Click here for the Definition of Terms associated with Accreditation.

ACPE Directory – The official ACPE listing of accredited ACPE centers and their designated programs and supervisors; satellite programs that have received a site visit, member seminaries; denomination, faith group and agency members; network members; and international affiliate members. Certified Educators (Associate Certified Educators, ACPE Certified Educators, retired Certified Educators, Certified Educator Candidates) and clinical members are listed on the ACPE website.

ACPE Certified Educator – The final level of certification in which a person is authorized by ACPE to function autonomously to conduct programs of CPE Level I/Level II and Certified Educator CPE, e.g., a pastoral educator for CPE Level I/Level II and Certified Educator CPE.

Accreditation – Authorization, granted by the ACPE Accreditation Commission, to conduct programs of CPE Level I/Level II and/or Certified Educator CPE, based on demonstrated ability to meet ACPE standards.

Accredited Member – Status granted to an ACPE center authorizing it to conduct programs of CPE Level I/Level II and/or Certified Educator CPE.

Admission – acceptance of an applicant into a designated CPE program.

Admission Interview – the meeting of an applicant to a CPE program with a qualified interviewer to discuss the application, provide information, assess the applicant’s readiness for CPE, and discuss the suitability of the center to the educational goals of the applicant. A face-to-face meeting is strongly recommended.

Appeal – formal request for reconsideration of a decision made about ACPE Certification by the Certification Commission or ACPE accreditation by the Accreditation Commission or formal challenge of a decision by a panel considering an alleged violation of professional ethics or educational standards, subject to the appeal criteria and processes set forth in the respective manuals.

Applied Clinical Ethics – the identification, analysis, and contribution to resolution of moral problems and dilemmas that arise in the care of persons in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to, medical ethics.

Associate Certified Educator – a level of certification in which a person is authorized by ACPE to function as an autonomous educator for CPE Level I/Level II for a limited period of time and who has demonstrated to the Certification Commission: (1) successful integration of theoretical positions with supervisory practice; and (2) supervisory identity and skills sufficient to allow autonomous functioning that is responsible and collegial, e.g., a pastoral educator for CPE Level I/Level II.

Authorized – authority given by ACPE for specific persons to serve as primary Certified Educator for a unit of CPE in a center accredited by the ACPE, i.e., ACPE Certified Educator or ACPE Associate Certified Educator.

  • A National Association of Catholic Chaplains Supervisor is authorized to supervise as primary educator for a unit of CPE (see Standard 303.1) accredited by ACPE, but it must be in a dually accredited center or system with an ACPE Certified Educator. The ACPE Certified Educator has responsibility for ensuring that the NACC supervisor is abiding by ACPE accreditation standards and code of ethics. If there is no ACPE Certified Educator, a consultant ACPE Certified Educator shall be employed until a new ACPE Certified Educator is hired. A NACC supervisor may report student units to ACPE under these conditions only.
  • An International Guest Supervisor is authorized to supervise students in ACPE accredited centers in the U.S. for a defined period of time. The ACPE Certified Educator at that center has responsibility for ensuring that the International Guest Supervisor is abiding by ACPE accreditation standards and code of ethics and must co-sign all evaluations and submit the student unit reports.
  • A Certified Educator Candidate may only educate under the supervision of an ACPE Certified Educator and may sign students’ evaluations in conjunction with the Certified Educator, but may not submit the ACPE student unit report form. Enrollment in an ACPE accredited Certified Educator CPE program is required whenever supervising CPE students.

Certification – action by the ACPE Certification Commission to grant the time-limited status of Certified Educator Candidate or Associate Supervisor or the status of ACPE Certified Educator to persons affirmed in a review as having satisfied ACPE standards for the respective status.

Certified Educator – a clinical pastoral educator who satisfies ACPE requirements for certification, either an ACPE Certified Educator or Associate Certified Educator.

Certified Educator Candidate – the title for a student who:

  • is enrolled in an accredited Certified Educator CPE program under supervision of a person with current credentials as an ACPE Certified Educator;
  • demonstrates capacity to supervise students under supervision; and
  • may supervise under supervision without direct observation as supervisory competence is gained.

