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Top Online Master’s Degrees in Christian Counseling for 2024

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

Author: Shannon Lee

Editor: Staff Editor

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Two women having a conversation indoors; one woman, smiling, is listening attentively to the other whose back is facing the camera. They are seated in a living room.

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 a master’s in Christian counseling 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’re likely to have. Keep reading to get started on your journey to becoming a counselor grounded in a Christian approach to therapy.

Best Online Master’s in Christian Counseling for 2024

This guide to the best online programs in 2024 was created to address concerns you may have about finding a quality master’s degree in Christian counseling — including cost, duration, specialization options, and career outcomes. From accredited institutions to programs that integrate Christian principles, we’ve curated a list to answer the call of providing guidance and support rooted in faith.

About the ranking
1
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a customizable master’s in theology degree. This program was designed for those who want to be Christian leaders in churches or para-church ministries. The curriculum consists of 30 credit hours studying biblical texts, theology, and Christian ethics and a 15-credit concentration in an area of interest to them. Concentrations include preaching, missions, discipleship, Christian education, ministry leadership, women’s ministry, biblical counseling, church planning, church revitalization, and pastoral ministry. All courses can be transferred to the MDiv and other graduate degrees.

Program Highlights:

Master of Applied Theology

  • Credits: 45
  • Length: Two years
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation, Higher Learning Commission

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation ABHE
2
Lithonia, Georgia
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

Those interested in a Christ-centered counseling and theology degree should consider the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling at Luther Rice College & Seminary. Coursework can be completed online, in-person, or in a hybrid format, depending on a student’s preferences. Students also complete a practicum that provides hands-on experience in counseling. The program does not lead to counseling licensure but does prepare students to be nonlicensed counselors in religious settings. The course is also a pathway program into Luther Rice’s Doctor of Ministry or Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 18-24 months
  • Mode: Fully online, hybrid, in-person
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation ABHE
3
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

Regent University provides a comprehensive master’s in Christian counseling. The curriculum is designed for those who feel called to advise others in a less formal way than through pastoral care. To accomplish this goal, students take classes in psychology, theology, and caregiving activities. While the program doesn’t lead to licensure, it prepares students to provide nonlicensed counseling services in a religious setting. All coursework can be taken online, though the exact format varies by class; some courses are taught asynchronously through podcast or video lectures while others have set class times. The program values small group participation, either in class or in homework assignments.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Human Services — Christian Counseling

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: Two years
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
4
Watertown, Wisconsin
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
5
Henderson, Tennessee
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
6
Lakeland, Florida
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
7
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
8
Huntington, Indiana
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
9
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
10
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
11
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

In-depth Profiles: Online Christian Counseling Master’s Programs

There are plenty of master’s in Christian counseling degree programs available today 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 allows students to also aid in a client’s spiritual growth.

The program consists of 74 credits with most classes lasting eight weeks each. The bulk of required coursework can be finished online. However, students must complete several in-person practicum and internship courses as well. 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. The current tuition rate is $575 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 36 credits, allowing most students to complete their programs in less than two years. Classes last just eight weeks each, 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 course 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 focused on biblical and Christian-specific coursework.

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

In addition to training individuals to become counselors and therapists, master’s in Christian counseling programs provide theological teaching. Many Christian counseling master’s programs require students complete supervised practicums and internships, while others do not. If 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 common courses are:

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 crisis situations.

  • Introduction to Christian Counseling

    This course offers 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 secular and biblical perspectives. Students additionally 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 on counseling individuals and couples who want to improve their family relationships. It begins by teaching the fundamentals of marriage and family structure, and then shifts into different family systems and relationships.

  • Spiritual Formation – Becoming a Healthy Practitioner

    This course looks at counseling services that included consideration of 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 accreditation, which concerns a school’s overall academic quality. Regional and 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 specific degree programs. Christian counseling programs at the master’s level are typically programmatically 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 with both institutional and programmatic accreditation, but many won’t have programmatic accreditation. If not, it’s critical to confirm the school’s institutional accreditation and that their Christian counseling master’s program meets the requirements for licensure in the state where it 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 non-licensure programs do not 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 typically lead to state therapist and/or counselor licensure. Below is a list of common job titles for master’s in Christian counseling degree holders.

Church Counselor

Church counselors are not licensed or certified mental health professionals, but they can still offer valuable 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 focused on spousal and family relationships. 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 degree in counseling, part of a pastor’s job is to counsel church members on overcoming a range of 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. A master’s degree in Christian counseling may be a good choice for those who intend to earn a psychologist doctorate, 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. Individuals with previous training in rehabilitation may find that earning a master’s degree in Christian counseling will 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 in Christian counseling, the cost of attendance is a major hurdle. Fortunately, there are many forms of funding available to help alleviate the financial burden. Scholarships, which don’t need to be paid back, and employer tuition assistance are popular options, as are private and government school loans that eventually need to be paid back. Learn more about these and other financial aid options by visiting OMD’s financial aid page.

What Your Online Master’s in Christian Counseling Could Cost

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

60

$551/credit

$33,060

60

$608/credit

$36,480

36

$349/credit

$12,564

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 from program to program, 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 typically be completed in 18 months to two years. State-approved or CACREP–accredited programs typically require two to five years. Most programs feature curriculums that can be completed 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 requirements 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 do not lead to state certification or licensure. Fully-online programs typically require completion of around half the number of credits of CACREP-accredited programs leading to state licensure, and do not include in-person practicum or other face-to-face requirements. Online master’s in Christian counseling programs meeting the training and learning requirements for state licensure and/or CACREP accreditation are presented in hybrid formats in which classroom requirements can be completed online but supervised training requirements must be 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 include in-person practicum and internship requirements. These programs may or may not have programmatic accreditation but will 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 is an example of such a 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 church or religious settings. Luther Rice College and Seminary’s Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling is an example of this type of program.