Best Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Programs

A master's in Christian counseling combines traditional counseling practices with Christian beliefs, texts, and values. This degree can lead to rewarding careers helping others struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse, marital challenges, and family crises. Earn your online master's in Christian counseling in one of our top-ranked programs.
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If your Christian faith is important to you and you want to serve others, earning a master's in Christian counseling can lead to several meaningful careers. These programs usually require approximately 30-45 credits and take around 2-3 years to complete, depending on whether you enroll full or part time.

A master's in Christian counseling curriculum usually blends foundational knowledge with Christian texts and beliefs. The degree can lead to rewarding careers helping people struggling with mental health challenges, family crises, and substance use disorders.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Christian Counseling Program?

Students who enroll in graduate school and complete online master's in Christian counseling programs qualify for state licensure as professional counselors in various fields, including school counseling, mental health counseling, and marriage and family therapy.

Caring, compassionate, faith-driven, and detail-oriented students with interpersonal skills often succeed in master's in Christian counseling programs. Nevertheless, no matter your characteristics, if you focus on your coursework, you can develop the foundational knowledge and hard and soft skills you need to thrive as a counselor during your program.

Many online master's in Christian counseling programs take approximately 2-3 years to complete and require around 30-45 credits. However, requirements vary by school and by program. Part-time students with significant work or personal commitments may need more time to graduate.

In addition to theoretical coursework, most programs include some sort of supervised fieldwork in the form of an internship or practicum. During these experiences, students complete the supervised hours required for state licensure, often working under the direction of a licensed counselor. In online programs, distance learners can often arrange to complete these requirements at sites in their local communities.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Christian Counseling Program?

Group Counseling

In this course, students learn key methodology and theories for group counseling. Through case studies, learners may also examine current research, ethical dilemmas, and laws they may encounter in their counseling practice.

Christian Theology

Most master's in Christian counseling programs include one or more theology courses, during which students delve into topics like Christian doctrine and spiritual formation in the context of their future counseling practices.

Pastoral Ministry

This course prepares students to guide individuals and groups in addressing their spiritual needs through Christianity. Learners may delve into Christian doctrines and various theological interpretations.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution and mediation are key skills for any counselor. This broad survey course delves into theory, research, and best practices in conflict resolution.

Practicum/Internship

To prepare graduates for state licensure, most master's in Christian counseling programs include a practicum or internship experience in the field. During this course, students usually complete supervised hours at a counseling practice.

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Popular Online Christian Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Christian Counseling Program?

Admission requirements for on-campus and online master's in Christian counseling programs are similar, if not the same. In addition to the typical requirements listed below, some programs ask prospective students to submit a statement of faith or a letter of recommendation from a former pastor or minister.

Some programs also require a bachelor's degree in counseling or psychology, but many master's in Christian counseling accept students with undergraduate degrees in any field.

Application

All graduate programs require prospective students to fill out an application form, often through an online portal. Unfortunately, application systems like the Common App and Coalition App primarily serve undergraduate students, so for most online master's in Christian counseling programs, you will have to fill out an individual application through a school website.

Test Scores

While standardized test scores are becoming rarer as an admission requirement, some online master's in Christian counseling programs still require applicants to submit GRE scores. Fortunately, with the right GRE prep, you can maximize your chances of getting the score you want.

Letters of Recommendation

Most graduate programs require applicants to submit 1-3 letters of recommendation, often from former undergraduate professors or employers. However, some master's in Christian counseling programs want to understand your faith background before accepting you. As such, you may have to submit a recommendation from a pastor or spiritual leader.

Resume and Work Experience

Most master's in Christian counseling programs do not require work experience from applicants. Nevertheless, most programs still require prospective students to submit a resume to get a sense of each applicant's professional, academic, and volunteering background.

Essays

Most online master's in Christian counseling programs require applicants to submit 1-3 short essays. These essays are often no more than 500 words. Common prompts often ask about prospective students' Christian faith and career goals.

Official Transcripts

All accredited master's in Christian counseling programs ask applicants to submit official transcripts from all postsecondary schools they have attended. If you have already completed some graduate coursework, you may be able to earn some transfer credits depending on the school and the program.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Christian Counseling Degree?

Career Outlook

More people are becoming more open about mental health, according to a 2019 study from the American Psychological Association. In turn, this has helped normalize mental health discourse. As more people seek out counseling services, demand for mental health professionals – including graduates with a master's degree in Christian counseling – has grown steadily.

Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 23% job growth for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. That rate nearly triples the average projected growth rate for all careers (8%) during that period.

See where a master's in Christian counseling can take you. Learn more about counseling careers.

