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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Youth Ministry

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Youth Ministry

Value
The best online master’s degree in youth ministry for value is Fordham University, which offers an online Master of Arts degree in religious education, with a concentration in youth and young adult ministry. Fordham ranked among PayScale.com’s top 2012 ROI Rankings, with an annual return on investment (ROI) of 7.7%, and an annual ROI of 9.0% for students receiving financial aid. Apparently, students themselves have recognized the advantages of completing their degrees at Fordham — as cited on Fordham.edu, this university has a 78% graduation rate, which is currently more than 20% above the national average.

Flexibility
The online master’s degree in youth ministry at Fordham University wins the award for best flexibility. Students gave Fordham a perfect score, for most flexible class schedules, on College Prowler, and one of Fordham’s many web-based programs is even named the Anytime Anywhere Learning Professional Development School (AALPDS), reflecting the flexible and innovative approach of the university, as a whole.

Career Support
Fordham University knows the importance of a strong Career Services program and, here, students can explore the unique and innovative Fordham Futures program. Aside from providing comprehensive career counseling and guidance resources, this program emphasizes a step-by-step, self-reflective approach to career services, organized by year, or by semester, so that students can gradually learn about available career options, and act accordingly, based on their college level at Fordham. For all this, Fordham University wins the award for best career support for its online master’s degree in youth ministry.

Financial Support

Grand Canyon University wins the award for best financial support for its online master’s degree in youth ministry. The Tuition and Financing section of GCU.edu contains a wealth of knowledge for students to research everything they need to know about tuition and financial aid, like what kinds of federal aid, scholarships, and grants are available, and how to apply for them. The website even features a step-by-step video, showing students how to fill out the FAFSA application in seven easy steps.

Technology Support
The award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for technology support goes to Grand Canyon University. GCU’s Technical Support sub-site is a comprehensive support system, offering phone, email, in-person, and even live-chat tech support, as well as webinars, streaming tutorials, and access to the university intranet. This sub-site also keeps students up-to-date on Facebook, Twitter, and via GCU’s own iTunes app.

Student Engagement
Fordham University has a lot invested in encouraging student engagement and, in fact, the sole aim of the Student Leadership and Community Development office is to “provide students with meaningful interactions outside of the classroom that connect students with their peers and with other members of the University community.” Perhaps it is the many student-run organizations, clubs, and events developed at Fordham that have inspired students to give the school a high score for “most vibrant social scene” on College Prowler. For its many outstanding efforts, Fordham University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for student engagement.

Disability Support

Fordham University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for disability support. The dedicated Disability Services for Students office at Fordham features a multitude of resources, not only for students, but also for faculty. Via the extensive information on this department’s web page, students can see the long list of upcoming anti-discrimination events and community activities, as well as find information about disabilities, and how to apply for special services. Faculty can also seek advice for how to address many common physical and behavioral disabilities in their classrooms .

Library and Research Support
Fordham University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for library and research support. Fordham’s technologically advanced online library system offers innovative features like full catalogue and archives database searches, as well as remote access to the library site, and access to RefWorks, a web-based bibliographic management tool. Fordham’s website even features live webcasts, and videos-on-demand.

Learning Support
The award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for learning support goes to Fordham University. When pursuing Religious Studies at Fordham University, students are offered many resources, especially in the way of helpful links on the university website. Here, students in this program can link directly to academic support endeavors like the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, and the Fordham Theology Center, to supplement their online graduate studies. And academic support staff is on-hand to help, as well; on College Prowler, students gave Fordham a near-perfect score for “best academic advisors.”

Faculty Credentials
Fordham University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for faculty credentials. According to Fordham.edu, of the university’s 718 full-time and 403 tenured faculty, 94% hold a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their field. On College Prowler, students gave Fordham a high score for “smartest professors.”

Faculty Accessibility
Grand Canyon University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for faculty accessibility. Through GCU’s Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching, faculty is given the opportunity to improve their teaching skills, and the Center even places special emphasis on distance learning faculty development. Here, teachers and students alike can research, among many topics, why uninhibited accessibility is crucial to any successful student-teacher relationship. GCU also recognizes the benefits of keeping class sizes small; according to College Prowler, students gave this university a high score for “best class sizes” and “best personal attention.”

