Promote Spiritual Growth and Healing with a Master of Arts in Religion – Online Pastoral Counseling Degree
Are you a ministry professional seeking graduate-level training in biblical counseling? Do you enjoy learning about the relationship between Christianity and psychology? Are you passionate about ministering to the mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of those around you? If so, Liberty’s online Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) – Pastoral Counseling degree may be right for you!
Throughout this program, you’ll study core topics in theology, biblical studies, and ministry practice. Our goal is to help you explore rewarding ministry opportunities in churches, parachurch settings, and nonprofit settings. Additionally, our MAR in Pastoral Counseling degree online can help you prepare for future academic studies or pursue employment in higher education.
Learn how to provide effective pastoral care and counseling. With Liberty’s religion and pastoral counseling master’s degree, you can prepare to help meet the personal and spiritual needs of people in your ministry team and congregation. Partner with us and gain the tools you need to pursue God’s calling on your life.
Liberty University’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Your divinity degree is approved by ATS and has met rigorous accreditation standards, so you can feel confident that your degree is both academically excellent and well-respected among churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations.
Why Choose Liberty University’s Pastoral Counseling MAR Program?
As an accredited university, Liberty seeks to offer online programs that blend flexibility, affordability, and high-quality academics. Our goal is to help equip you with the skills you need to impact the world for Christ. With our 100% online format, you can complete your MAR in Pastoral Counseling at Liberty University without putting your life on hold.
Liberty has been a pioneer in distance education since 1985. A lot has changed since then, but our commitment to Training Champions for Christ has not. Our online courses have no set login times, so you can complete your assignments on your own schedule. You’ll also have the freedom to stay invested in your family and job while achieving your academic goals.
Throughout this degree program, you’ll study under faculty who have years of experience working in ministry and pastoral counseling. Our professors are firmly rooted in the Christian faith and committed to helping you thrive in your career. With their guidance, you can develop the practical skills needed to serve the people in your congregation and community. And, because all of our courses are taught from a biblical perspective, you can be confident that your approach to counseling will be grounded in Scripture.
What Are the Benefits of Pursuing Liberty’s MAR in Pastoral Counseling Degree?
- Unlike many online Bible colleges or seminaries, Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- As an online seminary student, you can complete Institutional Challenge Exams (ICE) to get potential college credit for prior knowledge.*
- As a special exception to Liberty’s multi-degree transfer policy, students who complete the online Master of Arts in Religion and then decide to continue their studies by pursuing the Master of Divinity (MDiv) can potentially transfer all 60 credit hours of their MAR content to the MDiv degree.
- Liberty’s online seminary offers divinity degrees at a graduate tuition rate of just $395 per credit hour for part-time students.
- By attending full time or higher (9-15 credit hours), you’ll be eligible for our divinity block rate of $2,750 per semester!**
*Subject to transfer limits.
**Credits taken below 9 and above 15 credit hours for the online Master of Arts in Religion are charged at the part-time rate.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an MDiv and the MAR in Pastoral Counseling degree?
A Master of Divinity (MDiv) and a Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) have much in common, with both degrees providing core training in topics like apologetics, the history of Christianity, and evangelism. However, Liberty’s online MDiv is a longer, more comprehensive program that covers additional subjects, such as Greek and Hebrew language tools.
If you complete your MAR and later want to pursue an MDiv, you can potentially transfer your entire MAR degree into our online MDiv program, allowing you to save time and money! For instance, you may be interested in our MDiv in Pastoral Counseling.
Should I pursue an MAR or an MA in Pastoral Counseling?
Liberty offers different types of pastoral counseling master’s degrees, so you can pick the program that best meets your personal and professional needs. Our Master of Arts (MA) in Pastoral Counseling is a great option if you primarily want to learn about biblical counseling while specializing in an area like crisis response, addiction recovery, life coaching, military resilience, or marriage and family studies.
Perhaps you’d like to mainly study Scripture, theology, and the Christian faith, but you also want to receive foundational training in pastoral counseling. If so, our MAR in Pastoral Counseling may be right for you. While the MA in Pastoral Counseling focuses entirely on biblical counseling methods, the MAR in Pastoral Counseling provides extensive ministry training as well as 12 credit hours of specialized pastoral counseling study. Both programs can help you develop vital skills — you’ll just need to evaluate which subjects you’re most interested in studying.
