Clinical Pastoral Education Program

Grady Clinical Pastoral Education

About the Clinical Pastoral Education Program

Grady’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program focuses on educating and developing the personal and professional competencies of ordained clergy, seminarians, members of professional orders, and qualified lay-persons in the community. Our students come from diverse denominations, faiths, cultures, and backgrounds. Grady’s Spiritual Care and Education Center authorizes CPE residents, interns, and Supervisory Education Students to provide pastoral care at four satellite programs and several affiliated educational clinical placement sites.

A unique Clinical Pastoral Education program

The uniqueness of this program can be seen in its diversity of the people served. Grady’s Spiritual Care and Education Center touches the lives of people from all walks of life, in and around the Southeast, and globally. Five (5) residents and twelve to eighteen (12-18) interns at any given time are engaged to provide pastoral care to patients, family members, and Grady staff. The programs include both full-time and part-time students.

The GCSCE contributes to the holistic approach to caring and healing which is central to Grady’s mission. By offering a ministry of visitation, support public worship, and pastoral spiritual education, GCSCE contributes to the overall healing environment. GCSCE offers ministry without reference to race, color, national origin, gender, age, physical disability, sexual orientation, or faith group.  Cross-cultural learning is encouraged in a multi-cultural inner-city environment.

The Clinical Pastoral Education program is intimately connected to this mission with a commitment to offer relevant, effective, Clinical Pastoral Education through the use of a student-centered, action-reflective, process model of learning. It is committed to providing an environment for learning that emphasizes human growth in pastoral formation, pastoral reflection, and pastoral competence. The learning environment at GCSCE is relational, fostering mutual respect, openness, challenge, conflict, constructive confrontation, and dignity.

Regular reflection in group and individual supervision/consultation on actual ministry experiences enables CPE students in learning the art and practice of pastoral/ spiritual care.

Among a number of options, students may use this educational experience as:

  • part of basic theological education
  • continuing education for ministry
  • education for institutional/professional chaplaincy
  • education for certification as an Educator of Clinical Pastoral Education
  • education for other specialized ministries
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Clinical Pastoral Education Programs

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Level I

Addresses basic competencies and issues of pastoral reflection, pastoral formation, pastoral identity, and functioning in one or more units of CPE. A CPE student must meet Level I CPE outcomes, as documented in the supervisor’s evaluation, as a prerequisite for acceptance in Level II CPE.

Level II

Addresses advanced competencies, develops specialized pastoral/spiritual training, and continues their awareness of issues of pastoral functioning, reflection, and integration. The goal is to accumulate four units of CPE, including CPE Level I units completed in one or more authorized ACPE Centers.

Extended Part-time CPE Program

Successful completion of a sixteen to 18-week unit for one credit unit of Clinical Pastoral Education Level I meets standards of Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. Students must satisfy the following requirements for course credit:

  • 4–6 hours of group work one morning per week
  • 1 hour of individual supervision/consultation weekly
  • 10–17 hours of clinical experience weekly
  • On-call experience as assigned

Completion of ACPE accredited CPE units are applicable towards eligibility for certification through the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). CPE extended units are offered twice a year in January–May and in August–December.

Program Dates:

  • 2022 Fall Unit: September 12, 2022 through December 12, 2022
  • 2023 Spring Unit: January 17, 2023 through May 13, 2023
  • 2023 Fall Unit: September 11, 2023 through December 15, 2023
Summer Intensive CPE Program

Successful completion of 10–14 full-time weeks of CPE Level I training for one credit unit of Clinical Pastoral Education meets the standards of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. Students must satisfy the following requirements for course credit:

  • Six hours of group work 2–3 mornings per week
  • 1 hour of individual supervision weekly
  • 40+ hours of clinical experience weekly
  • On-call experience as assigned

Completion of ACPE accredited programs are applicable towards eligibility for certification through the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education ACPE and the Association of Professional Chaplains APC. CPE summer intensive units are offered from May-August every year.

Note: Applications for the extended or intensive unit should be submitted a minimum of 90 days prior to the start of the unit for the best opportunity to participate in CPE learning at Grady.

