Best Online Christian Counseling Degree Programs

Explore undergraduate and graduate Christian counseling degree programs, including common coursework and admission requirements. Then, learn how to pick the right program and discover Christian counseling career paths. Schools offering Christian Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Degree Programs in Christian Counseling

Christian counseling degrees are available at the undergraduate and graduate level, and we've put together our list of the top programs, factoring in affordability, flexibility, and unique program features.

1. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Wake Forest, NC $9,394 98%

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Ministry to Women with Biblical Counseling degree program that has a special focus on biblical womanhood and can be completed through online and hybrid courses. This is a 64-credit hour program that features core courses in theological studies and Christian history, plus a real-world ministry counseling practicum that provides them with important practical counseling skills. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a special, reduced tuition rate of $304 per credit hour plus fees for both Southern Baptists and military members and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS).

2. Maranatha Baptist University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Watertown, WI $15,410 97%

Maranatha Baptist University's offers several online Christian counseling-focused programs, including the following:

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Biblical Counseling
  • Master of Divinity (MDiv) with a specialization in Biblical Counseling
  • Graduate Certificate in Biblical Counseling

The online MA program features short 8-week asynchronous and synchronous class sessions and requires 33 total credits with coursework on crisis, addiction, and marriage counseling as well as courses on the Old and New Testament. Students must also complete a practicum counseling experience in a ministry setting under the guidance of a mentor. The MDiv requires 96 credits of core classes in biblical studies, church history, biblical languages as well as counseling-centered classes. The MA and MDiv programs have an affordable cost of $330 per credit. Maranatha Baptist University also has an online 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Biblical Counseling that is designed to be completed part-time in 2 years.

3. Lee University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Cleveland, TN $17,690 98 %

Lee University has an online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership degree program that allows students to choose a specialization in counseling. This program features short 7-week classes that are completely asynchronous and don't require students to log-on at a specific time. Along with general education and Biblical-focused courses, students in the counseling specialization also take courses on theories of counseling, abnormal psychology, and pastoral counseling. Lee University offers a discounted tuition rate for ministers or bishops who are pursuing an undergraduate degree, which comes in at $252 per credit hour in comparison to the regular $378 rate. Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Harding University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Searcy, AR $19,845 99 %

Harding University offers an online graduate-level Certificate in Counseling Skills that is especially for preachers, ministers, and other church leaders who want to develop their counseling skills. This is an 18-credit hour program that features online courses as well as a 1-week-long residency component that takes place at Harding University's Memphis, Tennessee campus. The courses in this certificate program include the study of group, addiction, and multicultural counseling as well as counseling techniques. Harding University has earned accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Huntington University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Huntington, IN $26,158 99 %

Huntington University's online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program allows students to expand their counseling skills and knowledge within a Christian spiritual context. Courses in this program cover such topics as psychopathology, life coaching, and play therapy as well as Christian-focused topics, including spiritual formation. Students benefit from learning from practicing counselors, who encourage students to integrate scriptural teachings and spiritual growth into their counseling practice. After finishing this program, including in-person practicums and internships, students will meet the standards for Indiana's Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) credential.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX $19,582 98%
7 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK $27,728 90%
8 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX $28,870 97%
9 Northwest Nazarene University Nampa, ID $29,800 100%
10 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, KY $20,433 57%
11 Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN $25,598 100%
12 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL $36,070 100%
13 Houston Baptist University Houston, TX $32,530 100%
14 Southwestern College Winfield, KS $30,150 100%
15 Vanguard University of Southern California Costa Mesa, CA $33,720 100%
16 Holy Apostles College and Seminary Cromwell, CT $7,870 60%
17 World Mission University Los Angeles, CA $6,200 100%
18 The King's University Southlake, TX $15,000 100%
19 Amridge University Montgomery, AL $6,900 100%
20 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary New Orleans, LA $8,620 77%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Christian Counseling Programs