For those in the current Certification process, this status ends with certification as an ACPE Associate Certified Educator. For those entering the new Certification Process, this status ends upon certification as an ACPE Certified Educator.

Clinical Method of Learning – an educational model that uses data from the actual practice of ministry as the content for reflection.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE; clinical education, clinical pastoral learning) – a method of learning ministry by means of pastoral functioning under supervision as developed by ACPE. It is a process model of education, predicated on students’ individual needs and goals that are compatible with program objectives. ACPE distinguishes two types of CPE programming: CPE Level I/Level II and Certified Educator CPE. Note: all references to CPE throughout this document are understood to be ACPE Accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE-CPE).

Clinical Supervision – use of interpersonal engagement, direct observation, accurate description, and conceptual frameworks to assist students’ development of pastoral identity and ministry.

Collegial Competence – collaboration with colleagues, respecting their dignity, gifts, and personhood while honoring one’s own, and demonstrated the capacity and motivation to regularly use peer relationships for consultation, support, clarification, and challenge in the practice and development of the art of supervision.

Commission – a representative group given authority to make decisions on behalf of ACPE.

Complaint – a grievance, presented in writing and signed, involving an alleged violation of ACPE standards. Information on filing a complaint may be found on the ACPE website.

Compliance – the determination that a center or program under review meets the minimum requirements of one or more ACPE standards.

Conceptual Competence

In relation to Certified Educator Candidate Status: Demonstrated ability to articulate pastoral work with specificity, bringing theoretical perspectives to pastoral events and exemplifying preferred theory through references to pastoral functioning.

In relation to Association Certified Educator Status: Demonstrated ability to articulate supervisory work with specificity, bringing theoretical perspectives to supervisory events and exemplifying preferred theory through references to supervisory functioning.

Consultation – a meeting of persons in which an individual or group seeks feedback and nonbinding advice about one’s functioning, progress and/or plans in CPE.

Contract for Learning – an agreement developed cooperatively by a student and CPE Certified Educator that establishes the learning goals of the student and the means to achieve those goals in a unit of CPE.

Core Curriculum – The minimum components necessary to satisfy the outcomes for a program of CPE or Certified Educator CPE.

CPE Level I – a program consisting of CPE unit(s) in which the student focuses on meeting the established outcomes.

CPE Level II – a program consisting of CPE unit(s) in which the student focuses on meeting the established outcomes.

CPE Program(s) – structured system of components in which clinical pastoral learning can occur and which is accredited by ACPE.

Cultural Humility – an attitude of respect when approaching people of different cultures, which entails engagement in a process of self-reflection and self-critique and requires an ability to move beyond one’s own biases.

Culture – A symbolic system of meanings, attitudes, feelings, values, and behaviors that is shared by a group of people, a particular society or population, and is communicated from one generation to the next via language and/or observation. Culture regulates and organizes what a group feels, thinks or does, but may be expressed individually in a variety of ways. Culture includes: familial roles, patterns of social and interpersonal communication, affective styles, values and ideals, spirituality and religion, habits of thinking and artistic expressions, customs and norms, rituals and celebrations, and geographical and historical location.

Educational Guidance – timely provision of, or referral to, educational resources appropriate to the needs of the student in addressing the student’s goals or the objectives and outcomes of the CPE program.

Enrollmentthe status of a student who has been accepted into a CPE program or by a CPE center, has fulfilled the program requirements for admission, accepted a place in the center’s program and completed orientation.

Ethnic Identity – refers to a set of identity categories, either communally or contextually defined, that includes but is not limited to common ancestry, a common myth of ancestry, a common language, a common culture, and a common homeland.

FacultyACPE Certified Educator(s), Associate Certified Educator(s) or Certified Educator Candidate(s) under the supervision of a fully credentialed ACPE Certified Educator employed or contracted by the ACPE center to provide clinical instruction and/or direct supervision. In a center dually accredited by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and ACPE, a National Association of Catholic Chaplains Supervisor may be a faculty member.

