Pastor Courses and Classes Overview

Find out about degree programs that offer pastoral courses. See some of the program requirements so you can be more informed when choosing a program to prepare for a career as a pastor.

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Essential Information

August 2014 job postings revealed that employers seek pastors with a master's degree from a seminary or divinity school, along with work experience in ministry. In addition to traditional on-campus instruction, pastoral training might be available through evening and online coursework.

Master's degree programs typically last from 2-4 years and require a bachelor's degree, though not all programs insist that the undergraduate degree be in a theology field. As part of the curriculum, graduate students can choose electives and complete practical work. Graduate majors for aspiring pastors include divinity, pastoral studies and theology.

List of Courses

Below, you'll find descriptions of courses typically included in a pastoral program at the master's level.

Language Course

Many students studying to become pastors take language courses, typically Latin, Greek and Hebrew. This enables a ministry student to read early translations of the Bible and other religious texts without relying on translations and interpretations. Language courses cover topics like alphabets, syntax, grammar and vocabulary. Advanced language classes in a program for pastors might involve readings of original Biblical texts.

Old Testament Course

Courses covering the Old Testament discuss the first five books of the Bible. Students learn about the theoretical principles used in the analysis of these writings, and some courses discuss the inspiration for the Old Testament. An introduction to the Old Testament course is typically offered early in a pastoral student's studies, but many programs offer advanced courses in the Old Testament that look at various issues and theories surrounding the text.

New Testament Course

Depending on the program, students studying to become pastors might take two courses on the New Testament. The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John might be discussed as a narrative, and the rest of the New Testament may be discussed in terms of the epistles and the Book of Revelation. Students might read Greek and Roman supplemental texts and discuss Biblical law and theory. Later in their studies, students might take courses that examine the New Testament in a more focused way.

Christian History Course

A broad introduction to Christian history course is often required of students early in their divinity studies. Students can expect this course to cover issues and events in Christianity from its beginnings through modern times. Courses looking at specific issues in the Christian timeline might be taken midway through a pastor student's studies.

Ministry Experience Course

Many programs for students wishing to become pastors require students to spend time working in the field throughout their education. This ministry experience course might involve spending time in a church or parish working with a worship community. Other programs require students to go on missions and minister to people outside the church. Some programs reserve these hands-on experiences for students in their later studies.

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Schools for Aspiring Pastors: How to Choose

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
    • Non-Degree
        • CCAF- General Education Mobile (GEM)

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • All degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree or higher
    • Post-Master's Certificate degree applicants must have a Masters degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Maryland (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Which degree level do you plan to pursue?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • A minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Submit high school transcript(s)
    • Submit college transcript(s) (if applicable)
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (2 campuses)
    • California (5)
    • Colorado (2)
    • Illinois (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • New Mexico (1)
    • Nevada (1)
    • Utah (1)

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Ohio (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Dayton include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
      • Cultural Studies
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
      • Public Administration
      • Religious Studies
        • Pastoral Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
      • Theological, Religious, and Ministerial Studies
  • School locations:
    • Arizona (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southwestern College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Religious Studies
        • Biblical Studies
        • Pastoral Studies
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston College include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
      • Cultural Studies
      • Human and Social Services
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
      • Religious Studies
        • Pastoral Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
      • Theological, Religious, and Ministerial Studies

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