Christian Counseling Master's Degree and Ph.D. at a Glance
Christian counseling integrates therapy and theology and emphasizes the importance of a person's relationship to Christ for psychological health. As a student in a master's or Ph.D. program in Christian counseling, you study Christian thought and learn counseling skills in areas such as marital counseling, ethics, group dynamics, and psychopathology. Graduates work as professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and counselors at church. The demand for family therapists and mental health counselors was projected to grow by 37%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
|Who is this Degree for?||Students who want to provide counseling to church members or practice as professional Christian counselors||People who want to practice with advanced skills as professional Christian counselors|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| - Marriage and family therapists, individual and family services ($45,000)*|
- Mental health counselor, individual and family services ($42,000)*
- Clergy ($44,000)*
|Those listed under master's, plus|
- Postsecondary religion or philosophy teacher ($65,000)*
- Academic researcher ($49,000)**
|Time to Completion||Two years full time||2-8 years full time|
|Common Graduation Requirements||- Practicum|
- Comprehensive exam
|Prerequisites||Bachelor's degree||Master's degree|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011 salary figures, **Salary.com July 2012 salary figure.
Master's Degree in Christian Counseling
A master's degree program in Christian counseling offers training to help students integrate their Christian faith and clinical practice. As a student, you learn about counseling theories and practice, as well as the Bible and theology. Students may be able to specialize in an area such as professional counseling or marriage and family counseling. A professional counselor track emphasizes the treatment and diagnosis of behavioral health issues. A marriage and family therapist track focuses on a systems approach that helps families and couples. The master's degree program prepares students to work as professional counselors or to provide counseling to people in church.
Pros and Cons
- You learn how to apply Christian theology to counseling.
- You're able to help people with their personal problems, which can be rewarding.
- You develop a wide range of skills in counseling, which could prepare you for a variety of counseling careers.
- Listening to other peoples' problems on a daily basis can be emotionally stressful.
- As a counselor, you may need to work on the weekend or in the evening to accommodate clients.
- You need to have supervised clinical experience and pass an exam in order to get licensure to practice as a professional counselor.
Courses and Requirements
Your required coursework will include classes in areas such as family systems theory, interpretation of the Bible, and crisis counseling. Students may need to complete an internship in order to meet requirements for the master's degree program. Some courses you might take include:
- Marriage and family counseling
- Small group dynamics
- Ethical issues in counseling
Online Course Info
You can find online master's degree courses in Christian counseling, in which you can take all of your courses online. By taking courses online, you can go at your own pace and create your own schedule to accommodate family and work obligations.
Getting Ahead with this Degree
In order to work as a mental health counselor, you must be licensed. To get licensure, you need to have 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. You must also pass an exam and take continuing education courses annually.
You must also be licensed to work as a marriage and family therapist. In order to get licensure, you need to have a master's degree, as well as two years of clinical experience under supervision. In addition, you will have to pass an exam and take continuing education classes each year.
Ph.D. in Christian Counseling
In a Ph.D. program in Christian counseling, you will be able to advance your skills in Christian counseling, as well as conduct research in a concentration area of Christian counseling. You study Christian counseling in depth and take core courses in areas such as counseling ethics, theology, and healing relationships. You have the opportunity to specialize in subjects including family therapy, substance abuse, or marital issues. After earning your Ph.D. in Christian counseling, you will be prepared to become licensed as a professional Christian counselor. You'll also be qualified to teach Christian counseling at the postsecondary level and/or contribute to research in the field.
Pros and Cons
- You have the opportunity to specialize and do in-depth research in an area of Christian counseling.
- Your integration of Christian theology and counseling could help make your counseling practice unique and can make you stand out.
- You will be able to apply what you learn in your Christian counseling studies to your own personal growth.
- You may need to specialize early on in your program.
- You can practice as a professional Christian counselor with a master's degree, so it may not be worth the extra time to earn a Ph.D.
- It may be challenging to integrate spiritual ideas about healing with psychological concepts.
Common Course Topics
In a Ph.D. program in Christian counseling, you will specialize in an area of counseling and conduct research that you'll apply to writing your dissertation. Some courses you might take include:
- Pastoral counseling
- Marital counseling
- Ethics and Christian counseling
Online Course Info
It is possible to find Ph.D. programs in Christian counseling online. Students can take all of their coursework over the Internet, which makes it easier for students with work or family commitments.
Getting Ahead with this Degree
- In order to get ahead, you can develop your speaking skills, since professional counselors must be able to communicate with clients successfully.
- It can help you to learn good organizational skills, because counselors in private practice have to manage payments and deal with insurance companies.
- You can also stand out if you have very good listening skills, since in a counseling session, you need to be attentive to clients to fully understand their issues.