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Pastoral Counseling Internship (PACO 699)

Application Deadline

Application Portal

Upcoming internship application deadlines:

  • Spring 2020: December 9, 2019
  • Summer 2020: March 16, 2020
  • Fall 2020: July 20, 2020

The Pastoral Counseling Internship (PACO 699) is an internship course that caps the M.A. Pastoral Counseling degree. It offers students supervised pastoral counseling experience in an approved setting. Work is monitored by a university faculty member through small assignments. The three-credit-hour course is offered each A term, meaning it is a semester-long course.

Students work at least 225 internship hours, including 50 hours of face-to-face counseling experience. Face-to-face experience can include individual, relationship, or group therapy. It can also include curriculum-based small group studies. The remaining hours can consist of ministry or agency-based activities or administrative tasks related to pastoral counseling.

Internship Qualifications

To qualify for the internship course:

  • You must have completed all core courses in the Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling degree. Approval to carry one core course concurrent with the internship will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
  • You must have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or above and be in good standing with the University in order to be approved. You must hold a 2.5 GPA by the application deadline in order for paperwork to be reviewed. Staff will not review paperwork past this point. Students who raise their GPA after the approval deadline will need to submit for the following semester. If you were admitted under “Special Status,” you may not begin the internship until you have met the following requirements:
    • You must have completed the core coursework either at Liberty University or another regionally accredited university.
    • You must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better.

Application Process

You cannot directly register to take the Pastoral Counseling Internship (PACO 699). Instead, you must apply for approval within the semester before you wish to intern. The application requires significant preparation, so follow these steps to ensure success.

  1. Before applying, identify the internship site where you want to work. Be sure the site’s director (whoever is in charge of all operations of the site) consents to your request to intern there. Potential site types include local churches, ministry- or agency-based organizations, group homes, hospitals, corporate chaplaincy offices, and nursing homes. Other settings will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You may choose more than one site as long as your selected supervisor is qualified and able to oversee your work at each site.
    1. During the application process, the student or internship team might find that a site does not meet the overall internship requirements or that a site is unable to comply with stipulations on the application paperwork. Though these situations are uncommon, the Internship Office encourages ALL students to have a second site available.
  2. Select a supervisor. The ideal supervisory candidate will hold a counseling license or Master’s degree in a pastoral counseling or counseling related field. Supervisors without these credentials will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Your supervisor will have direct supervisory responsibility for your activities, so be sure to get his/her consent before committing them.
  3. Prepare the required paperwork which is detailed in the section below.
  4. Complete the online application via the PACO Internship Application Portal. You will have to upload your paperwork as part of the process; there’s no need to begin the application until you have completely prepared the paperwork. Your application must be submitted by the deadline posted at the top of this webpage. Do not mail us your document hard copies. We will not review them and will not return them to you.
  5. Allow two weeks for the administrative team to review your application. If your application is insufficient, you will receive an email from the team stating the corrections needed for approval.
  • Once your application is reviewed, you will receive an email with the approval decision.
  • If you are not approved, you may be able to apply again for a future semester when you are fully qualified to apply.
  • If you are approved, you will receive an email stating your start date, and you will be automatically registered for the 16-week course.

Application Paperwork

The following documents must be completed and secured as part of your application packet. Scan completed documents into separate files for easy uploading.

  • DCP Audit from ASIST (View how to audit your DCP): The audit will show your academic qualifications for the course.
  • Background check receipt from Castle Branch:
    • To obtain this, go to the Castle Branch website, and purchase both a background check and an FBI fingerprint check. Virginia residents are also required to purchase a child abuse background search, regardless of where they will intern.
    • The FBI check requires you to provide a fingerprint. Follow the process as instructed by Castle Branch. Once submitted, the fingerprint review takes several weeks but should not delay the Pastoral Counseling Internship (PACO 699) application process.
    • Any background/fingerprint orders from more than one year ago are not acceptable.
    • If a documented offense is reported, it does not cause automatic rejection of your application. As a matter of protocol, we will ask you to provide additional information about the circumstances surrounding the offense. Once your testimony is collected, we will share it with your site director and supervisor and obtain their approval to proceed with the internship arrangements or make changes.
    • International students conducting internships in the USA qualify for a background check and fingerprint check. International students conducting internships outside of the USA do not need to purchase a background check. Refer to the last bullet point on this page for more information.
  • Professional liability insurance face sheet: You are responsible for obtaining insurance in your name that protects you with at least $1 million per occurrence and $3 million aggregate. Coverage must start on or before the start of the internship and remain in effect for the duration of class enrollment. Upload the face sheet of your policy into your application; it should include the amount of coverage, the effective dates of the policy, and the minimum amounts acceptable.
    • Please note that students who conduct the PACO internship outside of their country of origin are required to purchase additional travel and medical insurance through the University. This includes U.S. citizens interning abroad, as well as international students who travel outside of their country of origin for the PACO internship. If you fall under either of those circumstances, please contact the internship team at PACOinternship@liberty.edu for more information.
    • Some organizations students typically contact about insurance include:
  • Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO): 1 (800) 982-9491 or hpso.com
  • American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC): 1 (800) 526-8673
  • American Counseling Association (ACA) can also be helpful for Canadian students: 1 (800) 545-2223
  • American Professional Agency, Inc.: 1 (800) 421-6694
  • Fieldwork Contract: This document explicitly describes the agreement between you and your supervisor concerning roles and duties. Download and complete the attached template. Only inked signatures are acceptable.
  • Supervisor & Site Form: Download and complete this form detailing information about your site, your site’s director, your supervisor, and expected workload. Only inked signatures are acceptable.
  • Supervisor’s credentials: Provide proof of your supervisor’s credentials. Examples of acceptable forms include a counseling license document (with valid dates) or license verification document, diplomas, and/or certifications. If your supervisor has none of these, provide his/her resume highlighting qualifications for the role.
  • Affiliation Agreement: This legal agreement explains the roles, responsibilities, and possible actions between the four involved parties—namely, you, your site, your supervisor, and Liberty University. Only inked signatures are acceptable. (Directions for completing the form)
  • Digital photo: Provide a recent photo of yourself. Your image should show a full or near-full face angle and should not include other people.
  • International student forms to be submitted with the application (Upload in Background Check Receipt field):
    • International Criminal Background Check Disclosure Statement: If you are an international student, you must complete this form in lieu of a background check purchased from your country of residence. You must complete this form regardless of your internship location. U.S. citizens should not complete this form.
    • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) form: If you are an international student conducting an internship within the U.S., contact International Student Admissions to obtain the form, and complete it according to their instructions.

If you have questions about any information on this webpage, please review our PACO Internship Supplementary Guide for expounded explanations.

For further assistance, contact LU Advisors (residential or online) or email PACOinternship@liberty.edu.