Christian counseling degrees can lead to rewarding careers in helping people deal with crises and healing communities in need. These graduates may also qualify for secular counseling positions in schools, hospitals, and prisons. Christian counseling programs can help clergy members become better pastoral counselors or equip chaplains with new skills to conduct their ministries. Counseling-related professions are growing quickly, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting both substance abuse counseling and marriage and family therapy to grow by 23% between 2016 and 2026. Other mental health professions are expanding, too. Incarceration alternatives are creating a greater need for probation officers and drug counselors, and social service managers remain in high demand. Counselors' interpersonal skills, including empathy, communication, and flexibility, can help them fit into a variety of industries. Christian counselors have a unique opportunity to blend spiritual growth with psychology to become agents of healing in the world.

Families, communities, and individuals in crisis need well-educated and prepared Christian counselors to bring personal and communal healing to difficult situations. Whether serving in a church, school, or office, counselors must complete a master's in counseling program. Recent college graduates may prefer an on-campus master's degree, since on-campus programs allow students to network with their professors, attend on-site career fairs, and create valuable relationships that may pay off during a job search. Online programs may be the best choice for current professionals who are moving into a new field. These programs allow clergy members to maintain their parish work while earning a master's in Christian counseling, or teachers to stay in their classrooms without having to relocate.

Both online and on-campus programs provide students with access to a regional or national network of ministries, alumni, and schools ready to help students begin careers in Christian counseling. While in school, students gain knowledge of theology, biblical ethics, psychopathologies, counseling strategies, and cutting-edge research in the field. They also participate in practicums and internships to help them pass state licensure exams. Students nearing graduation should contact their states of residence about each state's individual qualifications for counselor licensure. Some Christian counselors choose to seek ordination as clergy, move into a specialized area of counseling, or even return to school for a doctorate. Like all mental health professions, counseling welcomes and rewards practitioners with advanced degrees.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Christian Counseling?

Self-reflective people with good listening skills and empathy tend to make the best Christian counselors. Most counselors have refined communication and people skills. The mental health professions offer many career paths for people with master's degrees. Counselors can help people with mental illnesses, children having a difficult time in school, people with addictions, and families struggling with crises. Christian counselors may work in schools, churches, offices, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations to bring emotional and mental healing to individuals and their communities.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Usually meeting with husbands, wives, partners, or children, marriage and family therapists help clients explore their emotions, adjust to change, and make new decisions. Like most school counseling, professional counseling, and substance abuse counseling, marriage and family therapy requires a state license and a master's degree to practice.

Median Annual Salary: $48,790

Projected Growth Rate: 23%

School and Career Counselors

School and career counselors typically work in K-12 school settings or on college campuses. School counselors may evaluate students for mental health disorders, behavioral concerns, or family problems. Career counselors typically assess students through tests and interviews to determine what career options a student may wish to pursue.

Median Annual Salary: $55,410

Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse and related disorders make up a widespread social, public health, and criminal justice problem in the United States. Counselors who specialize in this field have plenty of work thanks to innovative programs that offer counseling in lieu of incarceration for some drug offenders. These professionals evaluate and assist people who suffer from addiction and their loved ones.

Median Annual Salary: $43,300

Projected Growth Rate: 23%

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers work for the state or federal government to help oversee and rehabilitate legal offenders who are on parole or serving probation. They interview parolees, determine treatment plans, conduct drug tests, and help parolees locate needed resources. Some parole and probation officers work as treatment specialists, a job that more closely resembles traditional counseling psychology.

Median Annual Salary: $51,410

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Social and Community Service Managers

Serving in community and social service organizations, these professionals supervise and coordinate programs, managing the teams that bring services to the public. Social and community service managers may identify needs, analyze data, develop programs, secure funding, and oversee program implementation. They may also conduct public awareness campaigns to promote their organization within target communities.

Median Annual Salary: $64,100

Projected Growth Rate: 18%

Earning a degree in Christian counseling requires a steadfast commitment to your education. Counselors often must obtain at least a master's degree in their field, while also completing a variety of licensure requirements (e.g., supervised practice hours and continuing-education credits). Christian counselors practice in the same capacity as many traditional counselors; however, Christian fundamentals play a role in their counseling methods, treatment, and practice. These counselors can work in secular spaces, such as private practices and treatment centers, as well as within churches and other religious settings.

