Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is experience-based theological education for seminarians, clergy and lay persons of diverse cultures, ethnic groups and faith traditions. As the program’s name implies, CPE is:


CPE has a strong “hands-on” component. Participants meet with patients/residents/clients, and from their interaction develop their awareness and skills for pastoral care. St.Vincent provides a variety of clinical possibilities and a number of certified chaplain staff who serve as clinical preceptors.


CPE is pastoral, focusing on putting an individual’s theology into practice. Some describe CPE as “doing” theology versus “learning” theology. Depending on the particular CPE program, participants bring to their work a graduate degree in theology, work toward such a degree, or sufficient theological background to do pastoral ministry.


Above all CPE is adult learning. A unit of CPE is “at least 400 hours combining no less than 100 hours of structured group and individual education with supervised clinical practice in ministry” (ACPE).

Chaplain Certification

Most national certifying bodies require a minimum of four accredited units of CPE prior to application for chaplain certification. For certification information consider the following:

  • American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC)
  • Association of Professional Chaplains (APC)
  • National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC)
  • Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC)

CPE units taken at St.Vincent are recognized by all of these certifying bodies.

Program Accreditation

St.Vincent has offered Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) since 1991 through accreditation by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE), Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc, (ACPE) One West Court Square, Suite 325 Decatur, GA 30030. Phone: 404-320-1472; Fax: 404-320-0849; Web: For more information please contact St.Vincent Hospitals and Health Services CPE Program at 317-338-3554 or 317-338-9874.