2020 Most Affordable Online Master's in Christian Counseling

By the OnlineU team | Updated 10/14/2021
2020 Most Affordable Christian Counseling Masters Degrees Badge
By the OnlineU team | Updated 10/14/2021

The 16 schools on this list represent the most affordable options for obtaining an online master's degree in Christian counseling. At #1, Amberton University offers an online Master of Science in Family Studies - Christian Counseling for only $4,770 per year. Following in second place, Liberty University has an affordable tuition rate of $5,500 per year. We also provide information below on licensure, Christian counseling careers, accreditation, and financial aid.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or browse our rankings of the most affordable online master's programs. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Amberton University $4,770
# 2 #2 Liberty University $5,500
# 3 #3 Ohio Christian University $5,746
# 4 #4 Holy Apostles $6,480
# 5 #5 Maranatha Baptist University $7,225
# 6 #6 San Diego Christian College $8,136
# 7 #7 Ottawa University Online $9,525
# 8 #8 Faulkner University $10,980
# 9 #9 Missouri Baptist University $12,740
# 10 #10 Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary $13,035
# 11 #11 Bob Jones University $14,025
# 12 #12 Crown College $15,660
# 13 #13 Regent University Online $17,850
# 14 #14 Dallas Baptist University $18,072
# 15 #15 Southwestern Assemblies of God University $21,420
# 16 #16 Amridge University $21,600
#1
#1

Amberton University

Garland (TX)
Annual Tuition: $4,770
Annual Tuition: $4,770
Annual Tuition: $4,770

Amberton University is a Christian college designed to meet the needs of working adults. It's Master of Science in Family Studies with a Specialization in Christian Counseling is designed to prepare graduates to apply faith-based counseling theory and principles to the practice of counseling individuals, couples, and families, especially those in crisis. The 36-credit interdisciplinary program merges the fields of counseling and human behavior with Christian studies and is taught by faculty who are... all active practitioners. Courses include Theories and Methods of Counseling, Family Life, Lifespan Development, Crisis Counseling, and Human Sexuality.

Amberton University is dedicated to making college affordable for the working adult. They offer several different payment plans and encourage students to find and use tuition assistance programs, veterans benefits, and other types of loans and scholarships. Online students have access to resources, including student advisors, a library and computer lab, research assistance, and technical support.

Students interested in applying should have work experience and a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Applicants can apply online and must submit their transcripts; there is no fee to apply.

  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 143
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 544
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Family Studies - Christian Counseling
#2
#2

Liberty University

Lynchburg (VA)
Annual Tuition: $5,500
Annual Tuition: $5,500
Annual Tuition: $5,500

At Liberty University, the online Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling is designed to train pastors to provide guidance and support to people in all life stages, especially those struggling with trauma, marital issues, or other challenges. The program, which is not intended to prepare students to become licensed therapists or counselors, requires 36 credit hours to complete. Most students finish the program in about one and a half to two years.

The core curriculum for the online master’s degree in... pastoral counseling integrates ministerial training with modern psychology. Graduate students who opt for the specialization in Pastoral Counseling will take courses in Theology and Spirituality in Counseling, Healthy Sexuality, Gerontology and Counseling, and Counseling Women. Many faculty members are active counseling practitioners working in church and agency settings, so they can incorporate real experiences into their teaching. Distance learners are supported by many resources, including an online writing center, career services, library resources, and free tutoring.

To be admitted, applicants must have earned an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Prospective students will need to submit their official transcripts after submitting their application. If accepted, an admission fee will be added to the initial payment. Active military and veterans are eligible for tuition discounts and other benefits.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Average SATs: 1040 -1260
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 34,092
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 36,337
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • MA: Human Services Counseling: Christian Ministry Counseling
  • MA: Pastoral Counseling
  • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Community Chaplaincy
  • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Crisis Response & Trauma
  • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Dobson Center Family Advocacy, Public Policy, & the Future
  • MA: Pastoral Counseling: Life Coaching
#3
#3

Ohio Christian University

Circleville (OH)
Annual Tuition: $5,746
Annual Tuition: $5,746
Annual Tuition: $5,746

Ohio Christian University offers a Master of Arts in Ministry with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Online graduate students are encouraged to participate in a host of optional, credit-bearing activities in the “Online Plus” program. These activities present distance learners with opportunities to develop valuable, practical skills through real-world experiences, such as global or U.S.-based internships, academic camps, and on-campus summer programs.

