Degrees in Spiritual Counseling: Online Programs

Graduate degree programs in spiritual counseling are available on a fully or primarily online basis. Explore the curriculum for master's and doctoral degree programs in this field, and find out how online and hybrid programs work. Review your job options in the spiritual counseling field, and get info on licensure requirements for counselors. Schools offering Christian Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Learn in an Online Master's Degree Program in Spiritual Counseling?

Master's degree programs in spiritual counseling and related areas, such as biblical counseling, spiritual guidance or transpersonal psychology, are available online; however, many of them require you to attend weekend or weeklong residencies on campus, mainly for clinical psychology studies. Most programs can be completed in about two years of full-time study.

As a student in an online master's program in spiritual counseling, you'll often learn both secular and theological methods, techniques and theories of psychological counseling. Course topics in these areas may differ somewhat depending on whether the degree program focuses on a specific religion. A degree offered by a university based in a Christian religion would require biblical studies coursework, while a degree program in metaphysics would focus more on general or transpersonal spirituality. Programs of all types require completion of a spiritual counseling internship, clinical practicum or both. The following is a sampling of course topics commonly covered in online programs:

  • Foundations of theology
  • Biblical interpretation
  • Transpersonal theory and research
  • Meditation
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Multicultural spiritual guidance
  • Crisis intervention
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Spiritual counseling law and ethics

What Will I Learn in an Online Doctoral Program?

Online doctoral programs in pastoral counseling are available on a limited basis. Such programs typically cover many of the same aspects of spiritual counseling addressed in master's programs. You may learn about contemporary pastoral counseling, individual spiritual growth and ethical issues for spiritual counselors. You'll also take numerous classes in qualitative and quantitative research, so a doctoral program might be beneficial if you want a career in academic pastoral counseling research. Online doctoral degree programs mandate completion of an in-depth dissertation, which often must feature original research, as well as requiring on-campus visits for clinical counseling residencies.

How Do Online Programs Work?

Online master's or doctoral programs in spiritual counseling allow you to complete most of your required courses from home, work or any other location with an Internet-connected computer. You also might need specific software, such as Microsoft Windows or Adobe Reader, to view or create required course materials. The only graduation requirements that cannot be completed online are on-campus residencies and internships, which usually can be done through a spiritual organization near you. Other than that, all of your required courses will be transmitted through online teaching and learning platforms, which allow you to access lectures, readings, homework and exams. Some degree programs are synchronous, requiring you to sign into online course platforms at specific times, while others allow you to complete your work at your convenience.

What Are My Career Options?

Completion of an online graduate degree program in spiritual counseling can lead to a career as a counselor, minister or chaplain with any spirituality-related organization, be it theological or metaphysical. However, virtually all states require some or all types of counselors - such as school or marriage counselors - to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary widely from state to state, but for the most part, the spiritual counseling degree programs described above will not render you eligible for counseling licensure in and of themselves. You can check with your state's licensing board to determine what further education or experience you'll need to get licensed.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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