Chaplaincy — M.S.Chap.

Program director
Angela Li

The program leading to the Master of Science in Chaplaincy degree (M.S.Chap.) prepares the student to enter the pastoral field as a professional chaplain through demonstrating competence in four core areas:

  1. Theory of pastoral care competencies (integration of theological, psychological, and sociological perspectives into the practice).
  2. Identity and conduct competencies (formation of pastoral identity within the clinical context, including integration of professional ethics in daily practice).
  3. Pastoral competencies (provision of effective pastoral care using appropriate pastoral, spiritual, and theological resources).
  4. Professional competencies (integration of pastoral/spiritual care into the life and service of the institution in which it resides, while establishing and maintaining professionalism within the interdisciplinary relationships).

This degree offers academic and clinical training to aspiring scholars and practitioners. It is designed to educate students according to the standards for associate certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). Professional certification is granted by APC and other such agencies. Students interested in board certification with APC may require additional academic credits to qualify and are encouraged to pursue the doctoral degree in religion and health offered by the School of Religion.

NOTE: The APC certifies chaplains from diverse religious traditions. Eligibility for chaplaincy certification from APC or other certification agencies generally requires an endorsement from the student’s own religious tradition. Current or future endorsement, commissioning, ordination, or comparable professional standing to function in a ministry of pastoral care is granted through membership of an appropriate religious authority and according to the standard practice and policy of that authority.  Students are strongly advised to contact their own religious denomination to determine requirements.

Loma Linda University Medical Center, under the auspices of the Department of Chaplain Services, is a Clinical Pastoral Education Center that is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE). Settings providing clinical opportunities for training in chaplaincy include: Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC), Loma Linda University Medical Center–Murrieta, and Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center.

Program objectives

Upon completion of the M.S. in Chaplaincy Program, students will demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the following learning outcomes:

  1. Theory of pastoral care: Articulate the theory of pastoral care and emphasize the ministry of presence.
  2. Awareness: Demonstrate an awareness of the values and assumptions that impact interpersonal relationships.
  3. Conduct/Boundaries: Set respectful boundaries in professional relationships.
  4. Clinical skills: Demonstrate clinical skills related to the field of chaplaincy.

Transfer credits

Students are permitted to transfer up to 14 units of approved graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions into the M.S. in Chaplaincy Program.


The faculty represents a balance between academic expertise and clinical experience in the field of pastoral care and chaplaincy; as well as a variety of disciplines, including: biblical studies, theology, marriage and family therapy, cultural psychology, health education, nursing, spirituality, and ethics.

In addition to Loma Linda University and School of Religion admissions requirements, the applicants to the M.S. in Chaplaincy Program are expected to:

  1. Provide an undergraduate record from a regionally accredited institution with a grade point average of B (3.00) or better in the overall program and in the major field.
  2. Submit a personal essay and a scholarly writing example. More details will be provided once application has been submitted.
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation (two academic and one pastoral).
  4. Interview with faculty members in relational studies area. 


Students entering without an undergraduate degree in theology/religion must take an additional five graduate-level theological courses.  Students in this category, who are seeking Adventist Chaplaincy Ministry (ACM) endorsement, must select courses from the School of Religion Denominational Certificate Program.

Course Requirements

In order to receive the Master of Science in Chaplaincy degree from Loma Linda University, the student will complete a minimum of 72 units of coursework as herein specified, with an overall grade point average of B or better, with no grade lower than a C and with no grade lower than a B- in a core course.\

RELG 504Research Methods in Religious Studies4
RELG 696Project4
RELR 520Clinical Training in Spiritual Care I3
RELR 521Clinical Training in Spiritual Care II3
RELR 525Health Care and the Dynamics of Christian Leadership3
RELR 526Pastoral and Professional Formation3
RELR 527Crisis Care and Counseling3
RELR 540Wholeness and Health3
RELR 565Pastoral Theology and Methodology3
RELR 567Pastoral Counseling4
RELR 568Care of the Dying and Bereaved3
RELR 574Preaching3
RELR 584Culture, Psychology, and Religion3
RELR 587Religion and the Social Sciences3
RELT 508Contemporary Christian Theology3
RELT 520Church History3
RELT 557Theology of Human Suffering3
Biblical Studies:
Choose from the following:6-9
Biblical Ethics
Biblical Hermeneutics
Daniel and the Prophetic Tradition
The Bible and Ecology
Old Testament Thought
New Testament Thought
Jesus the Revealer: The Message of the Gospel of John
Vision of Healing: The Message of the Book of Revelation
Choose from the following:3-6
Bioethics and Society
Ethics and Health Disparities
World Religions and Bioethics
Theological Ethics
Personal and Spiritual Formation:
Choose from the following:3-6
Spirituality and Mental Health
Personal and Family Wholeness
World Religions and Human Health
The Adventist Experience
Students are required to register for 800 hours of clinical internship. Internship units do not count toward minimum didactic units required for the degree.
Register for either of the following courses (or a combination of both) for a total of 24 units while taking the required 800 hours of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Whether you take the course for non-credit (RELG 795) or credit (RELR 524), neither counts toward the 72 units required for the degree:
Clinical Internship (12 units = 400 hours)
Clinical Pastoral Education (6-12 units (This course may account for a maximum of 6 academic units. These academic units do not count toward the 72 units required for the degree. 6 academic units = 400 hours).)
Total Units72

Noncourse requirements

Clinical internship

Students must also satisfactorily complete an approved, 800-hour clinical internship. The program recommends that this requirement be met by the satisfactory completion of two quarters of clinical pastoral education (CPE) at an accredited CPE center.

Note: Acceptance into the CPE program is at the discretion of the CPE supervisor and must be arranged individually and in advance. Students are encouraged to apply at Loma Linda University's CPE Center as well as other centers that are accredited by ACPE. It is recommended that students take the following course work prior to enrolling in a CPE:

RELR 568 Care of the Dying and Bereaved (3)

RELR 527 Crisis Care and Counseling (3)

Students who wish to receive academic credits for their clinical internship may register for RELR 524 Clinical Pastoral Education. If taken as an elective, this course may account for a maximum of 6 academic units.

Critical Essay

At the end of their first year, students will write one critical essay dealing with the five program learning outcomes.

Case Presentation 

Students are required to present a case to faculty members in the relational area prior to graduation. The case should follow the stated format and highlight clinical skills in chaplaincy, taking into consideration assessment, interventions, theories, spirituality, and pastoral formation.

Dean’s Exit Interview

Graduate candidates are required to attend an exit interview with the Dean of the School of Religion during the spring quarter of their graduation year.

Normal time to complete the program

2 years (8 consecutive academic quarters)—based on full-time enrollment; part time enrollment is permitted.