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Christian counseling is a therapeutic approach that combines talk therapy with traditional Christian beliefs. Christian counselors are slightly different than conventional clinical mental health counselors; aspiring Christian counselors do not necessarily need to obtain licensure to practice. However, becoming a licensed mental health counselor will increase your earning potential and expand your job prospects.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment opportunities for marriage and family therapists will grow rapidly over the next few years, upwards of 14%. On average, professionals in this field earn around $50,000 per year.

Online master’s programs in Christian counseling require between 30 and 45 credits to graduate; programs that prepare students for professional licensure can exceed 60 credit hours. Full-time students can graduate with their master’s within three years and pay an average in-state tuition of $34,000. Programs requiring fewer credit hours are more affordable.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Program

Choose your area of study

In many cases, Christian counseling falls under a specialty track within a Master of Arts in Counseling degree; these programs often prepare graduates to sit for state licensure exams. There are also several options for an online Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling.

It’s essential to choose your area of focus. Only some schools provide the same elective or specialization coursework; narrowing down your preferred concentration will thus inform your overall research. Standard concentrations for Christian counseling include addiction, crisis response and trauma, marriage and family studies, and life coaching.

Research schools and programs

Only attend institutions recognized by an official accrediting agency. Additionally, counseling master’s degrees have their own programmatic accreditation — the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Master’s in Psychology, and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) are the leading accrediting organizations for assessing the quality and credibility of a graduate-level counseling program.

From there, research the following aspects of each program:

  • What is the online delivery format? Online Christian counseling master’s programs are available as synchronous, scheduled class sessions or asynchronous independent study. Working adults often prefer the latter as it allows them the flexibility of engaging in coursework when it best suits their professional or family obligations.
  • How does each program facilitate hands-on practice? Counseling programs feature role modeling exercises and supervised hours; these opportunities are essential for students to apply their theoretical knowledge. Master’s in counseling programs include a lengthy internship in an approved setting.
  • Will the program meet the qualifications to become a licensed mental health provider? Not all programs lead to licensure. Some focus solely on requirements for counseling roles within the context of the church, which are typically exempt from state licensure requirements.

You might also research each program’s student support services and disability accommodations. Many schools offer their online community free tutoring, tech support, and career counseling. Attend a virtual FAQ session or contact the admissions counselor for specific questions about each program.

Prepare for tests and applications

Before applying, confirm that you meet the basic eligibility for each program. For a master’s degree in Christian counseling, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a related field (such as social work or psychology) with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher. Many schools require undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0.

While not all Christian counseling programs require the GRE, many do. If you struggle with standardized testing, allow plenty of time to study or attend a test prep course. Beyond GRE scores, application packets require undergraduate transcripts, recommendation letters (ideally from a pastor or church representative), and other supplemental materials, which can take several weeks to gather.

Select your program

Based on your professional goals and personal needs, determine which Christian counseling degrees are the best match. You may select several programs to apply to, though application processing fees can quickly add up. Once accepted, decide which program to attend; you’ll likely need to pay an enrollment fee to hold your spot.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Completing your master’s degree is a big financial commitment. Submit a FAFSA form to determine whether you qualify for federal grants or affordable loans. Speak to a financial aid advisor for your program to ascertain whether you are eligible for additional funding opportunities, including military discounts. Many Christian institutions provide scholarships, even if you’re attending classes online. Contact an advisor to discuss the possibility of transfer credit from prior graduate work or professional experience.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Programs

Best Online Master's in Christian Counseling Degree Programs

Regent University

Liberty University

Amridge University

Dallas Baptist University

Faulkner University

BJU Scope

Columbia International University

Ohio Christian University

Clarks Summit University

Crown College

California Baptist University

Ottawa University

Hope International University

Luther Rice College & Seminary

Maranatha Baptist University

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we set out to find the best master’s programs in Christian counseling. The three most common types of degrees in this area are Master of Science (MS), Master of Arts (MA), and Master of Divinity (MDiv).

Next, we looked for programs delivered primarily or entirely online to ensure accessibility for the greatest number of students, regardless of location or schedule.

All of the schools on our list have either regional or national accreditation. Many programs are also accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Please note that the type of accreditation a school or program has may affect your eligibility for professional licensure post-graduation.

We evaluated each program based on reputation, flexibility, affordability, faculty, and coursework, and then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Program?

Online master’s degree programs in Christian counseling combine biblical study and modern counseling theory with supervised, practical application. Students learn to integrate a spiritual perspective with standard interventions for mental health disorders, addiction, and marriage counseling. Not all degree programs meet the necessary qualifications for state licensure.

Full-time students can graduate within three years, and part-time students may require up to five years. Christian counseling programs include a significant practicum or internship component during which students hone their counseling skills under the supervision of another provider. Coursework is delivered remotely through scheduled lectures or pre-recorded sessions; some programs include a brief in-person residency.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in Christian counseling program

  • Professional Counseling, Ethical, and Legal Considerations. This course covers the basics of counseling ethics and professional responsibilities, including patient privacy and record keeping.
  • Substance Use Disorders and Addictions. Students gain a comprehensive knowledge of substance use disorders’ stages, processes, and effects. Additionally, participants discuss the counseling professional’s role in prevention, intervention, and aftercare.
  • Integration of Scripture with Counseling Theory. Participants study how the Christian perspective integrates into modern counseling theory and application.
  • Counseling the Culturally Diverse. This course covers best practices for working with diverse clients, considering age, race, immigration status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intellectual ability.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Christian Counseling?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals holding an online master’s in Christian counseling is promising. As individuals and communities increasingly recognize the significance of holistic well-being, the demand for qualified Christian counselors is on the rise. The integration of psychological principles and spiritual guidance positions Christian counselors to address diverse emotional and spiritual needs.

