Christian counselors provide traditional client-based therapy within the framework and values of the Christian faith. Christian counselors may specialize in all dimensions of counseling, including addiction, marriage and family, youth, or rehabilitation counseling. These counselors are knowledgeable experts in their field, and are also well-versed in biblical teachings and the fundamental principles of modern Christianity.
All counselors who serve clients in a private practice, including Christian counselors, must be fully licensed in all 50 states. Although licensure requirements vary by state, they typically include 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical training and successful completion of an official licensing exam. Private practice counselors must also obtain a state-issued license, although the prerequisites are usually not as strict. Most Christian counselors in the U.S. have a master's degree in their field, and many also get their start with a bachelor's in Christian counseling.
Today, many students are choosing to pursue their bachelor's degree in Christian counseling online. Web-based programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as traditional classroom-based options, and the asynchronous (or self-paced) structure of online education is especially conducive to students with part-time jobs, childcare obligations, and other important commitments.
Read on to learn more about what you can do with a bachelor's degree in Christian counseling, and what kind of career opportunities you can pursue in the field, with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE CHRISTIAN COUNSELING DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
An online bachelor's degree in Christian counseling will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a master's-level counseling program. Students will learn key counseling methods and therapy techniques, as well as strategies for serving different populations. They will also be exposed to definitive values and beliefs of the Christian faith.
WILL AN ONLINE IN CHRISTIAN COUNSELING DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
An online bachelor's degree in Christian counseling offers a flexible alternative to brick-and-mortar programs. Students can access lectures and other course materials, submit written assignments, take exams, and contact their professors on their own schedule. The latest in educational technology also enables them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other Wi-Fi-compatible device.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S IN CHRISTIAN COUNSELING?
Students who graduate from an online bachelor's in Christian counseling degree program will be qualified to offer private counseling services in states where a master's degree is not required for licensure. Bachelor's degree-holders who plan to practice in states where a master's is required will be well-positioned to embrace the demands of a graduate program.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN CHRISTIAN COUNSELING PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs and professional ambitions. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's in Christian counseling programs in the United States. If you are considering an online bachelor's in Christian counseling be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more about their specific master's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Christian Counseling Programs
|1||Liberty University Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Liberty, located in Lynchburg, Virginia has more than 94,000 online students. The school was one of the first institutions to provide courses and degrees through the internet. The two decades of experience in utilizing the latest technology and translating course material for this type of learning has helped students succeed. Distance learners looking for an online Christian counseling degree are often drawn to the university’s Bachelor of Science in Psychology, which has the option to specialize in Christian Counseling. This degree doesn’t prepare graduates for clinical settings, but they are eligible for other positions within psychology and counseling. Potential careers include counseling, Lay ministry Christian counseling, and non-licensed Christian counselor. Prospective learners can attend one of the department’s regular webinars before signing up for the 120 credit hour program. Liberty only requires students to take 30 hours at the university in order to qualify for graduation.
|2||The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
The Baptist College in Graceville provides educational training and professional support to all students and is committed to spiritual support and mentoring to ensure every graduate fulfills their God-given potential. Founded in 1943, the first classes were held in a Sunday School room. BCF’s online Christian counseling degree is taught through their online B.A. in Psychology. Students complete 18 hours in biblical and theological studies alongside their major. All 60 required hours for the major are taught through a Christian lens. This provides students with the framework they’ll need to understand various branches of psychological theories and methodologies, preparing them for roles in Christian counseling. Courses in the program include Personality Theory, Christian Doctrine, and Marriage and Family. Graduates will demonstrate the interpersonal, research, and diagnostic skills necessary upon completion. All online classes are taught via MyBCF, the college’s learning management system.
