If you are curious about the profession of a pastoral counselor, this is a type of specialized ministry. The goal of a pastoral or lay counselor is to practice spiritually led guidance and therapy.

This type of counseling is offered to Christian religious groups, including Catholics. Begin an online certificate program in pastoral counseling to work in this special area of pastoral care with this helpful guide.

What Will I Learn in an Online Pastoral Counseling Graduate Certificate Program?

In a pastoral counseling graduate-level certificate online program, you are exposed to higher and more advanced theological and therapeutic concepts. This requires you to have already completed undergraduate or some graduate-level training in these subjects.

If you want to advance your career or learn more about pastoral counseling so you can work privately and with clients, this is an excellent route to take. An advanced training program that leads to a graduate certificate will ensure you have more tools needed for working with clients.

Programs teach you how to treat individuals in clinical practice with a greater degree of precision. For example, you can learn how to work with certain age cohorts, such as seniors, or with specific therapy modalities like music therapy.

Topics to cover in training should include everything necessary for becoming a lay or pastoral counselor. This ranges from applicable courses to those that are more theoretical and include theological seminaries.

This differs from traditional or conventional liberal arts schools where secularism is the mainstay. In a pastoral counseling program, religion is the central facet of theories. Therefore, if you do not have a theological or religious background or training, you may find it difficult to complete an advanced certificate for graduate studies in pastoral counseling.

Programs range from traditional and theoretical to clinical with heavy use of applications and internships. Studies in pastoral counseling generally focus on certain classes and subjects that are universal in the training. A few examples of such include:

  • Family Systems Theory
  • Healthy Ministry Relationships
  • Suicide Prevention for Caregivers
  • Counseling Adolescents
  • Christian Studies
  • Biblical Concepts
  • Lay Principles
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Morals
  • Psychology

These courses prepare pastoral counselors to deal with the rigors of working in this area of mental health therapy. Programs such as Loyola University Chicago, offer these certificate courses online for your convenience.

Admissions Requirements for a Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counseling

You will be pleased to find out there are several schools that offer graduate certificates in pastoral counseling. These include mostly remote or 100 percent online programs. To enroll in a pastoral counseling graduate certificate course, you will need to apply through an applicable college or institute.

  • To apply, you must already have a Master’s Degree of Arts in Counseling
  • As an advanced level certificate, you must have previous counseling and theological training
  • Go through the graduate admissions process with a local college or online university
  • Consider completing the training leading to a graduate certificate in pastoral counseling while in graduate school or a doctoral program
  • Apply online by submitting your college transcripts for undergraduate and graduate courses you have completed
  • Submit letters of recommendation as required by the college or institute
  • Write a personal essay
  • Submit any application fees

This online certificate program does not generally lead to certification or prepare you for a board exam in pastoral counseling. However, you do gain the tools and skills necessary to provide more types of therapy and increase your earnings. Typically, the time frame for completing this type of graduate certificate is one to two years.

List of Pastoral Counseling Graduate Certificate Programs

Find an online or campus-based graduate certificate program in pastoral counseling today – our state-by-state listings make it easy to find a great program near you.

Jump to Your State Listings


Graduate Certificate Programs
3300 W Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85017
(602) 639-7500


Graduate Certificate Programs
33 Prospect Hill Rd
Cromwell, CT 06416
(860) 632-3010


Graduate Certificate Programs
1032 W Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000


Graduate Certificate Programs
204 N Lexington Ave
Wilmore, KY 40390
(859) 858-3581


Graduate Certificate Programs
130 Essex Street South
Hamilton, MA 01982
(978) 468-7111


Graduate Certificate Programs
9212 Fry Rd Ste 105
Cyprus, TX 77433
(888) 360-0004


Graduate Certificate Programs
1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
(855) 731-2512

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

Liz Norris, LPCC
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