Missionary Training

What Degrees Should Missionaries Earn to Make a Lasting Impact?


Written by McKenna Von Gunten

Why should you, as an aspiring missionary, get a college degree? 

You’ve just graduated high-school, or maybe you’ve got one more year left. You don’t know if you should get a degree, wait at home for an opportunity to magically appear, or if you should just buy a plane ticket and go halfway across the world right now. 

You went on previous mission trips or felt the Lord place missions on your heart. You’re called to be a missionary, but you don’t know where in the world you’re supposed to go, or what ministry you’re called to. You might have a small idea of where to go and what to do, but you don’t know how to move forward towards being a missionary.

What if your next step is getting a college degree? 

“But I want to be a missionary,” you argue. “Do I really need to go to college and do homework to become a missionary? Can’t I just go places and tell people about Jesus? Do I need a degree to share God’s love? Am I not just supposed to go preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation?” 

Well, yes. Those are all great things and can be done without a college degree. But have you ever heard about missionary degrees? You can be trained to be an effective missionary in the field while gaining skills so that you can invest into someone’s life with a purpose. 

“Often in our zeal to reach others with the Gospel, we assume that further training will only slow us down from the real work of practical ministry, so we forge ahead and board the plane with our Bibles and our good intentions.” Pease, Karen. Director of Admissions, Corban University School of Ministry. 

Many leave with good intentions to change the world but, as research has shown, many missionaries return prematurely with little fruit to show for their efforts. 

Missionaries are more hindered on the field when they don’t have a skill or trade, and therefore, ministry can feel uneventful and useless. Missionary degrees open up doors into countries that aren’t openly receptive to the gospel. They give you access to reach more people effectively with the good news of Jesus because you are working alongside them instead of trying to approach them with the gospel. 

Accredited missionary training programs will help you reach even more people and give you the opportunity to share the love of Christ while doing what you love. 

These are a just a few degrees that would make a lasting impact on the mission field. 

Bible and Theology   

If you do not first understand the Bible yourself, how will you be able to share it with others?  

When you understand God’s purposes for all people, then you are able to share the gospel of Christ with someone in a comprehensible way. Studying the entire Bible is important for becoming a missionary because you must first understand why God had to send His Son, and His purpose for the whole world before you can go to the unreached.  

Benefits of this degree: 
  • Grow in your passion and love for the Lord 
  • Discover God’s original purpose for all the nations 
  • Greater understanding of God’s sacrifice for us 
  • Gain Biblical basis for all areas of life and ministry 
  • Study scripture in context  

BGU offers Bible and Theology as a double major with Intercultural Ministry Studies. We also offer this degree as a double major with Transformational Entrepreneurship in Missions. While you may feel called to a specific area of ministry or profession, getting a degree in Bible and Theology is important for building a firm foundation in faith.

Intercultural Ministry  

To make a lasting impact on the mission field, you need to know not just how to live in a different country, but how to live among the people within that culture. It’s important for you to understand cultural differences and learn how to engage in a culture without offending the people and ministry you’re going to be working with.  

Benefits of this degree: 
  • Tools to relate to people in cultural settings 
  • Understand worldviews, beliefs, behaviors, feelings, and values of cultural backgrounds 
  • Study what, where, and why different religions have a huge influence in the world 
  • Learn about culture shock and why you will find it uncomfortable 
  • Know why learning a language is the key to be an effective missionary  

BGU offers Intercultural Ministry Studies as a double major with Bible and Theology

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)    

Many countries, such as Thailand, are in high demand for English teachers. Schools are recognizing Christian English teachers because they know that they are reliable and high-quality teachers. 

Benefits of this degree: 
  • Lasting impact on local teachers and children 
  • Builds relationships within harsh communities 
  • Able to reach others with the gospel through the way you live and teach 
  • Creditability and respect within closed countries 
  • Provides financial viability 


What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing that could help people? 

If you’re wanting to make a long-term impact, business builds bridges across cultural barriers and gives you the possibility to disciple people through your work. God can use your passions and abilities in business to share His love with others and make an impact in His Kingdom.  

