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Christian Counseling Degrees & Careers

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Christian counseling degrees provide an introduction to psychological theories and the evaluation of emotional and mental issues, from a biblical perspective. Christian counseling degrees are generally available at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree level.

A bachelor’s degree in Christian counseling provides a wide-ranging introduction to human behavior and motivation and prepares graduates for non-licensed counseling roles. Master’s degree programs can prepare graduates for state licensure and counseling work in hospitals, churches, and other outreach settings. Doctorate programs provide advanced training in particular counseling areas, such as pastoral counseling and marriage counseling, and they also prepare graduates for teaching at the college level.

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Christian Counseling Degree Levels Available

  • Bachelor’s Degree Four years to complete 
  • Master’s Degree Two years to complete
  • Doctorate Degree Four to five years to complete 

Bachelor’s programs in Christian counseling are built on a strong foundation of social and behavioral sciences. Required core classes typically include theories in counseling, developmental psychology, and human sexuality. Counseling classes discuss strategies for working with different populations, such as women, children, and families. Students also study different aspects of the Bible, theology, and Christian perspectives on counseling. Like most bachelor’s degrees, the Christian counseling program also provides a wide set of general education classes in natural sciences, art, humanities, and English. Many programs require an internship in a counseling setting.

The master’s degree in Christian counseling is the degree for you if you’re interested in seeking out state licensure and clinical counseling positions. Required courses depend on the focus of the degree. Some programs look at marriage and family counseling, health counseling, or addictions counseling form a Christian perspective. Coursework discusses psychology research, the professional role of the counselor, counseling theories, group counseling, and clinical diagnosis. The counseling internship is a required component in degrees that lead to state licensure.

Doctorate degrees are aimed at individuals with a master’s degree that want to develop or improve their clinical counseling skills. Some doctoral degrees focus on counseling research. Most programs specialize in a particular type of Christian counseling, such as pastoral counseling or marriage and family counseling. Core classes discuss counseling theories, individual appraisal, and research and program evaluation. Doctorate degrees require the completion of a dissertation, which is a clinically-based research project in the student’s interest area.

Admission Requirements

Bachelor’s programs generally follow the standards admission requirements of a high school diploma, letters of recommendation, and a statement of intent, while some require standardized test scores. Master’s degree programs require an accredited bachelor’s degree with a high GPA; most also require basic undergraduate-level classes in psychology. Master’s degree programs may also require GRE or MAT scores. Doctorates typically require an accredited master’s degree in counseling or a related area, along with standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Differences between Traditional and Online Christian Counseling Degrees

Almost all Christian counseling degrees require some type of onsite internship in a counseling setting, such as a mental health clinic, hospital, or church outreach ministry. Because counseling requires communication and evaluation skills that can only really be developed in person, it’s easy to see why this internship would be necessary. Graduate degrees that lead to a state counseling license require these onsite internships.

Tuition Costs

Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in Christian counseling have a tuition of around $12,000 a year.


Individuals seeking state counseling certification will need to attend a program that is recognized by their state’s counseling board. Since regulations vary from state to state, students should check out the National Board for Certified Counselors for information on the requirements where they hope to practice. While usually not required, programmatic accreditation by groups like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs can be one way to evaluate potential degrees.

Choosing the Best Degree for You

The curriculum in a Christian counseling degree can vary greatly between programs and students should make sure their prospective programs are good preparation for the type of counseling career they want to have. Some programs focus on church counseling, while others look at marriage and family or pastoral counseling. It is also advisable, when attending a program, to make sure that the required internship can be completed in your local community in a clinic or church setting that is appealing to you.

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