The Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy/Master of Divinity Dual Degree Program


Program Objectives & Requirements

The Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy/Master of Divinity (Pastoral Counseling specialization) dual degree program expands the student's preparation in the biblical and theological areas, and adds a substantial ministerial emphasis.  It is designed to prepare individuals for both professional counseling and such ministries as the pastorate, pastoral counseling, family ministries, pastoral care, chaplaincy, discipleship, and small group ministries.

The M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy degree program is designed to meet the educational requirements for licensure by the California Board of Behavioral Science and for membership in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

M.Div. Program Outcomes

The explicit outcomes which the M.Div. seeks to produce encompass multiple dimensions of the graduate’s life and work. This means that the M.Div. student’s educational experiences are intended to produce growth in knowledge, character, and skills for ministry. Many of these outcomes are best achieved and measured in the field, rather than the classroom. Consequently, many of the educational experiences bring the classroom and the church together in partnership to prepare the student for a life of fruitful ministry.

In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the M.Div. program attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Applies biblical truth to life and ministry based on a thorough understanding of the biblical canon and solid exegesis
  • Employs mature theological thinking to evaluate competing ideas, develop a personally integrated and gospel-centered expression of biblical teachings, communicate theological truths clearly, and apply theological truths to life and ministry
  • Demonstrates cultural awareness and discernment in theological thinking and ministerial practice
  • Exhibits a Christ-like character worthy of being emulated, and integrity that imparts credibility to his/her ministry
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to an ongoing process of personal and spiritual formation that is clearly grounded in the gospel
  • Implements a gospel-centered philosophy of ministry that is biblical, missional and transformational
  • Communicates God’s truth clearly, accurately, and convincingly
  • Nurtures and equips people so that God’s purposes are effectively accomplished in and through them

M.A. Program Outcomes

In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy program attempts to achieve specific outcomes. For each student, these outcomes are:

  • Equip counselors for clinical mental health counseling positions and for counseling ministry in church and parachurch settings.
  • Integrate biblical and theological foundations with the insights of counseling theory and the use of counseling interventions.
  • Promote growth in Christian maturity in students, demonstrated through effective interpersonal relationships.
  • Prepare individuals for state licensure and professional practice as Licensed Marital and Family Therapists and/or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Seminary, applicants for the M.A./M.Div. dual degree program are expected to present an accredited baccalaureate degree (or its equivalent) with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale), including a breadth of liberal arts. On pastoral and three personal recommendations regarding the applicant’s Christian character and leadership potential are also required.

Entering M.A.-MFT students are expected to bring a foundational knowledge of psychology. Proficiency in this foundational knowledge will be confirmed through a readiness exam required of all admitted students who intend to pursue a counseling degree. If deficiencies are indicated, remedial work will be required during the first semester of study.

Applications must give evidence of a vital spiritual life, personal character, interpersonal relationships, goals, motivation, and potential for future counseling work. Additional evidence will include growing and nurturing relationships with people, commitment to a biblical/theological orientation to the therapeutic process, and vocational aspirations involving the care and nurture of others

Transfer Credit

Upon approval by the Registrar, transfer of up to 12 counseling credit hours is allowed from a state-approved graduate program in California. Transfer of up to 45 credit hours toward the M.Div. is allowed from graduate institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer and coursework must have been completed no more than five years prior to matriculation to Western Seminary.

Alternatively, students may receive advanced standing of up to 22 credit hours of the M.Div. requirements if they are able to demonstrate current competency in required coursework based on prior study (based on parallel undergraduate work or transfer credit that is ineligible for consideration based on age). Transferability of credits earned at Western and transferred to another institution is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the Registrar's Office for information on eligibility of transfer credit and advanced standing.

Residence Requirements

Of the 128 credit hours required for the M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy and M.Div. combined program, a minimum of 48 Counseling and 45 M.Div. credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 40 Counseling and 30 M.Div. credit hours taken in resident study at Western Seminary's Sacramento or San Jose Campus. The Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy and Master of Divinity must be completed within seven years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the seven year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward the degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree.

Degree Requirements

The M.A.-MFT degree is conferred upon the attainment of pertinent personal and academic requirements. In addition to the general seminary requirements, degree candidates must (1) give evidence of a genuine Christian character, orthodox belief, and conduct consistent with a God-given call to a position of leadership; (2) complete all courses in the prescribed M.A. curriculum with a minimum grade point average of 3.0; (3) pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE) in preparation for National Certification and California state licensure, and (4) complete 325 hours of clinical experience at an approved site with a qualified supervisor. (These 325 hours include a minimum of 225 hours of face-to-face experience counseling individuals, couples, families and/or groups; 45 hours of clinical supervision; 20 hours of personal therapy with a licensed MFT, LCSW, LPCC, or psychologist - the remaining hours may be client-centered advocacy, workshops, trainings, etc.). The BBS counts practicum hours toward teh 3,000 required for LMFT licensing exams.

In addition to the specific degree requirements noted above, students who intend to apply for the LPCC intern license must complete a minimum of 380 hours of direct, face-to-face client contact hours; 45 hours of clinical supervision; 20 hours of personal therapy with a licensed MFT, LCSW, LPCC, or psychologist; the remaining hours may be client-centered advocacy, workshops, trainings, etc. Although these hours are required during the program the BBS does not count practicum hours toward the 3,000 hours required for the LPCC licensing exams.

