Traditional therapeutic counselors have helped millions of individuals and families work through mental and emotional problems. For many, however, traditional counseling is not enough; these people need the strength of their faith, as well as psychological treatment. Muslims turn to Allah; Buddhist find strength in embodying the Buddha; Christians place their faith in Jesus Christ. So for example, by incorporating Christ’s teachings into traditional therapy, Christian counselors attempt to help people overcome a wide range of psychological, emotional, and mental difficulties.

A Christian counseling associate degree is a wise choice for anyone interested in the field who wants to enter the workforce quickly. A typical degree requires only 60 credit hours, so it can easily be completed in two years. Most programs require study of Christian theology, literature, and history, as well as a handful of courses in adolescent psychology, developmental psychology, and the psychology of personality. As with any program, a full range of general education courses like math, composition, and natural science also tend to be required.

Why an Associate Degree?

In today’s tough economy, most people can’t afford to take four years off work in order to earn a degree. For them, an online Christian counseling degree is usually their first choice because it allows them to earn the credentials they need to succeed quickly. Associate degree holders typically find work in residential treatment and church counseling centers, group homes, child development centers, and even human resource offices. Of course, having the associate degree is handy for someone who eventually wants to go on and earn a bachelor’s degree.

Getting Into an Associate Degree Program

Interestingly, many online Christian counseling degree programs do not require students to have a significant Christian background. Obviously, each school is different, but a typical program will require the candidate to have achieved the following:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Grade Point Average of 2.0 or better

Inside a Christian Counseling Associate Degree Program

Most students are able to complete their Christian counseling associate degree program in two years. Typically, students will take just over one year of general education courses, such as English and History course work. Since the schools offering these degrees are Christian, students should expect to take at least two classes in Christian thought or bible study.

Courses that are usually required for the major include child, adolescent, adult, and social psychology. Students should expect to learn about the practice of psychological counseling and should also develop a firm understanding of its theoretical foundation. Most programs introduce their associate degree students to both qualitative and quantitative research methods, although not to the extent students seeking an advanced degree like a doctorate would research. Candidates interested in learning more about the courses studied may wish to survey free online course materials available through other schools and organizations.

What’s Next for Christian Counseling Associate Degree Holders?

After graduating, associate degree holders should expect to find entry-level employment in a num ber of areas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs in many counseling-related fields will continue to grow at a rate of about 25% through 2020. Those who find employment as social work assistants can expect to earn close to  $30,000 per year, while those who work as substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors can expect to earn over $35,000 per year.

Notably, there is a sharp increase in earnings and opportunities for those with higher degrees. The BLS notes that with a bachelor’s degree, counselors can become social or community service managers, who earn an average salary of over $55,000 per year. And those who go on to obtain a doctorate can expect to earn nearly $70,000 annually.