Information on becoming a pastor

Religious Studies

If you are interested in exploring some of the most profound questions about human life and human experience and in learning about how people in diverse cultures and places have thought about these questions, then a degree program in religious studies may be right for you. Religious studies is a field within the liberal arts that incorporates methods from anthropology, history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and literature to gain insight into religious beliefs and practices. It is important to recognize that “religious studies” (RS) is not the same as “theology,” though both forms of inquiry are deeply connected to religion and both may be found coexisting in the same academic department. Perhaps the best way to understand the distinction is that theology takes an “insider’s” or “believer’s” perspective, seeking knowledge from within a tradition, while RS approaches religion in general or a particular religion as an “outsider,” trying to understand a tradition from the perspective of an observer.

This is not to say that there are no believers in RS departments; in fact many devout Christians and people of many faiths pursue degrees in this area because they want to learn more about the history of their own tradition while also gaining an understanding of the beliefs and practices of others. A typical RS program will incorporate courses from a range of disciplines. A basic “Introduction to Religion” will use techniques from anthropology and sociology to explore the nature of religion itself: what it is, what role it plays in an individual’s life and in the life of a society, how it understands the divine and the human relationship to the divine, what rituals and practices constitute “religious” behavior. Other courses may focus on particular religious traditions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or Buddhism, and involve study of their founders, sacred scriptures, doctrines, history, sects, and influence on the societies in which they exist. Still other courses might look at religion through the lens of particular academic disciplines. Courses like “Psychology and Religion,” “Philosophy and Religion,””Religious Ethics,” or “Religion and Literature” are examples of this approach. Most RS programs will require students to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of at least one, perhaps two, religious traditions and to show competency in describing the elements of religion from an anthropological and/or sociological perspective.

While many who pursue degrees in religion may aspire to careers in ministry or religious education, there are many other career paths that benefit from the broad foundation this degree provides. The academic study of religion is excellent preparation for a career in primary or secondary education, whether as a teacher of religion in a religious school, or as a social studies, literature, or humanities teacher in a public or non-sectarian private school. The RS degree also provides a solid foundation for those seeking employment in non-profit charitable organizations, particularly organizations involved in overseas work. Some degree-holders even find that the study of other cultures and religious beliefs gives them a sensitivity to and appreciation for difference that is a prerequisite for success in the business world.

Many colleges and universities offer both traditional and online degrees in religious studies. Each type of program has advantages and disadvantages. Traditional “bricks and mortar” schools offer face-to-face instruction and the opportunity to engage directly, in real time, with professors and fellow students. Religion asks questions about the most profound human experiences, and as such it engenders deep reflection and also heated debate. A subject like this seems to demand conversation, and sometimes the most important insights and learning come in informal conversations outside of the lecture or classroom setting. These happen best in a traditional campus setting. The disadvantage of traditional programs, however, is that they require a substantial outlay of time and financial resources. Pursuing religious degrees online, on the other hand, allows students more flexibility, both in scheduling class and study time and in deciding on the pace for completing the degree. Also, the lack of residency requirements and other campus-based expenses makes online programs more affordable.

If you are interested in pursuing your religious studies degree online, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a program. The best programs will be offered by schools with traditional programs as well, thereby affording access to well-trained faculty, solid library resources, and a school tradition that lends credibility to the course of study. Good online programs will have clear requirements that cover a range of topics within the field, as outlined above. The best programs will also be academically rigorous, requiring careful reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. These programs will also afford students the opportunity to engage with faculty and fellow learners on discussion boards and through individual communication.

Obtaining a Christian Education Online

It can be difficult to obtain a traditional college degree in today’s busy world. This is especially true if you are already working and trying to take care of your family. However, today’s students have more options than ever when it comes to obtaining a degree. You no longer have to sit in a classroom for a semester to complete your courses because it is now possible to obtain a Christian education online. There are numerous Christian online colleges available to meet the needs of both traditional and non-traditional students.

Why Is Education Important?

When God has called you to a specific ministry, you are excited to get started right away. Some people choose to jump right into their vocation instead of increasing their education. However, an education from a Christian college will help you be more prepared and more effective in your service. Thanks to online Christian colleges, you can continue your education even while you are serving in the ministry. If you are not able to devote a large quantity of time to a full-time college schedule, you can take one class at a time as a part-time student.

As you learn more about the Bible, you can pass along this knowledge to your parishioners. Excellent ministers are lifelong students because they realize that there is always more to learn about God’s Word. When your congregants see you striving to increase your knowledge about the Bible, it can encourage them to strive to learn more, too. A quality education can also open up additional doors for you in the ministry. For instance, if you are called to be a military chaplain, you must complete certain educational requirements. Completing your Christian education online will help you be ready to go wherever God leads you in the future.