Online programs in Christian counseling are designed for current or aspiring pastors, ministers, or other theology-related professionals as well as aspiring counselors who want to develop their counseling skills within the context of biblical study and theology. Christian counseling programs include the following areas of study:

  • Christian counseling
  • Psychology with a Christian counseling concentration
  • Divinity with a Christian counseling specialization
  • Clinical mental health counseling
  • Pastoral counseling
  • Ministry leadership with a Christian counseling specialization
  • Biblical counseling
  • Ministry to women

A limited number of Christian counseling programs are able to be completed 100% online; most require some type of real-world internship or practicum that is designed to allow students to practice their counseling skills in a supervised context. It's important to note that not every Christian counseling degree program leads to licensure as a counselor.

Certificate Programs

Online Christian counseling certificate programs typically require anywhere from 9 to 18 credits. These are short programs that are designed for current church leaders who want to develop their counseling skills within a Christian worldview.

Associate Programs

Associate degrees in Christian counseling are non-licensing programs that typically require 60 credits of both general education, theological and biblical, and counseling-focused coursework.

Bachelor's Programs

Online Christian counseling bachelor's programs can lead to a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian counseling, ministry leadership, Biblical counseling, or in psychology with a Christian counseling specialization. These programs require 120 credits, and students must take general education coursework in the sciences, communication, math, and Christian studies along with courses in counseling and psychology.

Master's Programs

There are a variety of online master's degree programs in the field of Christian counseling, including degrees in ministry studies, human services, and clinical counseling, and these programs can lead to a Master of Arts or a Master of Divinity degree. Typically, these programs don't lead to licensure unless they are specifically clinical degree programs that include the required amount of clinical practicum and internship hours needed for licensure. Generally, students must earn 30 to 60 credits with coursework in theological, biblical, and counseling theory and practice.

Doctoral Programs

Online Christian counseling doctoral programs can lead to a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. These types of programs require that students complete coursework as well as a final dissertation or thesis project. Some online doctoral programs require that students also complete counseling-related field work.

Length of Christian Counseling Programs

The amount of time it takes to earn a Christian counseling degree mainly depends on the type of program you are attending and what your enrollment status is. Generally, Christian counseling certificate programs, as they require only a handful full of classes, can be completed in about 1 year or less. However, part-time programs can take about 2 years to complete.

Associate-level degrees take about 2 years to earn, and bachelor's-level programs take 4 years. However, if attending part-time, it could take longer to earn your associate or bachelor's degree. Also, bachelor's degree completion programs can be completed in less than 4 years. Christian counseling master's degrees usually take about 2 years to earn, and PhD/DMin degrees take about 2 to 3 years.

Admission Requirements for Christian Counseling Programs

Undergraduate-level certificate, associate, and bachelor's Christian counseling programs require that students have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent for admissions. Along with an application and fee, you must also submit your high school transcripts. Some schools might also require SAT or ACT scores.

To apply to an online Christian counseling master's degree program, you need to have already earned a bachelor's degree with some programs preferring an undergraduate degree in counseling or psychology; however, this is not a strict requirement. Some master's programs, though, require that you have completed some prerequisite coursework, including courses in Biblical studies and psychology. You usually also need to submit an application and fee, college transcripts, a resume, and letters of recommendation.

Christian counseling doctoral programs require that applicants hold a master's degree, with some requiring a Master of Divinity degree and others requiring a master's in counseling, psychology, or a related field. Most programs also require either ministry experience or work experience in the mental health field. An application and fee, college transcripts, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation are also required.

Additionally, seminary schools may require that you submit references from pastors or your church, and some seminaries only accept male students into certain types of programs.

Common Courses in Christian Counseling Programs

Christian counseling programs typically feature a curriculum that includes biblical and theological studies and counseling skills and knowledge. Below, you can explore some likely topics that you might study in your program.

