Doctoral Degree in Pastoral Community Counseling

Read about your options for earning a doctoral degree in pastoral community counseling, including Doctor of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy programs. Explore some of the course topics you'd study as a doctoral student in this field. Review the certification and licensing requirements for pastoral counselors. Schools offering Christian Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will My Doctoral Degree Program in Pastoral Community Counseling Cover?

Educational programs leading to degrees such as the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) in Pastoral Counseling, Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Pastoral Care and Counseling or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pastoral Care and Counseling can be found at graduate schools across the country. Most schools require a master's degree in divinity or counseling; a few may offer admission to those with only a bachelor's degree.

Once admitted, your program will combine religious, counseling and theological studies to teach you how to serve as a counselor. Throughout your 4-year degree program, you are likely to gain a deep understanding of the Christian faith and how people can look to their religious beliefs to address personal obstacles. Because of the nature of the study, which includes counseling, online classes are hard to find.

Prerequisites Bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the program
Common Courses Religious studies, research methods, psychology, human development, clinical practicum
Licensure Graduates often need to pursue state licensure to work as pastoral counselors, either in counseling, pastoral counseling, or marriage and family therapy
Median Salary (2018)$48,990 (for clergy)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (for clergy)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Classes Will I Take?

Your classes will build on your Christian faith, general understanding of counseling and psychology to train you to become a counselor. At the end of your program, your school is likely to require you to complete and present a dissertation. Areas you may study include:

  • Human growth and development
  • Research methods
  • Integration of psychology and theology
  • Premarital and marital counseling
  • Family and child counseling

As a doctoral student, you will most likely take part in a clinical practicum to work with clients in need of spiritual guidance and counseling.

What About Certification and Licensing?

After earning the doctorate, pastoral counselors are generally required to become licensed or certified so that they can practice in a community or church setting, according to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC). Some of the possible designations include Licensed Pastoral Psychotherapist and Certified Clinical Pastoral Therapist - titles usually vary by state.

Only a handful of states offer specific pastoral counseling licenses, though. In other states, pastoral counselors can qualify to become licensed marriage and family therapists or professional counselors. This may involve enrolling in a postgraduate program or taking supplemental courses. Be sure to check with the state in which you want to practice to determine which certification or license you need.

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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