Program Dates:

  • 2022 Summer Unit: May 31, 2022 through August 13, 2022
  • 2023 Summer Unit: May 30, 2023 through August 12, 2023
Residency CPE Program

Successful completion of 52 full-time weeks of CPE Level I/II training for three credit units of Clinical Pastoral Education meets standards of Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. Students must satisfy the following requirements for course credit:

  • Six hours of group work 2–3 mornings per week
  • 1 hour of individual supervision weekly
  • 40 hours of clinical experience weekly
  • On-call experience at the site assigned (if applicable)

With the prerequisite of one initial unit, the completion of the residency program will give a CPE resident three additional units of CPE. Four units of CPE is part of the requirement for a person to qualify for board certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). (For board certification requirements, see

Applications for residency experience at Grady should be submitted by February of the start of the residency year.

Program Dates:

  • Begins August 29, 2022 and Ends August 31, 2023
  • Begins August 28, 2023 and Ends August 31, 2024
Certified Education Student Program

Grady is not accepting Certified Education Student Program applications at this time.

The CPE program at GCSCE occasionally has openings for Certified Education Students. CES applicants need to have met (or be able to meet within a reasonable time frame) the following prerequisites:

  • Ordination/religious certification by an ecclesiastical body
  • Denominational/faith group endorsement to train in the program
  • Graduation from an accredited seminary, rabbinic or divinity school, and conferment of an M.Div. degree or M.Div. equivalency as confirmed by an ACPE certification committee
  • Successful completion of Level I CPE and distinguished progress addressing Level II outcomes, usually at least 4 units of Level II CPE
  • Successful pastoral experience as a professional minister after completion of the initial theological degree, usually not less than three years. It is preferred that one’s pastoral experience be in both an institutional and congregational context

For additional information and requirements please see the Center’s current Admissions Policy. To inquire about current or future CES openings please contact the CPE office at [email protected].

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Educational Site

Grady Health System is one of Georgia’s most important medical resources. Grady is a Level 1 Trauma Center. Licensed for 953 beds, it is the largest hospital in the state and one of the best-known hospitals for training medical residents and nurses for trauma response in the nation. Situated in downtown Atlanta, Grady offers a broad range of specialized services including our Women’s Center, Burn Center, Rape Crisis Center, Sickle Cell Center, and Emergency Care Center. Grady was founded in 1892 and it has become a harbor of care for the poor and marginalized for much of the state of Georgia. Many of the patients who come to Grady are uninsured or underinsured and have difficulties getting the healthcare they need.

Address: 80 Jesse Hill Jr Dr. SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Contact: Rev. Cora Saunders, J.D., M.Div., ACPE C. Ed., Director of Chaplaincy Department, ACPE Supervisor at [email protected] or (404) 616-4270 

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Rev. Cora Saunders, J.D., M.Div., ACPE C. Ed.
ACPE Supervisor
Director of Chaplaincy Department
Grady Health System
[email protected]

Rev. William Blake Traynham, M.Div., ACPE CEC
ACPE Certified Educator Candidate
Surgical Intensive Care Staff Chaplain
Grady Health System
[email protected]

Rev. Myisha Phillips-Stapleton, M.Div.
ACPE Certified Educator Aspirant
Neonatal Intensive Care Chaplain
[email protected] 

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Application, Admission, and Interview Process

Grady’s Center of Spiritual Care and Education accepts student applications throughout the year. Click HERE to review the application form.


Grady’s Spiritual Care and Education Center, ACPE/CPE program, has specific admission criteria and protocols in compliance with current ACPE Standards and stipulations in the 2020 ACPE Accreditation Manual. All complete applications will be reviewed by Grady staff to evaluate the applicant’s qualifications. Only qualified applicants will be invited to complete an admissions interview as part of the application process.

Grady does not discriminate against any qualified individual in an admissions decision for reasons of race, color, national origin, gender, age, physical disability, sexual orientation, or faith group.

Application Deadlines

The Center receives applications at any time. The Center will review an application either within 30 days of file completion or 30 days after the Center’s scheduled review date, usually two to three months before an internship begins and six months before a residency begins.

When ACPE units are advertised with start and end dates, the application deadline is three months before the residency begins and 45 days before an internship unit begins.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications as early as possible and not wait for deadlines because the process is competitive and space is limited.

