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Online Master’s Degree in Youth Ministry

Youth ministers play a crucial role in fostering the spiritual development of teens and pre-teens. They are tasked with explaining spiritual concepts in a way that is relevant to young people, organizing and coordinating youth events, fundraising, communicating with parents about a youth group’s regular meetings and special events, and various administrative and support tasks in churches. A masters degree in youth ministry is a good fit for individuals who have a passion for making an impact in the lives of young people and who want to have a more in-depth understanding of the Bible and how it relates to adolescents. To better meet the needs of place-bound adults, universities and theological schools have introduced accredited online masters programs in youth ministry which are more flexible than traditional programs.

An online masters degree in youth ministry typically takes about two years of full-time work to complete. However, program length differs from school to school and the time of completion depends on the required number of credits, how many courses a student takes at once, and if the student is able to transfer in any relevant graduate credits. Some online masters programs in youth ministry are better described as hybrid programs which require students to occasionally report to campus for special events and intensives with faculty. In fact, the best online masters degree programs will incorporate experiential learning and the opportunity to speak face to face with professors.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Youth Ministry

The course work a student completes in a youth ministry master’s program will encompass child and adolescent development, modern models of youth ministry, and pastoral training. Management principles are also emphasized as students learn about the type of daily operations and program planning that takes place in youth ministry. Youth ministry is often a specialization under a larger degree in divinity, in which students also learn about church history, Christian theology, the Old and New Testaments, and biblical exposition. While required course work may vary greatly from program to program, a few courses you may encounter include:

  • Assessment Strategies in Youth Ministry
  • Ministry to At-Risk Youth
  • Issues in Child and Adolescent Development
  • Transformational Communication with Children and Youth
  • Family Ministry in the 21st Century

Most master’s programs in youth ministry conclude with a large-scale research project in which a student identifies a real-world challenge determines possible solutions. Students work closely with faculty for the duration of these projects and they may be required to make an online or in-person presentation of their findings. Some programs may incorporate practicum experiences, or ministry fieldwork, in which the student conducts youth ministry activities at churches and other non-profit organizations under supervision.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Youth Ministry

While many individuals with a masters degree in youth ministry go on to become youth or children’s pastors, others choose careers in teaching or in non-profit organizations. A sampling of jobs that might be open to graduates with such a degree include director of outreach ministry, youth formation counselor, teen pastoral minister, campus minister, and teachers at parochial schools. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not make employment projections specifically for youth ministers it does provide information on industries with the highest concentration of employment for clergy, including religious organizations, home health care services, general medical and surgical hospitals, and more. As older youth pastors retire, new churches are built, and youth programs expand, job opportunities should be available for those with youth ministry master’s degrees, particularly those who have experience in the field.

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