|3||Johnson University Knoxville, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
JU’s Pastoral Care and Counseling degree meets the requirements of students seeking a Christian counseling degree program online by combining psychology practices and professional internships to gain practical skills. Graduates of the program will have the maturity of a Christ-like servant, be able to prepare ministries and churches for kingdom mission, and provide biblical guidance. The counseling degree is 120 credits and each course is taught through the school’s online learning platform Sakai. The distance program is delivered asynchronously to allow for maximum flexibility. Affordability is central to JU’s mission, with each academic year costing an estimated $16,900. Johnson is accredited regionally and by the Commission on Accreditation for the Association of Biblical Higher Education. Transfer and new students are required to send in two letters of recommendation, one must be from a pastor. The Tennessee-based institution has been granting degrees for 120 years.
|4||Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
SAGU was founded in the 1990s and the university has grown exponentially from its Waxahachie, Texas campus. SAGU encourages students to grow their knowledge of Pentecostal theology; the school advocates for Spirit-filled educations while underscoring academic rigor. SAGU’s online Christian counseling degree comes in the form of their Bachelor of Art in Assemblies of God Counseling, an innovative program that emphasizes the importance of understanding counseling methodologies and how Christians fit into the profession. The program is 127 credit hours and includes courses in Human Sexuality, Psychology of Religion, and Statistics for Behavioral Sciences. Students can focus their learning on different populations or needs, ranging from children and the aging to abnormal psychology and crisis intervention. SAGU has a minor in addiction counseling available. Students can save up to $25,000 by enrolling in a single three-hour course which is meant to show their current knowledge and work experience.
|5||The Master's University and Seminary Santa Clarita, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
Master’s University in California was founded in 1927 as a theological seminary with 24 students. The university’s commitment to providing biblically-based teaching remains. Prospective students seeking a Christian counseling degree online can earn a B.A. in Biblical Counseling. The program is 122 credits and includes coursework in biology, theology, and communication. Full-time students can complete the program in 14 months. Graduates will be well-versed in theology, conflict resolution, and understanding how to apply biblical procedures to client’s life issues. For every third course taken by online learners, one unit of the “Distinctives of Biblical Living” courses must be completed. This course was designed to instill biblical principles of divine authority, heart transformation, gospel witness, and sanctifying relationships. Career opportunities include Christian high school counselor, pastor, director of biblical counseling, and Lay leadership ministry. MU has a M.A. in Biblical Counseling for students looking to continue their education.
|6||Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Founded by famed theologian and pastor Oral Roberts, the university empowers students to explore their intellectual curiosity while growing closer to God. The Tulsa-based school was one of the first Christian institutions to truly leverage distance learning. The university’s answer to the need for online Christian counseling programs is the Bachelor of Science in Christian Caregiving and Counseling, an innovative degree offered by the college of theology. The program requires distance learners to earn a total of 128 credits to graduate and includes classes in natural science, theological studies, and social sciences. Seniors are required to either undertake a practicum or a substantial capstone project demonstrating their growth throughout the program. Graduates of ORU’s degree have gone on to become chaplains, missionaries, researchers, teachers, or certified counselors. Being a certified counselor requires completion of a graduate-level program; ORU has two different master’s in Christian counseling options.
|7||Crown College Saint Bonifacius, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
CC, located in Minnesota, Crown regularly ranks among the best private colleges in the Midwest. Students at Crown enjoy small, personalized classes taught asynchronously that allow them to interact with peers from across the country. The online Christian counseling degree options at Crown culminate in the online B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Counseling. The program requires students to earn 125 to 131 credits in major core, elective, general education core, and Christian studies core courses. All courses are taught from a Christian perspective and students will gain a Christ-centered education. Students have the option to minor in drug and alcohol counseling. Upon graduation, students are qualified to hold non-clinical counseling positions or continue their education; Crown offers a masters in counseling. Tuition at CC is regularly lower than similar colleges and universities with the same type of accreditation.