It remains the Center’s right to waive a program deadline if admittance of a qualified student is necessary to satisfy the peer group standard or if there is a need to diversify a CPE education group. Admission decisions are made within 30 days after a complete application is received and after admissions screening interviews have been scheduled and completed. Submission of an application does not guarantee an interview, and no reason will be given in case of the decline of an interview or admission to the program.

Application Decline

Once a decision has been made not to accept an applicant, application materials will be disposed of 30 days after the decline letter has been mailed in a manner that protects the confidentiality, or declined applicants may request in writing for their application materials to be mailed back to them. The applicants need to understand that neither the submission of an application nor any subsequent invitation for an interview by a representative of GCSCE constitutes an offer of enrollment in any of the Grady Clinical Pastoral Education Programs. If an applicant in a Pastoral Education Program is denied, GCSCE is not obligated to provide the declined applicant with a reason for its denial. In the event of a student dropping out of the program, the search for a replacement may involve using a list of a pool of applicants who applied, were not accepted yet agreed to keep their file active, and be on a waiting list. If no active list is on file, the ACPE center will seek interested and qualified persons.

Application Acceptance

Grady’s Director of Clinical Pastoral Education Program signs all letters of admission. Acceptance letters will be sent out within 30 days after the applicant’s last admission interview.

The accepted student signs all required documents (training agreement, confirmation of policies and procedures, consent forms, Student Information update sheet, CPE education contract, tuition payment plan) during the Center Orientation. No student may begin orientation and CPE education at any of the programs/sites without completing these required documents.

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Tuition and Fees

Every applicant must pay an upfront, non-refundable Application Fee of $50. This fee covers the review of the application and a possible interview. See the application form for the current Application Fee rates.

The tuition fee for an extended or intensive single unit of CPE is $300. The tuition fee for a residency year is $600.

A $100 deposit is due within 10 days of acceptance into the program. The remainder of the tuition is due the day of orientation or may be paid in two installments orientation day and half way through the unit (sixth or eighth week).

If your school is responsible for your tuition payment, we will submit an invoice for payment.

Grady accepts money orders and online credit/debit card payments for application fees or tuition. In the event that you are paying by money order, please make payable to: Grady CPE (in the “memo” line please note “Chaplaincy Admin.”). In the event that you are paying by credit/debit card, those payments can only be made online.

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Contact Us

The best way to reach us for general or specific admissions questions is to e-mail the CPE administrator at [email protected].

To reach us by phone, call 404-616-4270; for mail, send letters to us at 80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE, Atlanta GA 30303. All info below.

Rev. Cora Saunders, J.D., M.Div., ACPE C. Ed.
Director of Chaplaincy Services and GCSCE

Grady’s Center for Spiritual Care and Education
Grady Health System
80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Box 26006
Atlanta, GA 30303

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Clinical Pastoral Education Program Materials


Student Materials

Links to related institutional sites

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

Clinical Pastoral Education is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, and others) into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop a new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.

What do the essential elements of CPE include?
  • The actual practice of ministry to persons
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice
  • Pastoral Supervision
  • A process conception of learning
  • A theoretical perspective on all elements of the program
  • A small group of peers in a common learning experience
  • A specific time period
  • An individual contract for learning consistent with the objectives of CPE
  • The CPE program must be conducted under the auspices of an ACPE certified Educator (faculty) attached to an ACPE accredited CPE center.
What kind of things might be included in the Individual Learning Contract?
  • Pastoral Reflection – reflection on one’s self as a person and pastor in relationship to persons in crisis, the Educator, and peer group members, as well as the curriculum and institutional setting.
  • Pastoral Formation – focus on personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry.
  • Pastoral Competence – deepening and unfolding of competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills, and knowledge of theology and the behavioral sciences.

Some centers also offer Pastoral Specialization, focusing on the student’s desire to become competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of ministry, e.g. oncology, urban ministry, parish ministry, hospice ministry, etc.

What are the different types of CPE?

ACPE offers Level I and Level II CPE, as well as the Certified Education program, in sequence. The outcomes for each level must be completed before moving to the next level. CPE is usually offered in single units (10-12 weeks) or in a year-long program (3-4 consecutive units). Some centers have other part-time options. The center of your choice can explain the options available at their location.

