Chaplaincy — M.S.Chap.

Program director
Angela Li

The Master of Science in Chaplaincy (M.S.Chap.) program is theological and clinical based chaplaincy education at Loma Linda University. It has been developed using guidelines established by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), which oversees and rigorously maintains “best practice” standards for the chaplaincy profession. It is designed to meet a variety of students’ needs:

  • Meets the APC full board certification academic requirement
  • Professional degree that blends theological study with clinical experience
  • Specialty training in spiritual care and/or chaplaincy
  • Preparation for employment as a professional chaplain

Graduates of the program will receive excellent academic training enhanced by professional, clinical, and ministerial experience. Our goal is to prepare chaplains who can model the "teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ"; and who are trained at the highest level of Christian professionalism, in preparation for full board certification by the APC.

Students are required to complete 4 units of clinical professional education (CPE) credits prior to graduation. As a premier teaching and research medical complex, Loma Linda University Health is an excellent setting for the clinical aspects of this program and is an accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Center. (Students are not required to complete their clinical internships at LLU but are able to complete this requirement at any ACPE-approved site in North America. Visit the ACPE approved centers web page here to view a list of available sites. Separate application, fees, and acceptance procedures are required for this component of the program.)

The professors represent areas of expertise, such as biblical studies, theology, practical theology, marriage and family therapy, cultural psychology, American church history, health education, nursing, spiritual care, and ethics. In addition, clinical faculty from across many health-care professions are involved in the program. This diversity of specialists provides students with a rich and balanced program of study.

All courses are taught from the Christian perspective at Loma Linda University. Students from more than sixty-five religions and eighty countries study here. A mutual and shared respect for various cultures and beliefs is emphasized on the campus and in the classroom. Small class sizes allow for specified instruction and personal growth.

The program draws upon resources from across the entire Loma Linda University campus. These include the Chaplain Services of LLUH and the Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness, both of which provide a rich context in which to study chaplaincy. The Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness is dedicated to promoting and supporting wholeness in individuals, as well as providing tools for health-care professionals across various disciplines to use in providing whole person care to their patients. The center sponsors a number of programs, along with the Center for Christian Bioethics, to minister to the spiritual and intellectual needs of students, staff, and patients.

Program learning outcomes

The program prepares students to meet competencies in four areas of chaplaincy:

  • The students will integrate theory and practice competencies.
  • The students will form professional identity and conduct competencies.
  • The students will conduct themselves in professional practice skills competencies.
  • The students will function effectively with organizational leadership competencies.

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.

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

  • Provide an undergraduate record from a regionally accredited institution with a grade point average of B (3.0) or better in the overall program and in the major field.
  • Critical essay
  • Three letters of recommendation (two academic and one pastoral).
  • Interview (faculty members in relational studies and a representative from the LLUMC CPE program)
  • One (1) units of CPE highly preferred
  • Personal Potential Index (PPI) Evaluation administered through Educational Testing Services (ETS); log on to for instructions

Students must complete 108 quarter credits from the list below, with an overall grade point average of B or better, with no grade lower than C, and no grade lower than a B- in a core course.

RELE 524Bioethics and Society3
RELE 548Christian Social Ethics3
RELE 589Biblical Ethics3
RELG 504Research Methods in Religious Studies4
RELR 520Clinical Training in Spiritual Care I4
RELR 521Clinical Training in Spiritual Care II4
RELR 526Pastoral and Professional Formation4
RELR 527Crisis Care and Counseling3
RELR 535Spirituality and Mental Health3
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 500Biblical Hermeneutics3
RELT 508Contemporary Christian Theology3
RELT 520Church History3
RELT 557Theology of Human Suffering3
RELT 558Old Testament Thought3
RELT 559New Testament Thought3
Choose from the following or other courses as approved by advisor:21
Ethics and Health Disparities
Theological Ethics
Personal and Family Wholeness
Daniel and the Prophetic Tradition
World Religions and Human Health
The Adventist Experience
Jesus the Revealer: The Message of the Gospel of John
Vision of Healing: The Message of the Book of Revelation
RELG 696Project4
Internship (12 units of RELG 795, listed below, count toward the 108 units required for ACP board certification)12
Total Units108
Internship units do not count toward minimum didactic units required for the degree.
RELG 795Clinical Internship (12 units = 400 hours)48
Total Units48

Clinical internship

Students must also satisfactorily complete four (4) units of clinical pastoral education (CPE) at an accredited CPE Center—400 clinical hours (10 weeks for an intensive unit and 16 weeks for an extended unit.  Each registration of RELG 795 Clinical Internship earns one (1) unit of CPE required by the APC board for certification.  Twelve (12) professional credits hours from one of the four CPEs can be counted towards both graduation and the APC board certification.


When students have completed the majority of their course work and at least some clinical work, they must also be able to articulate, in written form, all chaplaincy competencies, as defined by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). This will be based on their theoretical understanding, reflection, and personal experiences.

Noncourse requirements

Annual Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on their academic and clinical competencies at the end of Spring quarter of their 1st and 2nd year.

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

3 years (11 consecutive academic quarters)—based on full-time enrollment; part time enrollment is permitted.