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C-N offers new degree

Carson-Newman College now offers a Master of Science in Counseling degree that is designed to prepare students who desire training in counseling/psychotherapy and wish to provide such services to individuals, couples, groups and families.

Employing an interdisciplinary approach, the program blends principles of the Christian faith with the practice of professional counseling, Dr. Bill Blevins, professor of counseling, said. Blevins directs the college’s Behavioral Health Program.

“We see developing mental health professionals through our Masters in Counseling degree as being very consistent with the mission of Carson-Newman,” Blevins said. “There is a great need for health care professionals in all areas, particularly in the area of mental health. And we see this as a basic part of our Christian mission – to develop proficient professionals who genuinely care about people.”

Designed to prepare students for a wide range of vocational options, C-N’s behavioral health graduates pursue careers in the mental health field as well as licensure as a professional counselor or marriage and family therapist.

Amoreena Reynolds sees a school counseling degree as central to the career she plans as a coach. While counseling may not be the norm for those who want to coach, Reynolds thinks it makes perfect sense.

“Throughout my undergraduate years, I played volleyball in college. And I realized that helping others was something I was naturally drawn to,” she said. “The idea of going into counseling and coaching was something that, to me, went hand-in-hand. You coach the girls on the court, but you want to make them better players in life. So, I thought school counseling provided great skills for me as a leader and role model.”

Societal changes have mandated the development of new and innovative ways to prepare school counselors for their role in public education.

Blevins said, “With an increasing number of troubling behavioral problems reported from school personnel across the nation, the demand for qualified, well-trained school counselors continues to increase.”

C-N’s behavioral health graduate degree also offers a concentration in pastoral care, which allows interested students the option of focusing on spiritual care by taking a dozen hours of specific courses.

“The pastoral care curriculum, which consists of twelve graduate hours, grants students who are already taking courses toward licensure, as either licensed professional counselors or licensed marriage and family therapists, to add a specialization in pastoral care to their portfolio,” Dr. Mel Hawkins said. “So, someone who received a master’s degree in counseling here can include graduate work in pastoral care.” Hawkins works in C-N’s religion department and helped Blevins develop the curriculum.

Although the degree does not qualify a person to be a chaplain, Hawkins said, “It would afford them the chance to earn a state license in counseling, while the pastoral care component would give them some background so they could be a staff counselor at a church.”

There is an option for those who do not wish to earn a degree but want to study pastoral counseling. The continuing education component allows non-degree students to take the 12-hour program and earn a certificate in pastoral care. 

Hawkins says he expects the non-degree plan to meet the needs of pastors or other church staff members.

“Our graduates enter a variety of vocational positions after they leave here,” Blevins said. “Some go into private practice, some work for a mental health agency, and we’ve had a few go into human resources.”

For more information, contact Carson-Newman College’s Office of Admissions at 865-471-3223 or visit


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