Clinical pastoral education options


Students who complete CPE successfully at VCU receive both academic credit and CPE credit. Thus, applicants must submit both an  and an application to the Graduate School at VCU (VCU Graduate School Application). All applications for VCU and the Department of Patient Counseling are required.  The Department of Patient Counseling offers two degree programs:  the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Patient Counseling and the Master of Science degree in Patient Counseling.  Students should apply for the desired program according to the following criteria:

  • Certificate in Patient Counseling (Post Baccalaureate Graduate Certificate)

Students interested in a Level I Unit of ACPE Clinical Pastoral Education (formerly Introductory CPE) should apply for the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Patient Counseling Program.

  • Master of Science in Patient Counseling

Students with one or more completed units of ACPE Clinical Pastoral Education may apply for the Master of Science degree program in Patient Counseling.  Students will complete three or four units of CPE depending on admission to one of three educational tracks.  Students interested in supervisory education will complete nine (9) units of supervisory education CPE.


  • Clinical Pastoral Education Residency

Clinical Pastoral Education residency positions are available in cooperation with the VCU Health System. CPE residents are considered both students and employees. As such, they are expected to enroll as VCU students in the Master of Science degree program. As students, residents need to pay VCU tuition. As VCUHS employees, CPE residents receive a stipend, health benefits, and paid time off PTO. The amount of the stipend will be stipulated in the letter of employment. VCU students are eligible to receive reduced GRTC bus passes. There is a monthly charge for parking for those who park in a VCU owned parking lot/deck. Information about parking and bus passes can be obtained from Parking and Transportation.

Application for residency follows the standard admission process outlined for  Master of Science degree to academic programs. In addition, required materials include: a statement of professional goals, evidence of clinical functioning in the form of two verbatims, all supervisors´ evaluations and student´s self-evaluations from previous ACPE CPE units. Residency is restricted to persons who have completed one unit of ACPE CPE and two years of formal theological education, or one unit of ACPE CPE, a graduate degree in a health related field, and evidence of previous theological education. An on-site interview is required for all resident candidates.

Students accepted into the residency program at VCU Health System are required to have a drug screening and may be required to complete, among other things, a criminal background check and/or health screening. VCUHS residents are required to work weekdays, evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. Any student enrolled in the program that has not been accepted as a resident is considered an intern. For more information about the residency program, contact Brenda Brown at 804-828-0540 or

  • Distance Education

Clinical Pastoral Education may be taken on the VCU Health System Campus or through Distance Learning at an approved site.  The VCU Department in Patient Counseling has implemented a modified distance education program. The program provides opportunities for students in distant locations to meet through videoconference with supervisors and other students at the VCU campus in Richmond and fulfill their clinical requirements at local clinical placement sites. Currently two distance education locations are participating in the academic components of the program. Each clinical placement site has been approved through an affiliation agreement with VCU. The two distance education sites are:

  • Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, VA where the clinical placement site is Johnston Memorial Hospital, Mountain States health Alliance.
  • New College Institute where the placement site is Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, Virginia.

Students applying to the program may be required to complete screening requirements at the assigned clinical placement site, which may include, among other things, a criminal background check, health, and drug screening.

In addition to weekday clinical requirements, students may also be required to provide pastoral care during evenings, nights and weekends.

Statement of Accreditation

Virginia Commonwealth University/VCU Health System is accredited to offer CPE (Levels I/II) and Supervisory CPE by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc., One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030, 404-320-1472.  ACPE URL: