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What is Youth Ministry?
Youth Ministry is a field of study defined as an age-specific religious ministry that provides support, ministry, and spiritual guidance to young adults, adolescents, and children. Youth ministry is a defined faith group or religious organization designed to minister and engage with the youth in a community and to youth that attend a specific place of worship.
Youth ministers encourage & support young people in a variety of ways and organize activities for the common good. Most youth ministry degree programs will help students become proficient in the following areas: religious education, psychology, communication, counseling, small group leadership, activity planning, event management, family studies, and youth evangelism.
Top Youth Ministry Degrees
Prospective students contemplating a degree in youth ministry, it is vital to understand the programs available. Accredited colleges and universities offering youth ministry degrees can include both post-graduate, graduate, certificate, and undergraduate programs.
Additionally, learning modalities can include traditional classroom-based programs, online degrees, and hybrid formats. A hybrid degree program blends the best of distance learning with a set schedule for students to meet in a classroom setting. To help you determine which degree program is best for you, we have summarized the most popular degree tracks below.
Youth Ministry Certificate Programs
On-site or online certificate programs in youth ministry can be earned a the graduate or undergraduate level. Undergraduate certificates provide students with foundational, essential knowledge within the ministry learning domain. An undergraduate certificate can be used by students to upskill, obtain entry-level positions in the field, or as a segue to a formal degree.
Graduate certificates, on the other hand, are credentials used by experienced professionals and qualifying students to add additional skills in ministry or to prepare for a career transition. A certificate can be issued for general areas of ministry or specific areas such as:
- School Leadership
- Communication Studies
- Worship Studies
- Biblical Studies
- Human Services
- Public Policy
- Global Studies
- Christian Leadership
- Pastoral Counseling
- Theological Studies
- Christian Ministries
Youth Ministry Bachelor’s Degree
Youth ministry online bachelor degrees or their on-campus equivalent can be conferred as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS). Students can expect a bachelor’s degree to take about four-years to complete based on full-time study. Courses in a youth ministry program will blend a traditional liberal arts education with theology curriculum. Ultimately the goal providing both pedagogies is to offer students a well-rounded educational experience.
Liberal arts classes may include creative writing, communication, economics, philosophy, psychology, math, and history. Core curriculum will vary by college and may include a variety of the following courses: biblical studies, transformational leadership, children’s ministry, worship, music studies, pastoral leadership, contemporary issues in youth development, theatre ministries, women’s leadership, and worship technology.
Youth Ministry Master’s Degree
Master’s degrees in youth ministry can be completed in one to two years of full time matriculation. A master’s degree can be conferred as a Master in Divinity (MDiv), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Arts (MA). Students in a graduate-level program will be required to take a series of upper-level classes along with the successful completion of a thesis project.
Youth ministry graduate degrees will tend to focus on understanding contextual issues, adolescent culture, intergenerational issues, and youth ministry principles. Students will learn the importance of spiritual health and advanced counseling methodologies.
Youth Ministry Doctorate Degree
Doctorate degrees in youth ministry will be conferred in one of five ways: 1) DWS, 2) PhD, 3) DMin, 4) DBA, or 5) EdD. Such degree options in ministry provide choice and professional alternatives. Take the time to investigate the differences at specific colleges and how that fits with your professional aspirations. For example, a PhD in counseling and supervision could be ideal for graduate students seeking to perform research or teach in a secondary education setting.
Conversely, a DMin in expository preaching may be a perfect fit for you given your unique skills and knowledge. Doctorate degrees will typically take between three to five years to complete as the dissertation project will encompass a large portion of the overall time in the program.
Educational Requirements in Youth Ministry
In terms of educational requirements, Youth Ministry degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:
- English Language
- Behavioral Science
- Christian Studies
- Environmental Science
- Religious Programs
- Education & Curriculum Training
Employment Specializations for Youth Ministers
For students considering a future in youth ministry, it stands to reason to think beyond college. Does it make sense for you to work towards leading a series of small groups or take on other responsibilities? Specializations that may be available to qualified youth ministers include a broad range of careers in ministry and secular jobs.
Examples that may be worth considering include becoming a public speaker, pastor, high school teachers, theologian, research scholar, Christian curriculum designer, author, blogger, psychologist, marriage counselor, substance abuse counselor, career counselor, or behavior disorder counselor. To learn more about possible career tracks supported by the Association of Youth Ministry Educators (AYME), simply visit their landing page.
Youth Ministry Job Growth
Employment growth in youth ministry and affiliated fields are above average according to the BLS data repository. To illustrate, the estimated growth for members of the clergy in the United States is currently estimated to grow as fast as the national average. Meanwhile associated jobs for youth ministers are poised to grow faster than the national average. Examples include careers as a substance abuse counselor which is set to vault 22% and a high school teacher at 7% over the next ten year reporting period. Compensation for youth ministers will be determined by your job capacity, areas of responsibility, organization, location, and experience in the field.