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. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
      • M.S. in General Psychology
      • Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling
      • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
      • M.S. in General Psychology - Addictions
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Grief and Bereavement
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Prevention
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Community Mental Health Administration
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
      • Master: Psychology/Addictions
      • MS in Nursing
      • MS in Educational Psychology
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. The Chicago School

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
      • M.A. Forensic Psychology
      • M.A. Forensic Psychology, Professional Counselor Licensure Track
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Counseling, M.A.
      • Counseling, M.A. Online
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Walden University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Addiction Counseling
      • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Forensic Counseling
      • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - General Program
      • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Military Families & Culture
      • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Trauma & Crisis Counseling
      • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Marriage, Couple & Family Counseling
  • Deerfield Beach, FL

    South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Community Chaplaincy
      • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Theology
      • MA: Professional Counseling
      • MS: Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology
      • MA: Marriage and Family Therapy

Featured Schools

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
  • M.S. in General Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Grief and Bereavement
  • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Prevention
  • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • Master: Psychology/Addictions
  • MS in Nursing

Which subject are you interested in?

The Chicago School

  • M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • M.A. Forensic Psychology
  • M.A. Forensic Psychology, Professional Counselor Licensure Track

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Christian University

  • Counseling, M.A.
  • Counseling, M.A. Online

What is your highest level of education completed?

Walden University

  • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Addiction Counseling
  • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Forensic Counseling
  • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling - General Program

What is your highest level of education completed?

South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary

Liberty University

  • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Community Chaplaincy
  • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Theology
  • MA: Professional Counseling

What is your highest level of education?