Online Master's Degree Programs in Pastoral Counseling

With a master's degree in pastoral counseling, you'll learn to minister to others while promoting mental health. Read on to explore online program options, common classes, online study and licensing information. Schools offering Christian Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn My Master's Degree in Pastoral Counseling Online?

Many schools offer Internet-based master's programs in pastoral counseling. Similar programs, such as Biblical advising and Christian counseling, also can be found online. In some instances, schools will offer courses via distance learning, while still requiring you to participate in some on-campus training or mentored internship opportunities. A few online programs are designed to enhance the practice of those already in a pastoral or ministerial position.

Degree Options Online master's programs in pastoral counseling, Biblical advising and Christian counseling exist; some programs have on-campus requirements or internships
Common Courses Christology, counseling theories, psychology and religion, ethics
Online Study Virtual learning platforms, phone and email mentoring provide distance learning environment
Licensure No state license needed to practice, but requirements differ by denomination, institution and discipline

What Will I Study?

The purpose of pastoral counselors is to bring healing and optimism to those who feel emotionally and spiritually broken. Through a master's program in pastoral counseling, you'll learn to study the Bible and use it to guide, encourage and advise. Upon graduation, you'll be able to minister and counsel in a variety of settings, including churches, prisons, clinics and community centers.

Practical instruction teaches you to use spirituality and Scripture with contemporary and traditional counseling techniques. You'll also learn to deal with people from differing cultures. Subjects you'll study during your program might include:

  • Christology
  • Human development
  • Counseling theories
  • Psychology and religion
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Ethics
  • World religions
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Group counseling

How Are Internet Classes Delivered?

Some colleges expect you to complete coursework over Internet platforms, such as Blackboard, while attending a practicum and on-campus lectures. Though hybrid formats offer online learning and may accelerate your studies, they are not always centered around Internet learning.

Your online program might provide reading assignments, video lectures or self-paced study guides that you can complete on your own schedule. Additionally, some distance learning programs use one-on-one mentoring through the phone and e-mail to provide direct interaction with professors. Many colleges have developed online access to libraries and resource centers.

Do I Need to Obtain Licensure?

Christian and pastoral counselors do not require state licensure to practice. Under the authority of the church, counselors are typically those in leadership positions, such as priests, pastors, ministers or church elders. Requirements for pastoral counselors often differ by denomination, institution and discipline, and several Christian organizations offer counseling credentials and certifications. If you choose to become licensed as a counselor through the state, you'll need to abide by secular ethics, standards and continuing education requirements.

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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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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