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Students at commencement

Clinical Pastoral Education

Spiritual care in clinical and chaplaincy settings

Chaplain administering sacrament in nursing homeClinical Pastoral Education (CPE) offers students the opportunity to develop and integrate theological knowledge and professional skills in a wide variety of clinical contexts such as hospitals, extended care facilities, social service and social justice organizations, and congregational settings. The primary locus of learning are the people and relationships affected by the act of giving spiritual care, including both the one who receives and the one who gives that care. Some methods employed to develop this reflective practice include verbatims, journaling, peer group sessions, and one-on-one conversations with a CPE supervisor.

M.Div. candidates will take one unit of CPE during their academic program. M.A. candidates may take one unit of CPE as an elective course. A single CPE unit is 400 hours and is offered in a variety of formats ranging from a three-month, full-time unit to a nine-month, part-time unit. In each case, the experience includes 300 hours of ministry in a clinical or congregational context. The remaining 100 hours of reflective work is divided between peer group reflection, one-on-one meetings with a CPE supervisor and didactic units focusing on skills and reflective practices for ministry.

CPE is an intensive experience offered in a variety of formats. The hourly commitments range from ten to forty hours per week. Students are advised to consider their workload carefully with respect to existing personal and seminary commitments when registering for additional coursework.

How do I participate?

Students do well to begin planning for participation in a CPE program (or equivalent Supervised Clinical Ministry experience) early in their theological education program.

The Association Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) accredits and oversees sites and supervisors across the United States. To review available ACPE-accredited sites, visit Students who intend to pursue CPE in the Twin Cities or the upper Midwest can review available openings at the North Central Regional website at

Once you have selected several sites, you may find the common application at

  1. Complete and send this common application to each of the sites you have selected.

  2. You will subsequently be invited to interview and/or be offered a place in the program.

After you’ve been accepted to a program, here is how you register and pay for it:

  1. As soon as you know where you will be doing CPE, send Contextual Learning a copy of your acceptance paperwork. Be sure it includes information about the site, the supervisor, and the start and end dates.

  2. When this acceptance paperwork is on file, Contextual Learning will contact the Registrar's office to register you for either a full-time or part-time CPE class. Course credit and tuition will be applied in the term in which CPE begins.

  3. Pay the required deposit to a CPE center to secure a program spot. Keep your receipt! Bring an invoice for the outstanding balance as well as the deposit receipt to the Business Office; be sure to include your student ID on all paperwork.

  4. Once course credit and tuition have been applied to your account, the Business Office will pay the outstanding balance directly to your CPE site and will refund you for your deposit, up to the value of 1.0 credit at Luther Seminary.

How do I get credit?

To receive credit for completion of this pass/fail course, the student will turn in a copy of both the CPE supervisor’s and the student’s final evaluation to the Office of Contextual Learning. Your supervisor's evaluation is prepared by your supervisor. Your self-evaluation is the written assignment that you are assigned at the end of the unit. Both evaluations will be read by the director of Contextual Learning, and a notification will be sent to the Registrar that you have completed the requirement. The Registrar then marks your student record with a completed grade.

A student whose candidacy committee requires CPE for the ordination process must also send the same evaluations directly to their candidacy committee. If you have questions about taking CPE for non-credit, please contact the Office of Contextual Learning.