The Master of Arts in Counseling/Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership Dual Degree Program


Program Objectives & Requirements

The Master of Arts in Counseling/Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership dual degree program is specifically designed for students who envision their future will include ministry to and with women or as a chaplain to special populations. 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. 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.

M.A. in Ministry and Leadership Program Outcomes

In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the M.A. in Ministry and Leadership degree program attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Applies biblical truth to life and ministry based on sound hermeneutics and a thorough understanding of the biblical canon.
  • Employs mature theological thinking to evaluate competing ideas, communicates theological truths clearly, and applies 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 or her ministry.
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to ongoing personal and spiritual formation.
  • Implements a gospel-centered philosophy of ministry that is biblical, missional, and transformational.
  • Leads others in effective ministry by casting a vision for transformational ministry, equipping others for ministry, and faithfully modeling servant leadership.
  • Demonstrates mastery of the key principles of their chosen area of ministry through effective service in that area.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Seminary, applicants for the 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. 

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 30 credit hours toward the M.A. in Ministry and Leadership 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 15 credit hours of the M.A. in Ministry and Leadership 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 116 credit hours required for the M.A. in Counseling/M.A. in Ministry and Leadership combined program, a minimum of 48 Counseling and 30 Ministry and Leadership credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 40 Counseling and 20 Ministry and Leadership credit hours taken in resident study at Western Seminary's Portland Campus. The Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. Extension of this time limit requires approval of the Administrative Committee. 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 in Ministry and Leadership 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. 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 116 credits required as a minimum for graduation. The program is designed around a common core of 30 hours, 12 credit hours of biblical languages, 60 credit hours of counseling, and 14 credit hours in an area of specialization.

Master of Arts in Counseling/Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership 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: 12 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
Ministry and Leadership Studies: 10 credits
Select 10 credits from the following courses:
DIS501 Communicating Christ in Culture 2
DMS501 Thinking Theologically About Ministry Leadership 2
DMS506 -or- Developing Godly Leadership for the 21st Century 2
PCW 513 Women in Leadership 2
EMS505 Growing Disciples Intentionally 2
PTS504 Maximizing the Church's Redemptive Influence 2
PTS505 Providing Leadership in Ministry 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: 16 credits (select one)

Chaplaincy Specialization
Chaplaincy Studies: 8 credits
ICS501 The Chaplaincy 2
ICS530 Chaplaincy Practicum 4 total
MFM500 Discovering/Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
Restricted electives: 6 credits
Select 6 credits from the courses below, or related electives with advisor approval:
ICS505 Hospital Chaplaincy 2
ICS506 Military Chaplaincy 2
ICS533 Clinical Pastoral Education 2
PTS503 Practicing Evangelism and Apologetics 2
PTS506 Providing Pastoral Care 2
Open electives: 2 credits
Women's Transformational Leadership Track (Portland, Sacramento, & San Jose campuses)
Women's Transformational Leadership required courses: 7 credits
WL501 Pastoral Understanding of Women 2
WL505 Building Relational Ministries for Women 1
WL506 Develop and Deliver Life-Changing Bible Messages 2
WL507 Develop Life-Changing Bible Study Curriculum 1
WL508 Develop Your Discipling and Evangelism Potential 1
Restricted electives: 1 credit
Select from the courses below with advisor approval:
WL502 -or- Women in Pain, Part 1 1
WL503 Women in Pain, Part 2 1
The following course is also required but is approved to substitute for ML502 Transformational Leadership above. If not taken in substitute for ML502 it will replace two credits of open electives for the track.
WL504 Women in Leadership 2
Note: WL 531-534 may replace MF 531-534.
Open electives: 8 credits

2016-2017 Academic Catalog