Your success as a Christian counselor depends on many factors, including where you plan to live and practice. This ranking introduces the top states for Christian counselors based on an area's religious landscape, counseling employment opportunities, and salary levels. The following descriptions provide further information about each state, including insight into what makes the state a great place to live, work, and learn as a Christian counselor. Keep reading to learn more about the methodology behind this ranking and what factors contribute to each state making this list.

Methodology

The following list ranks states based on three main factors: counseling employment opportunities, average counselor salary, and each state's religiosity. Employment data and salary information come from occupational employment statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, data regarding each state's religiosity come from the Pew Research Center, which measures factors such as the importance of prayer and religion to state citizens, how often citizens attend worship services, and the number of citizens who believe in God. State religiosity was compared with employment levels and then cross-referenced with the states reporting the highest mean salaries for counseling professionals.

Rank School Description Toggle
1

Virginia

Often called the gateway to the South, Virginia offers a varied landscape including mountains and beaches. Sharing a border with the nation's capital, the state boasts the best of both city and rural life, with great options for professionals looking to live in the suburbs and make short commutes to work in the city. Virginia residents enjoy four distinct seasons and a mild climate, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west.

Virginia provides many opportunities for counselors. Employing the third-most mental health counselors among states in the nation, workers in this field take home an average annual salary of more than $48,000. Christian counselors also benefit from the state's high level of religiosity, with 61% of adult residents identifying as highly religious.

2

Texas

Home to more than 28 million people, Texas covers almost 270,000 square miles of the southern U.S. Within this massive space, Texans can access many landscapes, including plains, deserts, and the beaches of the Gulf Coast. Additionally, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio boast exciting tourist attractions, thriving music scenes, and rich history.

Mental health counselors in Texas enjoy average annual salaries above $47,000. Home to 37 public universities and three state colleges, aspiring counselors in Texas can choose from many options if they want to pursue an advanced degree or take advantage of continuing-education opportunities after graduation. Christian counselors may find Texas an appealing place to build a client base or find employment -- 69% of adults in the state report a strong belief in God, while 42% attend weekly religious services.

3

Ohio

Sometimes referred to as "the heart of it all," Ohio's capital city of Columbus sits within 500 miles of 48% of the country's population. The birthplace of eight U.S. presidents, Ohio contains a significant amount of farmland and serves as home to thousands of Amish residents. With 14 public four-year universities and more than 50 private postsecondary institutions, individuals seeking higher education in Ohio enjoy a variety of options.

Mental health counselors experience a high employment level in Ohio -- with almost 5,000 workers in this field -- and make a median salary above the national average. Many of these professionals work in individual and family services or outpatient care facilities. Ohio may also experience high demand for Christian counselors -- more than half of the state's adults identify as highly religious and 57% say they pray daily.

4

North Carolina

Known as the Tar Heel State, North Carolina contains a prestigious group of higher education institutions, offering a variety of options for Christian counselors seeking an advanced degree. The University of North Carolina System includes 16 branches and many campuses. Additionally, 36 private institutions call North Carolina home, including Duke University. Students enjoy the state's mild climate and varied landscape, with the Atlantic coast to the east and mountains in the state's western region.

Christian counselors may find North Carolina a particularly welcoming and lucrative place to practice. North Carolina ranks as the country's 10th-most religious state, with 73% of adults reporting an absolute belief in God and 62% claiming religion as an important part of their daily life. Counselors in North Carolina earn an annual mean salary of $51,750 -- more than $4,000 above the national mean salary for this position.

5

Florida

Home to some of the nation's most popular vacation destinations, Florida boasts beautiful beaches, a year-round warm climate, and a diverse population. Students interested in earning an advanced degree in Christian counseling can explore one of Florida's 28 public institutions, joining more than 800,000 students across the system. Graduates also tend to stick around, with eight out of nine graduates of the Florida College System remaining in the state for further education or employment.