What can you do with a master’s in pastoral counseling?
As a non-licensed pastoral counselor, you can help people work through the challenges of life using best practices in mental health and biblical guidance. You could work directly in the church or in various settings within your community, such as:
- Domestic violence centers
- Non-licensure counseling centers
What Will You Learn in Our Religion and Pastoral Counseling Master’s Degree Online?
Liberty’s master’s degree in pastoral counseling online offers a mix of core religion classes and specialized pastoral counseling courses. You can enrich your understanding of Christian theology while learning how to minister to people’s psychological and spiritual needs from a biblical perspective. With this knowledge, you can prepare for a variety of ministry opportunities both inside and outside the church.
Prepare to conduct effective ministry in a variety of settings. The core of this program covers important topics in apologetics, the history of Christianity, discipleship, hermeneutics, and theology. You can also explore methods for fostering spiritual growth among believers, preparing sermons, and witnessing to non-believers.
Within the pastoral counseling specialization, you’ll explore how psychology and theology relate to each other so you can build a solid theoretical and practical foundation for faith-based counseling. Our program also introduces a solution-based model for short-term counseling that incorporates facilitation skills, cognitive behavioral approaches, and biblical teaching. By studying essential aspects of premarital and marital counseling, you can prepare to help couples work through challenges and grow stronger together.
After earning this pastoral counseling master’s degree, you may want to pursue our online Doctor of Ministry (DMin).
- PACO 500 – Introduction to Pastoral Counseling
- PACO 506 – Integration of Psychology and Theology
- PACO 507 – Theology and Spirituality in Counseling
- PACO 603 – Premarital and Marital Counseling
Highlights of the Religion and Pastoral Counseling Master’s Degree
- We are recognized by multiple institutions for our academic quality, affordability, and accessibility. Our commitment to excellence also helped us rank among Niche.com’s top 3 online schools in America. Earning your online Master of Arts in Religion – Pastoral Counseling degree from a nonprofit university with this kind of recognition can help set you apart from others in your field.
- Tuition for all undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs has not increased in 7 years. While many other online colleges have raised tuition, Liberty has been able to keep costs low as a nonprofit university.
- To continue our mission of providing affordable education, electronic textbooks are included for all divinity courses* at no cost to you. As a full-time student, this could save you an estimated $800-2,000 per year on textbooks!
- You can complete this online MAR in Pastoral Counseling degree in just 2 years.
- Liberty University’s online seminary, the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity, is led by experienced ministry professionals who teach practical skills while imparting deep theological teaching.
- Study content developed by renowned biblical scholars in Liberty’s School of Divinity, such as Dr. Elmer L. Towns and Dr. Gary R. Habermas.
- Complete your courses from the comfort of your home with our 100% online pastoral counseling degree.
*Electronic textbooks are not provided for courses that fall under departments outside the School of Divinity.
Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling Online Information
- This program falls under the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity.
- Download and review the Degree Completion Plan for Liberty’s MAR in Pastoral Counseling degree program.
- View the Graduate Divinity Course Guides (login required).
Military Benefits for Liberty’s MAR in Pastoral Counseling Degree 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
- Additional discount for veterans who serve in a civilian capacity as a First Responder (less than $625 per course)
- Discounted divinity block rate: $2,475 per semester (only $165/credit at 15 credit hours)*
- 8-week courses, 8 different start dates each year, and no set login times (may exclude certain courses such as practicums, internships, or field experiences)
*Credits taken below 9 and above 15 credit hours for the online MAR are charged at the part-time rate.
Potential Career Options with a Master’s in Pastoral Counseling and Religion
Our Master of Arts in Religion – online pastoral counseling degree is designed to help you tackle challenges in active, full-time ministry roles at churches and parachurch organizations. You could also pursue opportunities for college-level and non-licensure K-12 religious studies teaching.
Some of the roles you may qualify for include:
- Adjunct religion instructor
- Associate pastor
- Church education administrator
- K-12 religion instructor (non-licensure)
- Lay ministry leader
Admission Requirements for Liberty’s MAR Degree in Pastoral Counseling
Applicants must have a regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 or above cumulative GPA 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**
- School of Divinity Questionnaire
- Contact information for a pastoral recommender
- Proof of English proficiency (for applicants whose native language is other than English)
*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.