What does CPE prepare a person to do?
  • CPE serves as a part of one’s preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching, and counseling. A student’s learning contract may be focused toward integration of theological, psychological, and pastoral insights into pastoral functioning for parish work. Or the contract may be designed with a career goal of chaplaincy or pastoral counseling.
  • Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Certified Education CPE working toward certification as a CPE Educator. In Certified Education CPE, the student learns the theory and practice of pastoral education and has an experience of educating CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of a CPE Certified Educator.
  • CPE develops the capacity for the pastoral and spiritual care of individuals, families, and systems.
  • Many theological schools require one unit of CPE as a part of a theological degree program.
  • Other schools accept a year of CPE as the required intern year of ministry for a theological degree program.
  • A number of theological schools, which are members of ACPE, have graduate degree programs that combine academic study and CPE Certified Education.
I want to be a chaplain or a pastoral counselor. Do I need CPE?

The Association of Professional Chaplains (, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (, and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (, and other organizations certify chaplains. The American Association of Pastoral Counselors ( trains and certifies pastoral counselors. Some CPE is required as a pre-requisite. You should contact these organizations directly about their requirements.

What are some Vocations in Pastoral Care?
Areas of Service Training Recommended or Required Contact
Pastoral Care Pastor, Church Staff, Social Services Clinical Pastoral Education(minimum of one unit) Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE) or CAPPE
Professional Chaplaincy Hospital, hospice, military, or other institutional chaplaincies Clinical Pastoral Education(4 units required for Board certification) ACPE for training and Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) or NACC or NAJC for certification
Pastoral Educator (CPE Supervisor) Supervisor of CPE programs in a variety of settings CPE (Level I, Level II and Certified Educator Training)

Successful completion of the certification process

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE)
Pastoral Counselor Counselor on church staff, counseling center, or agency CPE (at least 1 unit) PLUS pastoral counseling training program ACPE for introductory unit and American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) For pastoral counseling training
Licensed Professional Counselor Varies from state to state, can often be done in conjunction with pastoral counseling training AAPC or state credentialing agency
Who is eligible to enroll in CPE?

For Units of CPE: An individual who, through a written application and an admissions interview, has demonstrated the ability to participate in CPE, usually one who has successfully completed at least one year of theological schooling. And such other requirements or education and experience as a specific CPE center may require.

For Certified Education CPE programs An individual who has successfully completed several units of CPE and has demonstrated a readiness to utilize Certified Education CPE, usually one who has a theological degree and several years of pastoral experience.

Do I have to be ordained to do CPE?

Specific requirements regarding ordination as a prerequisite are determined by each CPE center.

Where can one enroll in CPE?

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education has accredited more than 350 clinical pastoral education centers and clusters throughout the United States. These CPE centers are located in health care institutions, hospitals of all kinds (e.g., general, university, children’s, psychiatric, military, VA), geriatric centers, hospices, parishes, mental health facilities, correctional institutions, and a variety of other settings. Click here for our online directory.

How may I enroll in CPE?
  • Click here to access the CPE Application form as a Microsoft Word document: CPE Application Form or apply online to Grady’s program
  • Complete the CPE application and send it directly to the center where you wish to enroll.
  • The center will then contact you for an interview
Can I apply to more than one ACPE center?

Yes, you may apply to as many centers as you chose. Many centers have an application fee. The ACPE online Directory will provide this information.

What are the dates for CPE and deadlines for application?

Each individual center establishes its own dates for their programs and application deadlines. Contact the center for this information.

What does CPE cost and are scholarships available?

Tuition is determined by each CPE center. Some centers have scholarship programs. There is not a scholarship program at the national level. Questions should be directed to the specific ACPE center.

I am an international student. How do I enroll in CPE?

International students should apply to the center of their choice. Once accepted, the student should contact the ACPE national office (email: [email protected]) to apply for a visa. The visa process can take from six to nine months to complete. The visa must be obtained before you can begin CPE. Additional considerations are discussed on the International Student Information page.

Can I get academic credit for CPE?

