Best Master’s in Christian Counseling Online Degrees

Online master’s degrees in Christian counseling offer an affordable and convenient path to anyone interested in providing counseling through Christian principles and biblical teachings. Learn more about what you can expect and find top programs in this guide.

Helping others through counseling or therapy usually requires a master’s degree, but most programs teach methodologies for use in a secular setting. While this works for many clients and practitioners, some prefer counseling grounded in Christian values and ideologies.

Fortunately, many affordable and convenient master’s-level counseling programs now offer a Christian focus and are available online to help students balance work and personal responsibilities. Before moving forward, however, you’ll want to carefully research program options, get a deeper look at the curriculum, and see what types of counseling licenses and careers this degree can qualify you for.

This guide will help you start your search for a quality online Christian counseling degree program and answer key questions you likely have. Keep reading to get started on your journey to becoming a counselor grounded in a biblical and Christian approach to therapy.

Top-Ranked Christian Counseling Online Master’s Programs for 2022

There are plenty of master’s in Christian counseling degrees you can earn online, so choosing the best program suited to meet your professional and academic goals can be challenging. Three top-notch online Christian counseling programs are profiled below to show you who stands out for their quality of education, learning flexibility, and affordability.

Grand Canyon University

The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in Christian Counseling from Grand Canyon University suits individuals looking to become Licensed Associate Counselors or Licensed Professional Counselors. Many of the techniques and strategies taught in this program are similar to secular clinical mental health counseling programs, but the Christian approach teaches students to also aid in a client’s spiritual growth.

The program consists of 74 credits, but most classes only last eight weeks. Most required coursework can be finished online, though students must complete several in-person practicum and internship courses. These requirements test what you’ve learned in a supervised clinical setting and are necessary for licensure. In addition to online learning, on-campus classes are available evenings and meet just once a week. Tuition is $565 per credit hour.

Liberty University

Liberty University is an academic leader when it comes to flexible online learning, and its Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling demonstrates this. This program is not intended for those looking to earn their state licensure as therapists or counselors. Instead, it’s intended for individuals who are already licensed counselors but who want to shift their practice into a more Christian-oriented approach that integrates biblical teachings.

One of the biggest advantages of this master’s program at SACSCOC-accredited Liberty University is the speed at which you can earn your degree. The program consists of only 36 credits, which most students complete in less than two years. Classes last just eight weeks, and students can receive up to 18 transfer credits. The program offers several specializations, including Addiction and Recovery, Community Chaplaincy, Leadership and Church Ministry, Marriage and Family, and Theology.

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

Going above and beyond in terms of accreditation, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary’s Master of Arts in Christian Counseling (MACC) program has regional accreditations from both the New England Commission for Higher Education (NECHE) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). It also has programmatic accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Students in Gordon Cromwell’s MACC program complete a curriculum that trains them to diagnose and treat various behavioral health issues for a variety of clients, including families, groups, couples, and individuals. All classroom requirements can be completed online, but hybrid learning is also an option. Because this program leads to licensure, students also complete supervised in-person internships and practicums. The entire program consists of 66 credits with 15 of those credits coming from biblical and Christian-specific coursework.

What You’ll Learn in a Christian Counseling Master’s Program

In addition to training individuals to become counselors or therapists, a master’s in Christian counseling provides theological teaching. Many Christian counseling master’s programs require students complete supervised practicums and internships, but some do not. If these in-person requirements exist, the program most likely leads to licensure. Regardless of whether a program leads to licensure, most offer many of the same types of classes. Some of the most popular courses are highlighted below.

Popular Courses

  • Crisis Counseling

    Various crises, including sudden death, loss, grief, and other unpleasant life events, are covered in this course. It also identifies and explains relevant biblical passages and ideas that can apply to different crises.

  • Introduction to Christian Counseling

    This course gives a basic overview of how Christian methods and paradigms can be applied to counseling. Christian counseling methods are matched with appropriate scenarios as well as the type of clients they are most effective with. Special emphasis is placed on applying Christian counseling techniques to current events and issues.

  • Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues

    The obligations of the counselor or therapist are covered in this class. Students learn about the current legal and ethical standards that apply to their practice from both a secular and biblical perspective. Students also learn about the historical background of these requirements and the issues that helped develop them.

  • Marriage and Family Counseling

    The focus of this course is counseling individuals and couples who want to improve their family relationships. It begins by teaching the fundamentals of marriage and family structure, then shifts into different family systems and relationships between spouses or other members of the family household.

  • Spiritual Formation – Becoming a Healthy Practitioner

    This course revolves around providing counseling services but doing so in a way that considers the client’s spiritual needs. Students learn about the stages of spiritual growth as well as how a person’s spiritual beliefs can affect their mental health, personality, and how they treat others.