The Master of Arts in Ministry... online program trains students for roles as paid or lay ministers by providing them with a foundation in theology and Biblical studies and developing their preaching, caregiving, and church administration skills. The curriculum includes core courses and a capstone project, and the concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling requires four additional classes: Methods of Pastoral Counseling, Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling, Spiritual Issues in Counseling, and Crisis Intervention. The program is designed to enhance students’ abilities to provide pastoral care, not to prepare them to become licensed therapists or counselors. Students can earn credit for prior learning, and scholarships are also available. Distance learners have access to tutoring and mentoring.

Admission to the master’s in ministry online degree program begins by filling out an online application found on the school's website. Applicants will be asked to provide official transcripts from their undergraduate degree programs and other documentation.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,264
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 246
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Ministry - Pastoral Care and Counseling
#4
#4

Holy Apostles

Cromwell (CT)
Annual Tuition: $6,480
Annual Tuition: $6,480
Annual Tuition: $6,480
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 50%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 156
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 344
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies - Marriage and Family Studies
  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies - Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies - Spiritual Direction
#5
#5
Annual Tuition: $7,225
Annual Tuition: $7,225
Annual Tuition: $7,225
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Acceptance Rate: 73%
  • Average SATs: 1006 -1205
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 147
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 123
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • M.A. in Biblical Counseling
#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $8,136
Annual Tuition: $8,136
Annual Tuition: $8,136
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%
  • Average SATs: 930 -1170
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 97
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 45
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: WSCUC

Online Master's Degrees

  • MS - Leadership - Christian Counseling
#7
#7
Annual Tuition: $9,525
Annual Tuition: $9,525
Annual Tuition: $9,525
  • Graduation Rate: 34%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 205
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 56
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Counseling - Christian Counseling
#8
#8

Faulkner University

Montgomery (AL) (and 2 others)
Annual Tuition: $10,980
Annual Tuition: $10,980
Annual Tuition: $10,980
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Acceptance Rate: 57%
  • Average SATs: 1000 -1160
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 648
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 499
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Family Life Ministry
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $12,740
Annual Tuition: $12,740
Annual Tuition: $12,740
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 55%
  • Average SATs: 920 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 258
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 373
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Christian Ministry - Biblical Counseling
#10
#10
Annual Tuition: $13,035
Annual Tuition: $13,035
Annual Tuition: $13,035
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 79%
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Average SATs: 1030 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 300
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 803
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Theological Studies in Biblical Counseling
#11
#11

Bob Jones University

Greenville (SC)
Annual Tuition: $14,025
Annual Tuition: $14,025
Annual Tuition: $14,025
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 150
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 106
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling
  • Master of Divinity - Concentration in Biblical Counseling
#12
#12

Crown College

Saint Bonifacius (MN)
Annual Tuition: $15,660
Annual Tuition: $15,660
Annual Tuition: $15,660
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Acceptance Rate: 51%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 601
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 362
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Accelerated Bachelor's/Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Christian Studies - Emphasis in Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Global Leadership - Emphasis in Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership - Emphasis in Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Emphasis in Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
#13
#13

Regent University Online

Virginia Beach (VA)
Annual Tuition: $17,850
Annual Tuition: $17,850
Annual Tuition: $17,850
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1220
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,146
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 5,092
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • M.A. in Human Services - Biblical Counseling
  • M.A. in Human Services - Christian Counseling
  • M.A. in Pastoral Counseling
  • M.A. in Human Services
  • M.A. in Spiritual Formation
  • Master of Divinity - Missiology
#14
#14
Annual Tuition: $18,072
Annual Tuition: $18,072
Annual Tuition: $18,072
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Acceptance Rate: 39%
  • Average SATs: 1030 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 290
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 372
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Christian Ministry - Counseling Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Family Ministry - Christian Counseling
#15
#15
Annual Tuition: $21,420
Annual Tuition: $21,420
Annual Tuition: $21,420
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 28%
  • Average SATs: 918 -1103
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 739
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 338
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Divinity - Counseling
  • Master of Divinity - Family Ministry
#16
#16

Amridge University

Montgomery (AL)
Annual Tuition: $21,600
Annual Tuition: $21,600
Annual Tuition: $21,600
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 365
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 468
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Divinity in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Master of Divinity in Professional Counseling

Online Master's in Christian Counseling Program Overview

A master's degree in Christian counseling is designed for students who want to provide mental health and behavioral support from a faith-based perspective. Enrollees learn the principles of psychology, Christian ethics, social sciences, and theology so they can adopt church-approved approaches when treating patients for relationship, behavioral, sexual, and substance-related challenges. Interested students can earn an affordable online Christian counseling degree, allowing them to complete their coursework at flexible times while keeping costs down.

