A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

MS in Chaplaincy

The Master of Science in Chaplaincy program is the newest enhancement to chaplaincy education at Loma Linda University. It has been developed using guidelines established by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), who oversees and rigorously maintains “best practice” standards for the chaplaincy profession. It is designed to meet a variety of students’ needs:

  • To earn additional graduate religious education credits needed for chaplaincy/board certification
  • A professional degree that blends academic study with clinical experience.
  • Specialty training in spiritual care and/or chaplaincy
  • To be ready for employment at the Associate Chaplain level
  • To meet the educational requirements for SDA endorsement as a chaplain

The program will also prepare students to meet competencies in four areas of chaplaincy:

  • Theory of Pastoral Care (integration of theological, psychological, and sociological perspectives)
  • Identity and Conduct (Pastoral identify within a clinical context, including the integration of professional ethics in daily practice)
  • Pastoral Competencies (Effective pastoral care using appropriate pastoral, spiritual, and theological resources)
  • Professional Competencies (Integration of pastoral/spiritual care into the life and mission of the institution, as well as to establish and maintain professionalism within the interdisciplinary relationships a chaplain develops and nurtures)

Graduates of the program will receive excellent academic training enhanced by clinical experience. Our 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 eventual board certification by the APC.


Students are required to complete two units of Clinical Professional Education (CPE) credits prior to graduation. As a premier teaching and research medical complex, Loma Linda University Health System is an excellent setting for the 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, but are able to complete this requirement at any ACPE-approved site in North America. Separate application and acceptance procedures are required for this component of the program.)


Your 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 from across many health care professions are involved in the program. This diversity of specialists provides you with a rich and balanced program of study.

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

The Program draws upon resources from across the entire Loma Linda University campus. These include the Chaplaincy Services Department of the LLU Health System, and the Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness, both of which provide a rich context in which to study chaplaincy.

The Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness is dedicated to promoting and supporting wholeness in individuals, as well as providing tools for health care professionals across various disciplines to use in providing whole person care to their patients. The Center sponsors a number of programs, along with the Center for Christian Bioethics, to minister to the spiritual needs of students, staff, and patients. Among them:

  • Health and Faith Forum, a monthly lecture series where current issues in whole person care are discussed.
  • Spiritual Care Workshops, featuring roundtable discussions, interactive activities, and the promotion of whole person care in healthcare and ministry.


Program requirements

Students must complete 72 quarter credits from the list below, with an overall grade point average of B or better, with no grade lower than C, and no grade lower than a B- in a core course.

Core Course Work (46 – 52 units)

RELT 557 Theology of Human Suffering Suffering and evil in relation to the creative and redemptive purposes of God for this world. 3 – 4
RELR 527 Crisis Care and Counseling Crisis phenomena, current crisis theory, a Christian model of crisis care, and the dynamics and practices of crisis care. 3 – 4
RELR 565 Pastoral Theology and Methodology Studies the biblical, theological, and historical foundations for the practice of ministry. 3 – 4
RELR 567 Pastoral Care and Counseling Provides an overview of theology, history, theory, and practice of pastoral counseling 3 – 4
RELR 568 Care of the Dying and Bereaved Studies the biblical, theological, cultural, religious, relational, and psychological aspects of dying and death. 3 – 4
RELR 574 Liturgy, Homiletics, and Healing An examination of the biblical and theological foundations for liturgy and preaching, with a special view to the healing context. Attention will be given to liturgical ministry in diverse settings and with diverse faith perspectives. 3 – 4
RELR 584 Culture, Psychology, and Religion Introduces the major contours of Western culture as they relate to various schools of psychological thought and the influence of religious beliefs. 3 – 4
RELT 508 Introduction to Contemporary Christian Theology Acquaints students with the principle issues, figures, and movements that have shaped the development of Christian thought the past one hundred years. The course objective is to reveal how the central elements of Christian faith still provide lasting continuity and stimulate reflection within the Christian world. 3 - 4
RELR 526 Pastoral and Professional Formation An introduction to the professional requirements of working as a chaplain in a health care setting; how to function pastorally within boundaries and using pastoral authority. Group dynamics and organizational behavior, as well as organizational culture, systems, and relationships will also be explored. 3 – 4
RELT 520 Church History Students will trace the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the first 300 years of Christianity. 3 – 4
RELR 525 Healthcare Leadership Christian principles of leadership in the community and in the practice of health care. 3 – 4
RELG 504 Research Methods for Religious Studies Studies presuppositions and procedures for scholarship in religion and ethics, with an introduction to research in the natural and behavioral sciences. Practical themes include writing, library and Internet resources, and forms of scholarly papers and articles. 2 – 4
RELR 520 Clinical Training in Spiritual Care Combines theoretical and clinical aspects of spiritual care in exploring a theological understanding of health and illness.  
RELR 540 Wholeness Portfolio Incorporates a mix of personal and professional activities using biblical concepts of wholeness in four areas: integrating mind/body/spirit, strengthening relationships, care for the environment, and healing of the nations. 3 – 4
RELG 696 Project Students will articulate in writing all 29 competencies based on their theoretical understanding, reflection, and experiences; toward the end of the academic and clinical experiences. 1 – 4