Career Paths

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families to sort through relationship problems. They often work full time in mental health centers and private practices. These professionals must hold a master's degree to earn state licensure and practice.

Median Annual Salary: $49,880


Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors assist people dealing with physical, cognitive, and emotional conditions to perform daily tasks. They can work in healthcare facilities, nonprofit organizations, and senior citizen centers. Most rehabilitation counselors need a master's degree to qualify for jobs.

Median Annual Salary: $38,560


Substance Misuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

These counselors work one-on-one and in group settings with clients dealing with mental health issues, anxiety, stress, substance misuse, and addiction. They often work full time in settings like private practice, nonprofit organizations, prisons, faith-based organizations, and healthcare facilities. They need a master's degree to earn state licensure and practice.

Median Annual Salary: $48,520


School Counselor

School counselors help K-12 students apply to colleges, learn study skills, and deal with social, mental, and academic challenges. These counselors need a master's degree and a state-issued license to work in public schools.

Median Annual Salary: $58,120


Career Counselor

Career counselors help students and professionals find the right career. They can work in private practices, colleges, schools, career centers, and nonprofit organizations. These professionals do not always need a master's degree, but an advanced degree in counseling can help you stand out in the field.

Median Annual Salary: $58,120


Christian Counseling Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

If you want to become a professor or researcher and shape the next generation of counselors, you can consider earning a Ph.D. But if you want to work as a professional counselor, a master's degree in Christian counseling will allow you to earn certification or state licensure. Counselors or therapists will also need to complete continuing education to maintain their licensure.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Christian Counseling Program?

Cost

The true costs for online master's in Christian counseling programs vary widely by school. For the lowest tuition rates, consider enrolling at an in-state, private institution vs. a private university. You can avoid paying fees like transportation and room and board by enrolling online.

Program Format

If you enroll in an online master's in Christian counseling program, consider whether you prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning. Synchronous courses involve scheduled, live online sessions, while asynchronous courses allow students to view lectures when convenient. Furthermore, think about whether you want to enroll full time or part time.

Location

Even if you enroll online, consider choosing a school close to you. Christian counseling programs often include in-person requirements in which you must work under the supervision of a licensed counselor. It may be easier to set this up if you live near campus.

Accreditation

You should only enroll at schools that are institutionally accredited. This means that the school has completed a third-party review process evaluating the quality of its programs, faculty, and services. If you enroll at an unaccredited school, you cannot receive federal financial aid.

Student Support

Student support services can positively impact your college experience, especially if you are an online student. Before enrolling, check to see if your school offers mentorship opportunities, tutoring, networking events, career services, and internship placements.

Best Online Master's in Christian Counseling Programs

  1. Northwest Nazaerene University
    Location

    Nampa, ID

    Tuition

    $18786

    Northwest Nazarene University is a Christian university in Nampa, Idaho. Originally established as an elementary school in 1913, NNU later transformed into a comprehensive, four-year liberal arts college. Approximately 1,300 undergraduates and 700 graduates enroll each year.

    NNU offers a dozen master's degrees to distance learners, including an online master's in pastoral ministry. Students earn 40 credits by completing coursework and a local, supervised ministry experience. The program utilizes cohort learning and an asynchronous format for increased engagement and flexibility.

    While admission is open to laypersons and non-ministry professionals, prospective students should have some ministry experience in a volunteer or professional capacity. For full admission, NNU requires a 2.5 minimum cumulative GPA. Tuition discounts are available for members of the Church of the Nazarene.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $515/credit
    Credit Requirements: 40 credits
    Program Length: 28 months

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required local ministry experience
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 minimum
    Work Experience: Some professional or volunteer experience in ministry

    Contact

    Phone: (877) 668-4968
    Email: ministryinfo@nnu.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  2. Loyola University Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $35033

    One of the largest Jesuit Catholic universities in the country, Loyola University Chicago enrolls about 17,000 students each year. It operates three campuses across the metropolitan area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola offers a 36-credit online master's degree in pastoral studies that can be completed in 4 semesters.

    Students can choose from five tracks, according to their professional goals: general, church management, digital communication, healthcare chaplaincy, and religious education. Online courses at Loyola may utilize asynchronous or synchronous scheduling. Prior to graduation, a field learning experience provides mentorship and ministry practice in a local placement.

    Admission to the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola requires a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants should also provide official undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: General; church management; digital communication; healthcare chaplaincy; religious education
    Tuition: $788/credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 4 semesters

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required field experience placement
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (312) 915-8950
    Email: gradinfo@luc.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  3. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Tuition

    $16779

    Located on 70 acres in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University welcomes approximately 11,000 students each year. Its associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs represent more than 135 areas of study. The school's online master's in human services department offers 11 concentration areas, including Christian counseling.

