Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounter with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.

The essential elements of CPE include:

  • The actual practice of ministry to persons
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice
  • Pastoral Supervision
  • A process conception of learning
  • A theoretical perspective on all elements of the program
  • A small group of peers in a common learning experience
  • A specific time period
  • An individual contract for learning consistent with the objectives of CPE
  • The CPE program must be conducted under the auspices of an ACPE certified supervisor (faculty) attached to an ACPE accredited CPE center.

Master of Divinity students may use a basic unit of clinical pastoral education (CPE) to meet one field education placement requirement. CPE units may ordinarily be taken during the academic year or during the summer. Students may also elect to receive academic course credit for CPE. All students participating in CPE for academic and/or field education credit should register with The Office of Field Education using the CPE Confirmation of Acceptance Form (PDF).

For Academic Credit

In all cases, if a student also desires academic credit (2 course credits) for an accredited clinical pastoral education unit, then he/she must register for CPE 100 during the Divinity School course registration period. The student should gain acceptance in the CPE program before registering for CPE 100. The student will be responsible for the Divinity School tuition costs related to the CPE unit’s two-course equivalency. The Divinity School tuition charge for these two course credits will be at the current Divinity School tuition rate at the time the academic credit is officially recorded on the student’s record. All CPE center fees and tuition charges will be paid by the student. The student is also responsible for having the CPE center mail directly to the Office of Field Education the original or certified copy of the supervisor’s final evaluation indicating the unit was successfully completed and a full unit of CPE credit extended. The Office of Field Education will then notify the Divinity School registry to this effect, and academic credit for two courses will be recorded.

The Divinity School will consider academic credit for CPE units completed in prior semesters. In these cases, the student will pay the current Divinity School tuition rate at the time the academic credit is officially recorded on the student’s record. Approval of the academic credit for a CPE unit from an ACPE, Inc. accredited agency will be determined by the Office of Field Education and the Academic Dean.

The timing for CPE should be decided in consultation with the Office of Field Education. When a student would best enroll in a basic unit of CPE will depend upon the student’s curriculum, personal circumstances, and judicatory requirements. It is not recommended for the first year of study because students need a year of basic foundational work in theology prior to CPE. Students seriously contemplating a career in pastoral counseling should take CPE earlier in their curriculum in order to engage vocational testing in an institutional setting. The personal discovery that often occurs in CPE can prove beneficial in shaping later curriculum choices while in Divinity School.

CPE is viewed as field education and is creditable as such. Ordinarily, students completing a field education credit through the Divinity School Office of Field Education may not be simultaneously enrolled in CPE. Students employed by churches and/or agencies that are not part of a formal field education placement may enroll in CPE, but are cautioned to give close attention to work load.

Not for Academic Credit

Field Education Requirement

Students seeking to fulfill the first or the second field education requirement through CPE must initially consult with the Office of Field Education. The student submits an application to a CPE program that is accredited by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. The student then arranges for an interview with the CPE staff, gains acceptance to the program, submits a “Clinical Pastoral Information Form” to the Office of Field Education, and then enrolls in the CPE program that is accredited by The ACPE, Inc. The student is responsible for paying the CPE center directly for all fees related to enrollment in and completion of the unit. The student is responsible for having the CPE center mail directly to the Office of Field Education the original or certified copy of the supervisor’s final evaluation indicating the unit was successfully completed and a full unit of CPE credit was extended. Upon this notification, the Office of Field Education will inform the Divinity School registry, so that field education credit will be recorded. Field education credit for a CPE unit is contingent upon the Office of Field Education staff’s approval of both the program and experience.

Conference/Judicatory Requirement

Many denominational conferences and judicatories require candidates for ordained ministry to complete a unit of clinical pastoral education in an accredited CPE center. To satisfy this requirement, a student may enroll in a CPE program of his/her choice that is accredited by The ACPE, Inc. The student is responsible for paying the CPE center directly for all fees related to enrollment in and completion of the unit. The student is also responsible for having the CPE center mail directly to the Office of Field Education the original or certified copy of the supervisor’s final evaluation indicating the unit was successfully completed and a full unit of CPE credit was extended. By the student’s request, the Office of Field Education will notify the student’s appropriate denominational/judicatory officials regarding successful completion of the required CPE unit.

