One of the most frequent questions I get is, "What degree do I need to teach in a Christian college or seminary?" Well, let's get to the point and look at some options:
Undergraduate Degree - If you just have a bachelors degree, you likely won't get a faculty position in any college or university. However, most will have remedial teachers that teach basic English or basic Math courses. By most accreditation standards these instructors do not have to have a graduate degree because they are technically teaching high school level courses. Because of this you just have to have a grasp of the subject matter, although no doubt employers would prefer a at least a minor in whatever remedial subject you're planning on teaching. Sometimes, teaching something is better than teaching nothing.
Uncompleted Masters - Aside from Teaching Assistant positions, you can often be considered for a (usually adjunct) professorship if you have began work on your masters. To teach on an undergraduate level you need at least 18 hours in a particular area.
Complete Masters - Once you have completed your masters you greatly increase your chances of getting hired as an adjunct or perhaps a full-time undergraduate professor. Even if you don't have 18 hours in an area, if your masters is in that area, then its a moot point. For example, if you have a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies which required twelve hours of actual Bible courses you can still teach Bible courses because that is what your masters is in. It's a bit complicated, I know, but that's how it works.
Master of Theology (Th.M.) - If you missed the description in the Degrees section, I'll summarize: A Th.M. is usually a post-masters degree that generally takes a solid year or year and a half to complete. Because it basically gives you a concentration in a particular area, Th.M. graduates are great candidates for undergraduate teaching and having a Th.M. will often help you transition into a Ph.D. or Th.D.
Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) - If you have a Doctor of Ministry degree you can teach undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral courses in ministry. Depending on the school, they may ask you to cover a Biblical Studies course, but they will often have Ph.D.'s or Th.D.'s to do that.
Doctor of Philosophy / Doctor of Theology (Ph.D./Th.D.) - Having either of these doctorates is the ideal degree for teaching in most fields on the undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral level. Things that can affect your hiring once you have this degree are things like: your dissertation topic, the place you received the degree, how well you've connected with others in your field and how well you've connected with those at the place you're applying (yes, unfortunately it's still usually about who you know and who knows you).
This website deals with important things to consider like degrees, schools, and finances. On top of that many of us have responsibilities at home, at church, and at work. With all of these important things vying for our attention and limited time, let us not forget the most important thing about ministry - it is about God and His glory. God has called many to full time ministry, but not everyone. I know many with an undergrad or masters in ministry or theology that serve their church, but earn their living in some other line of work. Their advanced training usually makes them an integral part of their church and their job gives them contacts that they otherwise wouldn't have. I think that's great. Paul made tents, which no doubt was an opportunity to share the gospel to many in the marketplace, but he also had an intentional ministry throughout the empire.
For others, God has called them to a paid position in a church or ministry and still others obtained a degree but then for various reasons abandon ministry altogether. No matter your situation, consider why we should study ministry or theology: it's for the glory of God. If it's money, a job working with people, or some other reason, you're following the wrong career path. The money can be decent, but often isn't, people can be cruel, hurtful, and fickle. The only constant is who God is and his worthiness of worship. As someone trained for ministry you are held responsible for what you teach (or don't teach), for your actions, and for how you love others. As ministers (and I use that term loosely), we must remember to focus on having our own relationship with God, leading our family towards a growing relationship with God, and helping the body of Christ have a growing relationship with God. It's about feeding His sheep. When loving others becomes difficult, when people personally attack you, and when you just feel depressed, remember why you studied ministry and theology in the first place.
Mark Stevens is a former seminary student himself and currently researches and teaches in the area of theological studies.