Religious Vocations Certificate and Diploma Program Options

Certificate programs in religious vocations are available in the fields of education and counseling. Typical applicants are not only members of the clergy, but are also teachers, counselors and social workers.

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Essential Information

While diploma programs are not widely available, certificate programs in various religious vocations are typically offered at the graduate level by many schools with religious or theological departments. Religious education certificate programs can prepare students for teaching or leadership roles in congregations or denominational schools. Depending on the school, pastoral counseling certificate programs may be designed for practicing clergy members or licensed counselors seeking a specialized skill set.

Certificate programs in religious education are offered to students who have previously completed a bachelor's or master's degree. Many programs require applicants to submit an essay discussing previous ministry experiences and personal values and beliefs.

Graduate Certificate in Religious Education

Certificate programs in religious education are designed to prepare students to teach faith and religion in parochial schools, through churches or to the community as a whole. Some programs are designed for individuals who wish to serve as a congregation's youth minister or organize youth education programs. Other programs may focus more on teaching in religious-based educational institutions such as Catholic schools, for example. Students study learning models, educational theories and practices, as well as how to weave ideologies of the students' perspective faiths into the pedagogy. Course topics might include:

  • Principles of religious education
  • Curriculum development
  • Educational psychology
  • Moral development

Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counseling

Certificate programs in pastoral counseling prepare individuals to provide counseling services in faith-based settings. Students learn to integrate spiritual beliefs into clinical counseling practices. Some programs, which might be labeled as pastoral care, are designed to help clergy learn techniques to better administer to the needs of those in their congregations seeking guidance, while other programs are designed for licensed counselors who wish to work in a faith-based setting. Students explore ethics, spirituality and the integration of faith into the clinical practice of counseling. Topics might include:

  • Ethics in religious counseling
  • Foundations of spirituality
  • Psychological foundations
  • Marriage counseling
  • Youth counseling

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to O*NET OnLine (, employment of clergy and for those directing religious activities, such as in education and counseling, should grow at an average rate during the decade of 2014-2024. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reported that clergy members earned a median salary of $44,250 annually in May 2015. Directors of religious education and activities earned a median salary of $38,780 annually.

Individuals interested in the religious vocations have a couple tracks to chose from, including religious education and pastoral counseling. Education for both of these career fields includes graduate certificates for students with related bachelor's and master's degrees.

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