Ready to put your faith to work through caring for others?
Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Care program—the only graduate program of its kind in the world—will prepare you to answer that call. Enhance your ability to serve through the unique blend of counseling, care, and spirituality. Our certificate, master’s, and doctoral programs are specifically designed to study the integration of spirituality and the social sciences. Our CACREP-accredited M.S. and Ph.D. programs prepare students to work in any clinical mental health setting. Discover our vibrant community of healers and helpers.
Pastoral Counseling Info Session: The Student Experience
(The event was held on April 21, 2015. Please use the link below to view a recording of the session.)
We are privileged to have incredible and inspiring students who are eager to share their journeys and experiences with you. Each of the student ambassador panelists is approaching the end of his or her career at Loyola and will be able to speak not only to what the experience has been but also what career goals he or she has.
There are students from each of the following degree programs: M.A., M.S., and Ph.D.
Loyola’s Master of Arts in Spiritual and Pastoral Care has offered me an opportunity to notice, explore, care for self, and be authentic. Here, I learned the importance of not just sharpening the mind, but the significance of refining the heart. Being at Loyola taught me that the head and heart must establish a natural partnership in order to co-create a beautiful, well-balanced life.
Prior to attending Loyola, I earned a Master of Divinity at Howard University. While attending Howard, I grew passionate about ministering to young adults and had several opportunities, both at Howard and Loyola, to participate in Christian ministries that specifically care for and support the spiritual lives of young adults. My vocational vision is to work fullt-ime in Christian ministry, developing and facilitating systematic programs that support the spiritual and mental well being of young adults and advocating for African American communities of faith to demonstrate radical love-in-action toward men and women who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, as well as encouraging these faith communities to consider important issues regarding mental health and mental health care.
My desire to pursue an M.A. in Spiritual & Pastoral Care at Loyola grew out of my intention to create more meaning in my work and my life. After leaving a twenty-year career in facilities management, I began volunteering at a local hospice where I had the transformative experience of providing comfort to patients and their families during their precious, final days. Presently, my career goal is to continue pursuing the credentials required to serve as a hospice chaplain. Integrating my two careers, my research interest is in optimizing the design of the built environment to support the delivery of meaningful spiritual care.
Joy McCrady is pursuing a master's degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola University Maryland. After earning a bachelor's in English and creative writing, Joy worked for over 12 years in information technology, managing print products and web properties for government and commercial clients. After her husband was injured in Iraq while serving as a combat medic in the Army, she felt a calling to become a counselor to serve the U.S. military, veterans, and their families who are coping with post-traumatic stress and transitioning to civilian life. She was named a National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Military Scholar in 2014. She currently serves as the Emerging Professionals and Scholars (EPS) representative for the Atlantic Region of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC).
I am a doctoral student in the last leg of the program (beginning dissertation work). I attended Drexel University and obtained a MA in Art Therapy prior to coming to Loyola's PhD program. My research interest for my dissertation is focused on the pastoral counseling identity of graduate students (in particular how they integrate different aspects of their professional identity). My career goals are to work in private practice and to teach.
I am a 34 year old husband, father of three, full time student, and counselor. I am an enthusiastic first generation college student that is interested in researching what helps people make changes in their lives (professionally, academically, spiritually, and physically). My career goal is to find a balance between counseling, research, and teaching in a tenure track position.
View a recording of a Pastoral Counseling virtual session:
Please use the links above to view the recordings.
Other Virtual Information Sessions and Events (all Loyola graduate programs):
Join Loyola's Assistant Director of Graduate Admission and Financial Aid for an informative presentation and Q&A chat on the financial aid process for graduate school. This session is open to students interested in any of the Loyola graduate programs.
“As someone who does not identify as Christian, I appreciate the program's openness to other religious points of view. This allows for dynamic conversations which don't put God in a box. Exploring spirituality has been part of my personal journey. This program recognizes how important that is for many people. When I first sat in on a pastoral counseling class, the material grabbed me. This degree will enable me to continually develop my strengths and pursue my passions for both counseling and teaching. Right now, I’m working as a graduate assistant and researcher. Next semester, my clinical work will be at Epoch Counseling Center. I really feel I'm where I am supposed to be. That’s how I am answering the call.”
M.S./Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling student
“When I attended an information session about the Pastoral Counseling program, I was deeply moved. The final speaker said, ‘You will know if you are called if you are feeling something.’ I knew I was called to ministry and that this was my path. I love this program. I am learning from some of the best theologians on the East Coast. I have had the opportunity to intern in hospice care and I can see a future in this environment or other ministry. In the meantime, I continue to serve as a mentor to young women and men in my church and to work full time as a facilities manager. Overall, I recognize that I am learning the tools to fulfill my calling, and God has given me the passion to do so. That’s how I am answering the call.”
