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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 decade. On average, professionals in this field earn around $57,000 per year.

Online master’s programs in Christian counseling require between 30 to 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, while part-time students may need up to five years.

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 (MA) in counseling degree; these programs often prepare graduates to sit for state licensure exams. This degree may be available as a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Divinity (MDiv) as well.

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. If you already know exactly what you would like to do once you graduate, look for programs that match these specific career goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in Christian counseling program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for counseling education.

From there, research the following aspects of each program:

  • How does each program facilitate hands-on practice? Counseling programs may feature role modeling exercises and supervised hours; these opportunities are essential for students to apply their theoretical knowledge.
  • 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.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary by school and program. For a master’s degree in Christian counseling, you’ll likely 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 often require undergraduate transcripts, recommendation letters (ideally from a pastor or church representative), a personal statement, and other supplemental materials, which can take several weeks to gather.

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

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.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

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. And if you already work in the field, see if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits.

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 of these 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. 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 usually graduate within three years. Christian counseling programs often 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. Indeed, 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:

  • Marriage or family therapist — Help clients work through issues in their family or relationship dynamics.
    • Median annual salary: $56,570
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 15%
    • New job openings projected: 5,900 annually
  • Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, or mental health counselor — Evaluate the mental and physical health of clients, recommend treatment plans, and monitor progress.
    • Median annual salary: $49,710
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 18%
    • New job openings projected: 42,000 annually
  • Social worker — Help individuals and families deal with problems in their everyday lives, such as health, behavioral, and financial issues.
    • Median annual salary: $55,350
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 63,800 annually

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 may require 60 credits or more. Based on the number of required credits and whether you qualify for in-state rates, total tuition ranges from $8,500 to $60,000. Many schools charge the same course rates, regardless of whether the content is delivered online or in person.

You should also account for the cost of books, computer equipment (including webcams and microphones), reliable internet, and travel expenses for in-person residencies or the commute to 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, degrees that lead to state licensure are often 60 credits or more. Full-time students can earn their degree 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.

Workers 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.

Also, earning one’s degree online offers a high level of flexibility for those with other personal or professional commitments.