The Florida Counseling Association contains more than 2,000 members, and the BLS reported nearly 4,000 employed mental health counselors in the state in 2016. Christian counselors can benefit from the state's strong religious beliefs, with 70% of the adult population identifying as Christian and 64% of adult residents reporting an absolute belief in God.

6

Missouri

Home to famous individuals such as Mark Twain and George Washington Carver, Missouri boasts a population of more than six million people. Residents enjoy an abundance of options when pursuing a postsecondary degree, with 13 public four-year universities, 14 public two-year colleges, and 24 private colleges and universities in the state. Those interested in a faith-based education can also choose from 17 theological institutions. Missouri offers a variety of state-based grants and funding opportunities for residents pursuing degrees.

Christian counselors also benefit from the state's overall religiosity. In Missouri, 77% of adults identify as Christian, and more than half of the state's adults say religion is very important in their daily lives. Mental health counselors in Missouri earn a mean annual salary of $41,620.

7

Georgia

Georgia boasts more than just a reputation for good peaches. For example, many film and television companies benefit from the state's generous tax benefits. Popular television series, such as "The Walking Dead," have taken over some of Georgia's small towns, creating a surge in tourism. Georgia residents also enjoy the state's mild climate and diverse landscape.

Students in Georgia can choose between many universities, colleges, and technical institutions in the state's university system. Residents can also take advantage of certain state-based scholarship and grant initiatives to attend higher education institutions across the state. Christian counselors, as well as those seeking counseling degrees, find Georgia a great place to practice and learn. Georgia ranks as the nation's eighth-most religious state, and 79% of its adult residents identify as Christian.

8

Tennessee

Home to country music legend Dolly Parton, Tennessee also houses numerous landmarks and attractions, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, and Elvis' Graceland in Memphis. Residents and visitors can enjoy Tennessee's vibrant and eclectic music scene and explore the rich history of the Civil Rights trail. Residents also benefit from the state's many public and private higher learning institutions, with nine public state universities, including the University of Tennessee System, and 13 community colleges.

Those looking to earn their degree in Christian counseling or practice counseling can pursue many opportunities in Tennessee. The state ranks third in the nation in terms of religiosity, with 81% of adults identifying as Christian. Tennessee also offers special state programs for high school graduates and adults returning to school to help fund their education.

9

Maryland

Home to the U.S. Naval Academy, Maryland shares a border with the nation's capital. Maryland residents can enjoy the scenic Chesapeake Bay and Inner Harbor of Baltimore, four distinct seasons, and easy access to much of the northeast and southeast. Attending one of Maryland's 50 colleges and universities gives students access to the historical and artistic landmarks of the nation's capital, including Capitol Hill, the White House, and a range of national museums.

Practicing Christian counselors can benefit from Maryland's large Christian population -- 69% of adults in the state identify with the faith and 64% claim an absolute belief in God. Mental health counselors in the state earn an annual mean salary of $42,690.

10

Louisiana

Louisiana's rich history and culture offer residents and students a plethora of opportunities to engage in new life experiences. Learners in the state can also choose from one of 33 public institutions of higher education, including schools in the Louisiana State University System.

Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation in terms of religiosity, with 84% of adults identifying as Christian. This offers ample opportunity for Christian counselors to build a client base or find faith-based employment. Mental health counselors in Louisiana must accrue at least 3,000 supervised practice hours before applying for licensure. They must also pass the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination.

11

Oklahoma

Referred to as the Sooner State, Oklahoma boasts a population of just under four million people. Oklahomans can enjoy the state's many landscapes, including plains, highlands, and the Ozark Forest. Some of the state's top employers hire mental health counselors and professionals, including Oklahoma State University, OU Health Services, Integris Health, and state government agencies, making Oklahoma a great place for people in this field.

Counselors interested in faith-based practice also benefit from Oklahoma's large religious population -- 79% of adults in the state practice some denomination of Christianity. Oklahoma also ranks among the top 10 states in terms of religiosity, with a large majority of adults in the state reporting that religion plays an important role in their lives.

12

Indiana

With 72% of adults in the state identifying as Christian, Indiana is a good place for Christian counselors to learn and practice. Many of the nation's large interstates intersect in Indiana, earning it the moniker of the Crossroads of America. Nestled between Illinois and Ohio, Indiana offers easy access to several midwestern and northeastern cities. The state also boasts a relatively mild climate with four distinct seasons. The state houses many public, private, and technical postsecondary institutions.

