Provide Comfort and Hope to the Hurting with a Master’s in Pastoral Counseling
You are fascinated with psychology and the intricacies of the human mind. You love working in a ministry setting and sharing the Gospel with other people. You want to combine your passion for psychology and theology into a career that lets you bring hope and healing to those in your community.
If that sounds like you, Liberty’s online Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling – Pastoral Counseling can help. Our program is designed to train ministry professionals and church leaders to become Christian counselors in churches and non-licensure agencies. With the pastoral counseling cognate, you will develop a broad skill set that can be applied to many counseling situations. That way, you can help people of various ages and backgrounds thrive mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Students in Liberty University’s counseling program will study clinically and biblically sound methods for understanding human nature, responding to challenging life circumstances, and providing guidance that addresses the root of human struggles. Whether you are already serving as a ministry professional or just getting started in the field, our M.A. in Pastoral Counseling can equip you to fill a variety of Christian counseling roles.
*Please note that the online Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling contains some but not all of the necessary requirements for clinical counseling licensure. Please see the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling for a fully licensure-track clinical counseling program.
“Pastoral Counseling” Definition:
A form of counseling that draws on biblical truth and psychological principles to offer a well-rounded approach to human suffering.
What is a pastoral counselor?
Pastoral counselors are ministers who are trained to provide psychological and spiritual guidance to members of their congregation. Some pastoral counselors also work in other settings, such as hospitals, military bases, workplaces, or Christian counseling centers. The goal of pastoral counseling is to offer therapy that is based on spiritual truth and cutting-edge psychological research.
What is the value of pastoral counseling?
Pastoral counseling is unique because it combines psychology and theology. As a pastoral counselor, you can provide both mental health treatment and spiritual guidance to those who are struggling. Some of the challenges you can help people work through include substance abuse, mental health issues, relationship problems, and grief.
What is the difference between pastoral counseling and professional counseling?
While regular clinical counselors focus on people’s mental and emotional needs, pastoral counselors also recognize the importance of spiritual matters. As a pastoral counselor, you can combine science and theology to address the root of human suffering and help people discover healing that lasts.
How do you become a certified pastoral counselor?
You can serve in many pastoral counseling roles without a license. However, if you want to pursue full clinical counseling licensure, our master’s in pastoral counseling can help you get started. This degree contains some but not all of the requirements for pursuing licensure. You’ll want to check your individual state’s requirements to make sure you complete any other coursework and on-the-job experience needed to obtain your counseling license.
Why Choose Liberty University’s Pastoral Counseling Program?
If you are already a ministry professional and want to branch out into pastoral counseling, our online Christian counseling degree provides the additional training you need to help people struggling with spiritual and mental health crises. This program will build on your previous ministry experience so you can provide the best possible pastoral care to those in your church community.
The M.A. in Pastoral Counseling gives students the option to attend 2 residential intensives. While not required, these intensives offer a valuable opportunity to visit our beautiful campus in Lynchburg, Virginia — and to connect in-person with other pastoral counseling students and faculty. Before graduating, you’ll complete an internship that will provide hands-on field experience and help increase your ministry effectiveness.
If you’re worried that school will get in the way of your other commitments and priorities, we have just what you need. This degree is offered 100% online, and the courses have no set login times — which means you can complete your classes from the comfort of your home and stay invested in your family and career while earning your degree.
Our pastoral counseling professors have years of experience working in professional ministry settings. They are ready and eager to share their expertise with you as you take this important next step in your academic journey. With their guidance, you can develop a deeper understanding of how to meet people’s spiritual and psychological needs.
Discounted Tuition Rates
The online M.A. in Pastoral Counseling is part of the School of Behavioral Sciences but still receives the School of Divinity’s discounted graduate tuition rate of $395 per credit hour for part-time students. Additionally, students attending full time (9-15 credit hours) are eligible for a block rate of $2,750 per semester!*
*Credits taken below 9 and above 15 credit hours are charged at the part-time rate.
What Will You Learn in Our Master’s in Pastoral Counseling Courses?
Learn how to strengthen your ministry effectiveness and guide others through many of life’s challenges.
