The Master of Arts in Counseling/Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) Dual Degree Program


Program Objectives & Requirements

The Master of Arts in Counseling/Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) dual degree program expands the student's preparation in the biblical and theological areas. It is designed to prepare individuals for both professional counseling and such ministries as family ministries, pastoral care, discipleship, and small group ministries. The Master of Arts in Counseling degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is designed to meet the educational requirements for licensure by the Oregon State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors.

M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) Program Outcomes

In addition to the Seminary's general educational goals, the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) program attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Applies biblical truth to life and ministry based on a thorough understanding of the biblical canon
  • 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
  • Understands a broad range of biblical and theological issues, their historical background, and the significance that they have for the life and ministry of God's people
  • Exhibits a Christ-like character worthy of being emulated, and integrity that imparts credibility to his or her ministry
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to an ongoing process of personal and spiritual formation that is clearly grounded in the gospel

M.A. in Counseling Program Outcomes

In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the Counseling programs endeavor to achieve the following:

  • 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.

The M.A. in Counseling is intended to prepare Christian counselors with the knowledge, skills, and insight needed to practice in church and parachurch organizations, family services, mental health clinics, residential and outpatient treatment programs, counseling centers, and public and private clinical mental health counseling settings.

Western’s counseling program asserts an integrative approach which seeks to understand and explain emotional, relational, behavioral, and spiritual problems that people face in life from a biblical worldview. The counseling program places an emphasis on theological reflection and spirituality as they relate to personal development and the therapeutic process. The program includes training in marriage and family issues.

Four major areas of study are blended in the M.A. program: biblical, theological, clinical mental health counseling, and spiritual integration. The program uniquely provides a quality classroom experience. A wide variety of teaching methods are utilized to assist individuals with differing learning styles and to allow for flexibility. Western Seminary emphasizes learning by doing. Each student spends five semesters of clinical experience in practicum and internship positions counseling clients in the community as early as the second semester in the program. Another critical component is the personal examination and reflection that takes place in a variety of settings, including small group case conferences and mentoring with faculty. In these settings the student is challenged to reflect upon the practical application of theory and what meaning it has for them not only professionally, but also personally.

Additionally, graduates of the counseling program may choose to specialize in work with children and adolescents, receiving an official certificate of completion upon graduation. Students are trained to master the art of counseling from a biblically-informed worldview.

The counseling program endeavors to prepare students of integrity who demonstrate:

  • Spiritual maturity (character) by applying biblical truth to life and ministry resulting in gospel-centered spiritual growth and transformation;
  • Theological discernment (conviction) by employing advanced theological thinking that integrates a gospel-centered worldview with biblical and social science studies;
  • Interpersonal skills and emotional health (character) by demonstrating social and emotional awareness, respect for others, inclusivity in diversity, effectiveness in teamwork, intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness, and the ability to care for self;
  • Counseling skills (competence) by evidencing theoretical knowledge, application of theory, and clinical competence; additionally, students will demonstrate an ability to build an effective culturally inclusive therapeutic alliance with clients utilizing a breadth of clinical skills and technique consistent with current clinical research evidence;
  • Professional practice (competence) by applying their training to internship tasks, integrating supervisory input into clinical work, reflecting on multicultural and contextual issues, engaging cooperatively in the supervision relationship, and behaving in accordance with the ethical standards of the profession.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Seminary, applicants for the M.A. 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. Applicants who do not meet these general academic requirements may petition the Admissions Committee for consideration. A recommendation from the applicant’s pastor and three personal recommendations regarding the applicant’s Christian character and leadership potential also are required.

Entering counseling students are expected to bring a foundational knowledge of psychology. Proficiency in this foundational knowledge will be confirmed through a placement exam, required of all incoming counseling students. If deficiencies are indicated, remedial work will be required. Counseling students may satisfy these deficiencies in one of the following two ways: Complete the appropriate undergraduate course(s) at an approved institution, or complete a recommended course of self-study. The student may not begin the second semester of counseling studies without satisfying proficiency requirements.

