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Christian Counseling Degree: Distance Learning vs Brick-and-Mortar Institutions

As the Dean of Above & Beyond Counseling Academy, I am frequently asked by prospective Counseling students to compare our distance-learning program to an onsite option.

The distance learning option can include books/DVDs at home or online video courses that can be live video, taped video, or online written content.

We are a Certified Academic Institution with the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA) and our program allows motivated students to earn Masters or Doctoral level degrees in Clinical Christian Counseling and be concurrently licensed with the NCCA. Our field of study involves books/DVDs shipped to the student’s home or online written content.

I am typically not versed in specific colleges but I do ask the inquirer some specific questions:

  1. Have you compared the financial commitment required for each option?
    Online/distance learning schools typically have significantly lower tuition costs (up to 70% less costly) than brick and mortar institutions.
  2. What is the nature of the degree you will be graduating with? We have at least seven different seminary options and the exact name on the degree can vary.  Is the term “Clinical” important to you? What is the specific value of having your degree from a particular college or is that an issue? We find that most people are not overly concerned about what school they will graduate from, rather that they will have the “Masters” or “Doctoral” degree in hand.
  3. Are you in a position to attend classes on a specific timetable?
    Many of our students are in mid-life mode and have children and families to contend with. The flexibility of the distance-learning option allows the student to do the courses at their own pace.
  4. Are you a disciplined person?
    I am always asked about how long it takes to get through our program? My answer is always the same: “How disciplined are you?” Self-study programs work well for people who are able to plan their schedules, set aside specific study times and stick to the program! I am convinced that some students are better suited to the discipline of scheduled class times and locations because that is what it will take for them to complete their studies!
  5. Can you study alone?
    I am convinced that some students need the interpersonal dynamic of a classroom setting and real-time interaction with others. If someone is easily distracted, the distance-learning option provides too many opportunities for that to happen because there is little structure.

There are other factors for students to consider, but I have seen these as being the main issues that each potential student needs to address before making a college selection. Many that sign up with us relate that the twin financial benefits of low cost and pay-as-you-go pricing, coupled with the scheduling flexibility, were determining factors.