The Certificate in Lay Counseling equips Christians to engage in pastoral care & counseling.

Designed to equip all who seek training in pastoral care and counseling, the Graduate Certificate in Lay Counseling introduces the essential tools for walking alongside others under your care with an informed approach. Develop effective methods for counseling and pastoral care in a variety of ministry and church settings. Cultivate greater sensitivity in pastoral self-awareness and general relational awareness for enhanced personal and professional ministry engagement. Discover how acknowledging the complex issues of race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status can provide more productive and healing dialogue for those pursuing counseling and pastoral care.

Is Your Goal Licensed Clinical Counseling?

While this certificate is not specifically designed to prepare you for a professional career in clinical counseling, CO-Specific courses may be applied to a Master of Arts in Counseling (MACO or MACC), but counseling programs have specific admissions requirements. Please reach out to our admissions team if your goal is to be prepared as a licensed clinical counselor.

This certificate program is ideal for:

  • Pastors
  • Church Ministry Staff
  • Lay Counselors
  • Small Group Leaders
  • Campus Ministry Staff
  • Missionaries


Six courses (18 credits): 4 Required + 2 Electives

Introduction to Pastoral Counseling

Introduction to Pastoral Counseling (PC511) is designed to equip individuals in a variety of ministry and church settings to offer effective, short-term counseling and basic care from an integrative, pastoral perspective.

Healthy Relationships in Ministry

Healthy Relationships in Ministry (PC513) provides an introduction to pastoral self-awareness, relationship awareness and understanding relational health for the purpose of cultivating personal and professional relationships for ministry effectiveness and personal and corporate spiritual development.

Family Systems Theory

Family Systems Theory (CO614) reviews major theories of family systems development and emphasizes a critical analysis of these theories from an orthodox Christian perspective.

Multicultural Diversity in Counseling

Multicultural Diversity in Counseling (CO712) provides a foundation for engaging issues of race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status within a counseling context.

Counseling Electives (Select Two)

Helping Relationships (CO540)

Lifespan Development (CO610)

Suicide Prevention for Professional Caregivers (CO671)

Group Counseling (CO718)

Counseling Adolescents (CO725)

Counseling for Crisis & Addictions (CO750)

Further Study

The Certificate in Lay Counseling provides a foundation for further study through Gordon-Conwell. These six courses fulfill just over one-third of the 16 classes (48 hours) required for the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM). You may wish to consider combining the Certificate in Christian Studies with the Certificate in Lay Counseling to build toward the MACM:

In the same way, certificates can be applied toward the MATS (60 credits) or the MDIV (90 credits). Graduate certificates allow you to start small and work toward a full MA.


* All students can expect to receive some form of financial assistance. Most students qualify for the scholarship listed here. Reach out to our admissions team (using the form below) to see if you qualify for this or any other scholarships or financial assistance.


Note: Service fees will be charged as follows for each semester/summer session in which a student registers for courses, regardless of student status or credit hours or registration type.

Fall/Spring/Full Summer $175 per term
Summer I, II, III (Intensives) $35 per session
Technology Fee $40 per term

Note: Unfortunately, our Graduate Certificate programs are not eligible for federal aid.

Now Accepting Applications

Check the following link for further campus and program-specific dates & deadlines.
Detailed Application Dates & Deadlines »

Have Questions?

Someone from our friendly admissions team would be happy to reach out to you.