Field Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

What is CPE?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a structured clinical experience designed to enhance and develop counseling skills as well as build student competency in pastoral care ministry. While most accredited centers are in hospitals, there are CPE programs in hospice and long-term care facilities as well as in prisons.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete at least one unit of CPE during their degree programs. Some denominations require CPE as part of the ordination process. Furthermore, CPE is required for professional training for a career in chaplaincy.

Applying for CPE:

  • The application process goes through individual CPE Centers – not through Union.
  • The student should go to the ACPE webpage in order to locate potential CPE sites.
  • Each site will have its own application process. While the process may differ, the application forms are essentially the same. Read the instructions on each site carefully and follow their directions.


  • There are three types of reference – personal, professional and denominational.
  • Some students do not have a denomination or church affiliation. For students who do not, they can seek a reference from someone who can speak to their spiritual formation. It does not have to be a clergy person, it may be a professional, or personal acquaintance.


  • Union does not provide stipends for CPE.
  • In most cases CPE sites do not provide stipends, in fact, they charge a tuition fee, usually around $900. JTS is one of the rare exceptions – they do offer a modest stipend.
  • The student will have to ask each site individually if the site has tuition assistance.
  • The student should plan ahead when applying for Financial Aid in the spring to make sure that their summer expenses will be covered.

Academic Credit for CPE:

Current Students: Click Here to Request to Receive Academic Credit for Clinical Pastoral Education AND TO CHECK OUT PLACEMENT OPPORTUNITIES