May 26, 2024  
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog 
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog Archived Catalog

Pastoral Counseling, M.S.

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Master of Science and Graduate Certificate Programs in Pastoral Care and Counseling


The Department of Pastoral Care and Counseling offers a Master of Science degree program in Pastoral Counseling as well as graduate certificate programs in both Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction. The Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling and graduate certificate programs in Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction actively integrate psychology and spirituality in an ecumenical learning community that is both spiritually nurturing and intellectually challenging. The Neumann approach stresses a developmental understanding of individuals and groups, preparing students to meet the unique mental and spiritual demands of a complex pluralistic world, while responding in a spirit of contemplative love. People of all faiths and spiritual practices are welcome. Spiritual Direction certificate programs provide training in spiritual direction, spiritual direction supervision, and additional courses in spirituality.


The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has granted accreditation to Neumann University’s Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling degree program, under the standards in Community Counseling, 1001 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314; Telephone: 703-535-5990; Fax: 703-739-6209; or, The Pastoral Counseling Program is also accredited by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), 9504A Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031; Telephone: 703-385-6967; Fax: 703-352-7725; E-mail:; or The Pastoral Counseling Program is also approved to be a provider of CEUs by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), 3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403; Telephone: 336-547-0607, Fax: 336- 547-0017; or,

Admission Requirements

Applicants with a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited, degree-granting institution who have successfully completed all prerequisite courses are eligible for entrance to the Master of Science in Pastoral Care and Counseling or Spiritual Direction program, subject to the approval of the Program Coordinator. 

  • A completed Graduate Student Application, in print or online through
  • Official transcripts from each regionally accredited institution attended. 
  • Letter of Intent or essay not to exceed three pages describing your interest in the program and your goals upon completion.  The spiritual direction program requires an explanation of the individual’s spiritual journey.  PC does not.  
  • Three official letters of recommendation from persons with whom you are familiar and who can speak to your academic suitability for graduate studies, your personal maturity, and your potential for graduate work.  The spiritual direction program requires that one of them be from the individual’s spiritual director.

Once all admission materials have been received and processed through the Office of Admissions, the graduate Program Director will arrange for an interview, if appropriate, following a review of all candidate credentials.    

Limitation on Transfer Credit

Because of the ever-evolving and pre-paradigmatic nature of the foundation on which Pastoral Care and Counseling rests, the program has set a limit of seven years for the acceptance of transfer credit for which a minimum grade of “B” has been earned from any regionally accredited, degreegranting institution to Neumann University. This time limitation applies to all Core and required courses.  Exceptions to this policy can only be made with the written approval of both the Dean of the Division of Education and Human Services and the Coordinator of Pastoral and Theological Studies.

Non-Matriculated Students

A maximum of 9 credits earned over no more than three semesters may be taken as a non-matriculated student. To transfer non-matriculated credits to a degree or certificate program, a student must receive permission from the Coordinator of the Program.

Course Schedule

Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction courses meet on weekdays in the late afternoon and during the evening, with some elective courses being offered on Saturday and Sunday.

Progression/Retention/Graduation Requirements

For the Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling, continued progress requires that the student maintain both a “B” average as outlined in student handbook and a satisfactory rating in all characteristics judged necessary for the profession. Students in practicum and internship courses must demonstrate competence in technical performance and professional attitude in the clinical setting. All degree requirements for the program must be completed in no less than two years and not more than five years. Students who wish an exemption to this time frame must submit a written request to the Coordinator of the program. Graduation from the program is contingent upon: (1) submitting a signed Application for Graduation form to the Registrar on or before the date specified in the Academic Calendar, (2) completion of the program with at least a cumulative 3.00 GPA, with no more than two grades of “C,” and (3) successful completion of a final Seminar Paper in which the student integrates the practice of pastoral counseling or spiritual direction, using both theological and psychological resources.

Professional Membership and Liability Insurance

Students in Pastoral Counseling or Spiritual Direction programs are required to carry student liability insurance throughout their clinical sequence (i.e., clinical case practicum and internship) and practica, respectively. Proof of insurance is kept on file in the department office. Information on purchasing insurance may be obtained from the program secretary.

Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling

Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling (48 credits); Certificate of Advanced Study (18 credits)

Recognizing that the field of pastoral counseling requires both general common course work, as well as a concentration in one’s particular area of focus, the Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling (48 credits) is designed to prepare clinicians in community counseling with the additional integration of theological study. Those who intend to do community counseling and psychotherapy receive basic courses and partial clinical hours which are required (1) toward certification as a National Certified Counselor; (2) toward becoming a member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and/or a member of the American Counseling Association; and (3) for partially fulfilling requirements for licensure in some states. Applicants who are considering careers in the mental health field are strongly urged to take this program of study.

Pastoral Counseling: The Neumann Approach

Pastoral Counseling is taught at Neumann University as a holistic approach to community counseling which affirms the active and ongoing interrelationship between clinical experience, spiritual reality, and community outreach. The program educates students to see the sacred in ordinary experience and to integrate psychology and spirituality in a rigorous, informed, and clinically responsible way. The program, grounded in the holistic spirit of Francis and Clare of Assisi, welcomes people of all faiths and spiritual practices — both lay and ordained.

