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Master of Divinity / MA in Counseling

This degree is for students seeking to enter vocations in religious leadership with skills both in theology and counseling. Students enrolled in the joint degree program can complete the requirements for both the Divinity and Master of Arts in Counseling degrees in four years instead of the five years needed if each program is undertaken separately. The curriculum meets the accrediting standards for each degree program. The joint degree program is designed to ensure that students meet the educational requirements for licensure as professional counselors in North Carolina and most other states.

Summary of MDiv/MA Requirements

Students in the joint degree program spend the first two years of the four year program enrolled in courses in the School of Divinity. During these first two years, students complete 54 semester hours of core courses, area electives and general electives. The two-semester internship required during the second year of the MDiv curriculum is deferred until the second year of the counseling program. Joint degree students are required to complete through an ACPE accredited program a basic unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Students generally meet the CPE requirement in a summer session during their first two years of the program. Guidelines for applying CPE credit toward the degree can be obtained through the Office of the Academic Dean.

Students spend the second two years of the joint program satisfying requirements for the Master of Arts in Counseling (60 credit hours).

As part of the joint degree program, students are required to complete a series of one-hour capstone courses that emphasize intersections between theology and counseling. Joint degree students are expected to complete these courses beginning in their third year of the four year program. The capstone courses are offered through the School of Divinity.

Upon successful completion of the joint degree requirements, students receive both the Masters of Divinity and the Masters of Arts in Counseling degrees.


Up to three students per year will be admitted to the M.Div./M.A. in Counseling joint degree program. Applicants must be accepted for admission by both the Department of Counseling and by the School of Divinity . Applicants are required to submit applications to both schools by January 15.

Highly qualified applicants will be interviewed separately by the admissions committees of each school. After the interview phase, a joint admissions committee composed of members from both schools will make the final selection. Unsuccessful applicants to the joint degree program have the option of applying to the School of Divinity by May 1 but would have to wait until January of the following year to apply for admission to the Department of Counseling or reapply to the joint degree program.

Program Continuation

A joint committee composed of faculty from both schools will review the academic, personal and professional progress of degree students. Satisfactory academic progress in the Master of Arts in Counseling portion of the program is defined as maintaining a B or better grade point average. Expectations of personal and professional behaviors and/or attitudes are outlined in the Department of Counseling “Evaluation and Continuation Policy.” Continuing eligibility in the Master of Divinity program is outlined in the School of Divinity’s Continuation Policy.

Dual Degree Benefits

Meets the demand from consumers and employers.

  • The joint degree will meet an increasing demand from students for such a program. Both the school and the department are receiving increasing numbers of inquiries from those who are interested in obtaining both Divinity and Counseling degrees. Several persons in the application pools for the Counseling degree had Master’s of Divinity degrees. Six of thirty current counseling students are graduates of divinity schools.
  • Graduates will meet the licensure requirements of managed care panels. In order to receive reimbursement for most mental health care services, providers must be admitted to managed care panels. Graduates of the joint degree program will be very valuable to churches and other spiritually based counseling providers because they are licensable and well educated.
  • Increasingly ministers and other church personnel are called upon to attend to the mental, emotional and relational needs of their members in addition to their spiritual needs. According to a 2000 national political survey, 75 percent of respondents say it is important to see a professional counselor who integrates their values and beliefs into the counseling process.
  • Douglas Ronsheim, the executive director of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, cites a growing need for the trained, licensed professionals that a program like ours would produce in his letter of support.
  • Rev. R.J. Ross, President of the Samaritan Institute, in his letter applauded our efforts to establish the joint degree and says there is a significant need for a program that meets the academic requirements for state licensing and provides its students with a basic understanding of major faith groups.
  • Steve Scoggin, President of Baptist Hospital CareNet Counseling Centers, wrote that “a combined professional degree program could fill a current need in CareNet for staffing our next generation of clinical staff. Nationally, there will shortages of dually trained clinical counselors.”

Supports Pro Humanitate and fosters cross-campus collaboration.

  • The joint M.Div./M.A. degree provides an opportunity for the university to act according to its clearest value: Pro Humanitate. Those graduates will be well prepared to serve humanity in many settings. The mission and program statements in Divinity and in Counseling share many common objectives with the university. Both programs foster academic excellence; acknowledge the importance of understanding diverse religious, cultural and ethnic perspectives; and strive to promote personal growth.
  • A major study released in March 2000 concluded that “Wake Forest should concentrate its graduate study resources on doctoral and “carefully selected” masters programs that reflect the research strengths of the faculty, involve cross-campus collaboration and are of the highest quality.” This collaborative degree program will utilize the best of the existing curricula in Divinity and Counseling to prepare students for careers in ministry and in mental health. It would also partner with counseling entities at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center such as Pastoral Care and CareNet.
  • The joint degree program would offer opportunities for collaboration in research and course offerings. A collaborative undertaking of this nature will create opportunities for funding, research, and faculty development. Possibilities for shared courses and lectureships that benefit Divinity, Counseling, and the broader university may also grow from the combined effort

Offers a distinctive program of high quality at a low cost.

  • Uniqueness. There are no M.Div./M.A. in Counseling joint degree programs at universities with the academic credentials of Wake Forest. The closest model is a joint social work/divinity degree program at Duke and at UNC-Chapel Hill. Wake Forest is a leader with this joint degree.
  • The joint degree program utilizes courses, facilities and faculties already in place.

In summary, the faculties of the School of Divinity and the Department of Counseling believe the Master of Divinity/Master of Arts in Counseling degree will be a distinctive program that would utilize the strengths of both departments to produce marketable and valued graduates.