Benefits of this degree: 
  • Builds up local communities 
  • You can invest in deeper relationships 
  • Raises up the economy 
  • Share the gospel through a natural work setting 
  • Work in closed countries 

BGU offers a double major in Transformational Entrepreneurship in Missions along with Bible and Theology.


Not many countries recognize the need for good hospitals, well-practiced nurses, or clean equipment, and having a degree in nursing can make a beneficial difference in people’s lives. Many people in rural villages are isolated from civilization, and do not have access to any reliable doctors or nurses. Instead, they turn to witch doctors and are living in constant fear of being cursed.   

Benefits of this degree: 
  • Brings hope to those who are suffering 
  • Doorway for gospel to be shared 
  • Entry into foreign countries 
  • Provides safe and clean procedures 
  • Open to families who cannot get treatment in their country due to caste, race, or financial status 

BGU does not offer any nursing degrees, but recognizes its importance in missions. 

Social Justice   

If God gave you a compassionate heart for sex-trafficked victims, or orphans, or the foster care system, you know that you can’t just sit idly by and wait for someone to do something. A Social Justice degree gives you a voice to speak up about injustice in the world and stand up for what’s right.  

Benefits of this degree: 
  • Gain tools in how you can make a difference 
  • Learn how to fight injustice     
  • Understand why your voice matters   
  • Speak up for those who are at risk 
  • Entry into foreign countries 

Education in Missions and Early Childhood Education    

In many countries, education is not always highly valued. You will most likely be working with children who have seen and experienced things that you yourself cannot imagine. This is your opportunity to learn how they process through different situations, and how you can bring joy back into learning. 

Benefits of this degree:  
  • Tools to work with kids in full-time ministry. 
  • Gain skills in creativity, spontaneity, and flexibility  
  • Learn how to approach, teach, and love children in an effective and appropriate manner  
  • Understand how to deal with trauma and conflict 
  • Open for overseas mission work 

BGU offers a major in Education in Missions while giving the experience of engaging in a Montessori program on campus. 

Linguistics and Bible Translation  

Bible Translation is a huge tool in the mission field, as there are still unreached people groups who do not have the Bible in their language. Linguistics is understanding the meaning of language, as this is an important factor in translating the Bible, because you need to understand the context of a word in order to translate it.  

Benefits of this degree: 
  • People can read the Bible in their own language 
  • Reach the unreached with the gospel 
  • Grow in your understanding of the Bible 
  • Watch people be transformed by the Living Word of God 

BGU does not offer any Linguistics or Bible Translation degrees but does see the need and importance to translate the Bible into other languages of the unreached.  

Other Missionary Degrees: 

Engineering: Many countries have terrible roads with giant potholes which causes public transit to be highly congested. You could use your Engineering degree as a missionary degree, by reconstructing roads while investing in the daily lives of the locals.

Agriculture: Missionary degrees in Agriculture provide you with skills to reach out to farmers in countries like Senegal, West Africa, and empower local communities and businesses through greenhouses, fair trade, digging water wells, and farming techniques. 

Marketing and Media: Marketing can be anything from making a short video to writing emails and blogs. This skill is especially useful when working with an organization that needs help with their website or with fundraising. Media is also a gateway into listening to people’s stories and capturing moments to share with others in a way that gives glory to God. 

Communications: Learning how to engage with people in conversation and knowing how to react in social situations is important, especially if you feel called to work in the sphere of government. With this degree–and a few others–you could become an ambassador, public relations coordinator, or a foreign services officer, and serve with your missionary degrees within the government. 

Your Degree is Useful

These are just a few examples of the missionary degrees that you could get to be an impactful missionary. There is no limit to what God can do through you. You only have to be obedient and willing to let Him move through you.

If you have a degree and you don’t know how to use it on the mission field, pray for opportunities where God can use you and your skills. The degree you have now could be useful in a ministry or organization that has a need somewhere else in the world.

You’ll never know the joy of operating out your passions and abilities if you don’t first ask God what He wants you to do. It doesn’t matter what degree you have–what matters is what you do with it. 

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