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Pastoral Counseling Internship (PACO 699)

Application Deadline

Upcoming internship application deadlines:

  • Summer 2024: March 25, 2024
  • Fall 2024: July 1, 2024
  • Spring 2025: November 25, 2024

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.

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

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.
    • To request approval, please contact PACOInternship@liberty.edu.
  • 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.
    3. Finding an internship site may take some time. To assist in your search, our office has organized and will continue to maintain a list of previously used internship sites. Please be aware, these sites may accept or reject students seeking internship opportunities as their discretion.
      1. Previously Used Site List (pdf)
  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 (please read through carefully):
    • ***Non-U.S. Residents: All Non-U.S. residents should contact the PACO Internship team regarding the background check requirement.
    • The background check package should be purchased from the CastleBranch website (please choose from the Pastoral Counseling packages). Both a background check and an FBI fingerprint check are required for all students.
    • The FBI fingerprint check requires you to provide physically rolled fingerprints. Follow the process as instructed by CastleBranch. Once submitted, the fingerprint review may take 6+ weeks before results are returned so please plan accordingly.
      • Fingerprint results must be returned and uploaded to CastleBranch before a decision may be rendered on your internship application.
    • Any background check 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 and express their approval to proceed with the internship arrangements or make changes.
  • Screenshot of your DCP Audit: The audit will show your academic qualifications for the course. The DCP Audit may be found in ASIST > Student > Registration > Course Registration > Degree Completion.
    • Multiple screenshots may be needed if the courses do not fit on one page.
  • Supervisor & Site Information Form (pdf): 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.
      • If these are the same person, the individual must sign on BOTH the site director and supervisor lines.
  • 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 (pdf): 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.
    • Please refer to the Academic Calendar for the semester start and end dates.
      • Double check that you have selected the correct academic year and are looking at the correct semester.
      • PACO 699 is considered an A-Term course.
  • Affiliation Agreement (pdf): 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 your site director.
    • Please upload a copy of the agreement with all eight pages included, the cover sheet completed with the site information,  the site name on page 1, the site address on page 5, and the site director’s signature on page 7. Please be sure to upload all eight pages as one PDF document.
    • IMPORTANT: For students using a CPE program for their internship site, please use this Affiliation Agreement form instead of the one above: CPE Affiliation Agreement.
  • Student Addendum (pdf): This is the agreement between the student and Liberty University, and explains your roles and responsibilities. This document must be signed in ink by you, the student.
    • Please upload a copy of the agreement with the site name on page 1 and your signature on page 3. Please be sure to upload all three pages as one PDF document.
    • Please upload this document to the “Affiliation Agreement” section of the Internship Application.
    • IMPORTANT: For students using a CPE program for their internship site, please use this Student Addendum form instead of the one above: CPE Student Addendum.
  • 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.
    • International Internships: Please note that students who conduct their PACO internship OUTSIDE of the U.S. are NOT required to purchase professional liability insurance. If your site requires proof of insurance and you are unable to obtain a policy in your country, please contact the internship team at PACOinternship@liberty.edu for assistance.
      • International internship students should upload a statement to the “Liability Insurance” section of the application that reads: “I understand that the PACO Internship team strongly recommends obtaining professional liability insurance. I understand that the purchase of any such policy is at my own discretion.”
    • 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.

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

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