To earn licensure in counseling in Indiana, applicants must take and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination, which requires completing at least 60 credits of graduate-level education. Christian counselors who wish to practice clinically must maintain this certification and licensure within Indiana.

13

Kentucky

Kentucky offers a diverse landscape, with plains, valleys, and mountains. Residents enjoy a mild climate, with temperatures averaging around 30 degrees in the winter and the high 70s in the summer. Along with the state's natural beauty, residents can attend one of Kentucky's many strong higher education programs, choosing from eight public universities and 16 state-based community and technical colleges.

Students looking to pursue a degree in counseling, earn licensure, and practice Christian counseling in Kentucky can look forward to a receptive client base. Among the state's adults, 75% report an absolute belief in God and 76% identify as Christian. Those wishing to practice counseling as a licensed professional in Kentucky must complete at least 60 credits of graduate study before applying for licensure.

14

Iowa

With more than 110,000 students enrolled across Iowa's 34 state universities and four-year colleges, the state provides a plethora of opportunities for degree-seeking learners, including those pursuing a degree in Christian counseling. Iowa also contains several Christian colleges for students who want to receive a faith-based education.

For professionals who already possess licensure, Iowa serves as a good place to practice Christian counseling. Many adults in Iowa identify religion as top priority in their lives, with 55% of adults identifying as highly religious. To practice as a licensed mental health counselor in Iowa, you must possess a master's or doctoral degree in counseling and pass the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination.

15

Utah

Utah, with its name originating from a Native American word for "people of the mountains," features some of the country's tallest mountain peaks. The state also serves as home to the nation's largest Mormon population, with 55% of the Christian population identifying with this denomination. This high concentration of religious people makes Utah a good place for those looking to practice as Christian counselors or earn a postsecondary degree in the field.

Utah's public university system consists of eight institutions. According to state data, residents with a graduate degree in the social sciences earn more over their first five years in the workforce than those with only a bachelor's degree. Additionally, mental health counselors in Utah take home the second-highest average salary in the nation; according to the BLS, these professionals earn an annual salary of $61,080.

16

New Jersey

Originally referred to as the Garden State because of its fertile soil, New Jersey's population now stands near nine million. The northeastern region of the state serves as a commuter area for professionals working in nearby New York City, which is easily accessible by public transit and highways. Rutgers became New Jersey's first state university in 1946, and the state currently houses a variety of public and private colleges, universities, and technical schools.

New Jersey ranks as the 19th-most religious state in the nation, with 67% of adults identifying with the Christian faith. Christian counselors in New Jersey benefit from this predominantly Christian population, and those still pursuing the education necessary for licensure can take advantage of the state's many prestigious postsecondary education options.

17

Arkansas

A tourist destination due to its beautiful outdoor sights, including natural springs, caverns, waterfalls, and mountain ranges, Arkansas is sometimes called The Natural State. Those looking to earn a counseling degree while enjoying the state's scenic backdrop can attend one of the state's many colleges, universities, or technical schools. Students at these institutions can pursue state-based funding opportunities, including scholarships, grants, and other financial aid programs.

Those who already possess a graduate degree in counseling and wish to practice Christian counseling benefit from the state's highly religious population. Seventy percent of Arkansas adults identify as highly religious, which ranks fifth highest in the nation. Additionally, Arkansas mental health counselors earn an annual mean salary of $51,960 -- well above the national average for this position.

18

Nebraska

As one of the country's top producers of corn, Nebraska boasts the nickname The Cornhusker State. Nebraska offers learners a variety of options to choose from when in comes to earning postsecondary degrees, including two-year and four-year colleges and universities and technical schools. Additionally, learners wishing to earn a degree in Christian counseling can can choose from several Christian colleges and universities located around the state.

Professionals looking to practice as Christian counselors in Nebraska should feel welcome in the state, with 75% of adult residents identifying as Christian. More than half of adults say that religion plays an important role in their daily lives, and 39% report weekly attendance at religious services. To practice as a licensed mental health professional in Nebraska, you must possess at least a master's degree.