  • Marriage and Family Counseling - A class where students learn pre-marital, marital and post-marital counseling skills within a theological framework.
  • Abnormal Psychology - This is the study of the diagnosis, treatment, and classification of mental disorders.
  • Crisis Counseling - A course that develops a student's counseling skills for crisis situations, such as suicide, grief, trauma, or divorce. There is also an emphasis on Christian values and biblical principles within crisis intervention.
  • Systematic Theology - This class includes the study and analysis of Christian theology doctrines, including the revelation of God, salvation, the Trinity, and sin.
  • Old Testament/New Testament - Christian counseling programs usually include courses on both the Old and New Testament. Old Testament courses cover the history and interpretation of the Old Testament, while New Testament courses include the study of Jesus, the Gospels, and the Apostolic period.

How to Choose a Christian Counseling Program

It can be rather difficult to decide which online Christian counseling program is right for you, considering the variety of programs available and your unique needs. We suggest that when making this decision, you consider such things as your personal professional goals, transfer credit policy, and program/university accreditation.

Professional Goals

Your professional goals should be a guiding force for your decision about what type of online Christian counseling program to attend. If your ultimate goal is to become a licensed counselor, then you are going to want to choose a path that first includes a bachelor's in Christian counseling program and a master's degree program that specifically leads to licensure. On the other hand, if you only want to improve your Christian counseling skills and don't need to become licensed, then you may choose a certificate or associate program. You want to make sure that the level of program you choose helps you gain the right education credentials you will need to pursue your chosen career.

Transfer Credit

A university's transfer credit policy is also an important factor to consider, especially for those who have already earned an associate degree or previous college credits. By applying transfer credits, you can save money and time when earning your new Christian counseling degree. Usually, universities will accept around 90 transfer credits at the undergraduate level and about 6 credits at the graduate level. If you're choosing between certificate programs, you will also want to make sure that you can transfer the credits you earn in your program towards a future full degree.


There are several types of accreditation that you should look for when choosing a Christian counseling program. First, you want your university to have received regional accreditation by an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Two examples of regional accreditors are the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Only students who attend a regionally accredited university are eligible for federal financial aid.

If you want to attend a theological school, you might also want to look for your prospective schools to be accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS). This organization accredits master's and doctoral theological degree programs, and by attending an accredited program, you will be assured your degree program has met high academic standards.

Counseling programs can earn accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) as well. CACREP requires programs to meet standards that include clinical experience, curriculum, program resources, and faculty credentials.

Job Options with a Christian Counseling Degree

The type of Christian counseling career you can pursue depends on the level of degree you earn and its focus. Below, you can explore theological and counseling-related careers, including required educational credentials, job duties, and salary information.


Pastors and other religious clergy work in religious institutions and lead religious worship activities that could include church services or ministry. Pastors also offer moral and spiritual guidance to church members. According to, pastors earned an average salary of $49,782.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists help families, couples, and individuals with their mental health, life, or relationship issues. They meet with clients, teach coping strategies, and help modify behaviors. Marriage and family therapists generally need a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, psychology, or a related field.

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2019, marriage and family therapists earned a median salary of $49,610, and the number of jobs is expected to rise 22% from 2018-2028.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work with clients who are suffering from addiction or behavioral disorders. They must meet with clients, design treatment plans, and help clients alter unwanted behaviors. Mental health counselors work with clients with a broad range of issues, such as depression, anxiety, or difficulty managing major life changes.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors who are not in private practice typically only need a bachelor's degree. However, those in private practice need a master's degree. Mental health counselors usually need a master's degree.

According to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $46,240 in 2019, and these professions are expected to see a 22% increase in jobs from 2018-2028.

Licensure for Counselors

Not every type of Christian counseling career requires licensure. However, marriage and family therapists and private practice substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are required to be licensed by the state they practice in. Although state requirements may vary, these types of counselors generally need a master's degree, must pass a state exam, and must complete 2,000 to 4,000 hours of a clinical internship or residency experience. Additionally, all mental health counselors must be licensed, and the licensure process must be done after they complete supervised clinical work.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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