|8||Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Inspired by the Christian beliefs of John Wesley, Indiana Wesleyan has been educating students for nearly 100 years. While 3,000 students attend on campus, the university has been hailed for its adult education programs, including distance learning that reaches over 10,000 learners. Indiana Wesleyan doesn’t have a specific online degree in Christian counseling, but the B.S. in Psychology of Human Relations provides many of the same themes and classes. The program’s core is 40 credits and requires two prerequisite courses in General Psychology and Developmental Psychology. The curriculum is an overarching review of psychological principles to help future counselors apply applications to everyday life. Students learn ethics, relational development, personality theories, spiritual development, social psychology, and other counseling techniques. The school provides each student with a personal advisor and caps class sizes to ensure a personalized learning experience.
|9||The King's University Southlake, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 11%||
The King’s is based in Southlake, Texas, and has satellite campuses throughout the United States. TKU prides itself on being an evangelical university that prepares students to further the kingdom and emphasizes a spirit-empowered education. TKU’s bachelor of biblical counseling provides concrete foundations in both counseling and theological principles, developing graduates who are prepared for advanced study of the discipline or to take up roles in local churches. The 124 credit hour program teaches hermeneutical skills and teaches various styles of biblical counseling. Online learning is provided through Blackboard. The program does two 7-week blocks of courses per semester, allowing students to take a maximum of two courses per block. Students must complete both a junior and senior ministry practicum at a church or other religious organization, where their counseling skills can be practiced. Program administrators are available to help online learners find suitable locations in their area if needed.
|10||Dallas Christian College Dallas, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Dallas Christian provides quality education to learners throughout the country, from its central campus and through its department of distance education. Dallas Christian combines education and mentoring to their interdenominational teaching approach. The school’s B.S. in Psychology & Bible teaches students how to approach the discipline of counseling from a biblical perspective. Students complete general electives, a bible core, and major hours while deciding how to use their 29 open electives. The program requires students to earn a total of 129 credits. Students with interest in a particular psychological framework often use the open elective hours to further specialize their education. Online classes are provided through FlexLearning. Students can interact with their class through live sessions or listen to on-demand recordings. For each semester that a student is enrolled in six or more hours, they are required to take the Developing Christian Influence course.
|11||Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Denver’s Colorado Christian University has been providing an interdenominational education for more than a century. The university offers a range of online degrees to meet the needs of many different students. CCU’s B.S. in Psychology teaches the discipline with Christian values in mind. The program is 120 credit hours and includes courses in personality theory, human sexuality, and theology. The program has six areas of focus: social psychology, abnormal psychology, environmental psychology, interpersonal relationships, research methodology, and integration of psychology and theology. Courses are completed in five-week blocks, allowing distance learners to earn their degree at an accelerated pace; the program can be completed in five semesters. Students can apply a maximum of 72 credits from a past education towards the degree through CCU’s credit-by-exam process. The degree prepares graduates to enter CCU’s master’s in counseling program. CCU offers an associate and minor in psychology.
|11||Southwestern College Winfield, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
Winfield, Kansas has been Southwestern’s home since 1885, providing a location for the United Methodist institution to offer quality education to students from 25 states and 10 different countries. Southwestern’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, taught from a Christian perspective, meets similar expectations to other online Christian counseling degree programs. The 124 credit hour program has students complete courses in ethics, abnormal psychology, and personality theories. The degree fulfills the necessary requirements for students to pursue a nonclinical role in counseling. This program doesn’t require an internship or thesis, but students do have to complete a senior capstone consisting of a professional portfolio demonstrating what they’ve learned throughout the degree program. Distance learners receive access to the academic success center which provides advising, writing assistance, and tutoring services. Students must have at least six, post-high school college credits and a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered for the program.
|13||World Mission University Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 0%||
World Mission University is located in Los Angeles, California, and offers spiritually impactful and professional accredited academic pathways to all students. Among the degree options available online is a bachelor of arts in Christian counseling. This online Christian counseling degree consists of 126 credits in coursework and builds upon faith-based knowledge and empathetic communication skills necessary to aid individuals, couples, and diverse communities navigate life’s complex challenges. The degree plan consists of general education requirements and theological and biblical courses. Additionally, students must pass a cumulative exam in order to receive their degree.
