Houghton College Online announced a new way to prepare for ministry or enrich an existing ministry through its Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Christian ministries degree.

This two-year, fully-online degree can be used to meet educational requirements for ministry or simply to equip students for more general service in the church and the world. The program exposes students to the biblical, theological and historical foundations of Christian faith as well as key areas of Christian ministry like spiritual formation and discipleship.

While Houghton has offered the AAS degree for a number of years, this is the first time it has become available in a fully online format.

“If you are seeking a ministry degree, the AAS is a well-rounded set of ministry courses that can be taken while you are actually working in a church,” said Dr. Ken Schenck, vice president for Planning and Innovation and director of Houghton Online. “It is the best of all worlds in distance training for ministry. You can get a degree in two years, or you can take the courses just for ordination. It also provides a stepping stone for those who want to go on to get their bachelor’s degree. For example, after finishing your AAS, you could come to the Houghton campus for two years to finish a bachelor’s degree in more advanced theology.”

Another new program feature is the option to have live discussions with other students in the program from the same local church.

“If you have several people at a specific church location, such as Houghton’s partner at Watermark Wesleyan Church in Buffalo, New York, you can have a cell with a local church mentor to lead discussion after our live online sessions,” said Schenck. “These local church mentors will help ensure that what you are learning is not just academic theory but embodied church practice that makes sense on the ground. In approved situations, these local cell discussions can substitute for online class discussion.”

For those who don’t have classmates within their church, Schenck explained that most of the ministry classes will be available in a live evening Zoom session. These will be recorded for those who cannot attend synchronously.

For those not necessarily seeking a degree but who want to enrich their service to others and to the church, all courses in the Christian Ministries program are available to audit.

“If you simply want to learn more about ministry as a lifelong learner, you can audit these classes for the flat audit rate of $150 a course,” said Schenck. “If you want to meet the competencies of ministry but do not need the degree, you can take the courses for ordination certification (the audit fee plus a $50 fee for assessment of your work).” He also noted that all auditors can fully participate in the live Zoom sessions for no additional cost.

The best feature of the new program?

“It engages the local church and involves local church mentoring, not to mention the fact that you get the Houghton teaching team rather than a string of loosely associated adjuncts,” said Schenck.

The next online module opens January 13, and there is still time to enroll. For specific class offerings, see AAS degree. For more information on how to apply or how to audit the courses, contact online enrollment advisor Bill Lawson.