Program director

The Master of Science in Chaplaincy (M.S.Chap.) program is theological and clinically 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 student needs, including:

  • Provision of APC full board certification academic requirements.
  • Providing a professional degree that blends theological study with clinical experience.
  • Providing specialty training in spiritual care and/or chaplaincy.
  • Preparing students for employment as professional chaplains.

Graduates of the program receive excellent academic training enhanced by professional, clinical, and ministerial experience. The program's 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 2 units of clinical professional education (CPE) credits prior to graduation. As a premier teaching and research medical complex, Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) provides an excellent setting for experiencing 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 and are able to meet 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.) To increase diverse learning experiences, students are requested to complete a maximum of 2 CPE units at Loma Linda University Medical Center.  

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 members across many health-care professions are involved in the program. This diversity of specialists provides students a rich and balanced program of study.

All courses are taught from a Christian perspective. Students from more than 65 religions and 80 countries study here. A mutual and shared respect for various cultures and beliefs is emphasized on campus and in the classroom. Small class sizes allow for specified instruction and personal growth.

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

Program learning outcomes

The following address competencies in four chaplaincy areas. By the end of this program, the graduate should be able to:

  • Integrate theory and practice competencies into chaplaincy.
  • Exhibit professional identity and conduct as a chaplain.
  • Demonstrate professional practice skills.
  • Function effectively in organizational leadership.

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:

  • A four-year baccalaureate degree (or its equivalent) from an accredited institution
  • Grade point average of B (3.0) or better in the overall program and in the major field
  • A personal statement (~750 words) that specifies why the applicant is interested in this program, relevant background experiences, and how the program fits into personal and professional plans.
  • A writing sample (usually drawn from previous academic work) emailed directly to
  • Three letters of recommendation (two academic and one pastoral)
  • An interview 
  • One (1) unit of CPE highly preferred

Students must complete 108 quarter credits from the list below, with an overall grade point average of B (3.0) or better, with no grade lower than C, and no grade lower than a B- in a core course.

RELE 548Christian Social Ethics3
RELE 567World Religions and Bioethics3
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 Health 13
RELR 565Practical 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
Faith and Flourishing
Bioethical Issues in Social Work
Bioethics and Society
Ethics for Scientists
Ethical Issues in Health-Care Management
Bioethics Case Conference I
Bioethics Case Conference II
Ethics and Health Disparities
Aesthetics and Ethics
Bioethics and the Law
Theological Ethics
Philosophical Ethics
Health Care and the Dynamics of Christian Leadership
Spirituality and Everyday Life
Whole Person Care
Personal and Family Wholeness
Religion and Society
Religion and Society
Religion and Society
Daniel and the Prophetic Tradition
Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs
Faith and Flourishing
The Bible and Ecology
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
Seminar in Philosophy of Religion
Seminar in Religion and the Sciences
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

Fulfills service learning requirement

Clinical internship

Students must also satisfactorily complete two (2) units of clinical pastoral education (CPE) at an accredited CPE Center—400 clinical hours consists of one (1) unit (1 unit consists of 10 weeks for an intensive unit or 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) of the 48 internship units from one of the two CPEs can be counted toward both graduation and the APC board certification.


When students have completed the majority of their coursework 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 quarters of their first and second years.

Dean’s Exit Interview

Graduate candidates are required to attend exit interviews with the Dean of the School of Religion during the Spring quarter of their graduation year.

Normal time to complete the program

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