Important Things to Know About Pastoral Studies
Important Things to Know About Pastoral Studies
If you are planning to step into the field of pastoral studies, then here is everything that you have to know about it so that you can easily pave your way through it

Summary: If you are planning to step into the field of pastoral studies, then here is everything that you have to know about it so that you can easily pave your way through it.

Students who are wishing to explore the field of pastoral studies have a number of academic certificates and degrees options that they can work towards. People who want to pursue pastoral studies online also have a lot of alternatives of bachelor's, master's degrees, undergraduate and postgraduate certificate courses, and diplomas. These programs may be offered under different titles like Biblical and pastoral studies or Christian ministry. 

Applicants looking for undergraduate programs in pastoral Christian studies or other related areas should compulsorily have a high-school diploma or certificate, whereas, those who are interested in post-graduate studies should have a bachelor's degree. Several schools may also require you to submit recommendation letters from pastors or other church leaders. This is a common practice due to the nature of this field. Now let us see the different degree options available in pastoral studies.

Bachelor's degree

The bachelor's of pastoral studies degree online programs are designed for those students who are willing to commit their lives to worship and serving others through Christian teachings. The courses in these programs generally include Biblical studies, church history, history of civilization, and other general education classes. This degree typically takes five years to complete. 

Master's degree

After earning a bachelor's degree, one can opt for a master's degree program in Christian studies that usually includes an advanced study of the Old and New Testaments, Christian philosophy, and ethics. A master of arts in pastoral studies degree can be earned in two years.

Associate degree

An associate pastoral studies degree online program lasts for two years. These programs are geared towards people who wish to work with church leadership either as laypersons or as someone who is planning to join the Christian ministry in the future. The curriculum generally includes the study of the Old and New Testaments, Christian theology along with general education coursework in areas such as English, history, math, and science. 

Undergraduate certificate

These programs are geared towards those students who are hoping to enter the pastoral ministry on a part-time basis. There are several online programs available at this level that allow the students to choose from a wide range of electives in Christian studies along with introductory courses on the Bible, theology, and leadership and can be completed within a year.

Graduate certificate

These pastoral studies online programs are aimed at helping existing ministers to become experts in specific areas of ministry study or Christian history. Several institutes provide online graduate certificate programs with a variety of graduate-level Christian studies courses. The students who have earned a graduate certificate can apply their credits towards the pursuit of a master's degree.

Career options

Since the primary aim of most of these programs is to prepare and train the students to join the ministry, many of the students go on to pursue careers such as theolog teachers, youth counselors, missionaries, or church historians. Certain online undergraduate and graduate programs in pastoral studies provide religious training that opens up opportunities for a wide range of spiritual and career goals. Some of these courses even include in-person training.


Distance learning has become one of the most convenient options to complete a master of arts in pastoral studies. Not only does it offer flexibility, but also provides chances to interact with instructors and classmates from different parts of the world. 

Resource Box: St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry offers a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Studies that seeks to provide students with theological and ministerial formation.