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Christian Counseling Degree or License? How to Decide

Let’s begin by clarifying an important point: we do not mean state-licensing!

Study courses that lead to state licensing are generally not part of Christian Counseling Degree curriculums, which are seminary based and not academic in nature.

State licenses are typically required for individuals who want to operate in mental health areas that include disciplines (but not limited to) as:

  • mental health counselor
  • social worker
  • marriage and family therapist
  • psychologist

Those who complete these requirements are able to use the word “Licensed” in their title. For example, “Licensed Mental Health Counselor”.

Bottom line: if you are interested in state-licensing (U.S), then seminary programs that offer degrees in Christian Counseling are very unlikely to meet your needs. There may be specific exceptions, but you should research those very carefully and be certain.

Our program through the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA) provides for licensing through that organization.  Students who complete the degree program graduate with the credential and license. There is a license-onl program also. There are different levels of licensing, including certification) but no linkage to the government (Caesar’s realm).

Masters Degree graduates of NCCA degree programs, for example, can incorporate the term “NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor” in their titile.

Other Christian organizations offer similar types of licensing/certifcation credentials.

Is a license enough? It depends what you want to do. Our recommendation is that a Masters Degree is minimally required for counseling ministry as a vocation. Those who earn a Masters Degree in Counseling will graduate with the “NCCA-Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor” level.

Similarly, someone who enters the program with a Masters degree in another discipline can pursue the “NCCA License-Only” program (which is less intense and less expensive) and gain the same license certification of “NCCA Clinical Pastoral Counselor”.

If you just want a counseling credential to enhance your credibility in a church/ministry environment, then the NCCA License-only program may be adequate.

You have options; choose which is best for you. Need help sorting it out? Research the programs on our site and call us at 800-264-6236 x4 if you still have questions.