    Students who earn a master's in Christian counseling online complete a minimum of 30 credits to graduate, including courses in behavioral science, professional ethics, and counseling models and strategies — all from a Christian perspective. A capstone project and field experience are also required. Courses utilize real-time interaction with professionals and asynchronous discussion.

    Regent prefers applicants with a bachelor's in counseling, psychology, or related fields, but all undergraduate programs will be considered. Applicants should demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA. Admission requires submission of a resume and three contactable references.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Human Services
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Christian counseling
    Tuition: $595/credit
    Credit Requirements: 30 credits
    Program Length: 1-2 years

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required field experience
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (757) 352-4127
    Email: psycounadmissions@regent.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  4. Trevecca Nazarene University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $18996

    Nearly 4,000 traditional, graduate, and continuing education students attend Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. This Christian university offers several master's degrees, including a 33-credit master of arts in religion that students can earn online. Two concentrations are available in pastoral counseling and biblical and theological studies.

    Students develop a strong foundation in biblical counseling through courses on Christian doctrine; pastoral intervention in crisis; and counseling methods for specific issues like addiction, human sexuality, and marriage and family. Coursework is available 24/7 in an asynchronous format. A final research project satisfies capstone requirements.

    Online applicants should possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.7 cumulative GPA. One letter of recommendation is required. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Religion
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $350/credit
    Credit Requirements: 33 credits
    Program Length: 18 months

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required capstone project in "direct relationship to a ministry setting in which the student is actively engaged"
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.7 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (615) 248-1200
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter<

  5. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $27432

    Liberty University is an evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia. Recognized for its extensive online offerings, Liberty enrolls upwards of 100,000 students across the country and around the world. Among its distance learning options is a master's degree in pastoral counseling.

    Featuring asynchronous scheduling and accelerated, eight-week courses, this 36-credit program takes an average of 1.5 years to complete. Thirteen specialization areas — including life coaching, leadership, and marriage and family studies — allow for degree customization according to professional goals. Prior to graduation, students complete a 225-hour pastoral counseling internship in an approved local setting.

    Applicants should hold a regionally or nationally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA. Letters of recommendation and personal essays are not required.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Addictions and recovery; community chaplaincy; crisis response and trauma; discipleship and church ministry; family advocacy, public policy, and the future; marriage and family studies; parenting and child/adolescent development; leadership; life coaching; military resilience; pastoral counseling; theology
    Tuition: $565/credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 1.5 years

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required local internship
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (800) 424-9595
    Email: luograd@liberty.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  6. Apex School of Theology
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $10313

    The Apex School of Theology was founded in 1995. Currently operating out of Durham, North Carolina, ASOT holds national accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The small college offers a total of seven programs, including an online master's in Christian counseling.

    Featuring a 69-credit curriculum, this Chrisitian counseling degree includes courses that cover topics like theories of personality, abnormal psychology, and cross-cultural counseling. Prior to graduation, students complete a pre-practicum counseling course, a clinical practicum, and an internship — each lasting 15 weeks. State licensure or certification is not guaranteed.

    Requirements for enrollment include two letters of reference, a written spiritual autobiography, transcripts, and a health form completed by a physician.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Christian Counseling
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Professional counselor; marriage and family therapy
    Tuition: $233/credit
    Credit Requirements: 69 credits

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required practicum and internship

    Contact

    Phone: (919) 572-1625
    Email: tarmstrong@apexsot.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  7. Maranatha Baptist College
    Location

    Watertown, WI

    Tuition

    $17974

    Maranatha Baptist University is a private institution in Watertown, Wisconsin. More than 1,000 students attend the school, about 280 of whom study entirely online. The university and its attached seminary offer 39 bachelor's degrees and 10 master's degrees, including an online master's in biblical counseling.

    This 33-credit program offers multiple delivery options, with classes available through eight-week, asynchronous sessions or synchronous, full-semester courses. Courses cover topics like crisis counseling, addiction counseling, and abuse counseling. A one-week biblical counseling seminar requires in-person attendance. Participants also complete an approved counseling internship in a local setting.

    Admission to the Maranatha Baptist Seminary requires a completed application and submission of medical history and reference documents.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master in Biblical Counseling
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $330/credit
    Credit Requirements: 33 credits

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with a required off-site seminar and local internship
    Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

    Contact

    Phone: (920) 206-2324
    Email: Online contact form
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  8. Dallas Baptist University
    Location

    Dallas, TX

    Tuition

    $26731

    Founded in 1898 as the first junior college in the state of Texas, Dallas Baptist University has since grown to encompass a 386-acre campus with nearly 5,000 students. The university's academic catalog includes 85 bachelor's, 32 master's, and two doctoral tracks, including several ministry-related master's programs.