Personal/Professional Growth

Students may enroll in a unit of clinical pastoral education for the sole purpose of personal growth and professional/pastoral skills development (no judicatory and/or field education credits are needed/requested). The student is responsible for paying the CPE center directly for all fees related to enrollment in and completion of the unit.

Parish-Based

The extended parish-based CPE program is open to students who are interested in:

  • Taking CPE but unable to work it into their schedule
  • Exploring their attitudes and theological assumptions about dying and death
  • Learning about the practice of ministry to persons at the end of life
  • Developing Advance Care Planning tools for the parish
  • Engaging in research looking at the implications and outcomes of a CPE program topically focused and based within the parish

The weekly schedule would be developed based upon student availability. Each week would involve 15-16 hours of CPE and pastoral care in the parish to include:

2—One-hour group verbatim sessions
1—One-and one-half hour group didactic
1—One-and one-half hour group
1—One-hour individual supervisory session (every other week)
10 Hours of pastoral care in the parish (Sunday worship services would count as pastoral care)

Written requirements due to the Duke CPE office include:

  1. Application
  2. A contract between the parish and the CPE program
  3. A learning serving covenant
  4. Six verbatims per semester
  5. Weekly process note
  6. Mid-unit evaluation at end of first semester
  7. Final evaluation at end of second semester
  8. One 5-10 page paper each semester, addressing an end-of-life issue

Additional requirements

  1. Four on-calls, in the hospital, per semester, not over a Saturday night
  2. The Field Ed office will pay travel expenses for three visits of the CPE supervisor to Duke Endowment eligible churches

Field Education Component

  • The student would need to apply to the Field Education office by March 1 each spring and be interviewed by the Field Education staff for placement the following fall. The Field Education office would then submit a list of candidates to the Duke CPE program for their consideration by March 15.
  • The Field Education office will recruit pastors serving churches within 30 miles of DDS to be the on-site pastoral supervisors of those students who are not serving churches as student pastors.
  • The student would be placed in a church setting where the pastor is one of our partners in this program OR as a Student Pastor, the student would use his or her congregation as the base from which to fulfill these requirements.
  • The student will receive one course credit in the fall and one course credit in the spring as is current policy related to one basic unit of CPE.
  • The parish-based CPE program will NOT count as the student’s required church-related placement for Field Education; however it may count as one of the two required Field Education units.
  • The student is responsible for all CPE tuition and fees.
  • In order to receive Field Education credit students must register for CPE with the FE office and turn in to the FE office a copy of their final evaluation from their CPE supervisor.
  • Written requirements due to the Field Education office (to be completed in conjunction with CPE written requirements):
    • CPE Field Ed application form (parish-based) due March 1
    • Confirmation of CPE Approval form (after acceptance)
    • A copy of the contract between the parish and the CPE program
    • Learning Serving Covenant (same as CPE form)
    • Mid-year evaluation (same as CPE form)
    • Final evaluation (in addition to a copy of the one from the CPE site)

Instructions for Participation in the Academic Year Parish-based CPE program:

  1. Apply directly to the Duke parish-based CPE program. To submit your application, follow the mailing instructions at the bottom of the application. Once you have applied to Duke CPE you will then need to apply for parish-based CPE through the Field Ed office and schedule an interview. Once you have interviewed with the Field Ed office, you will then be contacted by Duke CPE for a second interview.
  2. If you are accepted to the parish-based CPE program, you will need to complete the "Confirmation of Acceptance to CPE" form found on the Field Ed website. ou will also need to make plans to attend an orientation at Duke Hospital mid-to-late August.You will begin CPE in your parish setting the Sunday following the orientation.
  3. Within the first three weeks of your CPE unit, you will need to complete a Learning Servant Covenant with your parish supervisor and your CPE supervisor.You will need to turn in a copy of your LSC to your parish supervisor, your CPE supervisor, and the Field Ed office. You will also need to complete the Memorandum of Agreement for Parish-Based CPE Site Visits. Again, you will need to make three copies of this form to be given to your CPE supervisor, your parish supervisor and the Field Ed office.
  4. At the end of the fall semester you will need to complete a "Mid-Year Review" form with both of your supervisors. Again, you will need to give copies of your completed Mid-Year Review form to your parish supervisor, your CPE supervisor, and the Field Ed office.
  5. At the end of the CPE unit, you will need to complete two separate final evaluations. The first one will be completed with the CPE supervisor.The second final evaluation will be for the Field Ed office.