Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education Overview

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an educational program offered by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Clinical Pastoral Education is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers into supervised encounters with persons of crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.  The education is relevant to all types of ministry and requisite for those considering ministries of counseling and chaplaincy. Some denominations require ordination candidates to complete a unit of CPE.

CPE Settings

CPE programs are generally offered in hospitals, but also occasionally in mental health facilities, correctional institutions, geriatric care centers and even some parishes.  Participate in the Office of Supervised Ministries CPE Day when CPE Supervisors are invited to recruit for their programs to get a feel for local CPE sites or vist the ACPE website for their directory of accredited CPE programs,


CPE units are typically full-time for ten weeks during a summer ("summer CPE") or part-time during an academic year ("extended CPE").

Academic and Course Considerations

Yale Divinity School grants credit for CPE programs accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education or the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.  One unit of CPE (400 hrs) fulfills the YDS supervised ministry requirement and earns the student 6 elective, transfer credits.

Financial Considerations

Students doing CPE may be eligible for work-study funding.  Apply through the OSM during the Spring semester. 

Application Process