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Students at commencement

Clinical Pastoral Education

What is CPE?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), spiritual care in clinical and congregational settings, offers students the opportunity to develop and integrate theological knowledge and professional skills in a wide variety of clinical contexts such as:

Extended care facilities
Social service organizations
Social justice organizations
Congregational settings

The primary focus 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 educator.

M.Div. students will take one unit of CPE during their academic program. 
M.A. students (pursuing rostered ministry) may take one unit of CPE as an elective course.

A single CPE unit is a minimum of 400 hours and is offered in a variety of formats: 
-three-month (40 hrs/wk) 
-semester long (25-28 hrs/wk)
-six to nine month long (10-18 hrs/wk)

Each unit of CPE includes 300 hours of ministry in a clinical or congregational context and 100 hours of reflective work, which is divided between peer group reflection, one-on-one meetings with a CPE educator and didactic units focusing on skills and reflective practices for ministry.

Please consider your workload carefully with respect to existing personal and seminary commitments when registering for courses in addition to taking CPE.

Finding a site

When planning to take a unit of CPE (or equivalent Supervised Clinical Ministry experience), you should plan to look and apply to potential CPE sites up to 6-12 months in advance of your target start date. 

ACPE - The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education, accredits and oversees sites and educators across the United States.

Students living in rural or more remote locations where CPE is not available, can take a hybrid unit that includes both in person and online participation. R.C. Freedom Ministries, Inc. is a center that offers this hybrid format.  

 R.C. Freedom Ministries, Inc.
San Antonio, TX


Application Process

  1. Complete and send the common application to each of the sites you are interested in.
  2. You will subsequently be invited to interview and/or be offered a place in the program.


Registration and Payment

Once you receive your official CPE acceptance letter:

  1. From your Luther Seminary email account,
    email the Contextual Learning office:
    your Student ID and a copy of your acceptance letter or paperwork 
         Be sure your acceptance letter includes:
         -CPE site and educator's name
         -Start and end dates of your unit
        -The number of hours each week
  1. The Contextual Learning office will confirm we have received your paperwork and contact the Registrar's office on your behalf to register you for CPE. 
    Course credit and tuition will be applied in the term in which CPE begins.
  1. You are responsible for paying the required deposit to your site to secure your program spot.
    Email the Business Office:, the statement reflecting the amount you paid for the  deposit and the outstanding balance due to the site. 
    Include your full name and student ID in the email.
  1. 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.

Academic Credit

To receive credit for completion of this pass/fail course:

  1. You are responsible for sending 2 documents to the Contextual Learning office:
    -CPE Educator’s signed final evaluation
    -Your own final self-evaluation
  2. Both final evaluations will be reviewed by the Contextual Learning office, and notification of Pass/Fail will be sent to the Registrar. 
  3. Students pursuing Candidacy, must send both CPE final evaluations directly to their candidacy committee. 

For all M.Div. and M.A. students: you may take a second unit of CPE if you have an elective available.
Please note: You are financially responsible for the cost of the 1.0 credit from Luther Seminary and all fees charged by the site when taking a second unit of CPE.