Online Master's in Christian Counseling

Christian counselors use psychology and faith to assist clients. Students who pursue a Christian counseling degree online gain skills needed to become successful Christian counselors. They learn how to relate clients' situations to the Bible and to provide advice and therapy. Christian counselors typically work in churches, but some work in hospitals or military settings. Christian counselors work with clients who struggle with emotional, mental, or behavioral issues. They also help clients address personal, family, and marital problems.

Students who pursue a Christian counseling degree online gain skills needed to become successful Christian counselors

Churches across the country need Christian counselors to help individuals cope with personal and family issues. According to PayScale, Christian counselors earn a mean salary of $36,625 per year. Counselors with higher levels of education generally pursue specialized positions and earn higher salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of Christian counseling positions to increase 23% by 2026, a rate much higher than the national average for all occupations. Christian counselors in every state must hold licensure. Although licensing requirements vary by state, they typically include supervised experience, a completed exam, and a submitted application.

Earning a master's degree in Christian counseling online offers many benefits over a more traditional degree. For example, online programs offer more flexibility than on-campus programs. Online coursework is often asynchronous, allowing students to complete assignments at their own pace and according to their own schedules. Distance learners also have the ability to complete coursework from anywhere. This flexibility is ideal for students with families and children, church obligations, and full-time jobs. Online students often work full time while earning their degrees, which reduces the financial burden of their education.

Online students sometimes pay discounted tuition rates. Some universities have an online tuition rate, while others offer in-state tuition rates to all online students. Additionally, online students save money on campus housing and transportation. Online courses are generally delivered by the same instructors who teach on campus, so distance learners receive the same quality of education.

How Long Does it Take to Earn Your Christian Counseling Master's Degree Online?

Aspiring Christian counselors must first earn their master's degree in Christian counseling. Students typically complete online master's in Christian counseling programs in one to two years. After graduating, candidates complete a supervised practicum, which generally requires one to two additional years. After completing practicum requirements, candidates undergo a background check and submit references to qualify to become licensed ministers of Christian counseling.

Many programs require students to hold minimum GRE scores, and some require clinical hours or work experience

Online master's in Christian counseling programs have varying admission requirements. Applicants to master's programs must have a bachelor's degree; however, some Christian counseling programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a related field, while others accept students from a variety of academic backgrounds. Many programs require students to hold minimum GRE scores, and some require clinical hours or work experience.

Other common admission requirements include a minimum GPA, letters of recommendation, a resume, prerequisite courses, and transcripts. Master's programs generally require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, so prospective students should verify accreditation status before choosing an undergraduate program.

Curricula for online master's in Christian counseling programs vary by school. However, all Christian counseling master's programs prepare students to utilize both religion and counseling techniques to assist clients. Students learn how to apply theology and the Bible to everyday counseling sessions.

Example Courses

Marriage and Family Therapy Students explore family dynamics and structures. They learn about family intervention counseling and how to assess marriages.
Counseling Theories Students explore counseling theories and principles. They examine theories including psychoanalytic, reality, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Career Development and Counseling Students learn about life factors and career development. They explore facets of interpersonal relationships and learn career counseling techniques.
Biblical Foundations for Counselors Learners explore the theology of God, salvation, and humanity. They learn to apply biblical stories to counseling practice.
Diagnostics, Assessment, and Treatment Students gain tools needed to assess, diagnose, and treat clients. They examine treatment interventions and learn how to develop effective treatment plans.

Many online master's in Christian counseling programs allow students to tailor the degree to their career goals and personal interests. Students choose specializations aligning with their career aspirations and gain focused experience and knowledge. Available specializations vary by program, so prospective students should choose a school that offers the specialization they require. Below are common specialization options for students earning an online degree in Christian counseling.

A master's degree in Christian counseling prepares students for a variety of counseling and therapy careers. Graduates work in settings such as churches, clinics, and schools. Christian counselors incorporate faith into their counseling practice to serve clients through assessment, diagnosis, therapy, counseling, and treatment.

Occupations and Salary for Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Graduates
Occupation Minimum Degree Required Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
School and Career Counselors Master's 291,700 $26.50 $55,410
Marriage and Family Therapists Master's 42,880 $25.89 $53,860
Rehabilitation Counselors Master's 103,840 $18.73 $38,950
Mental Health Counselors Master's 157,700 $22.38 $46,560
Counselors, All Other N/A 27,150 $22.89 $47,600
Source: BLS, May 2017

Most counselors must obtain a state license to practice. Each state sets licensing requirements. Some states require candidates to pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, and others require the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. Some states require individuals to complete both exams. Through licensing exams, candidates demonstrate competencies and knowledge necessary to practice. After passing the required exam or exams, candidates must submit an application, along with the associated fee.

