Mental health counseling has long relied on psychological theories and methods to help people adjust, develop, and adapt. Traditional therapy has helped professional counselors understand personality and repair millions of broken lives. Through long practice, counselors of faith have discovered that many of their patients require the assistance of a higher power in order to achieve true healing. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, traditional counseling that incorporates Biblical teachings can be the most effective therapy.
People who wish to work independently in Christian counseling will need to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree. The typical program will require 120 credit hours – at least eight semesters of school. Students at the bachelor level study a wide variety of psychological issues, including abnormal psychology and psychotherapy theory, and also take a number of courses in Christian philosophy and counseling. As with any online Christian counseling degree program, a full array of general education courses, like math, science, and literature, are also required.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), even during the recession, people with at least a bachelor’s degree had a significantly easier time finding work compared with those with less education. In 2012, bachelor’s degree holders had an unemployment rate of only 4.5%, while those with only a high school diploma suffered from over 8% unemployment. Bachelor’s degree holders also had weekly earnings that were nearly 40% higher than their high school educated counterparts. Clearly, earning a degree in higher education pays.
Getting Into a Bachelor’s Program
Although requirements differ among schools, most bachelor’s degree programs share a few basic requirements. Notably, other Christian training is not among the prerequisites, which are as follows:
- Sufficient grade point average (GPA) – typically at least 2.0
- High School Diploma
Inside a Christian Counseling Bachelor’s Degree Program
Unlike an associate degree, which usually takes two years or less, the typical bachelors degree takes at least four years to obtain. Most programs require a semester’s worth, or 15 hours, of Christian study, including programs specifically designed for counseling women, children, and families. Common practice requires nearly two semesters, at least 24 hours, of psychology courses, including counseling theories and psychotherapy, developmental psychology, and social science statistics.
Students should also expect to take nearly three semesters, or 45 hours, of basic general education classes. In addition to history, composition, and philosophy, students at these Christian schools will take courses on the Bible as well as other Christian literature. Typically, in order to graduate, bachelor’s students must have earned at least a “C” in all upper level major courses. To get a taste for what an online Christian counseling degree program is like, many students take free open online courses. Yale University offers one on New Testament History and Literature, and all of the course work for an Introduction to Psychology course is available through MIT.
What’s Next for Christian Counseling Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Professionals who obtain a Christian counseling bachelor degree regularly help people work through some of their deepest troubles, such as addiction, depression, and family discord. Someone who takes a job as a social worker can expect to earn over $40,000 annually according to the BLS. Their counterparts who choose to go into management earn an average of nearly $58,000 annually and can expect jobs in that field to grow by 27% through 2020.
As with all fields, the modern trend for professionals is continuing education. Those who seek master’s degrees in Christian counseling find more opportunities for martial and family counseling. Of course, the terminal or doctoral degree opens even more doors, including teaching in colleges and universities.