This article provides information about how you can choose a Christian counseling degree. You will gain knowledge about what you will learn in a Christian counseling degree program, and we also provide information about accreditation, as well as recommendations for good degree programs.
What Is a Christian Counseling Degree?
A Christian counseling degree teaches you how to provide mental health and family counseling from a Christian perspective. Professionals who earn their Christian counseling degree most often work in the clergy and want to develop their skills in providing counseling to members, but from a Christian point of view.
A Christian counseling degree will teach you how to provide mental health services to clients and members as in a regular counseling degree program, but with additional religious and biblical training.
Christian counselors use different aspects of Christian doctrine to provide mental health treatment to people who are dealing with a variety of struggles and challenges. Some programs may focus on a particular specialty, such as mental health, addiction, family or marriage. There are degrees available at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, but if you want to become a licensed counselor, you need a master’s degree.
In a bachelor’s program, you will take courses in statistics, general psychology, personality theory, addiction, marriage and family counseling, group therapy, and biblical foundational courses.
In master’s programs, you can expect to focus on biblical foundations for counselors, evaluation and research, human growth and development, and possibly eating disorders.
A Christian counseling degree at the master’s level can contain these types of courses:
- Old and New Testament Survey
- Interpreting the Bible
- Theology Survey I and II
- Introduction to Counseling and Systems Theory
- Helping Relationships
- Family Systems Theory
- Counseling for Crisis and Addiction
- Clinical Counseling Practicum
Why Earn a Christian Counseling Degree?
Many professionals feel a strong calling to help others deal with their mental health issues but from a Christian perspective. You may want to expand your ability to serve in your church or community as a Christian counselor.
People who work in the clergy understand that religious people suffer from the same problems as everyone else. One of the most common reasons that people go to religious institutions is to deal with their personal issues. There will always be a strong need for Christian counselors in churches across the country.
There is a particular strong need in the American south; this area of the country has a higher concentration of churches and religious people. As much of the south is experiencing growth, there will be far more people who need help with their problems from Christian counselors.
Some professionals who are interested in Christian counseling may opt to earn their master’s degree in psychology and become a licensed counselor, psychologist or therapist. This is often a very good idea in America today because the psychology field is growing quickly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there will be 19% increase in job demand by 2024 in the entire industry. This is a very rapid growth rate, and counselors who bring a Christian perspective are more unusual and may be in stronger demand.
Government statistics also state that jobs for counseling, clinical and school psychologists will jump by 20% by 2024. There is going to be increased need for psychology services in mental health centers, social services departments, hospitals, schools, prisons and in the military.
Other Christian counselors may become regular mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists outside of a church setting. This is a good move also because the job demand in this field will increase by 20% by 2024. There should be more people with access to health insurance and more military veterans who need mental health services from a biblical perspective.
Some Christian counselors may feel a calling to work in private religious institutions and become a school psychologist. There are many new religious schools in the United States in need of skilled Christian counselors to help them to deal with their problems.
Psychologists do quite well in their career financially, and the median salary is $75,000 per year as of 2016. If you are employed by a church, your salary will be lower, possibly in the $40,000 to $45,000 range.
Online Degree Programs
Bachelor’s Degree Options
A solid bachelor’s degree option is the Bachelor of Science in Psychology – Christian Counseling from Liberty University. This degree program will assist you in understanding the complexities and challenges of Christian counseling. This specialization allows students to understand more about counseling from the perspective of the Christian faith. This degree program will equip you with the counseling skills to work in a variety of Christian counseling occupations in lay ministry.
Expect to gain insight into how personalities are developed and are influenced based upon current psychological theories. You also will look at courses that deal with the different theoretical approaches of psychotherapy and counseling.
Graduates of this program typically are employed in these areas:
- Non licensed Christian counselor
- Religious administration
- Lay ministry counseling
- Case management
- Mental health services
Required courses include:
- Social Psychology
- Psychology and Christianity
- Psychological Measurement
- Abnormal Psychology
- Issues of Christian Counseling
- Introduction to Research
- Psychological Foundations of Learning
- Christian Life and Biblical Worldview
- Introduction to Theology Survey
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Master’s Degree Options
If your goal is to eventually become a licensed counselor in this field, you may consider the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary.
This program will provide you with a master’s level, theologically focused and biblically accurate education for men and women who wish to work in Christian counseling. This training will prepare you to work in churches, private counseling or in mental health organizations.
The goals of this two year program are:
- Understand and explain major problems and issues that Christians face, from a biblical perspective
- Understand and evaluate standard psychological perspective and Christian psychology theories from the biblical point of view
- Develop a deep level of biblical and spiritual purity and integrity in your own life
- Engage in expert counseling from a biblical perspective at a church, mental health practice or mental health organization.
To qualify to apply for licensure after you complete this program, you must also complete supervised practicum and internship requirements. The number of hours you will need will vary by state.
Required courses in this program include:
- Counseling Methods and Techniques
- Abnormal Human Behavior
- Professional Orientation and Ethics
- Research Methods and Statistics
- Social and Cultural Foundations
- Christian Life and Witness
- Counseling Theory
- Normal Human Growth
- Bible Study Methods and Hermeutics
- The Gospels
- Appraisal and Assessment Techniques
- Addictions and Compulsive Behaviors
It is important to verify if your university has been accredited by one of the regional accreditation agencies below that are recognized by the Department of Education:
- Higher Learning Commission
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Accreditation Commission
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Christian counseling can be a vital step to a dynamic career in counseling from a Christian point of view by working in a variety of settings – from churches to mental health clinics.
- Dallas Theological Seminary. Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dts.edu/biblical-christian-counseling-degree-mabc/#degreeplan
- Liberty University. Bachelor of Psychology in Christian Counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.liberty.edu/online/bachelors/psychology/christian-counseling/
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-6