Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

At the center of the Shaw Chaplaincy Institute for Spiritual Care and Compassionate Leadership is our renowned Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. The Shaw Chaplaincy Institute is the only Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)-accredited center offering a full CPE program on a seminary campus. We are fully accredited to offer Level I, Level II, and Supervisory CPE programs. San Francisco Theological Seminary first blazed a trail when Rev. John F. Shaw (M.Div. ’54) and Mrs. Julia Shaw endowed the first CPE chair embedded in the curriculum of a seminary.

This program is offered for pastors, religious professionals, theology students, and qualified laypersons who seek further development of their pastoral skills. Students learn how to integrate knowledge from theological, psychological, and social science disciplines into the practice of pastoral ministry. SFTS offers a Supervisory Education Fellowship to one student preparing to become a certified ACPE supervisor.

The Shaw Chaplaincy Institute is unique in that it provides students with the flexibility of choosing a community-based learning center, as opposed to learning and training in a hospital or military program. Affiliate learning sites include a variety of venues such as congregational and parish-based settings; state, police, and firefighting agencies; prisons; and addiction recovery facilities.

During CPE training, students receive close supervision while involved with persons seeking spiritual and/or religious care. Out of intense involvement with persons in various levels of crisis and need, and with feedback from peers and teachers, CPE students develop a new awareness of themselves and the needs of those they serve.

Program Structure

  • Three sessions of CPE coincide with the SFTS academic calendar
  • 13–17 weeks of class
  • 11 hours of structured education each week
  • 22–30 hours of direct spiritual care each week