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).
B.A. in Christian Ministry with Pastoral Studies & Student Ministry Minors: A Former Student's Perpective
This student perspective is the second from Austin McCann. The last one concerned his current graduate work, this one concerns his undergraduate program. Austin just finished his B.A. at Piedmont International University. He is currently working on his Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary while starting in full-time student ministry. You can find more of Austin’s thoughts on his website. Here are his thoughts on his undergrad program:
"Recently I just finished my BA at Piedmont International University. At Piedmont, I studied Christian Ministries. At Piedmont, like most colleges and university, allow you to pick a minor or two. I decided to do two minors with my BA. My two minors where student ministries and pastoral studies.
Many people have wondered why I chose to study student ministries and pastoral studies. Most people assume if your wanting to be a youth pastor than just study student ministries or if your wanting to be a senior pastor why not just do pastoral studies. I decided to do both for one main reason: a youth pastor should be just as educated and well trained as a senior pastor. Just because you work with students does not mean you should not know how to preach and do pastoral duties. I believe a youth pastor should be just as skilled at preaching the Bible as a senior pastor. A youth pastor is a pastor and should be just as serious about ministry, the church, and the Bible as the senior pastor.
There are several reasons other reasons I chose to do two minors that have nothing to do with my view of youth pastors and how they should be trained. First, two minors allows you to study another area of ministry that you may want to do later on down the road. I am not sure if God will keep me as a youth pastor my whole life. I would love to one day be a senior pastor or church planter and because I have studied pastoral studies I feel more prepared to pursue that one day. Second, two minors allow you to take some classes that may interest you that are not in your first minor. There where a few classes in the pastoral studies minor that where not in the student ministries one I really wanted to take. I was able to take more classes with two minors and was able to get ones that I really wanted outside my first minor. Third, two minors allow you to gain skills in another area outside your vocation that may come in handy. For example, I took expository preaching and was honored to receive the expository preaching award that year. I learned and gained the skill of expository preaching because I chose to do a pastoral studies minor along with my student ministries one. Having that skill allows me to be a better preacher and teacher in the area of my vocation-student ministries.
I hope this has helped you if you are wondering how many minors you should take on. If your school allows you to, I would recommend you take two. It may seem like adding two much to your load, but it will be worth it."
Mark Stevens is a former seminary student himself and currently researches and teaches in the area of theological studies.