Colleges with Christian Psychology Programs: How to Choose
Christian psychology programs are based on applied science, Christian philosophy and a Christian understanding of psychology. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available. Graduates of master's and doctoral programs might go on to become college professors, school psychologists, licensed counselors, or industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists.
Christian Psychology School Selection
Christian psychology programs are only offered at Christian colleges and universities. Undergraduate programs in psychology are sometimes necessary for acceptance into graduate programs.
Important Considerations for a Christian Psychology Program
- Career goals
While undergraduate programs in psychology can prepare individuals for a wide range of jobs as well as graduate programs in psychology, it's the graduate programs that determine the career. For example, a student who wants to become a licensed professional counselor or school psychologist should obtain a Master of Arts or Master of Science in Counseling. Students who want to go directly into clinical practice, especially if they intend to supervise other psychologists, typically pursue a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology. Ph.D.s can also pursue or a research or academic career.
Colleges and universities often offer a variety of concentrations within their psychology programs, so a student choosing a Christian psychology school might want to look for a specialization that matches his or her interests. Available concentrations include clinical, child and family, cross-cultural, general, health or I/O psychology.
In Christian psychology programs, the Bible often is used as a reference in describing the nature and psychological needs of human beings. While alike in this respect, Christian psychology programs are administered by different denominations of the Christian church. Thus, students might want to choose a program with a philosophy and worldview similar to their own.
Accreditation ensures that a program meets standards for its profession. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) are among the major accrediting bodies for psychology programs. Additionally, some schools place their students in APA-approved internships.
Christian Psychology Program Options
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Baccalaureate programs in psychology offered by Christian colleges and universities combine theology and psychology. Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science options teach students the fundamentals of human development, learning, personality and physiology in the context of Christian philosophy. In addition to general education classes, coursework can include:
- Theories of personality
- Abnormal psychology
- Clinical counseling methods
- Psychology of religious experience
Master's Degree Programs
Master's degree candidates typically are required to complete a yearlong, full-time internship, in addition to coursework in psychology and research. Students also examine religious topics, such as ways children come to understand religion and the relationship between psychology and religious conversion. Some courses include:
- Introduction to psychopathology
- Research design
- Advanced statistics
- Psychology of women
- Human sexuality
Some Christian colleges require Ph.D. candidates to minor in theology in addition to completing an internship and dissertation. Applicants to Ph.D. programs typically must have a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, Christian leadership or a closely related subject, or at least have taken a specified number of psychology classes. Topics of study in a Ph.D. program include:
- General psychology
- Field training
Psy.D. programs generally last 4-5 years and accept students with bachelor's or master's degrees. They generally include extensive clinical experiences, in addition to internship opportunities, and usually do not require a dissertation. At schools for Christian psychology, these experiences might be completed at centers focused on marriage ministry or missionary outreach. Coursework could include:
- History and systems of psychology
- Affect, cognition and motivation
- Biological bases of behavior
- Multicultural psychology
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