Christian Counseling Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a master's degree or Ph.D. program in Christian counseling? Read about the program requirements, the pros and cons of a master's degree and Ph.D. and potential careers.
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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).

Master's Doctorate
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 time2-8 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements- Practicum
- Comprehensive exam
- Dissertation
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree Master's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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
  • Theology
  • 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.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master in Christian Counseling
      • Master in Christian Counseling of Substance Use & Addictive Disorders
      • MS in Professional Counseling
      • MS in Addiction Counseling
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Grief and Bereavement
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Prevention
  • Online Programs Available
    2. University of the Rockies

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA Counseling
      • MA Counseling - Addiction Counseling
      • MA Counseling - Clinical Mental Health Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Mental Health Admin
      • MA Counseling - Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy (MAMFT)
      • Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • Masters in Health Care Administration
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Service Organization
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Health Admin
      • MS Criminal Justice with Behavior Analysis Specialization

Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • Master in Christian Counseling
  • Master in Christian Counseling of Substance Use & Addictive Disorders
  • MS in Professional Counseling

What is your highest level of education?

University of the Rockies

  • MA Counseling
  • MA Counseling - Addiction Counseling
  • MA Counseling - Clinical Mental Health Counseling

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy (MAMFT)

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management

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American InterContinental University

  • Master of Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

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