Additional Required Courses

Students will also select courses from each of the following categories:

Biblical Studies (9-12 units)

RELT 500 Biblical Hermeneutics How to understand and use the Bible in real life situations. 3 – 4
RELT 504 Daniel and the Prophetic Tradition Examination of the message from the book of Daniel and the Old Testament prophetic tradition. 3 – 4
RELT 560 Jesus the Revealer: The Message of the Gospel of John A study of Jesus as revealer and healer; the basis for the Loma Linda mission, "to make man whole." 3 – 4
RELT 565 Vision of Healing: The Message of the Book of Revelation A study of Revelation’s description of the end of suffering and God’s vision for healing a broken world. 3 – 4
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought Introduces the literature and key theological themes of the Old Testament. 3 – 4
RELT 559 New Testament Thought

Introduces the literature and key theological themes of the New Testament.

3 – 4

Ethics (4 – 8 units)

RELE 524 Bioethics and Society Explores (from Christian and philosophical perspectives) issues confronting both society and patients. Uses case studies to illustrate such themes as health disparities, AIDS policy, end-of-life care, and organ transplantation. 3 – 4
RELE 577 Theological Ethics Ethical implications of the primary theological legacies of Western culture. 3 – 4
RELE 564 Ethics and Health Disparities Focuses on causes of -- and responses to -- key health disparities. Provides a context for analyzing and understanding disparities, and ethically evaluating inequalities in health status and responses to them. 3 – 4


Ministry and Spiritual Formation (7 – 9 units)

RELT 555 The Adventist Experience Introduces the beliefs and values that shape the Seventh-day Adventist community. 3 – 4
RELR 535 Spirituality and Mental Health Explores the interrelationship between spirituality and mental health. Seeks to enhance understanding of the term “spirituality” in the context of religious traditions; considers the therapeutic effects of both spirituality and religious traditions. 3 – 4
RELR 549 Personal and Family Wholeness Studies personal spiritual development as the center for individual and family life and professional practice, with special attention to balancing healthy family relationships and professional obligations. 3 – 4
RELT 556 Spirituality in Seventh-day Adventist Theology Clarifies the unique role Seventh-day Adventist theology plays in fostering spirituality. 3 – 4
RELR 587 Religion and Social Sciences Introduces classic and contemporary dialogues between religion and the social sciences. 3 – 4
RELR 586 Psychology of Moral and Faith Development Studies logical, moral, and faith reasoning from a cognitive-developmental perspective. How cultural and religious norms affect moral thinking. 3 – 4
RELT 540 World Religions and Human Health Studies the history, beliefs, and practices of major religion of the world, with an emphasis on theological and ethical issues in the practice of health care ministry. 3 – 4

Transfer credits

Students may transfer approved graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions, up to a maximum of 14 quarter units.

Clinical Internship

Students must also satisfactorily complete two units of clinical pastoral education (CPE) at an accredited CPE Center.Loma Linda University Medical Center is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE) to offer Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training for Level I, Level II, and Supervisory Education. However, the required CPE units for graduation can be completed at any ACPE-accredited Center. (Note: acceptance into the Loma Linda Health CPE program is at the discretion of the CPE supervisor and must be arranged individually and in advance.)

For more complete information regarding CPE training, including a state-by-state listing of approved educational sites, visit www.acpe.edu.

Critical Essays

At the end of the first year in the Program students will write a critical essay dealing with theories of pastoral care, clinical skills and self-awareness. At the end of the second year, students must write another critical essay dealing with the behavioral conduct and professional practices of chaplains.


When students have completed the majority of their course work 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.

Admissions and Application Procedures

Students applying for admission must meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better overall and in the major field of study
  • Personal Interview

Apply online at www.llu.edu/apply. The School of Religion has a rolling admission policy in which completed applications are reviewed and students are accepted on a continual basis. Your application must be submitted by the deadlines listed for the quarter you wish to enroll:

  • Fall quarter:  August 1
  • Winter quarter:  November 1
  • Spring quarter:  February 1
  • Summer quarter:  May 1

Documents required beyond the online application include: 

  • All official transcripts of college/university work (mailed directly to LLU)
  • Three letters of recommendation (two academic and one from clergy)
  • Personal Potential Index (PPI) Evaluation administered through Educational Testing Services (ETS); log on to www.ets.org for instructions
  • International applicants must submit current TOEFL scores and evaluations of any international transcripts – please visit http://www.llu.edu/apply/intltrans.html.

Note:  All documentation should be received within two weeks after the application deadline for the quarter of choice.  The online application will prompt you with instructions and timelines to successfully complete the process.