about God, encourage them in Christian living, host Bible studies that explore issues relevant to young people, and train teenagers how to be effective Christian leaders. They also plan camps, retreats, and other events where teenagers can fellowship with one another in a safe environment while also learning more about their faith. While a degree isn’t always required for a degree in youth ministry, a bachelor’s degree in Christian studies can equip a person with the biblical and theological background to pursue youth ministry, not to mention an emphasis in youth ministry is available for many Christian studies degrees. The above salary figure was provided by PayScale.com. Keep in mind that many youth pastors work part-time and supplement their income with other jobs.