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Pastoral Counseling Internship (PACO 699)

Application Deadline

Application Portal

Upcoming internship application deadlines:

  • Fall 2020: July 20, 2020
  • Spring 2021: December 7, 2020
  • Summer 2021: March 15, 2021
  • Fall 2021: July 19, 2021

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 may include individual, relationship, or group therapy; they may also include curriculum-based small group studies (please see the Supplementary Guide at the bottom of the page for more applicable activities). 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 Walkthrough

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. The Pastoral Counseling Internship team recommends allowing at least 6 months to complete the application process.

  1. Select an Internship Site: Your first step in the internship application process will be to identify a potential internship site. Potential sites may 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.
    1. During the application process, the student or internship team may 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. You may choose more than one site as long as your selected supervisor is qualified and able to oversee your work at each site.
  2. Select a Supervisor: The ideal supervisory candidate will hold a counseling license or Master’s degree in a counseling or ministry-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. The supervisor does not have to be an individual at or directly affiliated with the internship site.
    1. If you choose more than one internship site, you will still have only one supervisor.
  3. Prepare the required paperwork: Blank copies and instructions for each document are listed in the section below titled “Application Paperwork.” Please take your time completing each document and read each page thoroughly. All blanks must be filled out and all ink signatures included on the appropriate lines.
  4. Apply: Once all paperwork has been completed, submit your completed documents through the Internship Application Portal located at the top of this page. Please be aware of the unique application deadlines for each semester. Do not mail us your document hard copies. We will not review them and will not return them to you.
  5. Approval: 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.
    1. If you are approved, you will receive an email stating your start date, and you will be automatically registered for PACO 699.
    2. If you are not approved, you may be able to apply again for a future semester when you are fully qualified to apply.

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.

  • Background check receipt from Castle Branch:
    • The background check package should be purchased from the CastleBranch website. Both a background check and an FBI fingerprint check are required for all students. Virginia residents are also required to purchase a child abuse background search, regardless of where they will intern.
    • The FBI fingerprint check requires you to provide physically rolled fingerprints. Follow the process as instructed by CastleBranch. 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 before the start date of your PACO 699 Internship semester are not acceptable (please refer to the academic calendar for semester start dates.
    • If a documented offense is reported, it does not cause automatic rejection of your application. As a matter of protocol, you will be asked to provide additional information about the circumstances surrounding the offense. Once your testimony is collected, you will be asked to share a copy of the results with your site director and supervisor. Both the site director and the supervisor must email PACOInternship@liberty.edu obtain their approval to proceed with the internship arrangements or make changes.
    • International Students: Non-US citizens conducting internships inside or outside the US, please contact the PACO Internship team regarding the background check requirement.
  • DCP Audit from ASIST (View how to audit your DCP): The audit will show your academic qualifications for the course.
  • Supervisor & Site Information Form: Download and complete this form detailing information about your site, your site’s director, your supervisor, and expected workload. This document must be signed in ink by you, your site director and your supervisor.
    • Site Director: The individual at your internship site who is permitted to sign legal documents on the site’s behalf.
    • Supervisor: The individual who will be meeting with you face-to-face for the 1-hour per week Individual Supervision hours, and who will be completing your mid-term and final evaluations.
      • Depending on the internship site, the site director and supervisor may be the same person.
  • Proof of Supervisor Credentials: Your application much include 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. A picture of the diploma will suffice as well.
  • Fieldwork Contract: This document explicitly describes the agreement between you and your supervisor concerning roles and duties. Download and complete the attached template. This document must be signed in ink by you and your supervisor.
  • 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. This document must be signed in ink by you (page 10) and your site director (page 7).
  • 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
  • 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 Students – Please Read

For a more in-depth look at the PACO 699 Internship requirements, please review our PACO Internship Supplementary Guide.

For further assistance, please contact Academic Advising (residential or online) or email the PACO Internship team at PACOinternship@liberty.edu.