The Pastoral Counseling Program is designed to train and supervise counselors in mental health clinical skills, employing a holistic approach that attends to body, mind, spirit, and cultural contexts. Course work provides both essential clinical theory and skills for community counseling, as well as the integration of theology and spirituality. The 48-credit Master of Science degree in Pastoral Counseling meets the academic requirements for certification by the National Board of Certified Counselors, membership in the American Counseling Association, as well as the initial requirements for licensure in many states.

Pastoral Counseling Program Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the programs in Pastoral Counseling, students will have accomplished the following learning objectives under each the following categories of proficiency:

Professional Identity and Growth
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive overview of the evolution, structure and expansion of the field of professional counseling, both community based and pastoral, and the responsibilities for practice and accountability;
  • Evidence a professional competency in recognizing key ethical principles, their application to core therapeutic issues and an ability to apply a hermeneutical decision making process in their judgment;
  • Apply a theological reflection process to the development of and all processes within personal integration and therapeutic relationships;
  • Extend skills and service in areas of human engagement that entail advocacy, outreach and consultation;
  • Recognize critical points of development and maturation and the processes involved in these, both within themselves toward personal transformation and in their clients to support and foster such growth;
  • Develop an openness to feedback in the course of learning and practice that allows for self-examination, theologically-based reflection and articulation of pastoral/spiritual character.
Theoretical and Skill Areas
  • Be able to differentiate characteristics and skills in working with diverse populations in this post- modern age and support ongoing efforts to promote cultural awareness and reduce factors that denigrate human worth and freedom;
  • Evidence knowledge of both state and stage theories of progress through the lifespan with particular attention to supporting theories, with attention paid to recent neurobiological research;
  • Recognize the etiology, symptomology, progression of pathologies, consider effective treatment modalities and report on persons dealing with these competently and comprehensively;
  • Apply knowledge of career assessment protocols and theories of career development for both selves and others seeking life directions;
  • Identify for themselves an orientation to a major counseling theory that can allow them to create a framework for therapeutic assessments, interaction, and outcomes that combine clinical skill and compassionate presence;
  • Be able to apply and interpret necessary methods and analyses in terms of research writing, needs assessment, statistical results and program evaluations;
  • Employ strategies and interventions for both small and large group dynamics that will allow clear communication within and among members and engage persons in healing practices;
Clinical Counseling Skills


Through four semesters of supervised onsite work with clients students will compose a practice strategy and process that is clinically competent and pastorally focused. They will

  • Formulate working diagnosis and treatment goals;
  • Integrate the higher skills of therapeutic intervention within clear multicultural and ethical guidelines for practice;
  • Integrate spirituality and psychology in the assessment of various cases and therapeutic interactions;
  • Demonstrate knowledge and use of theoretical approaches consistent with client issues;
  • Attend to clients in empathic and non-judgmental way;
  • Be able to reflect theologically in counseling relationships that facilitate understanding their roles as pastoral counselor.



* These Pastoral Counseling elective courses fulfill the 12-credit requirement in a related field that is needed for licensure and may be taken either before or after degree completion.

Suggested Program Plans: Pastoral Counseling

4 Years, 5–8 Credits Per Semester

Year One: Spring Semester

Year Two: Spring Semester

Year Four: Fall Semester

Year Four: Spring Semester


* Clinical courses are also offered in the Summer semester for those wishing to continue their clinical work.

3 Years, 6–9 Credits Per Semester

Year Three: Fall Semester

Year Three: Spring Semester


* Clinical courses are also offered in the Summer semester for those wishing to continue their clinical work.

Pastoral Counseling Clinical Sequence

After completing the necessary prerequisite courses, students interview for and secure their clinical sites with assistance from the Coordinator of Clinical Placement. Settings may include counseling agencies, parishes, prisons, hospitals, hospices, and other approved settings with an emphasis on those that provide experience in community-based practice. Individual supervision is provided by an approved on-site supervisor, while group supervision is provided by a Neumann University faculty supervisor. Clinical courses are taken in the following sequence:

  1. Clinical Practica I–II: Over two semesters, students meet in a small group seminar with a faculty member to discuss clinical work. The student’s caseload consists of two to three client hours per week.
  2. Internship I–II: This advanced placement clinical experience has a caseload of six to eight client hours per week to be completed over two semesters. Along with on-site supervision, and weekly in-class small group supervision, a minimum of 13 hours of individual (dyadic or triadic) supervision is provided in the program.

Professional Certification and Licensure

The program goals of the Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling Degree Program meet partial requirements for certification by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), membership in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) and the American Counseling Association (ACA), and for partially fulfilling requirements for licensure in some states. Graduates, who are preparing for the NBCC certification examination, and/or are seeking state licensure, are eligible to register for additional academic course work and clinical training. (Currently, the required courses are based upon accreditation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education [PDE] as a 48-credit degree. Should the requirement for licensure change, the required number of credits for this degree program will also be increased.)

Personal Growth

Personal growth and self-awareness are essential in the professional development of pastoral counselors. All Pastoral Counseling Program students are required to experience ongoing personal growth counseling throughout the program. This counseling is mandated and tracked throughout clinical placement.

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