19

South Dakota

Home to Mount Rushmore -- one of the country's most famous landmarks -- South Dakota's economy relies largely on agriculture, including the production of hay, soybeans, and corn. The state's higher education programs include six public state universities and a variety of private, tribal, and technical institutions.

Christian counselors may find South Dakota an appealing place to practice, with most adults in the state classifying themselves as highly religious. 79% of adult residents in South Dakota identify as Christian, with 36% stating that they attend weekly services. Mental health counselors in South Dakota must possess a master's degree from an accredited institution and pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification in order to practice.

20

Wyoming

As one of the top-paying states for mental health counselors, Wyoming stands as a great place for those holding or seeking licensure as Christian counselors. Known for its beautiful natural landmarks and national parks, Wyoming maintains a state population of just under 565,000. Although it contains a small population, more than 30,000 students enrolled in state community colleges in 2017.

Among adults in Wyoming, 71% identify as Christian. The high percentage of Christians and large salary for mental health counselors -- with median salaries exceeding $58,000 -- make Wyoming an ideal location for Christian counselors. Individuals seeking licensure in Wyoming must possess a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited institution and complete required supervised practice hours.

21

Arizona

Coined the Grand Canyon State, Arizona maintains a population of more than 6.5 million people. During the 2018-19 academic year, more than 185,000 students enrolled in Arizona's public university system, which includes Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona. Additionally, in the 2016-17 year, this system awarded more than 9,000 master's degrees -- the required minimum degree level to pursue licensure in the state as a counselor.

Professionals hoping to practice faith-based counseling can benefit from the fact that two-thirds of Arizona's adult population identify as Christian. Additionally, more than half of adults report that they engage in daily prayer and hold an absolute belief in God. To qualify for licensure, counselors in Arizona must complete supervised practice hours and pass necessary examinations after earning a master's degree. Mental health counselors in Arizona earn an average salary of $46,180 -- just above the national average for this field.

22

Michigan

Michigan contains more than 3,000 miles of shoreline along the Great Lakes, and residents enjoy four distinct seasons -- with warm summers and frequent snowfall in the winters. Nicknamed the Wolverine state in the 1800s, the animal eventually became the mascot of the University of Michigan -- one of the state's many public postsecondary institutions.

When it comes to religion, 70% of adults in Michigan identify as Christian, which helps make the state an attractive place for Christian counselors. Additionally, mental health counselors in Michigan take home an average annual salary of $48,190 -- more than $2,000 above the national average for this position. To earn licensure for mental health counseling, individuals must possess a master's degree (or higher) in counseling earned with at least 48 graduate-level credits.

23

North Dakota

Home to around 755,000 people, North Dakota boasts a rich history and an abundance of natural resources. North Dakota's fertile soil makes agriculture one of the state's most productive industries, with large harvests of dry beans, flaxseed, canola, and honey. Despite its relatively small population, North Dakota serves students at 11 state colleges and universities, with 45,882 students enrolled at these institutions in the fall of 2018.

Individuals who already hold a master's in counseling and wish to practice should find the state a favorable place to work. North Dakota ranks as one of the higher-paying states for mental health counselors,with a mean annual salary of almost $50,000. Christian counselors may also thrive in the state, with 77% of adult residents identifying as Christian.

24

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers a variety of postsecondary education options, including more than a dozen state schools and 92 private colleges and universities. Learners interested in receiving a faith-based education can also enroll at one of the state's 13 theological seminaries. Students hoping to practice as a licensed mental health counselor in the state must hold a master's degree in counseling (or higher) earned with at least 60 credits of graduate study.

Religion plays an important role in the lives of many Pennsylvania adults, with more than half reporting that they pray daily. Additionally, 73% of adults in the state identify as Christian, making Pennsylvania a good place for practicing Christian counselors. According to the BLS, Pennsylvania also ranks second in the country in terms of employment for mental health counselors.

25

Illinois

Home to multiple U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, Illinois maintains a population of nearly 13 million people, making it the fifth-most populous state in the nation. Illinois offers a variety of options for learners pursuing graduate degrees in counseling. In the fall of 2016, postsecondary institutions across the state enrolled more than 100,000 master's-level students. To earn the required license to practice as a professional counselor, individuals must possess at least a master's degree in the field.