Many states require candidates to complete a certain number of supervised experience hours. The licensing process typically requires about two years, in addition to the time necessary to earn a degree. Christian counselors must sometimes hold additional credentials. For example, school counselors may need a teaching license. The National Board of Certified Counselors provides information about each state's licensing requirements.

The two main types of institutional accreditation are regional and national. Regional accreditation is more common and more highly regarded than national accreditation.

Learners pursuing a Christian counseling degree online should ensure they choose an accredited program. The two main types of institutional accreditation are regional and national. Regional accreditation is more common and more highly regarded than national accreditation. Credits and degrees from regionally accredited institutions transfer easily and are recognized by most employers. Credits and degrees from nationally accredited institutions do not transfer to regionally accredited schools, and students at nationally accredited institutions may not qualify for federal financial aid.

Students pursuing an online degree in Christian counseling should also look for specialized accreditation. Organizations including the ACPE, Association for Biblical Higher Education, Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, and Association of Theological Schools award accreditation to Christian counseling programs. Additionally, programs may hold recognition from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Christian counseling organizations support students and professionals in the field. Christian counseling organizations help counselors improve their skills to better serve clients. Professional organizations often host networking events, provide continuing education and training opportunities, and maintain job boards.

American Association of Christian Counselors

AACC is the world's largest professional organization for Christian counselors. The association supports counselors, pastors, and licensed professionals through training and encouragement.

American Counseling Association

This nonprofit educational and professional organization encourages and supports counselors as they enhance their skills and practice.

Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

This organization supports Christian counselors as they create strong counseling practices within the church.

National Christian Counseling Association

The NCCA is a nonprofit organization the conducts research and creates procedures to professionally develop Christian counselors through scripture.

National Board for Certified Counselors

NBCC is a credentialing body for counselors. The organization ensures that board-certified counselors meet high standards.

Association of Biblical Counselors

This association supports biblical counselors by providing training and resources to improve their skills and knowledge.

Institute for Nouthetic Studies

INS offers a certificate program comprising more than 170 hours of instruction in biblical counseling.

There are several scholarships available to students pursuing their master's degree in Christian counseling online. Applicants must meet certain criteria to be eligible for each scholarship.

Online Bachelor's in Ministry Scholarships

St. Paul's Scholarship $750-$1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports active members of St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Applicants must be enrolled in a postsecondary institution and must be planning to pursue a career in Christian education or religious music. View Scholarship

Christian Missionary Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: These scholarships support students whose parents are missionaries who are currently on or who have recently returned from the mission field. Candidates must be enrolled at one of the following colleges: Wheaton College, Calvin College, Hope College, Dordt College, Trinity Christian College, or Kuyper College. View Scholarship

Mary E. Bivins Foundation Scholarships $3,500

Who Can Apply: These scholarships are reserved for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree to prepare for a career preaching the Christian religion. Applicants must have a minimum 2.75 GPA. View Scholarship

Dora Maclellan Brown Seminary Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in a theology degree program, must be from the Chattanooga area, and must provide a testimony of their faith. View Scholarship

Interfaith Spirituality Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students who are interested in using interfaith understandings at their own ministry. Applicants must be dedicated to helping others grow their faith and spirituality. View Scholarship

Fran and Stan Richardson Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in a postsecondary institution and must be a member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church. View Scholarship

Young Christian Leaders Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to college students and high school seniors who are active members of their local church. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be a permanent resident of New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut. View Scholarship

Christian Education Scholarship Fund Varies

Who Can Apply: The West End Church of Christ offers this scholarship to members who are attending a college or university affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA. View Scholarship

Reverend Robert E. and Gladys Ernst Scholarship $1,000-$1,500

Who Can Apply: The Ohio Baptist Education Society awards this annual scholarship to ordained pastors belonging to American Baptist Churches in Ohio. Candidates must be enrolled in a master's or doctoral program in divinity. View Scholarship

Louise M. Prichard Scholarships $2,000

Who Can Apply: These scholarships support ministry majors in the theology college at Oklahoma Baptist University. View Scholarship
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