Clinical Pastoral Education

CPE is an experiential educational experience of action-reflection-action where students are invited to learn by practicing pastoral care and reflecting on their practice in group.  It is conducted in a clinical setting that seeks to help students develop their ability in the following three areas:  

  • Pastoral Formation: Focusing on personal development of the student as a pastoral care provider.
  • Pastoral Competency: Seeking to help the student develop specific pastoral care skills drawing from their integration of their theology, psychology and cultural resources.  
  • Pastoral Reflection:  Encouraging students to be reflective individually and in group and to make use of Praxis – action and reflective practice as a way to continue to evaluate their work and strengthen their own personal formation and competency skills. 

Each of these areas have specific outcomes that are pursued in Level I and Level II CPE.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential elements of CPE?

  • The actual practice of spiritual care
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice
  • Process-oriented, relational learning
  • A theoretical rationale for all program elements 
  • A small group of peers in a common learning experience
  • A specific time period
  • An individualized learning contract consistent with the objectives of CPE
  • Clinical Supervision by an ACPE Certified Educator in an ACPE accredited Center

What kinds of things might I learn in CPE?

  • Self-awareness through reflection on one's self as a person and a spiritual caregiver in relationship to people in crisis, the Certified Educator, other chaplains and peer group members
  • Deeper understandings of personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry
  • Competence in functioning as spiritual care giver in a professional ministry role
  • A variety of spiritual care skills as well as theoretical knowledge relevant to effective ministry
  • How to make a spiritual assessment and document it in an electronic chart record

I want to become a professional chaplain. What do I need to do?

The path towards becoming a professional chaplain starts with graduate level theological education. Students must earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from a nationally or regionally accredited university or seminary. The following websites will help determine if an educational institution’s accreditation is recognized:

  • Council of Higher Education Association
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools 
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools  
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • U.S. Department of Education

After graduating and gaining some experience in ministry, completing at least four units of CPE, and being endorsed by their faith group, chaplaincy candidates are eligible for certification. In addition to demonstrating the competencies of professional chaplaincy in writing, candidates also appear in front of a committee, which assesses the competencies in person. The professional standards which all certifying bodies share are called the Common Qualifications and Competencies. The following websites of the certifying bodies are also helpful: The Association for Professional Chaplains; The National Association of Catholic Chaplains; The National Association of Jewish Chaplains; The Association of Muslim Chaplains; Buddhist Chaplains.  


What should I expect when I am invited to an admission interview?

The interview is different from a regular job interview. The main goal is to get to know you and determine your ability to make use of an experiential educational program. You will be invited to share your learning goals, describe formative experiences and speak to your potential as an effective professional spiritual care giver. The admission interview will engage you on multiple levels – emotional, intellectual, personal and professional. 

When might I hear back after an interview?

Generally you can expect that a response in writing may take a week or two. However, decisions are made as close to the interview date as possible.

Are there any scholarships?

We may offer a scholarship based on need. There is an application for scholarship that you may request after the admissions interview. In addition, some seminaries and theological schools offer work-study money. You should inquire with the office of internship placement or its equivalent at your institution. 

How do I find out about academic credit for CPE?

Many seminaries and theological school grant academic credit for CPE. For more detailed information you need to contact your seminary.

Uniqueness of Our Center

Our clinical setting allows you to serve in an acute hospital that is at once a community hospital setting and at the same time part of Yale New Haven Health which provides extensive specialized services.

Greenwich Hospital serves a diverse patient population. We have some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest patients in the country. We serve Caucasian, African Americans, Black Caribbean and Latinos.

Our center also affords students further diverse opportunities to learn pastoral care skills in the following areas:

  • The Addiction Rehabilitation Center
  • Palliative/Hospice Care
  • Local nursing homes (through our relationship with Greenwich Chaplaincy Services)

Admission Requirements

Fulfills one of the following criteria:

  1. A seminarian or lay person 
    (assumes basic introduction to pastoral care courses have already been taken)
  2. Has completed a Master of Divinity, Master in Pastoral Care & Counseling or equivalent
  3. Ordained clergy

Additional requirements are: a) an application, b) admission interview and c) tuition deposit.


Our hospital offers two Clinical Pastoral Education units annually: 

  • An Extended Unit – a 20-week program that runs from the fall through the spring
  • A Summer Unit – a 10-week program that begins the week after Memorial Day

Weekly Program Requirements:

  • Extended Unit – One (5) hour class session and (15) hours of clinical work visiting patients and on-call experience
  • Summer Unit – Two (5) hour class sessions and (30) hours of clinical work visiting patients and on-call experience

The program also includes writing assignments, small group experience and individual supervision.

Tuition is $650.

Learn about our Faculty

How to Apply

Download and complete the application and reference form. Mail the completed application and three references to: 

The Department of Spiritual Care 
Greenwich Hospital 
5 Perryridge Road 
Greenwich, CT 06830

Fax: 203-863-4555

Qualified candidates will be invited for an interview.


Greenwich Hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program is an accredited Center of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).

55 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Suite 835
Atlanta, GA  30308
(404) 320-1472
Fax:  (404) 320-0849
E-mail:  [email protected]