If you're applying to a master’s program in Christian counseling, you'll need to detail your academic and work history. Most graduate-level programs require the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree transcripts from your undergraduate institution, showing a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0
  • A personal reflective essay or answers to a series of essay questions about your faith and professional goals
  • Letters of recommendation from professors or experienced mentors
  • A resume of relevant experience

Since a Christian counselor engages in ministry, you may need to profess faith in a particular denomination during your application process. Most institutions granting these degrees are affiliated with a specific branch of Christianity. Additionally, your institution may ask that you pledge commitment to your chosen school's code of conduct.

Since a Christian counselor engages in ministry, you may need to profess faith in a particular denomination during your application process.

The length of an online Christian counseling master's degree can vary based on whether it leads to professional counseling licensure. Most non-licensure programs last 36 credit hours and take about two years of full-time study to complete, whereas licensure options take up to 60 credits and can last four years. Christian counseling degree programs that lead to licensure require 2,000-4,000 clinical counseling hours in a supervised professional setting, depending on the state. Some non-licensure programs also require supervised hours, though this is uncommon and hours vary by program.


What Degree Do You Need to Be a Christian Counselor?

Since Christian counseling is unregulated, there are no absolute degree requirements to work in the field. Some employers may hire a Christian counselor who only has an undergraduate degree, whereas others require a master's degree. Similarly, some employers may prefer to hire an applicant whose degree program required supervised clinical hours, and others may be satisfied that a degree included a research practicum course.

Christian Counseling Licensure

Because Christian counseling is rooted in religion, there are no state-mandated guidelines for practicing in the field and scarce regulation. Earning the licensed professional counselor (LPC) credential requires a graduate degree from an accredited institution, at least 3,000 supervised clinical hours, and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or state equivalent. Only a few master's and doctoral programs in Christian counseling are designed to lead to licensure as LPCs.

Because Christian counseling is rooted in religion, there are no state-mandated guidelines for practicing in the field and scarce regulation.

Notably, even graduates of non-licensure Christian counseling programs may obtain a license as a pastoral or Christian therapist — as opposed to an LPC — through the National Association of Christian Counselors (NACC). If you want NACC certification, you'll need to pay a nominal fee, provide proof of a master’s or doctoral degree, and complete the NACC Board Certified Christian Counselor Program. This alternate form of licensure is not regulated by any state body. Although NACC licensure cannot bestow the title of LPC, graduates of the program can call themselves a "Christian counselor" or some variation.


Common Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling Courses

A master's in Christian counseling is intended for individuals who have faith in Christianity and want to help others improve their mental health. Courses in the field intertwine these themes by teaching biblical knowledge and religious practice alongside counseling techniques and insights from psychological research. Below are some courses that are often included in an online master's program in Christian counseling.

  • Aging and End-of-Life Issues: Many older adults and their families need counseling support as they experience late-life changes and begin to contemplate the end of life. This course teaches students to address these issues from the viewpoint of Christian ministry. Topics include government policies relating to aging and end of life, the secular human services industry, and a cross-cultural comparison of these experiences.
  • Crisis Counseling: In this course, students learn Christian-based methods for counseling clients in crisis, ranging from divorce to the sudden loss of a loved one. Students also learn the crisis intervention process as well as biblical principles applicable to crisis situations. Faculty may also emphasize the spiritual questions that patients commonly have in reaction to life crises and trauma.
  • Human Sexuality: At a Christian school, a course on human sexuality examines sexual relationships from a biblical perspective. Coursework also explores how culture, family and peers, psychology, and biology influence individuals’ sexuality. Students learn how to use a biblical lens in order to view a broad range of questions surrounding sexual identity and behavior.
  • Marital Counseling: Students in this course learn to counsel couples at all relationship stages. The coursework typically covers common issues from a Bible-centered perspective: finances, parenthood, family dynamics, communication, and conflict resolution. Professors train students to work through these issues with their clients.
  • Principles of Christian Counseling: This course explores the professional values and clinical procedures used to counsel patients through the lens of biblical studies. Students learn effective methods for assessing patients, gathering information, and counseling. The coursework often covers appropriate Christian approaches for dealing with some of the most common challenges, such as grief, anxiety, depression, and conflict.

