Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling

Asbury Seminary’s 60-hour Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling develops counseling skills designed to enhance your ministry in a variety of settings, including as a pastor, lay-counselor or chaplain. Our Christian counseling degree is designed for those who plan to pursue vocations in congregation-based ministries or non-profits. Our Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling program is ranked in the top 10 Christian Counseling Schools, according to

The mission of the Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care is to equip students to serve diverse communities by facilitating healing and growth through reflectively integrating Christian values, principles and resources with pastoral or professional counseling competencies and practices.

What to Expect from the Degree

As you complete your degree, you’ll be able to

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of major theories of pastoral care and counseling and life cycle development.
  2. Integrate theological tenets with psychological knowledge and skills to offer pastoral care and counseling in a variety of pastoral counseling settings.

*Refer to the Academic Catalog for the exact wording of Program Learning Outcomes.

Advanced Standing

Save time and money with our advanced standing program. Here’s how it works.

If you received a religion major or minor from an accredited college or university, you can receive a maximum of 12 credits toward a Master of Arts degree.

*Transcripts evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Admissions Requirements

  • Application Form
  • Accredited baccalaureate degree
  • Official transcripts from all postsecondary schools where at least 12 hours of coursework was completed
  • Personal History Essay – 1050-1500 words (350-500 words per question)
    1. Share your testimony starting with how you met Jesus Christ. Talk about your growth since that time and what brings you to apply to seminary at this season in your life. Include your thoughts on how you would like to see your faith grow during your time in seminary.
    2. What draws you to your desired major/area of study? What is your intended outcome upon degree completion? Why is that career or ministry choice meaningful to you?
    3. Discuss a local, national, and/or international issue and why you are passionate about it.
    4. Optional: If your GPA is not a good indication of your academic ability, please explain.
  • Four references (references cannot be related to applicant)
    1. Four references, including a pastoral reference (required) and a professor or academic administrator reference (recommended). Laity or personal acquaintances are accepted.
  • $50 Nonrefundable Application Fee
  • For applicants whose primary language is not English, a TOEFL score of 550 (79 internet-based) or an IELTS score of 6.5
  • Background check (completed by the Admissions Office)
  • A personal interview may be required upon request by the Admissions Committee

Application Process

When all your transcripts have been received, and you have a satisfactory GPA, you will be invited to contact the counseling office to set up the Counseling Tests and Inventories. These tests provide information about your social, emotional, and psychological functioning. The information is reviewed by professors in the area of Counseling and Pastoral Care for admissions purposes only. Your test results will be maintained in a secure file and will not be used for any other purposes.

Following the completion of the admissions requirements and the Counseling Tests and Inventories, you will be invited to attend a group interview, in which all counseling applicants will be in attendance. The interview is usually held two to three weeks following the deadline for admissions requirements and Counseling Tests and Inventories.

Once the group interview has been completed, the counseling faculty will communicate their recommendation to the Admissions Office for further processing. The Admissions Office will then notify you of the Admissions Committee’s decision regarding your application.

Methods of Instruction

Asbury Theological Seminary offers a variety of options for course delivery. The section code designations can assist in determining the delivery modality for the courses.

  • Bilingual (BL): Bilingual courses are taught in Spanish and utilize English texts as resources.
  • Face to Face (W): Courses offered on a weekly basis in a classroom setting only on our Wilmore campus.
  • Hybrid (W, OL, M, TB, T, C): Semester-long courses with both online and in-person requirements.
  • Independent Study (I): An independently arranged research course in a subject area or topic not covered by a course currently listed in the academic catalog.
  • Independent Course (I): An independent arrangement of a course currently listed in the academic catalog and completed outside of the classroom, as contracted between professor and student. Independent courses are registered with the catalog course number and are graded per the catalog course description.
  • Intensive (W, OL, M, TB, T, C): Course may meet once or twice a semester for multiple days. The majority of the learning will take place during the required in-person portion of this class.
  • Online (X): Courses offered completely online with no specific synchronous meeting requirement.
  • Synchronous (SR or SN): Courses offered online with regular weekly meetings at a set time. Some courses are cross-listed with an in-person section.
  • Travel Courses (TR or TRX): Courses that include face-to-face instruction at a location other than the approved campus and extensions. Some travel courses may include a domestic or overseas cultural immersion or attendance at a significant conference related to course content.

Matriculation Requirements

  1. Completion of 60 credit hours, as outlined in the Academic Catalog, including all required courses;
  2. Attainment of a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00/4.00;
  3. Completion of a minimum of 12 credit hours on Asbury Theological Seminary’s physical campus or extensions with at least 6 of the 12 credit hours completed on the Kentucky campus to satisfy residency requirements;
  4. Fulfillment of all degree requirements in not more than seven calendar years from the first term of enrollment; and
  5. Completion of the online graduation application by last day of add/drop period (Summer add/drop deadline for December/January graduation and January add/drop deadline for May/August graduation).
  6. Successfully pass Professional Development Meeting Two.

The following degree plans have been approved for the 2023-24 academic year. Download the PDF below to see a full listing of all your degree requirements.

Asbury Seminary awards more than 400 scholarships annually because we want you to graduate with minimal debt. We offer too many scholarships to list conclusively. For more information, email

To apply for financial aid:

  1. Complete your online application.
  2. Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  3. Once you’re admitted to the Seminary, you will receive an Asbury Seminary Financial Aid form.
  4. After completing this, the Financial Aid office will contact you with any scholarship offers.

Cost of Attendance: 2023-2024

Degree Total Credits Cost
Master of Arts 60 credits $712/credit hour
Total $42,720
Academic Year 2022-2023 All Campuses Fall/Spring All Campuses Summer
Technology Fee $225 per semester $110 per semester
Graduation Fee $200 one-time fee $200 one-time fee
Student Services Fee $160 per semester $80 per semester


Institutional scholarships are available through Asbury Theological Seminary. Scholarships are highly competitive and priority consideration is given to those who have completed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Asbury Financial Aid Application, and who have been admitted by the Admissions Office by March 1.

Recipients of scholarships must represent strong promise for Christian ministry and demonstrate a financial need.

Some of the scholarships include:

  • Mary Whetstone and Walter J. Knabe Scholarship – average award $10,700
  • Windgate Scholarship – average award $10,000
  • J.C. McPheeters Scholarship – average award $7,000
  • Timothy C. Tennent Church Planting and Cross-Cultural Missionary Service Scholarship – average award $4,500
  • Leo H. Naughton Scholarship – average award $3,200
  • Asbury Deans Scholarship – average award $1,500