Christian counselors may also find Illinois a rewarding place to practice, as 71% of adults in the state identify as Christian. Additionally, half of adult residents report that religion plays an important part in their lives. According to the BLS, Illinois also ranks as one of the top employers of mental health counselors; more than 5,000 Illinois residents work in this field.

Earning a Christian counseling degree online or on campus is a long, expensive, and challenging undertaking. Selecting a graduate program is a personal choice, but applicants should remember that a master's degree means investing money and time into one experience. Choosing the right program require students to think about several factors. Consider for instance: how long does it take to finish the degree? Are there both part-time and full-time options available? Does the school require students to complete prerequisites? What is its policy on transfers? Applicants must also make sure the curriculum is right for them. Does the school's concentration match your professional ambitions? What are the university's practicum and internship requirements? Can the school help students find employment and boost their resumes? If the degree includes a capstone project, is it an applied research project, or a traditional master's thesis?

Nearly all students must consider the cost of earning a graduate degree. Besides tuition, expenses such as parking permits, textbooks, and technology fees can quickly add up. Students need to calculate the total cost of the degree before accepting an offer. Some online Christian counseling master's programs allow students to complete all their coursework from home, meaning they do not have to relocate, change jobs, or disrupt their family life. These online degrees can offer big savings. Other programs implement requirements for on-campus courses, practicums, and internships that students must undertake in January terms or over the summer. In these cases, additional travel costs may offset online program savings.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Christian Counseling Programs

Students considering a graduate degree should consider a program's perceived quality and value in the professional space. Accreditation is a key determining factor in how other counselors perceive the degree and which organizations will count it toward licensure or certification requirements.

States require mental health professionals seeking state licensure to hold degrees from accredited schools and will not issue licenses to students who graduated from non-accredited institutions. Regional accrediting associations are considered the gold standard, and they accredit entire universities. National accrediting bodies such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education and the Transnational Association of Christian Schools also provide institution-wide accreditation. Program accreditation is department specific. Seminaries offering counseling degrees may also hold accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools .

For a master's in Christian counseling, the programmatic accrediting bodies include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs and the American Psychological Association. Attending an institution with program-specific accreditation assures students that their degrees meet current standards in the field.

Each school's has its own unique admissions requirements. Highly competitive schools receive many applications for only a few open seats in their programs. These institutions must consider many factors for admission. Other colleges have many open slots, welcoming applications from all qualified students. Most applicants apply to between three and eight graduate programs. Master's in Christian counseling applications take time, and each application costs money. Applying to several schools can be a wise strategy since desired schools may decline a students' application. Many prospective graduate students rank their top-choice schools using factors such as cost, financial aid, program length, concentration options, and school reputation. The best master's in counseling programs also prepare students to pass state licensure exams, increasing the school's immediate value to students' careers.

Prerequisites

  • Bachelor's Degree: Applicants for a master's in Christian counseling must hold a bachelor's degree. While undergraduate coursework in theology and psychology is helpful, no particular undergraduate major is necessary for admission.
  • Professional Experience: Professional experience may set apart a candidate as particularly suited to the counseling profession, but few Christian counseling degrees require a precise number of years of professional experience for admission.
  • Minimum GPA: The minimum GPA for a master's in Christian counseling usually falls between a 2.7 and a 3.0. Some schools allow applicants to offset a low GPA with high scores on the admissions test, extensive professional experience, or a particularly strong GPA in the last two years of undergrad.

Admission Materials

  • Application: Usually requiring an essay, a purpose statement, and a resume, graduate school applications can be time consuming. Though popular for undergraduate applications, CommonApp is not available for graduate degrees.
  • Transcripts: Applicants need to submit transcripts that show all courses attempted and grades earned from previous schools. Today, many colleges use studentclearinghouse.org, which charges $5 for transcripts.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Counseling students usually need to submit three letters of recommendation. These often come from professors, pastors, or other who can speak to the applicant's potential as a counselor.
  • Test Scores: Most Christian counseling master's programs require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Students should strive for a 150 on the exam's quantitative and verbal sections.
  • Application Fee: College application fees are usually about $40, and schools collect this money to help pay for the application process. Some schools waive fees for students or apply them to tuition.