What Is Different About a Christian College?

If you want to work in Christian ministry, getting a degree from a Christian institution is vital. Any school can teach you academic subjects, but a Christian college includes Biblical principles in every area. When you receive a Christian education online, your instruction will be given with a Biblical worldview. Whether you are learning about Bible, history, literature or another subject, you will learn how to apply the principles of God’s Word to every area of study. In addition, you will enjoy learning from professors who are dedicated Christians. Your instructors want you to thrive in your classes, and they are also concerned with your spiritual life. They are there to support you and pray for you as you prepare for the ministry that God has called you to. It is invaluable to learn from professors who have experience in the ministry. You cannot learn everything that you need to know about being a pastor by reading textbooks. It is extremely helpful to interact with professors who have real-life experience serving others.

How Can I Choose the Right College?

There are hundreds of online Christian colleges to choose from, so it can be challenging to narrow down your search. Before you start seriously researching colleges, take a few minutes to determine your needs.  First, you will need to note the type of degree that you want to obtain. Are you interested in a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or certificate program? What do you want to major in? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your search to only include schools that offer your desired programs.

Christian online colleges can be accredited by several different agencies. If you want to work in specific fields or for certain organizations, obtaining an accredited degree is important. Make sure that you understand the type of accreditation that each school holds to avoid any surprises after graduation. Since you know that God is calling you to the ministry, it is vital to pray about your decision. By careful research and prayer, you can find a school that meets your needs and offers classes that fit in well with your busy schedule.

Liberty University

Liberty University is situated on more than 7,000 acres in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Lynchburg, VA. This private, nonprofit university is the largest university in Virginia and the largest Christian university in the world. It was founded in 1971 by Pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr. and was originally named Lynchburg Baptist College was later changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1975.

The school’s continuing mission is to impact the world for God by empowering men and women with the values, skills and knowledge necessary for an ever-changing world. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools awarded full accreditation to the school in 1980. It subsequently became known as Liberty University. In 1985, Liberty College was one of the first schools to launch a distance-learning program with the establishment of Liberty University Online.

Hands-on learning, low student-to-professor ratio and different study options contribute to the appeal of Liberty University. Students receive personalized attention from professors and have access to enhanced academic facilities such as the an excellent library for research. Students receive a quality Christian education based on the solid principles of God’s Word and its relevance in today’s world. Students can choose from several different degrees and majors with concentrations in a variety of careers.

Associate of Arts in Religion

This goal of this program is to build a solid foundation in theology. The coursework provides students with an understanding of Christianity and the Bible. It helps them develop effective oral and written communication that is necessary for professionals in a ministry position. An AA in Religion is usually just a step toward earning a Bachelor of Science in Religion. These classes are offered online as well as on campus.

Bachelor of Science in Religion – Christian Ministries

This program helps prepare students as ministry leaders in churches. It is designed to train them in Christian discipleship. The objective is to help students gain a strong understanding of specific strategies for training disciples in small groups in local churches. Some students may choose to take much of the coursework online. This degree prepares students for careers in the clergy, education, social services and local ministries.

Bachelor of Science in Religion – Christian Counseling

The demand for qualified counselors with a Christian perspective is increasing every year. Students in this program become familiar with the issues facing patients. They are trained in the principles and techniques of care for women, children, families and married couples. Several experts in Christian counseling teach these classes. Graduates are prepared for careers in many areas of Christian counseling.

Bachelor of Science – Biblical and Educational Studies

This degree choice prepares students to become biblically trained teachers. They learn about basic theological issues, church history and educational philosophy. They also learn practical classroom management skills and teaching techniques with an emphasis on Christian educational philosophy. This degree enables graduates to apply for ACSI certification.

Liberty University is committed to Training Champions for Christ. Students receive a quality, well-rounded education based on fundamental Christian principles. The flexible degree options allow students to prepare for satisfying, rewarding careers while working or raising a family. Liberty University students are proud of the school’s unique heritage and are dedicated to expanding its influence around the world. Request info below to receive more information regarding specific interests and preferences.

Pioneering distance education since 1985, Liberty University is now the nation’s seventh largest university. With more than 300 online and residential areas of study, Liberty offers programs from the certificate to doctoral level.


  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
  • MA in Pastoral Counseling: Life Coaching
  • Doctor of Ministry: Pastoral Counseling
  • And more...