Clinical Pastoral Education

What is CPE?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is hands-on professional education for ministry that brings students into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need,  and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry and develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.

Candler students may receive academic credit for intensive pastoral care and counseling training completed through programs accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).

Accredited CPE programs are located across the country in hospitals, clinics and community agencies.

Students participating in CPE gain:

  • Skills and preparation for parish, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching or counseling.
  • Critical thinking toward vocational options and identifying gifts for service.
  • A credential and experience necessary for work as a chaplain in many settings and required by some denominational bodies for ordination.

Non-Candler students wishing to apply for a CPE placement should contact ACPE or reach out directly to the CPE program in which they are interested.

CPE Student Reflection

Julia Falgout MDiv '23 on her Clinical Pastoral Education experience at Grady Hospital in Atlanta.

Julia Falgout

CPE Program Features

Candler does not operate CPE Programs of its own, but students may receive academic credit for work complete with ACPE-accredited CPE Programs.

  • Students apply directly to the program where they would like to do CPE.
  • An initial internship “unit” of CPE consists of 400 hours: 300 hours of hands-on clinical or pastoral work, and 100 hours of supervision, reflection, and other forms of learning.
  • Students may earn up to six hours of elective credit towards the MDiv degree.
  • Some denominations (e.g., Anglican, some United Methodist Conferences, some Presbyteries) require CPE for ordination. Students are responsible for determining and fulfilling these requirements.
  • International students who qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may enroll in CPE and must receive authorization before beginning CPE.
  • Students who have completed an initial unit of CPE are eligible to apply for a post-graduation CPE Residency program. These programs are full-time jobs that combine hands-on spiritual care experience with specialized education. Residencies generally provide a salary and benefits and are hosted in many healthcare settings across the country.