Online Master's in Christian Counseling Careers

Christian counseling graduates can pursue various career paths. Counselors earn median yearly wages of $50,800, but data on unlicensed Christian counselors remains insufficient. Therefore, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is used when possible, the salary and job growth information remains uncertain for most careers listed below.

Chaplain: Ordained ministers may work as chaplains to provide biblical counseling in select non-parochial spaces. Certain prisons, businesses, and sports associations allow chaplains to meet with people interested in counseling. The military also employs chaplains from a variety of faiths, but they're required to be uniformed service members with an officer's commission. Chaplains are members of the clergy, who earn median annual wages of $51,940.

Church Counselor: Lay counselors may find employment at churches, where they conduct individual, group, or family counseling sessions with community members. They work closely with administrative staff to schedule appointments and advise ministers on the congregation’s needs.

Life Coach: Life coaches help clients develop plans for improving aspects of their lives that they find dissatisfying. As a self-employed life coach, an alumnus with training in behavioral science can develop a roster of clients or work in a rehabilitation/residential care organization with a Christian worldview. Businesses often hire life coaches to provide services for executives or recently terminated employees. Interested professionals can pursue further training and certification through the International Coaching Federation.

Non-Profit Organization Counselor: Employees of religious-affiliated non-profit organizations can apply their mental health counseling skills in a variety of human services fields, such as disaster relief, Christian ministry, or mission work. Disaster-relief counselors often work abroad, helping people affected by disasters to process their trauma. Some domestic non-profits also offer faith-based counseling to their communities, including outreach to local high schools or colleges.

Substance Abuse and Addictions Counselor (unlicensed): Addiction counselors help clients confront and overcome dependency on chemical substances, harmful sexual behavior, and/or eating disorders. Christian counselors provide a Christian perspective on these issues as they encourage healthy lifestyle changes. They could work in a private practice, church-affiliated counseling center, or non-profit. Graduates from a licensure program may be able to pursue certification as an addiction counselor in their state, though this is rare for Christian counselor programs. Interested applicants can find licensure information for their state by contacting their regional center of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.


Accreditation

When choosing a master's degree program, prospective students should only consider schools that are accredited. Colleges can be nationally or regionally accredited, which means that an independent organization has certified that the school meets specified quality standards for curricula, faculty, and student support. Of these two designations, regional accreditation is the more prestigious. Importantly, regionally accredited schools will usually only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools. Either type of accreditation allows online students to receive federal financial aid.

Some individual degree programs are accredited by an independent body affiliated with a particular industry. However, there is no recognized authority granting program accreditation for Christian counseling master's degrees. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) accredits master's degrees in several types of counseling, but Christian counseling isn't among these.


Funding an Online Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling

Many financial aid sources help mitigate educational costs for those who want to pursue an online Christian counseling degree at the lowest possible cost. For counseling and behavioral health students, a diverse array of scholarships, fellowships, and grants are available from federal, state, school, and private sources. These types of aid are beneficial because students do not have to repay them, which could lower their student debt in the long run.

On the other hand, student loans are available from a variety of sources, but they require repayment with interest. Federal loans are generally preferred because they typically have lower interest rates and better repayment terms.

Students who plan to enroll in an online program at an accredited school can apply for most types of financial aid by completing the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) form. The federal government and all higher education institutions use the information provided on the FAFSA to decide a student’s eligibility for financial aid and the amount. Most colleges use this form for the same purpose and notify students about any financial assistance offers after enrollment.

Students who plan to enroll in an online program at an accredited school can apply for most types of financial aid by completing the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) form.

In addition to government aid, Christian counseling students can apply for funding specific to their field. Many individual churches and larger church organizations, such as the Episcopal Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, provide educational assistance for church members. Schools may also offer institutional grants or scholarships to enrolled students, while generous alumni sometimes endow scholarships for those attending their alma mater.


Is an Online Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling Worth It?

A master's degree is a substantial investment without a guaranteed payoff — no matter what subject you study. Every individual should weigh the advantages and costs according to their circumstances and goals. However, an online master's degree in Christian counseling may be worthwhile for those who want to help others in faith communities and have the means to pursue an advanced degree. Here are some benefits and drawbacks to consider:

Potential Benefits

Potential Drawbacks

  • Most online master's degrees in this discipline are non-licensure programs. Therefore, some graduates would need to earn a different master's degree if they later want to become an LPC.
  • Mental health counselors are prone to compassion fatigue and professional burnout from helping people in crisis day after day.

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