Accreditation for Christian Counseling Master’s Degrees

There are two main types of accreditations to look out for when choosing an online master’s in Christian counseling program. The first is institutional or regional and applies to the entire school. This regional or institutional accreditation should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The second type of accreditation is programmatic, which applies to a specific program. Christian counseling programs at the master’s level with programmatic accreditation are usually accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP). However, other types are possible, including the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

Ideally, you want to attend a Christian counseling master’s program that has programmatic accreditation, but many won’t. They should, however, be part of a school with regional or institutional accreditation and have curriculums that meet the requirements for licensure in the state where the school is located.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Christian Counseling?

What you can do with a master’s degree in Christian counseling depends on the type of program. While the shorter, non-licensure programs won’t lead to state certification as a counselor or therapist, they do provide a religious perspective that can be useful for pastoral or church counseling. Longer programs often lead to licensure, and graduates can become state-certified therapists and counselors. The following is a list of potential careers graduates can anticipate regardless of the program they complete.

Church Counselor

Church counselors aren’t licensed or certified mental health professionals, but they can still offer helpful guidance and advice in line with a client’s religious beliefs. The master’s degree in Christian counseling provides this biblical knowledge and Christian context in addition to counseling training.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$29,490

$45,160

$76,780

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists treat general mental health issues but specialize in treating these issues among spouses and family members. To become a licensed marriage and family therapist, most states require earning a master’s degree in counseling or a related program.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$37,050

$49,880

$96,520

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Pastor

While the leader of a church isn’t usually required to have a master’s degree or a degree in counseling, part of a pastor’s job is helping church members, which can include giving advice and counseling them on their problems and struggles.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$30,450

$49,720

$80,920

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Counseling Psychologist

In most states, earning a master’s degree won’t be enough to become a licensed psychologist. A doctorate is usually needed, and a master’s degree in Christian counseling is perfect for those who intend to earn a doctoral degree but also want a Christian approach to helping future patients and clients.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$47,010

$82,510

$167,460

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Rehabilitation Counselor

A rehabilitation counselor requires a master’s degree and special training in counseling and rehabilitating those with disabilities. For those who already have training in rehabilitation, a master’s degree in Christian counseling may fulfill the remaining training and degree requirements to enter a career in rehabilitation counseling.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$28,890

$38,560

$65,880

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Paying for Your Online Master’s in Christian Counseling

For many students seeking a master’s degree, the cost of attendance is a major hurdle. Fortunately, there are many forms of financial aid available to help alleviate the burden of a master’s degree in Christian counseling. Scholarships, which don’t need to be paid back, and employer tuition assistance are possibilities as are private or government school loans that eventually need to be paid back. Learn more about these and other financial aid options through our financial aid page.

What Your Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

Huntington University

60

$551/credit

$33,060

Grace College

60

$588/credit

$35,280

Luther Rice College & Seminary

36

$332/credit

$11,952

FAQs About Online Christian Counseling Master’s Degrees

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online master’s in Christian counseling?

Admissions requirements differ for each school, but most online master’s degree programs in Christian counseling require applicants to submit the following:

  • An admission application
  • An application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • A personal statement or essay

Additional requirements often include a second essay or answering short questions about your spirituality and desire to become a counselor, an interview, and completion of certain prerequisite classes like those covering the basics of psychology and the Bible.

How long will it take to finish my master’s in Christian counseling online?

Non-licensure Christian counseling master’s programs can be completed in 18 months to two years. State-approved or CACREP–accredited programs typically take two to five years. Most programs, like the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary, design their curriculums to be finished in about three years. The exact length depends on whether you attend full or part time and how quickly you can finish the supervised training parts of your coursework.

Can I earn a master’s in Christian counseling 100% online?

Most master’s in Christian counseling programs that can be earned fully online have students complete only half the credits a CACREP-accredited or state licensure program requires. Besides taking fewer classes, these students often don’t have any in-person practicum requirements included as a part of their curriculum. If the online master’s in Christian counseling program meets the training and learning requirements for state licensure and/or CACREP accreditation, it will be a hybrid program where classroom requirements can be completed online but supervised training requirements are completed in person.

Will an online master’s in Christian counseling qualify me to become a licensed counselor?

Online master’s in Christian counseling programs that lead to licensure require students to complete 60 to 66 credits and often include in-person practicum and internship requirements. These may or may not have programmatic accreditation but will typically meet the academic and training requirements for licensure in the state where the school is located. The Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Grace College, which offers this degree within the Christian context with biblical views, is this type of program.

Programs not leading to licensure consist of 30 to 36 credits and are designed for students who are already licensed or plan on working as non-licensure counselors in various church or religious settings. Luther Rice College and Seminary’s Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling is an example of this type of program.