Frequently Asked Questions about CPE

Blessings of the handsThe following information is from the national website of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education

1.  What do the essential elements of CPE include?

  • The actual practice of ministry to persons
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice
  • Pastoral Supervision
  • A process conception of learning
  • A theoretical perspective on all elements of the program
  • A small group of peers in a common learning experience
  • A specific time period
  • An individual contract for learning consistent with the objectives of CPE
  • The CPE program must be conducted under the auspices of an ACPE certified supervisor (faculty) attached to an ACPE accredited CPE center.

UAB Medicine 2Line-WITH TAGLINE2.  What kinds of things might be included in the Individual Learning Contract?

  • Pastoral Reflection – reflection on one’s self as person and pastor in relationship to persons in crisis, the supervisor, and peer group members, as well as the curriculum and institutional setting.
  • Pastoral Formation – focus on personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry.
  • Pastoral Competence – deepening and unfolding of competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills and knowledge of theology and the behavioral sciences.

Some centers also offer Pastoral Specialization, focusing on the student’s desire to become competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of ministry, e.g. oncology, urban ministry, parish ministry, hospice ministry, etc.

3.  What are the different types of CPE?

ACPE offers Level I and Level II CPE, as well as Supervisory CPE, in sequence. The outcomes for each level must be completed before moving to the next level.  CPE is usually offered in single units (10-12 weeks) or in a year-long program (3-4 consecutive units). Some centers have other part-time options. The center of your choice can explain the options available at their location.

4.  What does CPE prepare a person to do?

  • CPE serves as a part of one’s preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching, and counseling. A student’s learning contract may be focused toward integration of theological, psychological, and pastoral insights into pastoral functioning for parish work. Or the contract may be designed with a career goal of chaplaincy or pastoral counseling.
  • Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Supervisory CPE working toward certification as a CPE supervisor. In Supervisory CPE the student learns the theory and practice of supervision and has an experience of supervising CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of a CPE supervisor.
  • CPE develops the capacity for the pastoral and spiritual care of individuals, families, and systems.
  • Many theological schools require one unit of CPE as a part of a theological degree program.
  • Other schools accept a year of CPE as the required intern year of ministry for a theological degree program.
  • A number of theological schools which are members of the ACPE have graduate degree programs which combine academic study and CPE Supervisory CPE.

5.  I want to be a Chaplain or a Pastoral Counselor, do I need CPE?

The Association of Professional Chaplains (, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains ( and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains ( and other organizations certify chaplains.

The American Association of Pastoral Counselors ( trains and certifies pastoral counselors. Some CPE is required as a pre-requisite. You should contact these organizations directly about their requirements.

6.  Who is eligible to enroll in CPE?

What are the minimum requirements?

Bachelor’s degree in a related field and two (2) years of service with a faith community required. A Master of Divinity degree or Master’s in Theological Studies is preferred. Work experience may not substitute for the minimum education requirement. Ordination, Commission or Licensure as a minister / faith leader or in the process of obtaining such status also preferred.

Ordination, Commission or Licensure as a minister / faith leader or in the process of obtaining such status preferred.

For Supervisory CPE programs: An individual who has successfully completed several units of CPE and has demonstrated a readiness to utilize Supervisory CPE, usually one who has a theological degree and several years of pastoral experience.

7. Do you offer a stipend?

Yes, the stipend is $30 000 for a one (1) year residency.

8. What is the tuition?

The tuition fee is $500/unit

More information about CPE can be found here.