Many theological schools and seminaries grant academic credit for CPE. You should contact them directly for this information.

Can I get CPE credit for previous work/ministry experience?

No, ACPE credit is not granted for previous work experience. However, your previous work/ministry experience will be considered during the interview/acceptance process.

Can I do CPE online or through some other distance learning process?

ACPE and GCSCE currently do not offer any distance learning programs.

I have a complaint about an ACPE center or an ACPE Certified Educator. What should I do?

ACPE encourages complaints be resolved at the local center level. Mediation is often an option. If the complaint does not get resolved at this level, a formal complaint can then be filed with the ACPE Regional Director in which the center or Certified Educator resides.

How can I become a member of ACPE?

There is a Student Affiliate level of membership with ACPE. Membership with ACPE allows you the opportunity to participate in the National and Regional conferences, a subscription to The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, and the ACPE News, our quarterly newsletter. For an ACPE membership form, click here: ACPE Membership Application

Additional Information for Prospective Students

CPE is an experience in process education that has been shaped by history and yet remains responsive to the present-day cultural developments which will affect your pastoral formation. The heart of CPE is your ministry with people and learning from that ministry through reflection, discussion, and evaluation with other students and your Educator. In your CPE experience, you will utilize verbatims (in the form of Pastoral Care Reports), case studies, and other ministry descriptions to present your ministerial practice to your Educator. The focus in some seminars will be on what is happening to you, the caregiver, as much as on what is happening to the people receiving your ministry. There will be discussions that assist you in understanding theological issues arising from experience. There will be opportunities to learn from behavioral sciences while also reflecting theologically, so you can draw from both in understanding the human condition. You will be challenged to think about groups and social structures as well as individuals in defining your ministry. You also will be part of a dynamic learning group with other students and your Educator, which will provide opportunities for mutual learning, caregiving, challenges, and appreciation.

Where will I be ministering?

CPE is offered in many different kinds of settings. In many settings, such as general hospitals, mental health facilities, correctional institutions, children’s hospitals, and nursing homes, you will minister to individuals, families, and small groups of people as a chaplain. CPE may, however, be done in any setting where ministry happens. There are a growing number of centers with innovative approaches to ministry. Many centers are being established as Congregational or Community-based models connected with a local church or churches. You may want to clarify with a center the types of ministries which occur there.

What is a Typical Day in CPE?

CPE units may be either full-time or part-time. Either schedule will include an equivalent number of ministry and education hours. Some extended CPE units meet one day per week for structured educational sessions, and ministry is performed at other times. However, a more common day is one in which time is provided for ministry and several educational events. Since the heart of CPE is ministering and learning from the experience, a day’s schedule frequently includes a clinical seminar in which a student presents a pastoral encounter to other students and the Educator for discussion and feedback. Other typical sessions are: didactic seminars in which discussion follows a lecture; discussion of a book or article; exploration of theological concerns; peer group meetings or interpersonal group sessions for mutual sharing, caring, support, and relationship concerns are explored; and worship or sharing occasions which provide an opportunity for spiritual nurture. Field trips, workshops, and clinical observations may be periodically included. Evaluation experiences with the other students and your Educator are also part of a CPE program and may be scheduled at the end of a unit, to sum up the experience, midway to assess your learning objectives, and, at other times, such as with the other care providers in your ministry area. You will discover that a CPE schedule asks for active investment and provides time for sharing, reflection, preparation, and relaxation.

What is the CPE Learning Environment?

If you have never participated in a dynamic, interpersonal, process educational experience, you may be concerned about what it will be like. A foundational task will be for the other students, your supervisor, and you to share in such a way that all are cared for, supported, and challenged without being belittled. Furthermore, since an individual best knows his or her own limits, everyone will need to respect others’ boundaries and work to negotiate appropriate learning relationships. Developing a learning environment that is supportive, stimulating, and safe will make the risks of interpersonal learning and growth work taking.

Need more information about CPE?

Any CPE Educator, regional director, or ACPE seminary liaison professor is available for consultation concerning opportunities for students in CPE.

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.
55 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Suite 835
Atlanta, GA 30308
Phone: (404) 320-1472
Fax: (404) 320-0849
Email: [email protected]

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