Concentrations, coursework, and degree requirements for a master's in Christian counseling vary widely between schools and programs. Credit-hour requirements can be as few as 36 or as many as 90, and concentration options depend on the degree type. Nearly all Christian counseling degrees include courses in psychological theories, counseling practice, scripture, and research.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Christian Counseling
Concentration Description Careers
Professional Counseling Professional counseling is the foundational degree for most counseling jobs. This concentration equips students to pass their exams and meet other requirements to become licensed professional counselors in their home states. Courses include helping relationships, psychopathology, group dynamics, and multicultural diversity. Students also take an internship and a practicum. Licensed professional counselor
Discipleship Usually a subset of pastoral counseling, Christian counseling, or biblical counseling, this concentration prepares students for relational ministry by emphasizing personal development and biblical content. Courses include discipleship counseling, group counseling and discipleship, and marriage and family counseling. The entire curriculum includes courses in counseling, biblical studies, ministry practice, and theological studies. Associate pastor
Children's Ministry Christian counselors who want to serve youth, families, and children can emphasize children's ministry. Courses in this specialization may include youth, children, families, and faith throughout scripture; postmodern culture and families; and spiritual formation and development of youth, children, and families. Students may learn how to minister to children with challenging issues and to families in crisis. Children's minister, school counselor
Clinical Mental Health Counselors who want to promote positive change by treating mental health disorders often choose this specialization, which focuses on counseling theories and evidence-based research. Courses may include addiction counseling, career counseling, military family counseling, and trauma and crisis counseling. The curriculum includes supervised field work and in internship. Licensed professional counselor, licensed professional clinical counselor
Marriage & Family Therapy Designed for students seeking to begin careers as licensed marriage and family therapists, this concentration includes courses such marriage, couple, and family counseling theories; introduction to human sexuality; and counseling adolescents and their families. Students must take a three-semester practicum and complete 700 hours of supervised work. Licensed marriage and family therapist

Courses in a Master's in Christian Counseling Program

Courses differ depending on the school, the exact program selected, and the concentrations offered. Most master's in Christian counseling programs draw together a curriculum including psychological theory, biblical knowledge, and courses in counseling practice and research. Many Christian counseling master's programs also require internships, practicums, and labs.

Introduction to Addictions and Substance Abuse Disorders

This course takes a three-fold approach to the subject, beginning with a broad understanding of addiction and the counselor's role. The course moves into theories and models of treatment for addiction, and concludes with a review of standards in order to equip students for addiction counseling licensure.

Career Development Counseling

Students consider a broad overview of careers and related life experiences. The course begins with a theology of work and a look at the effects of work on the human experience. It goes on to examine the nexus between work and psychotherapy, career development theories, career counseling techniques and processes, and the relationship between family and work.

Counseling Theories

In this course, learners study a comprehensive overview of the major counseling theories, including psychoanalytic, existential psychotherapy, Adlerian, person-centered, behavioral, cognitive behavioral, reality therapy/choice theory, and rational emotive behavioral therapy. Students also learn about group counseling theories, which may include synchronous group experiences.

Integration of Scripture With Counseling Theory

Students study the Christian worldview through the lens of scripture and apply it to contemporary theories of counseling psychology. The course considers what it means to be human from both psychological and theological perspectives and examines counseling ethics in the light of scripture and Christian thought.

Spiritual Formation

Using stages of growth and classical spiritual disciplines, this course looks at the spiritual formation of both counselor and client. Students explore their own spiritual health in light of what it means for a counselor. They study topics such as centering prayer, Ignatian spirituality, Lectio Divina, the divine silence, and other tools of spiritual growth.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Christian Counseling?

Christian counseling master's programs vary in length depending on the type of degree, school, and learning format. Earning a master of arts typically requires 36 credit hours, a master's degree in clinical counseling from a seminary may take between 48 and 67 hours, and a master of divinity may require at least 90. Students should budget one to three years of full-time study to complete a Christian counseling degree. Online programs can be convenient, but some on-campus programs help students finish faster by doubling up on credits. Typically, schools permit students to enroll in fewer courses per semester in order to meet work or family obligations. Students should be wary of prolonging degrees, however, since this tactic can result in much higher overall costs. Schools usually cap their tuition at nine to 12 credits, making it cheaper for students who take more than the recommended amount of classes per term.