Professional Assessment of Candidates (PAC Review)

Western Seminary counseling faculty review each student every six months to insure progress is being made toward a professional identity as a mental health professional. If concerns are indicated, members of the PAC Review committee will meet with the individual student to discuss plans for strengthening their academic and professional candidacy. In rare situations, faculty may advise students to develop other vocational goals. This process is intended to encourage students and support them as they develop as counseling professionals. For a few, this process of monitoring student progress may help prevent unnecessary financial expense preparing for an unsatisfying career.

Course Requirements

Students may complete their studies in as few as ten semesters, with a minimum of 128 credits required as a minimum for graduation. The program is designed around a common core of 36 hours, 14 credit hours of biblical languages, 60 credit hours of counseling, and 18 credit hours of ministerial studies.

Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy/Master of Divinity Curriculum Plan

Spiritual Formation: 4 credits
SFS502 Practicing Prayer and Other Key Disciplines 2
SFS504 Growing into Ethical Maturity 2
Biblical Studies: 16 credits
Please note: Biblical studies, theological studies, hermeneutics and church history courses may be offered in 4-credit or 2-credit formats, depending on the campus location.
DBS506 -or- Learning to Interpret Scripture 4
DBS506X and Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 1 2
DBS506Y Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 2 2
BLS501 -or- Interpreting Genesis to Song of Solomon 4
BLS501X and Interpreting Old Testament I: Genesis to 2 Samuel 2
BLS501Y Interpreting the Old Testament II: 1 Kings to Song of Solomon 2
BLS502 -or- Interpreting the Prophets and Gospel 4
BLS502X and Interpreting Old Testament III: The Prophets 2
BLS502Y Interpreting the New Testament I: Gospels 2
BLS503 -or- Interpreting Acts to Revelation 4
BLS503X and Interpreting the New Testament II: Epistles 1 2
BLS503Y Interpreting the New Testament III: Epistles 2 2
Biblical Language Studies: 14 credits
Students should select either the Foundational or Functional Language track and complete all of the coursework for each language within the track selected.
Foundational Language Track
NTS508 Introducing Foundation for Greek Exegesis 3
NTS509 Greek Reading and Syntax 3
OTS508 Introducing Foundation for Hebrew Exegesis 3
OTS509 Hebrew Reading and Syntax 3
Please note: NTS/OTS515 have not yet been produced in an online format nor are they regularly scheduled on all campuses. Online Campus students may request to join these classes via web conference or may take the courses NTS510 Greek Exegesis and OTS510 Hebrew Exegesis as an alternative way to complete the language requirements.
NTS515 -or- Principles of Exegesis 2
OTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
Functional Language Track
NTS501 Functional Foundations of Greek 3
NTS502 Functional Application of Greek 3
OTS501 Functional Foundations of Hebrew 3
OTS502 Functional Application of Hebrew 3
BLS5XX Biblical Studies elective 2
Theological Studies: 16 credits
THS501 -or- Knowing the Triune God: Theology I 4
THS501X and Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 1 2
THS501Y Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 2 2
THS502 -or- Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II 4
THS502X and Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 1 2
THS502Y Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 2 2
THS503 Living as the Community of the Spirit: Theology III 2
THS508 Integrating Ministry and Theology 2
CHS505 -or- Wisdom from Church History 4
CHS505X and Wisdom from Church History, Part 1 2
CHS505Y-or- Wisdom from Church History, Part 2 2
CHS506 and Insight and Inspiration from Church History 2
CHS5XX Church History elective 2
Ministerial Studies: 18 credits
DIS501 Communicating Christ in Culture 2
DMS501 Thinking Theologically About Ministry Leadership 2
DMS502 Introducing Theology and Practice of Worship 2
DMS506 Developing Godly Leadership for the 21st Century 2
EMS505 Growing Disciples Intentionally 2
PTS503 Practicing Evangelism and Apologetics 2
PTS504 Maximizing the Church's Redemptive Influence 2
PTS508 Developing Strong Families 2
PTS510 Preparing and Preaching Expository Sermons 2
Counseling Studies: 60 credits
CNS501 Clinical Foundations: Basic Counseling Skills/Interventions 2
CNS502 Psychological Theory & Techniques 3
CNS503 Family Systems Therapy 3
CNS504 Psychotherapeutic Systems 2
CNS505 Psychopathology 3
CNS506 Legal and Ethical Issues 2
CNS507 Human Life Span Development 3
CNS508 Introduction to Integrative Issues 2
CNS509 Advanced Integration 2
CNS510 Spiritual Development and Assessment 2
CNS512 Group Counseling 3
CNS513 Social and Cultural Foundations 2
CNS516 Marriage Counseling 3
CNS517 Child & Adolescent Therapy 2
CNS518 Career and Lifestyle Development 1
CNS523 Human Sexuality 2
CNS524 Research in Counseling & Family Studies 2
CNS525 Tests and Measurements 3
CNS526 -or- Psychopharmacology (Sacramento students only) 2
CNS527 Physiology, Pharmacology, and Addiction (San Jose students only) 2
CNS529 Counseling Addictions 2
CNS530 Counseling Practicum I 2
CNS531 Counseling Practicum II 2
CNS532 Counseling Practicum III 2
CNS544 Counseling Violence and Abuse Issues 3
CNS553 Human Services 2
CNS559 Emergency Preparedness: Crisis Management 2

2016-2017 Academic Catalog