Pastoral Counseling Certificate

About the Pastoral Counseling Certificate at Loyola

Many individuals who seek out counseling and therapeutic services feel more comfortable doing so within a faith-based context or in a spiritual setting. The Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counseling at Loyola's Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS) is designed to meet the needs of mental health professionals and religious leaders who want to deliver this counseling ministry to those in need.

The program instills in you the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively provide this unique form of psychotherapy, using spiritual resources, in-depth theological training, and psychological understanding to foster healing and growth with your clients.

Program Structure

The Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counseling is a 15-credit-hour program comprising one required course and four electives. Your options for electives cover a broad range of course offerings to tailor the certificate to your specific goals; you will choose your electives in consultation with an academic advisor.

A master's degree in counseling or divinity/ministry is a prerequisite to enroll in this certificate program.

The Pastoral Counseling Certificate can be pursued full-time or part-time. Classes are held weekday evenings at Loyola's Water Tower Campus, conveniently located off the Red Line in the heart of Chicago, and the majority of the courses are also offered online.

Why Choose Loyola for Your Pastoral Counseling Certificate?

An integrative approach to counseling

The Pastoral Counseling certificate positions you to provide vital counseling and therapeutic services within a faith-based context and, in many cases, in a religious or spiritual setting.

Four of the program’s five courses comprise electives that you will choose in consultation with your academic advisor, allowing you to shape the curriculum around your specific interests and career goals.

As a graduate of the program, you will be prepared to offer therapeutic services at hospitals, hospice care centers, parishes, private practice, substance abuse programs, and other church and community-based settings.

Loyola’s renowned Institute of Pastoral Studies was founded in 1964 as one of the nation’s first institutes of its kind and is recognized across the country for its academic programming and contributions to the study of Christian spirituality and body of knowledge.

Your fellow students bring a rich diversity of ethnic backgrounds, ages, religious denominations, and spiritual beliefs, providing an experience and setting that mirrors the real world.

As a student in the program, you can complete your courses on campus, online, or through a hybrid model blending both options, depending on what works best for you.

Meet the Faculty

Loyola is proud to have talented and nationally-recognized scholar-teachers as part of our diverse community of exceptional faculty, students and staff. Loyola faculty are known for their commitment to teaching, the dissemination of knowledge through innovative and interdisciplinary scholarly research, and a commitment to social justice and cura personalis, or care for the whole person. Visit the Institute of Pastoral Studies faculty and staff directory to learn more about the teachers and mentors involved with the Pastoral Counseling Certificate program.

Faculty and Staff

Curriculum and Program Outcomes

While courses for the Pastoral Counseling Certificate program may vary from semester to semester, Loyola’s extensive Academic Catalog will always house the official listing of courses, programs of study, academic policies, degree requirements, and specialization or concentration options.

Additionally, this resource will provide Pastoral Counseling Certificate learning outcomes, showcasing the commitment to specific skills and growth graduates can expect to achieve following completion of the program.

2024-2025 Catalog
Browse Academic Catalog

Costs, Scholarships, and Aid

Loyola University Chicago is committed to making your graduate and professional studies a reality. Our Cost & Financial Aid page can help better inform you about the costs and potential funding opportunities through scholarships, loans, and aid for graduate and professional education.

If you are a current Loyola undergraduate or recent alum, you may be eligible for a Returning Rambler discount. Learn more and see if you qualify on our Returning Rambler Scholarship page.

Tuition and Costs

The estimated tuition and fees for the Pastoral Counseling Certificate totals $12750.00, or 15 credit hours at a cost of $850.00 per credit hour. Please note that tuition and fees for all of Loyola's academic programs are subject to change.

For more detailed information about tuition and fees, and a breakdown of how these costs are calculated on a yearly basis, please visit Tuition and Fees from the Office of the Bursar.

Institute of Pastoral Studies Financial Aid & Scholarships

More information about financial aid opportunities can be found on the Institute of Pastoral Studies Financial Aid page.

Appointments and Events

Whether you’re just beginning your search, in the midst of the application process, or eager to explore our graduate and professional programs, our admissions staff is here to assist you every step of the way.

Schedule an Appointment

The Institute of Pastoral Studies offers graduate open houses, information sessions, individual appointments, open Zoom and text sessions, and a multitude of other ways to get to know us better.

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Visit and Connect With Us

With our visit opportunities, you can tour our beautiful Chicago campuses and learn more about Loyola's ties to one of the most prestigious cities in the world.

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Application Process

Application Deadlines

The available start terms and corresponding application deadlines for the Pastoral Counseling Certificate are listed below. Please keep in mind that both the application and the required materials must be submitted by the specified deadline.

Fall, Spring, & Summer
Rolling admission

Recommended Deadlines
Fall: July 15
Spring: December 10
Summer: April 15

Final admission is 10 days before the start of classes

Application Requirements

Application requirements for the Pastoral Counseling Certificate include:

  • Official Transcripts

  • 2 Letters of Recommendation

  • 3.0 Minimum GPA

  • Statement of Purpose

Prerequisite Standing Requirements

Applicants should have a Master's degree in a related field (counseling, psychology, social work, education). Flexibility may be permitted - contact program director Bill Schmidt at for verification if degree is not in a related field.

Statement of Purpose Details

Please submit a 1,500-word essay describing your personal, educational, professional, and ministerial background and how these have prepared you for the specific MA or Certificate program for which you have applied. In your essay, also address the following:

  • Prior undergraduate or graduate study in theology or philosophy, if any

  • The ways in which your professional life and any volunteer service have emphasized spiritually, community and social justice

  • A theological book(s) that has helped to shape your understanding of your proposed vocation and course of study

  • Your vision of ministry, your strengths relative to this vocation, significant influences on your faith life (including minsterial mentors or role models), and the professional context in which you see yourself working upon completion of your program

  • Why you are choosing to pursue this degree at Loyola's IPS

Official Documents

Official transcripts are those that are sent directly by the college/university to Loyola University Chicago. Transcripts sent by the student to Loyola are considered unofficial documents, and while they may be utilized for initial review of your application, official transcripts are still required. Official documents should be sent by the institution to

International Applicant Requirements

An official English language proficiency exam is required for international applicants whose native language is not English. If you have non-U.S. educational credentials, you are required to submit an official transcript evaluation. The transcript evaluation cannot be waived.

Please visit our International Applicant Requirements page for specific information regarding the application process for international students.

International Applicant Requirements
Start Your Application

Applying online to the Pastoral Counseling Certificate program is a swift, uncomplicated, and cost-free process. After submission, you can proceed to send and upload any additional requirements.

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