Applications must give evidence of personal character, interpersonal relationships, goals, motivation, and potential for future counseling ministry as fitting the program. These will include a vital spiritual life, 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 people. As a part of the admission process all counseling applicants will undergo a criminal background check.

Transfer Credit

Upon approval by the Registrar, transfer of up to 12 counseling credit hours is allowed from a state-approved graduate program in Oregon. Transfer of up to 32 credit hours toward the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) 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 32 credit hours of the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) 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 114 credit hours required for the M.A. in Counseling and M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) combined program, a minimum of 48 Counseling and 32 Biblical and Theological Studies credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 40 Counseling and 20 Biblical and Theological Studies credit hours taken in resident study at Western Seminary's Portland Campus. The Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) dual program must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the six 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 Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) combined degree is conferred upon the attainment of certain 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. All credits applied toward degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree. During their final semesters in the program students are required to pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam, which is in preparation for National Certification and Oregon state licensure.

Course Requirements

Students may complete their studies in as few as eight semesters, with a minimum of 114 credits required as a minimum for graduation. The program is designed around a common core of 32 hours, 60 credit hours of counseling, and 22 credit hours in an elective track.

Master of Arts in Counseling/Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) 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
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
Counseling Studies: 60 credits
CNS501 Clinical Foundations: Basic Counseling Skills/Interventions 2
CNS502 Psychological Theory & Techniques 2
CNS503 Family Systems Therapy 2
CNS504 Psychotherapeutic Systems 2
CNS505 Psychopathology 3
CNS506 Legal and Ethical Issues 3
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 2
CNS513 Social and Cultural Foundations 2
CNS516 Counseling Couples 2
CNS518 Career and Lifestyle Development 1
CNS519 Treatment Planning and Outcome Assessment 1
CNS520 Professional Orientation 1
CNS523 Human Sexuality 2
CNS524 Research in Counseling & Family Studies 2
CNS525 Tests and Measurements
CNS526 Psychopharmacology 1
CNS528 Neuropsychology and Intro to Psychopharmacology 1
CNS529 Counseling Addictions 2
CNS530 Counseling Practicum 2
CNS531 Internship Case Conference I 2
CNS532 Internship Case Conference II 2
CNS533 Internship Case Conference III 2
CNS534 Internship Case Conference IV 2
CNS544 Counseling Violence and Abuse Issues 1
CNS557 Emergency Preparedness: Suicide Prevention 1
CNS558 Emergency Preparedness: Trauma Counseling 1
CNS5xx Counseling electives (consult with department advisor) 3
CNS581 Comprehensive Clinical Integration Paper 0

Specialization or Track: 22 credits (select one)

Exegetical Track
Biblical Language studies: 18 credits
NTS508 Introducing Foundation for Greek Exegesis 3
NTS509 Greek Reading and Syntax 3
NTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
OTS508 Introducing Foundation for Hebrew Exegesis 3
OTS509 Hebrew Reading and Syntax 3
OTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
NTS5XX -or- Greek Exegesis Elective 2
OTS5XX Hebrew Exegesis Elective 2
Please note: NTS/OTS515, NTS5XX, and OTS5XX 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.
Restricted electives: 4 credits
Students complete four credits of restricted electives from BLS, NTS, OTS, CHS, or THS prefixes chosen in consultation with their advisor.
Theological Track
Theological Studies: 4 credits
Students complete either CHS505, CHS505X and505Y, or CHS506 and a CHS elective.
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
Restricted Electives: 18 credits
With advisor's consent, select courses from BLS, NTS, OTS, CHS, or THS prefixes. Students are encouraged to consider using part of these electives for study in the biblical languages. Students may request permission from the program director to write a thesis as part of their electives.

2016-2017 Academic Catalog