M.A. in Spiritual and Pastoral Care student, Chaplaincy track
“My background is in art therapy, and I am intrigued by the connection to spirituality. Through the Loyola Ph.D. program in Pastoral Counseling, I have been working with college students at a nearby university, and I really enjoy it. In my courses, I have found that professors and students all have a ‘sacred attitude’ toward the classes themselves, and spirituality continues to be a very real presence there. My classes and clinical experiences have afforded me with moments when I feel reaffirmed that I am answering a call in my life. Coming back to campus after a break oftentimes feels like coming home and I know that I am walking in my purpose. That’s how I am answering the call.”
“I started undergraduate studies as a pre-med major. But I soon felt that the traditional approach to medicine was not treating the whole human person in the way I felt called. I knew that whatever I did with my life, it had to involve God. I felt a strong connection between theology and service. Now, I feel a call to integrate the body of science and spirituality as it pertains to human beings. As I complete the Ph.D. program in Pastoral Counseling, I look forward to a career combining counseling, teaching, and research. That’s how I am answering the call.”
M.S./Ph.D.in Pastoral Counseling student
“I earned my Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Loyola with a minor in theology. I am concerned about pervasive issues of women’s well-being, particularly their relationship to their bodies; I even started a women's group as an undergraduate. After graduation, I worked with pregnant, homeless women, helping them care for themselves and their children. I currently work at a Catholic high school in campus ministry and intern as a therapist at a community college. I always wondered how God would put all of this together. Now I know. This program helps me blend my passion for social justice, my faith, my views of beauty, and training in clinical work. The focus is on pastoral care being psychologically healthy and clinical care that takes spirituality into account. I feel called, both to pastoral counseling and to this program.”
Ph.D.in Pastoral Counseling student
“Pastoral Counseling at Loyola is an amazingly diverse and interfaith program. I have classmates who are Buddhist, Muslim, and agnostic--and we are all enriched by working collaboratively with one another. As a pastoral counselor in private practice, I recognize most clinical issues that emerge in counseling inevitably have a spiritual component as well. Fortunately, the Pastoral Counseling program provides a thorough, intense, and immersive education in both counseling theory and theological meaning-making. In my practicum, I was given the opportunity to provide clinical services to homeless men in a residential shelter setting—which has been an incredibly transformative experience for me, both as a clinician and a human being. The greatest gift that Loyola has given to me is to help me see my clients as whole human beings who are far more than the severity of their problems. That’s how I am answering the call.”
“I live to learn from experience, trusting that life will take me where I am meant to be. I discerned that the M.A. in Spiritual and Pastoral Care at Loyola offered me the most authentic opportunity to fulfill my destiny. I am learning the importance of not just sharpening the mind, but the significance of refining the heart. The mind is limited while the heart is limitless. My professors, classmates, and coursework teach me how to deepen the authentic power of the human heart. I am on an endless quest to cultivate compassion with wisdom, and love with truth and justice. The head and the heart must establish a natural partnership in order to co-create a beautiful, well-balanced life. Loyola is cultivating my heart. I am answering the call by deepening my spiritual journey and continuing to discover self; both of which are imperative for God’s preparation for my work in this world."
“Faith and spirituality are at the core of the ‘meaning-making’ in one’s heart, mind, and soul. At Loyola, students are uniquely trained to do counseling and provide pastoral care for people who don’t want to leave their faith at the door. Most students who come recognize the theme that there is something powerful working in their own lives. They want the skills to help people in a pragmatic way, and they are also looking for a career trajectory. In our society, people still turn to those in ministry, especially in times of challenge. Our students are prepared to help. They are answering a call to serve in a way that makes a difference and brings people light and healing.”
Thomas E. Rodgerson, Ph.D.
Director, M.A. Program in Spiritual and Pastoral Care
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling
“The M.S. in Pastoral Counseling is a highly unique program in that it trains students to become licensed mental health professionals with the spiritual and theological knowledge to care for clients holistically whether they’re Christian, Jewish, atheist, seeking, etc. Most students engage in a profound discernment process before coming to Loyola. They feel called by something transcendent—their faith/God/higher power—to help others and to meet the world's needs. The answer to the call might be different for each student, but for many it's about justly caring for others in a way that makes the world a better place.”
Jill L. Snodgrass, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Pastoral Counseling
“The Ph.D. program is unique in that it combines serious research with pastoral reflection and high-quality clinical practice. There is strength in our diversity, including an interdisciplinary faculty. Unlike programs at other universities, the approach is nonsectarian. Students study world religions, the workings of the brain, and the nature of suffering. It’s fun when ancient wisdom comes into contact with counseling, education, social science, and psychological science. For our students, something ‘clicks’ and they answer a call for some higher purpose and the desire to be part of a community. For me personally, I am called to explore a broader, humanistic approach toward meaning. That’s how I am answering the call.”
Joseph Stewart-Sicking, Ed.D.
Director, Ph.D. program
Associate Professor of Pastoral Counseling