MS in Counseling/Certificate in Pastoral Ministry Program

Students who are enrolled in the M.S. in Counseling have the opportunity to acquire a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. This certificate program is jointly administered by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and Campus Ministry. It advances theological and ministerial studies within our Augustinian tradition and prepares you to become a responsible Church minister, educator, and leader. The certificate program requires you to develop a concentration in Pastoral Ministry and take courses that fulfill the specific needs and professional objectives of this concentration. It is independent of the MA in Theology degree program. You may be enrolled in the Certificate program only or pursue the Certificate in combination with our MA in Theology Program. As well as fulfilling Clinical Mental Health (60 credit hours) requirements, students take additional courses required to fulfill requirements for a Certificate of Pastoral Ministry.

Certificate in Pastoral Ministry is modeled after the inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary nature of our MA in Theology program. The program includes coursework in theological, ministerial, and interdisciplinary studies and a practicum in Pastoral Ministry. Courses are taught by faculty members in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Department of Education and Counseling. It also combines academic studies in Theology and Pastoral Ministry with practical training in ministerial contexts.

Certificate Program Requirements

Our Certificate Program in Pastoral Ministry permits you to study full- or part-time and enroll in our graduate courses on the bases of program requirements. Upon completion of required course work with a minimum GPA of 3.0 the University awards the Certificate. Such qualified students may subsequently apply for acceptance to the MA in Theology degree program (see Transfer within Graduate Programs).

Structure of Courses in Ministry and Counseling Practice

We offer one course in Pastoral Ministry and Counseling Practice per academic year. You take the two courses sequentially (one course in the first year and the other in the second year of your studies). Thus, classroom instruction in Ministry spans four semesters. Each course stretches over a period of two consecutive fall- and spring semesters and will be taught in fourteen bi-weekly meetings of 1.5 hours and two 6-hour weekend seminars.


Our courses in Pastoral Ministry and Counseling Practice prepare you to

  • Acquire advanced understanding of the nature of pastoral ministry and the relationship and interplay between theology and ministry, tradition and practice;
  • Learn about contemporary practices of pastoral ministry;
  • Develop competencies in pastoral analysis, ministry skills, and theological reflection on the practice of pastoral ministry;
  • Articulate a theory and a method of pastoral ministry;
  • Develop ministry strategies in light of contemporary cultural and ecclesial needs;
  • Articulate and reflect upon ones emerging sense of a personal call to pastoral ministry.


The courses in Pastoral Ministry and Counseling Practice present an integrated approach to the academic, human, theological, and spiritual dimensions of Christian ministry. You will explore:

  1. The contemporary theology of ecclesial ministry, its scriptural and historical roots, and give special attention to the origin, evolution, and function of ministry within the Christian Church;
  2. The Church’s teachings on baptismal vocation and the universal call to holiness in relationship to the role of ministers as leaders within a faith community;
  3. Theological, spiritual, and ministerial formation that takes into account the whole person and considers all aspects of life: spirit, mind, heart, emotions, and body; and
  4. Theological trends in the 20th and 21st century leading to, and originating from, the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world (Gaudium et Spes) and their place in the development of contemporary ecclesiological understanding.

Other topics include the ministry of Jesus; the Church and her ministry in the world; the role of laity in ecclesial ministry; stages of faith development; prayer and spirituality; Catholic social teaching; professional skills and ethical practices in pastoral ministry; pastoral practices - typical and emergent in the Roman Catholic tradition; leadership models of ministry; and theological reflection on ministerial experience.

Practicum and Internship in Ministry

In order to prepare you for service to the Church in parishes, schools, and other ministerial settings, each course includes a supervised Ministerial Field Practicum. Successful completion of the courses requires a minimum of 10 hours per week of field education in a ministerial setting approved by the course instructor.

Like the courses in Pastoral Ministry and Counseling Practice, the practicum spans 4 semesters. You are responsible for obtaining your placement and must complete a Practicum Contract. Villanova offers unique, but limited opportunities for completing the Ministerial Field Practicum in Campus Ministry. For more information, please contact the Coordinator of the Campus Ministry Graduate Internship Program.

Core Program Courses

Level I

CHR 8605 Laboratory in Counseling Skills
CHR 8655 Laboratory in Group Dynamics
CHR 8687 Counseling Theory and Practice
CHR 8679 Orientation to Pastoral Counseling
CHR 8883 Ethics in Counseling


THL 8800 Ministry and Counseling Practice I
THL 8801 Ministry and Counseling Practice II
THL 8810 Ministry and Counseling Practice III
THL 8811 Ministry and Counseling Practice IV

These courses encompass the required Practicum and Internship experiences required for the M.S. in Counseling. Each of these courses is worth 1.5 credits.

Level II

CHR 8682 Clinical Mental Health Practicum
CHR 8880 Psychopathology
CHR 8840 Community Resources and Crisis Intervention
CHR 8855 Assessment and Appraisal
CHR 8685 Lifestyle & Career Development
CHR 8884 Human Growth and Development
CHR 8860 Counseling Diverse Populations
CHR 8604 Research and Evaluation or EDU 8641 Statistics
CHR 8844 Family Systems Theory
CHR 8873 Substance Abuse Counseling
CHR 8874 Prevention Theory and Practice
CHR 8886 Topics in Counseling


THL 8000 Foundation in Theology (3 credits)
Theology Elective; 1 course (3 credits)


Department of Education & Counseling
302 St. Augustine Center
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: 610.519.4620
Fax: 610.519.4623
Email: educationcounseling

Tuition Reduction

Teachers and school administrators  may apply for a special Tuition Reduction
40% for those employed by Catholic schools;
20% for those employed by non-Catholic schools.

Additional links to financing options are found on the Graduate Studies pages and the benefits for everyone are shown here ....  Why Villlanova?