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.

Students considering a master's in Christian counseling may use this page to learn about program requirements, common coursework, concentrations, and admission requirements. Potential learners can explore the top-rated universities and the best accredited programs. This page also provides information about potential job titles.

What Are the Best Christian Counseling Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

  1. Northwest Nazaerene University - Nampa, ID
  2. Loyola University Chicago - Chicago, IL
  3. Regent University - Virginia Beach, VA
  4. Trevecca Nazarene University - Nashville, TN
  5. Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA
  6. Apex School of Theology - Durham, NC
  7. Maranatha Baptist College - Watertown, WI
  8. Dallas Baptist University - Dallas, TX
  9. Grace College and Theological Seminary - Winona Lake, IN
  10. Amridge University - Montgomery, AL

Students who earn a master's in Christian counseling qualify for careers as family and marriage, substance abuse, and mental health counselors. Students should note that these roles also require state licensure to practice.

While some entry-levels exist at the bachelor's level, most employers require candidates to hold a master's degree at minimum. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22% increase in employment for these fields through 2028.

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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Christian Counseling Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Northwest Nazaerene University

Nampa, ID Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

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

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

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

Virginia Beach, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

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

Nashville, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

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

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

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

Durham, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 99%

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

Watertown, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

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

Dallas, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

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

Winona Lake, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

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

Montgomery, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 40%

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

Online Master's in Christian Counseling Program Overview

An online master's in Christian counseling emphasizes Bible-centered counseling methods and techniques to help people dealing with crises. Students examine theological and ethical issues. Programs also focus on psychological research and theories. This degree prepares graduates to work in multiple environments, including churches, nonprofit organizations, and counseling centers.

Faith-based topics include Christian values, Bible interpretation, historical insight of Christianity, biblical foundations and models for small group ministry, and conflict resolution in ministry. Counseling and psychology subjects may include lifespan development and abnormal psychology. Graduates typically qualify for the state licensed professional counselor exam.

Depending on the university, students must complete a thesis that demonstrates pertinent knowledge and skills in counseling and psychological concepts. However, master's in Christian counseling online programs may waive this requirement or offer it as an optional component. Graduates qualify for multiple entry-level counseling positions and often go on to earn a higher degree.

Common Master's in Christian Counseling Degree Courses

Spiritual Formation in Pastoral Counseling

Spiritual formation in pastoral counseling courses prepare students to work with clients from religious backgrounds. Students examine Christian doctrines, explore theological interpretations of doctrines, and analyze ways theological and psychological concepts correlate. Upon completion of the course, learners can connect approaches to spirituality with research-based definitions of spiritual formation.

Systematic Theology

This seminar focuses on the structure, scope, and issues of systematic theology. Students develop analytical skills to interpret scriptures and exercise critical-thinking strategies about theological issues. Objectives also include identifying ways systematic theology influences the Christian experience and world in general.

Lifespan Human Development

Lifespan in human development classes explore fundamental cognitive, physical, and social processes at different life stages. This course also focuses on the external influences that affect lifespan development. By the end of this course, students should understand how to evaluate lifespan research using developmental psychology theories, apply principles to daily life, and describe ways to study development.

Group Counseling Methods

This course introduces core methods and theories of group counseling. Students also examine current research, ethical concerns, and legal issues that emerge in professional practice. Learning outcomes include understanding dynamics associated with group processes, factors that contribute to group effectiveness, characteristics of effective group leaders, and approaches to group formation.

Team Leadership and Conflict Resolution

Team leadership and conflict resolution courses focus on creating and maintaining teams, delegating tasks, mentoring peers, overcoming opposition, and resolving problems. This course emphasizes effective communication and collaborative skills. Upon completion of the class, learners can identify common dysfunctions in teams, essential principles of team building and management, best practices of team leadership, and effective communication styles.

Related Master's in Christian Counseling Degree Concentrations

Addictions and Recovery

Specializing in addictions and recovery prepares students to diagnose and treat clients who use harmful substances. Students learn to appraise theoretical concepts of treatment, evaluate modern theories, and determine causations of relapse. Students also learn how mental and biological aspects of addiction influence the recovery process.

