The Two-Year Ministry Certificate

Most students join Thrive School intending on completing a Two-Year Certificate in their chosen Major, and that's how we've designed the program to be most effective. If you're coming into Thrive School with a desire to work in church, there's no better way to get ready for a ministry career. This means two back-to-back August through May school years living here in Northern California. The logistics of this are surprisingly simple. Learn more about Bayside Church (Thrive School home base) and free housing we provide for all students through our Host Home program

This is a good way to sum up the Two-Year Certificate experience: People don't become great by taking it easy. That's why you'll be challenged, and given responsibility. For a lot of students, it's refreshing to have a lot expected of them. To be shown the next level, and expected to rise to the occasion. Our team, and the peers around you, support you every step of the way. 


Year one: NINE MONTHS of hands-on ministry

You'll dive into hands-on ministry with Bayside Church's team and real discipleship with your Thrive School leaders. You'll build friendships to carry throughout your entire life. Like most students, you may be surprised at two things: how quickly things around Bayside start to feel like home, and how many different ways you start to be challenged and grow, now in an environment devoted to unlocking your potential.


Year Two: focus and leadership

You'll move into more advanced classes and get leadership opportunities reserved for Second Year students. It's another year of everything that makes Thrive School great - real ministry, focused training, discipleship, relationships - but specialized for students like you with the talent, call, and track record of hard work that it takes to succeed in a ministry career.

After completing your second year, you've learned critical skills that church leaders look for - skills that are often overlooked in traditional degree programs. This Certificate puts the weight of Thrive School, the Thrive Conferences, and Bayside Church's staff behind your training, and onto your resumé, as you seek paid positions to further your career. A great opportunity for this next step is applying to a Residency position after you finish your second year (see Launch Into Your Career below).


Launch into your career

After your second year, you'll have the opportunity to apply for competitive Residency positions. These are paid staff positions, available in multiple departments at Bayside (including Worship and Production - and expanding to other great churches soon). As a Resident, you're in a place to put your skills and experience to work, and start advancing your career.



Your Major is your specialization, or focus, during your time at Thrive School, and you'll choose one when you apply: Pastoral LeadershipWorship, or Production. In the Worship and Production Majors, you'll be working with that staff team directly. Pastoral Leadership Majors have the option of several departments (for example, high school, middle school, or children's at a particular Bayside Church campus) to work with, and we'll help you find the best fit at the beginning of the program.

What about a gap year?

A gap year without the gap.

If you're still exploring what your career path could look like right now, Thrive School's Pastoral Leadership Major could be a great fit. Whether in ministry or the marketplace, you need to understand, motivate, and care for the people you'll lead (in other words, pastor them). Like all Thrive School students, you'll work towards your college degree online at the same time. We'll help you discover what your next step looks like.

If you decide to head into a traditional University after Thrive School, you're doing so with leadership skills that are years ahead of your peers. If you discover a passion for ministry during that first year, you can continue on and earn your Two-Year Ministry Certificate as a Pastoral Leadership major.