    The school's 36-credit master's in Christian counseling can be completed online. It provides a strong theological and counseling foundation that is well suited for those interested in serving in a local church, denominational agency, or ministry-based organization. Required courses include lifespan development, group counseling methods, and ministry mentorship.

    Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Accepted students can complete their Christian counseling degree online, through hybrid learning, or through evening classes.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Christian Counseling
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $1,004/credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits

    Delivery

    Format: Online or hybrid (online/on campus), with a required practical experience
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (214) 333-5242
    Email: graduate@dbu.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  9. Grace College and Theological Seminary
    Location

    Winona Lake, IN

    Tuition

    $20577

    Since its founding in 1937, Grace College has seen thousands of graduates go on to serve in ministries throughout the U.S. and around the world. Together, the college and its seminary offer more than 90 academic options, including an online master's in ministry studies.

    This 36-credit program requires completion of a dozen eight-week courses, including Bible study methods, ministry preaching and teaching, and principles and practice of prayer. Three available concentrations — in counseling, ministry studies, and women's leadership studies — provide focused education opportunities. No internships or in-person residencies are required to graduate.

    To apply, prospective students must submit an online application, spiritual reference forms, and official transcripts from all colleges previously attended. A maximum of nine eligible credits can be transferred into the program.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Ministry Studies
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Ministry studies; women's leadership studies; counseling
    Tuition: $405/credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Contact

    Phone: (888) 249-0533
    Email: onlineadmissions@grace.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  10. Amridge University
    Location

    Montgomery, AL

    Tuition

    $13104

    Since its founding in 1967, Amridge University has been a leader in distance learning — the school's primary instructional delivery format. This Christian institution is committed to expanding educational accessibility. Each of its academic programs, including a master of arts in professional counseling, is available online.

    The professional counseling program requires participants to complete 60 credits, with courses on human development, marital and family systems, and counseling methods. The degree strives to prepare students for professional counseling licensure in their state of residence, requiring a minimum of 600 hours of supervised clinical experience prior to graduation.

    Admission to a graduate program at Amridge requires submission of official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Writing samples, test scores, and references are not required.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Professional Counseling
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $675/credit
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Program Length: 7 semesters

    Delivery

    Format: Online, with required clinical practicum hours

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (888) 790-8080
    Email: admissions@amridgeuniversity.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best online Master's in Christian Counseling ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified ten schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
  • Must offer an online Master's degree program in the given subject.
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring admissions rate, enrollment rate, full-time retention rate, and graduation rate. Review our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more about the standards we uphold.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Christian Counseling Programs

Is a master's in Christian counseling worth it?

The worth of any degree is subjective and depends on each student. But for many learners, an online master's in Christian counseling is worth it. Most students who pursue these degrees are driven by their Christian faith and mission. They also enjoy the opportunity to help others overcome challenges.

Furthermore, you need a master's degree to qualify for state licensure and become a professional counselor. Since a master's degree is often a prerequisite for counseling careers, most students who know they want to be counselors and identify strongly with their Christian faith feel like Christian counseling programs are worth it.

What can I do with a master's in Christian counseling?

With a master's degree in Christian counseling, you can qualify for state licensure in almost any counseling field. You can pursue paths in career, school, substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling.

Counselors work for nonprofit organizations, prisons, healthcare providers, government agencies, faith-based organizations, and in private practices. However, keep in mind that no one degree can guarantee you any specific job opportunities.

Are Christian counseling graduates in high demand?

Yes, Christian counseling graduates are in high demand. Thanks to an increasing demand for mental health services, the BLS projects 23% job growth for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors between 2020 and 2030. That rate is much higher than the average 8% job growth for all occupations.

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS also projects 16% job growth for marriage and family therapists, a career that many Christian counseling degree-holders pursue after graduating.

How much money can I make with a master's in Christian counseling?

With a master's in Christian counseling and licensure, you can pursue various counseling jobs that pay approximately $45,000-$60,000 per year, according to the BLS.

To increase your salary, continue to gain experience in the field. You can also try to find a job with a government agency or enter private practice, allowing you to find your own clients and set rates.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in Christian counseling?

Salary potential depends on several key factors, including experience, location, and employer. However, the highest-paying job for graduates with a master's in Christian counseling is likely school or career counselor.

According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $60,510. The top 10% of earners in this field made more than $98,000.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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