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Clinical Pastoral Education for Better Care

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is interfaith professional education for ministry. It is highly experiential and relationally based.

Students come to CPE from a variety of religious and professional backgrounds to learn spiritual care skills for serving others. CPE utilizes a process model of education where direct ministry encounters aid students in developing awareness of themselves and the needs of those to whom they provide care. Programs are offered in small groups (typically three to six people) within a supervised setting that has been accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

If you would like to learn more about how to become a chaplain, visit ACPE's FAQ page.

CPE Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Andrea - Blessing of HandsNorthwestern Memorial Hospital is a leading academic medical center located in Chicago, Illinois, with a 900-bed tertiary care medical and Level 1 trauma center.

Serving a diverse patient population within a lively urban setting offers students a dynamic, challenging and formational learning environment. Northwestern Memorial Hospital attracts patients from throughout the region and around the world due to its leading-edge treatments, breakthrough research and commitment to excellence. 

Fostering a collaborative relationship between students and staff, the Spiritual Care Department aligns its values, professional practice and pedagogical approach with the mission of Northwestern Medicine.

View the Northwestern Medicine Spiritual Care Department’s mission, vision and attributes.

Program Offerings

We currently offer two part-time (extended) units, a full-time (intensive) unit in the summer, and a year-long residency. Please contact us with any questions about program availability.

Programs Begin Date End Date Tuition Status
Winter/Spring Extended (20 Weeks) January 16, 2023 June 4, 2023 $500 Accepting Applications after 9/6/2022
Summer Intensive (11 Weeks) June 5, 2023 August 18, 2023 $500 Accepting Applications after 11/1/2022
Year-Long Residency
(Three Units)
August 24, 2022
September 1, 2023
$690 ($230 per unit) Closed
Fall/Winter Extended (20 Weeks) August 22, 2022 January 15, 2023 $500 Closed

Program Descriptions

Summer Intensive, Fall/Winter Extended, Winter/Spring Extended and Residency Unit No. 1 

  • Establishes the clinical method of learning (Action, Reflection and New Action) as a tool for deepening self-awareness and theological reflection, as well as improving upon foundational skills for spiritual care to diverse patient populations. 
  • Students identify personal learning goals and utilize the ACPE Level-I Outcomes to guide their development in areas of pastoral formation, pastoral competence and pastoral reflection.

Fall/Winter Extended, Winter/Spring Extended and CPE Residency Units  

  • Builds upon the foundational reflective work established in Level-I Outcomes by focusing upon the application of specific spiritual care skill sets with increasing levels of self-supervision. 
  • Students at this level are expected to assume greater pastoral authority as collaborative interprofessional team members and take on more responsibility within the department by providing staff support initiatives. 
  • Designed to meet the needs of year-long residents, but can be adjusted for students in extended programs whose schedules allow for them to be in the hospital only part time.   

Three-unit experience consisting of Level-I and Level-II programs  

  • Pre-requisite: Completion of at least one unit of Level-I CPE.
  • One-year, stipend position with Northwestern Medicine employee benefits. (Note: We do not offer second-year residencies.)
  • Curriculum is characterized by a progressive learning experience where residents begin by focusing upon foundational chaplain competencies (supported by one-to-one staff mentoring) and conclude their year with preparation for board certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC).
  • The full-time nature of the residency provides students with the invaluable opportunity to establish themselves as the primary contact for Spiritual Care on their clinical unit.
  • Students strengthen their professional identity over the course of a year through sustained relationship-building within their CPE peer group, collegiality with other Spiritual Care professionals and collaborative interdisciplinary engagement within a challenging clinical environment.

Multi-year training to become an ACPE Certified Educator

  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital is accredited by ACPE for training Certified Educators.
  • Program includes two phases of theoretical and skill-based training through which students take on progressive autonomy in leading Level-I and Level-II CPE groups.
  • Please contact us directly for more information.

How to Apply

If you are interested in applying for one of our programs, please complete the ACPE Application and email it to or mail it to:

Spiritual Care and Education
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
211 East Ontario Street, Suite 550
Chicago, Illinois 60611

If you are applying from outside the U.S., you can learn more about the International Student Visitor Program through the ACPE website.

Kenji - Ash Wed

Curriculum Highlights

Learn about individualized learning plans and program objectives, the relational learning environment and our core curriculum.
Mark - Headshot

Meet the Team

Our ACPE Certified educators come from a diverse range of religious and spiritual backgrounds, which allows them to deliver compassionate care to our patients and exceptional education for our students.

Jen Buki and Meg Group2 (1)

Send Us A Message

Contact us to find out more about Clinical Pastoral Education.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s CPE program maintains student records in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and in accordance with the recommendations of the Accreditation Commission of ACPE. View a full version of Northwestern Medicine’s annual notice.

Accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education


The CPE program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is accredited for Levels I/II and Certified Educator CPE by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.