How Much Is a Master's in Christian Counseling?

A master's degree in Christian counseling will cost between $8,500 and $60,000. Overall costs depend on how many credits a school requires, and any discounts it may give to current clergy or members of a supporting denomination. A master's in Christian counseling can require as few as 36 credits, or as many as 90, to complete. Shorter degrees often save money and time, but students should always check the cost per credit-hour to understand the total tuition they will need to pay. May seminaries and Christian colleges offer military-friendly benefits, as well as discounts for the children of pastors and missionaries.

Online students often need to pay technology fees that aren't required of on-campus students. That said, digital learners usually save on housing, fees, meal plans, and other costs. Often, online degrees charge less. However, many of the best online master's in counseling programs also require extensive time on campus. Travel costs, hotels, and time away from work and family can add up quickly for distance learners.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Christian Counseling Prepares For

Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc

Administered through the Association of Professional Chaplains, the BCCI certification requires a graduate theological degree, such as a degree in Christian counseling, along with qualifying work experience and four units of clinical pastoral education. Degrees must include 72 credits of specific coursework like ethics of professional practice and spiritual care of persons.

Licensed Professional Counselor

LPCs hold a license to practice the counseling profession in their state. Particulars vary by state, but becoming an LPC typically requires a qualifying master's degree; 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work; and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination. LPCs must also follow a strict code of ethics.

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor

CCMHCs are board-certified counselors who hold the National Certified Counselor designation, complete 60 hours of graduate credit in a master's in Christian counseling or another qualifying degree, and meet other requirements for endorsement. These professionals must achieve a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

Spiritual Christian Counseling Certificate

Sponsored by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, the Spiritual Christian Counseling Certificate is designed for applicants from caring professions who completed at least 330 hours of continuing education. This certification shows clients that a counselor is fully trained in spiritual counseling from a Christian perspective.

National Certified Counselors

Becoming an NCC means a counselor has achieved or surpassed the highest standards in the profession. NCCs hold an eligible degree, such as a master's in Christian counseling. They must also have extensive, documented work in counseling and pass a rigorous exam. They may use the sponsoring organization's certification mark on marketing materials.

BibleGateway

Making it easy to search the Bible in a variety of translations, BibleGateway is filled with study guides, commentaries, articles, devotions, and other resources related to the Bible. Counselors can find biblical resources or recommend them to clients using this site.

Journal of Biblical Counseling

Sponsored by the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, JBC publishes articles three times a year. Topics include nourishing the emotional life, pastoral burnout, and the theological foundations of counseling.

Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling

Sponsored by a coalition of pastoral care and counseling organizations, JPCC is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes both reflective and scholarly pieces on psychotherapy, education, research, counseling, and spiritual care.

Professional Organizations in Christian Counseling

Joining a professional organization gives students a chance to meet seasoned professionals, hear educational talks at conferences, and read up-to-date research in organizational publications. These organizations often maintain extensive and curated articles online as well as recommended books, podcasts, and audio resources for counselors and laypeople. Many professional associations offer discounts to students, and a number of them provide job boards that student members can use. Membership in an organization may give candidates' resumes a boost.

Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Founded by Jay Adams in 1976, ACBC certifies biblical counselors who have completed a three-step process of training, testing, and supervision. The organization also hosts conferences and provides a searchable list of counselors.

Association of Biblical Counselors

ABC provides resources such as books; audio materials; and videos designed for counselors, students, and laypeople. Members can enjoy a national conference as well as take advantage of the opportunity to become certified biblical counselors.

National Christian Counseling Association

Since 1981, the NCCA has equipped Christian counselors, pastors, and other caring professionals with the tools to take a faith-based approach to counseling. The group offers online courses and training through certified academic institutions.

The American Association of Christian Counselors

AACC membership reflects the entire community of care. The organization offers educational resources such as Christian Counseling Today magazine and national events, as well as a searchable database of Christian counselors.