All online students pay the same per-credit tuition. This, combined with financial aid, makes WMU one of the most affordable online Christian counseling degree programs available. WMU also boasts a generous transfer policy, enabling students to transfer up to 84 credits towards degree completion, as long as students possess the minimum 2.0 GPA standard required for admission. To apply, candidates must submit academic credentials, a reference, and a personal testimony.
World Mission University holds accreditation from the Association for Biblical Higher Education, an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education.
|14||Ohio Christian University Circleville, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Located in Circleville, the university’s mission is to develop students intellectually, professionally, and spiritually and to ensure students, regardless of location, are able to meet their goals. The university’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology meets the same requirements of a respected online Christian counseling degree. It teaches psychology subjects through a Christian worldview. This program is designed for learners planning to complete advanced studies in the field to become licensed or certified counselors. The 120 credit-hour program teaches skills in critical thinking, decision making, and interpersonal relations and theories within counseling, personality theory, and developmental psychology. OCU students complete one course at a time alongside a cohort group who they take every class with. Learners should expect to complete weekly assignments and also interact with their classmates and professors through online discussion boards. The distance education department offers degrees fully online and taught in an asynchronous format to provide flexibility.
|15||Messenger College Euless, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
Formed in 1987 by the merging of two institutions, Messenger, in Euless, Texas serves as the national college of the Pentecostal Church of God and provides degrees focused on preparing spirit-filled leaders. Messenger’s Bachelor of Arts in Counseling was created to provide a foundational understanding of counseling principles in order to prepare graduates for pastoral care roles. The 129 credit hour program doesn’t lead to licensure or certification, instead focusing on building skills students will need for advanced study of the field. Graduates can expect to have a firm grasp of counseling principles and techniques and an understanding how to maintain a suitable relationship between the world of psychology and a Christian worldview. The college provides an online learning orientation for all incoming students. MC provides a range of online degree programs through the learning platforms Atheneo and Populi.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Christian Counseling Program?
|Timeline||4 to 5 years|
|Program Costs||$30,000 to $60,000 for full tuition|
|Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study||Psychology, Community Counseling, Child and Youth Counseling, Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, Substance Abuse Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, Behavioral Counseling, School Counseling, Career Counseling, Christian Studies|
|Accreditation||Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)|
Employment Outlook for Christian Counseling Graduates
Employees with a bachelor's degree enjoy much more favorable unemployment rates than their counterparts with lower educational attainment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for bachelor's degree-holders is 2.8%; by comparison, the unemployment rate for associate degree-holders is 3.8%, and it's 5% for high school graduates with some college experience but no degree.
The employment outlook for Christian counselors is strong, although unemployment rates and industry growth projections vary by area of counseling specialization. The following table uses data from U.S. News & World Report to explore unemployment and industry growth trends among some of the most common areas of professional counseling.
|Profession||Unemployment Rate||Number of Jobs|
|Mental Health Counselor||7.2%||26,400|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||3.3%||5,000|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||3.3%||21,200|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Additionally, the BLS notes that projected industry growth rates vary by counseling speciality as well. In some fields, such as school and career counseling, industry projections are on par with the national average of 7%. Other fields, such as substance abuse/behavioral disorder counseling and mental health counseling/marriage and family therapy are expected to grow at a much faster rate.
Earning a Living
Like unemployment rates and industry growth projections, the salary expectations for professional counselors also depends on their area of specialization. The next table explores career salary growth for five of the most common career paths for Christian counselors. Please note that these figures reflect trends for licensed counselors, most of whom have earned both a bachelor's and master's degree.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$46,671||$50,213/td>||$60,632||$65,918|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||$33,577||$37,850||$40,422||$43,796|
|Mental Health Counselor||$37,230||$40,294||$45,048||$48,676|
Of the five careers listed on the table above, school counselors saw the highest salary growth, with a 46.0% increase between entry-level and late-career positions. Marriage and family therapists saw their earnings grow 41.2%, while career counselors had their salaries rise by 37.9% after 20 years in the workforce. Mental health counselors and substance counselors round out the table with career salary growth rates of 30.7% and 30.4%, respectively.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in Christian counseling will be qualified for entry-level positions in some states, although most jobs are reserved for candidates who have also earned a graduate degree and completed the licensure requirements in their state. Below, we've reviewed three of the most common professional pathways for Christian counselors.
