Master of Arts (Counseling)

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The Master of Arts (Counseling) program is a non-licensable degree that has been designed for individuals who wish to engage in counseling ministry. Potential applicants include pastors, missionaries, church ministry staff, parachurch organization staff, lay counselors, and disciple-makers.

Program Highlights

The emphasis on biblical worldview is an important element of the MAC curriculum. First, it reflects the University’s academic mandate to first and foremost serve students, the church and the world as an evangelical, biblically-based institution. Second, the ability to think about persons and their problems from the vantage point of a Christian worldview is especially vital in counseling where the need to engage in dialogue with and a critique of research and applied psychology and psychotherapy defines “Christian” and “non-Christian” counseling. In addition, the MAC curriculum informs students about the practice of counseling in a culturally diverse environment in which numerous aspects influence both the needs of people and the kinds of effective counseling services that can be provided both within the context of a distinctly Christian ministry and the society at large.

The counseling faculty teaches counseling as an art that must be practiced in order to be mastered. From the first day to the last day in the program, students participate in laboratories and/or practical field experiences that serve as realistic training environments. Students learn counseling methods, problems and procedures in counseling, a marriage counseling model, and group counseling through hands-on, trial and error rehearsals under the watchful eyes and artful supervision of the faculty. By the time students complete the 39 credit masters, they will have spent more than 160 hours of their graduate education putting into practice the skills, concepts and models they learned in their core lecture courses.

Cairn’s counseling faculty are committed to teaching counseling by example. This requires personal involvement with students both inside and outside the classroom. The counseling faculty are involved with students as people immersed in professional life and ministry and are committed to giving students the same personal attention and respect they will one day give to their counselees. From assistance with the application process and advice on registering for courses to classroom interaction and one-on-one lab supervision, our faculty and staff make it a priority to focus on each student as a unique individual. This is essential to helping each student realize their full potential.

Core Values

Understanding people and their problems and helping them change are challenging tasks. Students in the MAC program are equipped for this task by an experienced and diverse faculty who base every aspect of counselor training on the following core values:

Christ is the ultimate source of life and health. People cannot truly experience wholeness– psychologically or spiritually–without knowing Christ intimately and obeying Him unconditionally. As our Creator and Lord, He alone can give us the power and freedom to change, live and love as healthy people.

The Bible, God’s written word, is the only reliable and sufficient source of knowledge for providing an authoritative and comprehensive framework for fully understanding the complex nature of human beings, their problems and the ways they change. The Bible provides counselors with the conceptual and ethical foundation essential in choosing and implementing counseling interventions. Whether one counsels in a formal therapeutic setting or in an informal discipleship or ministry context, the same Biblical guidelines remain relevant and applicable.

Created in the image of God, people need relationships to grow and stay healthy. The relational environments in which people exist play an important role in either contributing to their difficulties or promoting their health and growth. Helping people find or build honest and loving communities of relationships is an essential part of counseling people and promoting their well-being.

Although suffering is an inescapable part of human existence, it is not the source of people’s psychological problems.  The key is how people choose to respond to suffering.  The primary focus of Christian counseling is not to help people escape suffering, but rather to help them understand, respond to and use their suffering in ways that enable them to discover and enjoy otherwise untapped spiritual truths and resources.

For counseling to be effective its ultimate goal should not be to just solve people’s problems or relieve their emotional pain, but to also help them acquire and display the character of Jesus Christ in the midst of whatever problems or pain they are experiencing. Modeling the character of Jesus Christ in what we say and do to those we counsel is the first and foremost responsibility we have as Christian counselors. Effective character-directed counseling requires the spiritual resources of faith, prayer and worship.

Christian counselors are first and foremost committed to viewing persons as image bearers who uniquely reflect the Creator God in a specific cultural context. Effective counselors value diversity and demonstrate cultural awareness, sensitivity and competence in practice.


To enter the program, the candidate will:

To complete the program, the candidate will:

  • Successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0


For more information about the MA (Counseling) degree program, contact Gwen Dorsey, Admissions Counselor, at

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester Course
Summer #1 Overview of Christian Theology
Fall #1 Introduction to Counseling Methods
Introduction to Counseling Methods Lab
Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
Biblical and Theological Foundations of Counseling
Spring #1 Counseling Problems and Procedures
Counseling Problems and Procedures Lab
Orientation to Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling
Theological Foundations of Counseling I
Fall #2 Marriage and Family Counseling
Marriage and Family Counseling Lab
Seminar on Pastoral Care for Crisis Intervention
Spring #2 Group Counseling Practice
Group Counseling Practice Lab

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