Alumni Engagement
Grand Canyon University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for alumni engagement. GCU’s proud Alumni Relations department offers a multitude of resources for alums on its web page. Here, “‘Lopes” can learn about the benefits of being a GCU alum, including scholarships for relatives and sponsored students, and they can also sign up for the Canyon Crossroads newsletter, and stay on top of the latest alumni news via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. On College Prowler, students gave GCU 822 out of 825 points, for “best alumni network.”

Prior Learning Options
Grand Canyon University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for prior learning options. The GCU Transfer Center specializes in providing comprehensive information to students looking to transfer credits, or explore continuing education. Here, potential GCU students have the opportunity to receive a pre-evaluation by a GCU specialist, who will review all previous college transcripts to determine how these credits will be applied to the desired program. Students can also research military credits and transcripts, and the Lifelong Learning Assessment Program, for deferred degrees, and they can even utilize the credit equivalency calculator.

New Online Student Orientation
Fordham University wins the award for best online master’s degree in youth ministry for its new online student orientation resources. Through the Orientation page of Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education website, this department encourages students to attend an online orientation session that is specifically tailored to the unique requirements of online learning, before their term begins. Online students are also introduced to procedures for how to log in to their own “VIP learning page,” part of the online environment in which their courses will take place, and given easy access to tech support and learning support resources while logged in. New students are also directed to the department’s blog page, to stay informed of the latest news and updates.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Youth Ministry

A master’s in youth ministry is sought by those pursuing a career in teaching the Christian faith in a church or academic setting. It offers degree-holders the opportunity to better their understanding of faith, learn how to successfully teach that understanding to others, and prepare them to answer complex questions their future students might pose. A youth ministry master’s degree requires a completed bachelor’s degree and normally involves between two and three years of full-time study; though this time can vary for those attending part time or who have completed previous master’s course work.

Class Curriculum

The goal of this degree is for students to gain skills that will help them as leaders in Christianity. Because many pursue this master’s to further their careers as religious professionals, course work tends to be oriented towards not only developing a greater understanding of Christianity, but towards managing youth programs and learning how to communicate in ways youths can both relate to and understand. Every school’s curriculum differs, but students of a youth ministry master’s program may take courses like these:

  • Adolescent Sociology. Adolescent sociology teaches students about the physical, emotional, and environmental stresses youths experience when in the pivotal adolescent life stage. This is an imperative understanding youth ministers and other youth religious officers must obtain to effectively communicate with their students.
  • Youth Counseling. This class will teach students how to counsel not only youth, but families. Students will learn how to counsel during an emergency, gain and maintain youths’ trust, and develop techniques to practice, and encourage youth participation in, long-lasting counseling.
  • Communication Strategies. This course introduces students to the various forms of communication mediums they can use to reach youths. This can include verbal, printed, social media, and other communication techniques and tools; students are asked to apply these strategies as part of their course work.

Completion of this degree program requires a very real-world application of what students learn in their courses. Students must complete writing assignments, case studies, and research projects. Many programs require online discussions and interactions, as well as an internship or mentoring project that applies the communication techniques learned throughout their degree.

Building a Career

The most prominent skills acquired from this degree are related to communications. Students will learn to understand youth contextually and how to reach them through various communication methods. All of these skills are necessary for those who hope to attain careers as professors, youth ministers, and youth directors. Salaries among these careers vary; below are their descriptions and projected salaries, though because salary is dependent on a series of factors, e.g. job experience, geography, and more, none of the salaries below are guaranteed.

As a youth minister, your job is to engage and encourage youth participation in religious settings. Youth ministers also generally oversee youth activities and programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collected salary data on this profession, placing the median salary at $48,490. The BLS also reports that in the next eight years, employment should increase by a projected 18%.

Becoming a youth director is another career some with this master’s degree might adopt. Youth directors are those in charge of planning and organizing youth activities; most of the time this will be in a religious setting, but could be in another youth-related setting. Youth directors, according to BLS research, earn median salaries of $41,690.

Those seeking this master’s degree to teach in university settings may teach in subjects relating to sociology, religion, and education. The BLS projects that professors at the junior college and university level collect a median pay of $62,050, and that the job outlook for this profession is promising in coming years; employment is expected to increase by 17% through 2020.

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