The Master of Science in Chaplaincy program is theological and clinical based 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 national “best practice” standards for the chaplaincy profession. This professional graduate degree:

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

  • The students will integrate theory and practice competencies.
  • The students will form professional identity and conduct competencies.
  • The students will conduct themselves in professional practice skills competencies.
  • The students will function effectively with organizational leadership competencies.

Graduates of the program will receive excellent academic training enhanced by professional, clinical, and ministerial 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 full board certification by the APC and ACI.

Students are required to complete two (2) units of Clinical Professional Education (CPE) credits prior to graduation. As a premier teaching and research medical complex, Loma Linda University Health 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. Visit the ACPE accredited centers website to view a list of available sites. Separate application, fees 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 Chaplain Services of LLUH and the Center for Whole Person Care, both of which provide a rich context in which to study chaplaincy. The Center for Whole Person Caret 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 and intellectual needs of students, staff, and patients.

Program Requirements

Students must complete 108 quarter credits (96 academic and 12 professional 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 (75 units)

RELE 524Bioethics and SocietyExplores (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
RELE 548Christian Social Ethics 3
RELE 589Bible, Theology, and Bioethics 3
RELG 504Research Methods for Religious StudiesStudies 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.4
RELG 696ProjectStudents will articulate in writing all 29 competencies based on their theoretical understanding, reflection, and experiences; toward the end of the academic and clinical experiences.4
RELR 520Clinical Training in Spiritual Care ICombines theoretical and clinical aspects of spiritual care in exploring a theological understanding of health and illness.4
RELR 521Clinical Training in Spiritual Care IICombines advanced theoretical and clinical aspects of spiritual care in exploring a theological understanding of health and illness.4
RELR 525Healthcare LeadershipChristian principles of leadership in the community and in the practice of health care.3
RELR 526Pastoral and Professional FormationAn 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.4
RELR 527Crisis Care and CounselingCrisis phenomena, current crisis theory, a Christian model of crisis care, and the dynamics and practices of crisis care.3
RELR 535Spirituality and Mental HealthExplores 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
RELR 540Wholeness and HealthIncorporates 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
RELR 565Pastoral Theology and MethodologyStudies the biblical, theological, and historical foundations for the practice of ministry.3
RELR 567Pastoral Care and CounselingProvides an overview of theology, history, theory, and practice of pastoral counseling3
RELR 568Care of the Dying and BereavedStudies the biblical, theological, cultural, religious, relational, and psychological aspects of dying and death.3
RELR 574Preaching and Worship 3
RELR 584Culture, Psychology, and ReligionIntroduces the major contours of Western culture as they relate to various schools of psychological thought and the influence of religious beliefs.3
RELR 587Religion and Social SciencesIntroduces classic and contemporary dialogues between religion and the social sciences.3
RELT 500Biblical HermeneuticsHow to understand and use the Bible in real life situations.3
RELT 508Introduction to Contemporary Christian TheologyAcquaints 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
RELT 520Church HistoryStudents will trace the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the first 300 years of Christianity.3
RELT 557Theology of Human SufferingSuffering and evil in relation to the creative and redemptive purposes of God for this world.3
RELT 558Old Testament ThoughtIntroduces the literature and key theological themes of the Old Testament.3
RELT 559New Testament ThoughtIntroduces the literature and key theological themes of the New Testament.3
RELT 567World Religions and Bioethics 3

Additional Required Courses (21 units)

Students will also select elective courses from the following offerings or other religion courses approved by student's advisor:

RELE 564Ethics and Health DisparitiesFocuses 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
RELE 577Theological EthicsEthical implications of the primary theological legacies of Western culture.3
RELR 549Personal and Family WholenessStudies 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
RELR 574Liturgy, Homiletics, and HealingAn 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
RELR 586Psychology of Moral and Faith DevelopmentStudies logical, moral, and faith reasoning from a cognitive-developmental perspective. How cultural and religious norms affect moral thinking.3
RELT 504Daniel and the Prophetic TraditionExamination of the message from the book of Daniel and the Old Testament prophetic tradition.3
RELT 540World Religions and Human HealthStudies 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
RELT 555The Adventist ExperienceIntroduces the beliefs and values that shape the Seventh-day Adventist community.3
RELT 556Spirituality in Seventh-day Adventist TheologyClarifies the unique role Seventh-day Adventist theology plays in fostering spirituality.3
RELT 560Jesus the Revealer: The Message of the Gospel of JohnA study of Jesus as revealer and healer; the basis for the Loma Linda mission, "to make man whole."3
RELT 565Vision of Healing: The Message of the Book of RevelationA study of Revelation’s description of the end of suffering and God’s vision for healing a broken world.3

Check the course schedule here for class offerings.

Transfer credits

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

Clinical Internship - RELG 795

Students must also satisfactorily complete two (2) 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 LLUH CPE program is at the discretion of the CPE supervisor and must be arranged individually and in advance.) Twelve (12) professional credits hours from one of the four CPEs can be counted towards both graduation and the APC board certification.

For information regarding CPE training at LLUH, visit

For information regarding CPE training, including a state-by-state listing of approved educational sites, visit


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.

Non-Course Requirements

Annual Evaluation - Students will be evaluated on their academic and clinical competencies at the end of Spring quarter of their 1st and 2nd year.

Dean's Exit Interview - Graduates are required to attend an exit interview with the Dean of the School of Religion during the spring quarter of their graduation year.


Students applying for admission must meet the following requirements:

  • Undergraduate record from a regionally accredited institution with a grade point average of B (3.00) or better in the overall program and in the major field
  • Critical essay
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (two academic and one pastoral)
  • Interview (faculty members in relational studies and a representative from the LLUMC CPE program)
  • One (1) unit of CPE highly preferred

Apply online at Students begin the program during fall quarters only. Your application must be submitted by the deadlines listed:

  • November 1
  • Late admission: May 1

Documents required beyond the online application include: 

  • All official transcripts of college/university work (mailed directly to LLU)
  • International applicants must submit current TOEFL scores and evaluations of any international transcripts – please visit

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.

Program Director

Saul Barcelo, Ph.D.