According to the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the field of Christian counseling is expected to experience substantial growth in response to the growing demand for faith-based mental health services. While specific salaries vary, the median annual wage for mental health counselors was $48,520, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, with specialized expertise in Christian counseling, professionals in this field often command competitive salaries that reflect their unique skill set.

Career paths

Graduates with an online master’s in Christian counseling have many fulfilling career paths that allow them to blend psychological insights with spiritual guidance. Here are some notable career options for individuals with this degree:

  • Chaplain — serve as a spiritual counselor in healthcare facilities, military settings, or other institutions, offering emotional and spiritual support
  • Life coach — help clients set and achieve personal and spiritual goals, providing guidance, motivation, and accountability through a Christian counseling framework
  • Substance abuse counselor — focus on addiction treatment and recovery, guiding individuals towards spiritual and emotional healing while overcoming substance abuse challenges
  • Grief counselor — provide support and guidance to individuals coping with loss, helping them navigate their grief journey while integrating faith-based perspectives
  • Crisis intervention specialist — offer immediate support to individuals and communities during times of crisis or trauma, integrating psychological and spiritual strategies for healing and resilience

Pastoral Counselor 

Earning Potential: $40,000-$70,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in Christian counseling or related field

A pastoral counselor combines spiritual guidance with counseling techniques to offer support and therapeutic interventions to individuals facing emotional, psychological, and spiritual challenges. They provide a safe space for clients to express emotions, explore spiritual beliefs, and navigate life transitions. Pastoral counselors conduct counseling sessions, offer crisis intervention, and assist in personal growth and conflict resolution. With a focus on integrating faith and psychological insights, they help individuals find meaning, purpose, and emotional well-being within the context of their spirituality, fostering healing and personal growth.

Mental Health Therapist

Earning Potential: $45,000-$75,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in Christian counseling or related field

A Christian mental health therapist integrates psychological expertise with faith-based principles to provide counseling and support to individuals facing mental and emotional challenges. They conduct therapy sessions, employing evidence-based techniques while considering the client’s spiritual beliefs and values. Christian mental health therapists address issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship difficulties, helping clients find healing and personal growth within their faith context. They offer guidance, coping strategies, and tools to enhance emotional well-being while fostering spiritual development.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Earning Potential: $50,000-$80,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in Christian counseling or related field

A Christian marriage and family therapist combines psychological expertise with faith-based principles to assist couples and families in overcoming challenges and strengthening relationships. They facilitate counseling sessions, addressing communication issues, conflicts, and relational dynamics while considering clients’ spiritual beliefs. Christian marriage and family therapists guide clients in applying biblical principles to foster healthy connections, effective communication, and emotional well-being. They help couples and families navigate life transitions, resolve conflicts, and enhance their spiritual and emotional bonds.

Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master's in Christian counseling degree program?

Apply to your selected master’s in Christian counseling program via the school’s online application portal. While specific requirements differ from school to school, most application packets should include the following:

  • A completed application
  • A church or pastor recommendation
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate program in a related field
  • GRE scores
  • Letters of professional or academic recommendation
  • A processing fee

Contact an admissions advisor with any questions you have regarding the application process.

How much does an online master's in Christian counseling degree cost?

Online Christian counseling graduate degrees vary in length based on the type of degree. A Master of Arts averages about 36 credits; however, programs leading to clinical licensure quickly require 60 credits or more. Based on the total amount of credits and whether you qualify for in-state rates, tuition ranges from $8,000 to more than $60,000. Many schools charge the same course rates, regardless of whether the content is delivered online or in person.

Your total cost for obtaining your master’s in Christian counseling will include books, computer equipment (including webcams and microphones), and reliable internet. You should also factor in travel expenses for in-person residencies or the commute to-and-from your practicum.

How long does it take to earn an online master's in Christian counseling degree?

A typical master’s degree in Christian counseling consists of 30 to 45 credit hours. However, those degrees that lead to state licensure are 60 credits or more. Full-time students can graduate in three years, though you may need extra time to complete the substantial practicum requirements necessary to graduate. Part-time students may require up to five years. Individuals who qualify for transfer credit could graduate sooner.

Is an online master's in Christian counseling worth it?

Pursuing an online master’s in Christian counseling offers numerous benefits for individuals seeking to make a meaningful impact on individuals, families, and other groups through the integration of psychological expertise and spiritual guidance.

According to, the median salary for a Christian counselor is $59,135 annually, with the top ten percent in the field earning a median salary of $74,046. The need for mental health counselors is expected to increase over the coming decade by 22 percent, according to BLS data, meaning there will be a broad pool of available positions for graduates to choose from.

Individuals with a master’s in Christian counseling have the opportunity to forge a career pathway that combines psychological insights with spiritual guidance. They are well-prepared to facilitate healing, personal growth, and spiritual well-being for those seeking a holistic approach to wellness.

Earning one’s degree online offers a high level of flexibility for those with other personal or professional commitments and may save time and money.

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