Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies – Pastoral Counseling

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Holy Apostles
Admissions Office
33 Prospect Hill Road
Cromwell, CT 06416

Undergraduate: 860-632-3036
Graduate: 860-632-3066

Pastoral Counseling Concentration Overview

The Pastoral Counseling MAPS Concentration is intended to give learners the skills they need to help people lead more fulfilling, healthy, and godly lives and relationships. Students will acquire the skills necessary for fostering the emotional, spiritual, and relational development of people-of-faith, in addition to being able to develop ethical and effective psycho-spiritual interventions to assist people in crisis. This concentration is an excellent fit for:

  • Persons in church ministry who would like to sharpen their psycho-spiritual intervention skills and be more effective, first-line responders to people needing emotional and relational support;
  • Any person who wishes to practice as a Christian Life Coach and/or Board Certified Professional Life Coach;
  • Licensed mental health counselors who wish to engage in ethical and effective faith-integrated approaches to professional counseling.

Although this program is not intended to prepare learners to practice as state-licensed mental health professionals, all graduates (whether or not they are currently licensed mental health providers) will have advanced standing to become a Board Certified Coach through the Center for Credentialing and Education.

Core Curriculum

Holy Apostles requires M.A. in Pastoral Studies candidates to complete a 6-credit co-requisite sequence by taking DTH 645 Nature and Grace as well as PAS 602 Fundamentals of Practical Theology. Following these co-requisite courses, an additional 12-credit Pastoral Studies Core is to be taken.

  • PAS 683 Pastoral Counseling 1: Spiritual Helping & Accompaniment
  • PAS 511 Mission and Evangelization
  • MTH/PAS/PHE 841 Catholic Social Teaching
  • PAS 720 Nurturing the Domestic Church: Fostering Authentic Marriage and Family Life & Spirituality

Four courses must be taken within each area of concentration, and these are clearly marked within each concentration.  The remaining two courses are electives and are preferably also within the concentration.


A candidate for the M.A. in Pastoral Studies is required to complete course work from the various areas of graduate study. The specific degree requirements for the Catechetical Ministry Concentration may be found in the Degree Plan below.

Pastoral Counseling Studies Concentration Degree Plan

Does this degree certify one for Counseling?
While this degree does not qualify a person to be a Board Certified Counselor, ACS MAPS Graduates Qualify for 60hrs of Training to Become Board Certified Life Coaches.

Life Coaching is a rapidly growing sector of the human services industry. Holy Apostles College and Seminary is pleased to announce that graduates of the Master of Pastoral Studies program are now eligible for a fast-track process to becoming Board Certified Coaches through the Center for Credentialing and Education, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors that certifies over 25,000 professionals globally in a variety of fields
Life Coaches are helping professionals dedicated to teaching people the skills they need to attain their personal, relational, or even spiritual goals. Like personal trainers, who help clients achieve greater physical strength and well-being through targeted exercise strategies, Professional Life Coaches teach clients exercises that build emotional, interpersonal and character strength.

According to Success Magazine, the International Coaching Federation (the largest trade association for Professional Life Coaches) estimates that “about 41,300 active professional coaches worldwide generated nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. In North America, about 14,060 coaches earned some $707 million.” Unlike licensed counselors and psychologists, Professional Life Coaches do not diagnose or treat mental or emotional disorders, but rather teach skills, design development training programs, and provide professional support to help clients clarify, set, and achieve personal, professional, and relationship goals.

Dr. Greg Popcak, HACS MAPS Program Director said, “Today, Life Coaches are stepping in to do a great deal of the work that pastors, marriage and family life ministers, youth ministry professionals, bereavement ministers, and other pastoral care workers have done in the past; supporting people in becoming a better, more grace-filled versions of themselves. We want graduates who pursue this path to see themselves as the soul of the life coaching profession. I’m excited that HACS MAPS grads are being prepared to enter this field equipped with both the timeless wisdom of our Catholic faith and the knowledge of the ‘science of accompaniment’ that the coaching profession provides. Whether they serve the Church or their local communities, MAPS graduates who become Board Certified Life Coaches will be well-prepared to facilitate the growth and development of the whole person.”

Board Certification for Life Coaches usually requires 120 hours of training in an accredited coach training program as well as 60 hours of verifiable coaching. Under CCE rules, because of the nature of the MAPS degree, graduates of the program would be eligible for Board Certification with only 60 hours of coach-specific training besides completing the verifiable coaching requirement.

Dr. Popcak concluded, “Part of the mission of HACS is to train faithful leaders who are capable of being missionary disciples in the Church and in the world. This new opportunity is just one more way HACS is helping learners fulfill their mission to be salt and light.”

Graduate Capstone
The Summative Evaluation is the capstone of the student’s academic work in the M.A. program at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. All candidates enrolled in an M.A. degree are required to complete a Summative Evaluation. Those enrolled in the M.A. in Pastoral Studies are required to take the Comprehensive Examination as their Summative Evaluation. (Students enrolled in the MAPS program prior to Fall 2017 may complete a thesis or special project in lieu of the Comprehensive Exam.) Full descriptions of the Summative Evaluation exercise are available on the Summative Evaluation page.
How Do I Apply?

Applicants for the M.A. program should follow the Graduate Admissions procedures. Applicants must submit similar materials for M.A. programs, however MAPS applicants must submit three (3) letters of recommendation instead of the normal two (2): one from an Academic/Mentor; one from a Priest/Religious; and one from a Ministry Supervisor/Counselor. For additional questions or information, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Rex, Director of Graduate Admissions, by email at or by phone 860-632-3066.


Program Director:

Dr. J. Marianne Siegmund

Concentration Chair:

Dr. J. Marianne Siegmund

For a full listing of our faculty, please visit Faculty Listing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to complete an MA in Pastoral Studies?

  • The M.A. degree program may be completed in as little as 1.3 years.There is a 6 year time limit from entry into the program through completion of the degree requirements. Please see the Academic Catalog for additional information.

Is the program flexible for working individuals?

  • Our 100% online courses make the M.A. degree program flexible for working and busy individuals. 

Are Holy Apostles Faculty faithful to the Magisterium?

  • All members of the faculty must be approved by the bishop in order to ensure fidelity to the magisterium.

Visit our FAQ page for more information.