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RIETS-Ferkauf Joint Graduate Program in Pastoral Counseling

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary


RIETS-Ferkauf Joint Graduate Program in Pastoral Counseling

RIETS and Yeshiva University's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology have teamed up to offer a new graduate program in pastoral counseling. The joint program is an exciting new opportunity designed for second-, third- and fourth-year RIETS students who plan to pursue a career in Jewish communal work.

Questions? Please feel free to email

Please see below for more information about this program.

Joining and completing this program will be a significant investment in your career. It will provide you with valuable training in mental health counseling as well as greatly increase your own self-awareness. It will provide you with skills that you will use every day as a congregational Rav, day school or campus educator, or hospital chaplain. Completing this program will also signal to your potential employers that you were serious about your career and assure them that you are well-trained—in addition to having you stand out from others.

If you have recently taken the RIETS professional courses in pastoral psychology, you will be able to supplement your completed coursework with online work so that these courses can qualify for the joint program. Ferkauf courses, as part of this program, will be offered primarily in the evenings and should be convenient for those already working in the field.

Yes, with approval from the Roshei Kollel.

This is officially a program of RIETS, with full cooperation from FGS. FGS will be designing most of the courses in this program, and many of the courses will be taught by adjunct faculty members of FGS.

The joint program is neither a registered certificate with New York State nor a degree-granting program. However, upon completion of the program, you will be able to indicate on your résumé that you have completed the joint program of study.

Yes. Any student in good standing who completes the joint program can continue to complete a master's degree at FGS. Once you have finished the joint program, it is considered that you are roughly 1/3 of the way towards achieving a Master's in Mental Health Counseling. A Master's in Mental Health Counseling is a licensed degree in New York State that allows you to work in agencies or see clients in a private practice. It is our hope to secure additional funding to allow RIETS students to complete their master's degree over two or three summers after receiving semicha. Additional scholarships may be available for master's work for those students who are committed to pursuing careers in the pulpit and Jewish education. The program will also try to work on ways to defray the cost for students who wish to continue their education at FGS.

The RIETS courses will continue to take place on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings. The FGS classes will take place in June and on weeknights during the fall and spring semesters. Summer courses may be available, depending on interest.

The program is designed to be completed in two to three years—as the students are studying at RIETS. It can be finished after the four years of semicha as well.

Yes. The program will officially start on November 1, 2015, and at that point, students in existing RIETS pastoral psychology courses will be introduced to an enhanced online curriculum that will allow the existing courses to also count towards the joint program.

Yes. Of course, talmidim are also encouraged to learn in the kollel during their afternoons.

All RIETS courses, even in their expanded formats, are covered with the RIETS registration fee paid by all students. There is a tuition fee of just $500 for any fall or spring semester in which an FGS course is taken. A June session will cost $250. For most students, the total additional cost will be a mere $2,000.

Due to generous gifts by passionate lay leaders, this program is already funded at over 90% of cost. Additional scholarship monies will be available only for those with most extenuating circumstances.

No. Only students who continue for a master's degree are required to do mental health fieldwork. Students in the joint program will be able to satisfy their requirements with the standard third- and fourth-year internships. Beginning with the second semester of the joint program, students will be required to attend group processing sessions to supplement their coursework.

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