Marriage and Family

Students earning a master's in Christian counseling online can specialize in family and marriage. Courses emphasize a biblical worldview of human behavior. This concentration also prepares students to identify psychological issues that specifically pertain to children, men, and women. Marriage and family counseling also covers premarital and marital counseling, adolescent counseling, and healthy sexuality.

Leadership

A concentration in leadership prepares future Christian counselors to manage organizational and administrative issues that ministry professionals face. Students also learn about daily operations within Christian organizations. Topics may include team leadership, conflict resolution, mission and vision planning, and biblical foundations of leadership.

Pastoral Counseling

Students who specialize in pastoral counseling gain access to additional biblical counseling knowledge and skills that lead to an expert-level understanding of ministry needs. Topics include detailed theological principles, the relationship between theology and psychology, and counseling women. This concentration may include gerontology counseling, as pastoral leaders often manage death and loss.

Theology

While all master's in Christian counseling programs broadly cover theology, a concentration allows students to explore important topics in depth and develop a better understanding of the nature of spirituality. This specialization examines formal methods of theological investigation using the Bible. Topics may include ethics, the doctrine of God, and Chritian ministry.

Online Master's in Christian Counseling Admission Requirements

  • Official Transcripts From Bachelor's Degree

    Students pursuing an online master's in Christian counseling must submit official transcripts from an accredited bachelor's program. Colleges and universities require this documentation to verify that students possess foundational skills and knowledge. Students without sufficient prerequisite undergraduate credits may need to complete additional coursework before gaining admission.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Students should anticipate providing up to three letters of recommendation. Colleges and universities rely on these letters to learn more from professionals who can speak to an applicant's work ethic, adaptability, and potential to succeed. While academic counselors often write letters of recommendation, students may also ask professors. Graduate applicants often possess professional experience and should consider asking their employers for a recommendation letter.

  • Resume

    Universities often require graduate students to hold some professional experience if the program includes advanced coursework. However, other universities accommodate students transitioning from another field. Therefore, these programs contain foundational coursework and do not require professional experience. Professional experience may include full-time or part-time employment. Students may also discuss relevant internships.

  • Statement of Purpose

    Graduate programs often require a statement of purpose that explains why the student wants to attend, characteristics that make the student a good candidate, and the student's future professional goals. While this document helps schools learn more about potential learners, it also reveals applicants' writing abilities.

  • Graduate Record Examination

    Colleges and universities often require the GRE to determine students' potential for success. This requirement also assists in narrowing the candidate pool. However, many online programs do not require the GRE. Other universities make the GRE optional. High scores may increase students' chances of admission.


Online Master's in Christian Counseling Career Paths

An online master's in Christian counseling can lead to careers as a marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, or mental health counselor. While professionals may enter the field with a bachelor's degree, employers typically seek candidates with advanced degrees. These roles also require a state license with 2,000-4,000 hours of clinical experience and a graduate degree.

Students should visit the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification or the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network for additional information. While not always required, professionals often go on to earn a doctorate in their field.


Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

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

A master's in Christian counseling prepares students to help people with multiple issues through a religious lens. Students may work in religious institutions, hospitals, mental health centers, family services, or the government. Job titles include spiritual counselor, family and marriage counselor, or substance abuse counselor.

How do I abbreviate master's in Christian counseling?

A master's in Christian counseling may not always follow the same title. For instance, universities also refer to this degree as a pastoral counseling degree. Therefore, abbreviations may vary. Schools may simply title the program MA in Christian counseling, while other programs abbreviate the program as MACC.

How much do counselors make with a master's degree?

An online master's in Christian counseling leads to multiple career paths. Earning potential varies by job responsibility, industry, experience, and education level. For instance, BLS data indicates that mental health counselors earn $44,630 on average, while marriage and family therapists earn $50,090 on average.

How long does it take to become a Christian counselor?

Programs vary in length and by learning format. For instance, an online master's in Christian counseling may offer year-round coursework and accelerated schedules, while on-campus programs often follow traditional semesters. Universities also provide both full-time and part-time options, which can affect program length. Students should expect 2-3 years of study.

How much does a Christian counselor make?

According to PayScale, Christian counselors earn $39,660 on average. Contrastingly, top-paid professionals can earn over $90,000 annually. Salaries may vary by geographic location due to the cost of living or the organizations' access to resources.

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