This degree contains a mix of core courses and the pastoral counseling cognate. By completing this general track, you can develop a flexible skill set and potentially pursue many different types of counseling roles. The pastoral counseling area of study will cover a wide variety of counseling and pastoral care topics, and you can tailor your degree to fit your unique ministry needs. In other words, you can take courses that match your interests and career goals while developing core skills that will help you succeed!
Explore best methods for addressing spiritual and mental health issues in your congregation. This program is a great first step to take toward pursuing state counseling licensure. You will learn how to understand personhood, suffering, and human nature through the lens of both psychology and theology. You’ll also examine how meeting people’s spiritual needs is a vital part of addressing their mental and emotional challenges.
Our pastoral counseling courses cover many essential topics, including crisis intervention, marriage and family counseling, spiritual formation, healthy sexuality, and multicultural issues in counseling. Whether you want to counsel couples, families with children, elderly people, or women in particular, the M.A. in Pastoral Counseling can help. You’ll dive into practical methods for helping people of all ages work through grief, trauma, and the everyday hardships of life. By completing an internship, you can apply what you’ve learned to the real world and graduate career-ready.
Partner with us and prepare to serve as a Champion for Christ in your church and community.
- PACO 507 – Theology and Spirituality in Counseling
- PACO 625 – Healthy Sexuality
- PACO 630 – Gerontology and Counseling
- PACO 687 – Counseling Women
Highlights of Studying Pastoral Counseling at Liberty University
- Liberty is ranked in the top 1% of more than 2,100 online colleges and universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility by BestColleges.com — and ranked as the #2 online school in America by Niche.com. Earning your online Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling degree from a nonprofit university with this kind of recognition will set you apart from others in your field.
- Your success is our success, which is why we’re committed to providing quality academics at an affordable tuition rate. While other colleges are increasing their tuition, we have frozen tuition rates for our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs for the past 5 years — and counting.
- Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- Our online courses are only 8 weeks long, with 8 different start dates offered each year and no set login times.
- You can complete Liberty University’s master’s in counseling for pastors in under 2 years!
- You may be able to complete Institutional Challenge Exams (ICE) to earn college credit — allowing you to finish your degree faster.
- Online Liberty students have access to a wealth of resources through our top-notch research portal.
Online Christian Counseling Degree Information
- This program falls under the School of Behavioral Sciences.
- Download and review the Degree Completion Plan for Liberty University’s pastoral counseling master’s.
- View the Graduate Behavioral Sciences Course Guides (login required).
Military Benefits for Liberty’s Pastoral Therapy Master’s Program
Liberty University is dedicated to providing world-class educational experiences to military students across the globe. Whether you are a current service member, discharged or retired from service, or the spouse of a service member or veteran, we are here to support you every step of the journey.
As a thank-you for your dedication and service to our country, Liberty is honored to serve and support you in your pursuit of online education by offering the following benefits:
- Tuition discounts – $275 per credit hour for part-time graduate courses
- Discounted divinity block rate: $2,475 per semester (9-15 credit hours)*
- Additional discount for veterans who serve in a civilian capacity as a First Responder (less than $625 per course)
- 8-week courses, 8 different start dates each year, and no set login times
*Credits taken below 9 and above 15 credit hours are charged at the part-time rate.
Potential Career Options for Graduates with a Degree in Pastoral Counseling
Liberty’s Christian counseling degree online will equip you to serve the people within your church using biblically sound counseling methods. Some of the roles you may qualify for after completing this program include:
- Associate pastor
- Church counselor
- Non-licensed counselor
- Women’s ministry director
Admission Requirements for Liberty University’s Biblical Counseling Program
A regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 or above cumulative combined GPA is required for admission in good standing. Please visit our admission requirements page for more detailed admissions-related information.
All applicants must submit the following:
- Admission application
- Application fee*
- Official college transcripts
- Unofficial college transcripts may be accepted with a completed official transcript request form**
- Proof of English proficiency
*There is no upfront application fee; however, a deferred $50 application fee will be assessed during financial check-in. This fee is waived for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses — documentation verifying military status is required.
**An official transcript is needed within 60 days of acceptance or before non-attendance drops for the first set of matriculated classes, whichever comes first.