School and Career Counselors: School counselors help students of all ages improve their academic performance and tackle personal issues. Their day-to-day responsibilities depend on the ages of the students they serve. Elementary and middle school counselors address fundamental knowledge and skill-development, while providing emotional support and treating behavioral issues. High school and postsecondary counselors, on the other hand, usually concentrate on college prep and career development. Christian school and career counselors are found at privately funded religious schools and institutions, along with private companies and organizations that offer faith-based academic and career counseling services.
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists: Mental health counselors offer services to clients with emotional or mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. They evaluate clients and diagnose conditions, provide therapy, and help them cope with unique day-to-day problems. Marriage and family therapists specialize in helping clients address issues related to marital problems, child care, personal finance, and other issues that affect the household dynamic. Christian counselors who specialize in mental health counseling and marriage/family therapy incorporate biblical teachings and faith-based values into their therapy sessions.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor: These professionals, commonly known as addiction counselors, specialize in supporting clients who struggle with alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, and other forms of addiction. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors help their clients uncover the underlying mental health issues and destructive behaviors that trigger addictive tendencies. They may also help clients who are undergoing treatment and/or recovery from their addiction. Christian counselors who specialize in addiction counseling often use religious teachings and philosophies to help clients come to terms with their addictive behaviors.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Industry Growth Projection (2014-24)|
|School and Career Counselors||$53,660||8% (+22,500 jobs)|
|Mental Health Counselors and Marriage/Family Therapists||$43,190||19% (+31,400 jobs)|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||$39,980||22% (+21,200 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
An online bachelor's degree in Christian counseling will prepare students for the challenges and demands of a master's in Christian counseling program. You can learn more about these opportunities with our Online Master's in Christian Counseling Degree Guide.
Making professional connections and learning as much as you can about Christian counseling is crucial to your professional success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for Christian counselors. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- American Association of Christian Counselors: The AACC is a faith-based nonprofit organization that represents nearly 500,000 licensed counselors, pastors, and other church personnel. Members receive complimentary magazine and newsletter subscriptions, webinars, continuing education credits, and exclusive discounts on books, conference entry fees, and other services.
- National Christian Counselors Association: Founded in 1981, the NCCA is one of the world's largest organizations dedicated to training and supporting faith-based counselors. The association holds an annual conference in a different major U.S. city each year, and the website features an extensive counselor directory.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT): The leading professional organization for counselors specializing in marriage and family counseling, the AAMFT represents more than 50,000 licensed counselors worldwide. The website features a job board and licensure links, an online information library, and a virtual networking center.
- American Counseling Association: Founded in 1952, the ACA is considered the world's largest professional organization for professional counselors, and has more than 52,000 current members. The ACA website features an extensive virtual knowledge center that contains information about licensure requirements, diagnostics, ethics, and other important areas of the field. Continuing education opportunities, journal publications, and an online job board are also available.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Christian Counseling Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Christian Counseling Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL 2 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN 3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 4 The Master's College and Seminary Santa Clarita, CA 5 Johnson University Knoxville, TN 6 Crown College Saint Bonifacius, MN 7 Southwestern College Winfield, KS 8 Messenger College Euless, TX 9 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX 10 Ohio Christian University Circleville, OH 11 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO 12 The King's University Southlake, TX 13 Trinity College of Florida Trinity, FL 14 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK 15 Dallas Christian College Dallas, TX
- Best Online Christian Counseling Programs of 2016
Rank School Location 1 John Wesley University High Point, NC 2 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK 3 Lee University Cleveland, OH 4 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX 5 Life Pacific College San Dimas, CA