Faith Group Endorsement/Accountability – formal recognition by an established endorsing body in which a person is a member in good standing and affirmation of that person for admission to the status of Certified Educator Candidate and/or certification as an Associate Certified Educator or ACPE Certified Educator.

Fair Process – the procedure determined “fair” and applied consistently in similar situations by ACPE in its accountability processes.

Full Time Equivalent Student (FTE) – Students in a Unit of CPE Level I/ Level II or Certified Educator CPE who are engaged in curriculum and ministry for at least 32 hours each week are considered full time. Students in an extended Unit of CPE who are engaged in curriculum and ministry for less than 32 hours each week are considered part time students.

Graduate Theological Degree or Equivalent – one of the following:

  • Master of Divinity Degree from an accredited theological school.
  • Graduation from an accredited (by CHEA – Council for Higher Education Accreditation or ATS – Association of Theological Schools) theological school with a graduate theological degree consisting of at least 72-semester credits or 108 quarter credits.
  • ordination from a recognized Jewish seminary.
  • a post-baccalaureate theological degree with such additional study and vocational formation experience as may be evaluated by an ACPE regional certification committee to constitute an equivalent level of study.
  • a Master’s degree in a related field with such additional post-baccalaureate theological course work and vocational formation experience as may be evaluated by an ACPE regional certification committee to constitute an equivalent level of study.

Grievance – an alleged violation of an: ethical; and/or education standard or process; and/or certification standard or process believed to afford reason for a complaint.

Hearing – meeting in which all parties involved have an opportunity to present their positions in cases of complaints or appeals. The meeting may be in person or by video conference or telephonic means at the discretion of the relevant ACPE commission.

Hiatus – in reference to the New Certification Process. A CEC on hiatus is inactive in the certification process and is not connected to an accredited center that offers Certified Educator CPE. While on hiatus, there are no fees due on behalf of a CEC, the CEC will not have access to their portfolio and they not allowed to participate in any certification related processes.

Impairment – state of reduced professional functioning wherein a practitioner fails to provide safe, ethical, competent service due to organic illness, excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs, stress-related disorder, mental or emotional disability, or deterioration through the aging process.

International Guest Supervisor – may supervise students in ACPE Accredited Member centers in the U.S. for a defined period of time. The qualifications of the guest supervisor include:

  • meets the minimal requirements for ACPE Associate Certified Educator;
  • has a contract with an ACPE Accredited Member center specifying a clear, time bound length of stay;
  • is responsible for working out U.S. visa requirements with the hiring center; and
  • holds International Guest Member status in ACPE.

LocalACPE accredited center or place of occurrence when a complaint arises in the context of a regional or national committee, commission or individual encounter.

Mediation – process through which persons or parties involved in a complaint attempt to resolve the complaint through discussion, consultation and negotiation using a trained, third party neutral.

Member – for purposes of the ACPE Standards, individuals holding the class/type of membership in ACPE as ACPE Certified Educator, Associate Certified Educator, Certified Educator Candidate, Certified Educator on Leave, Retired Certified Educator, International Guest Supervisor, Clinical Member, Student Affiliate Member, and Retired Member as defined in the ACPE Bylaws.

Multicultural – a society made up of peoples of many cultures, in which there is cross-cultural interaction and intercultural engagement.

Pastoral Competence – the discovery and use of skills necessary for the intensive and extensive practice of ministry.

Pastoral Formation – the exploration and development of one’s pastoral identity and practice through integrating one’s personal characteristics, heritage, theology and knowledge of behavioral and social sciences.

Pastoral Reflection – the process of increasing awareness and understanding of, and ability to articulate, the meaning and purpose of one’s experience in ministry.

Pastoral Specialization – development of pastoral competence in an area of ministry with an identified focus in a particular setting or context.

Peer Group – small group of at least three CPE Level I/Level II students engaged in small group process and committed to fulfilling the requirements of the educational program.

Policy – a set of rules and/or directions on a designated subject, congruent with ACPE standards, procedures and guidelines, by which decisions are made.


In the context of the certification process, a person appointed to read all of an applicant’s materials each time an applicant meets a subcommittee, committee or the Certification Commission for consultation or certification. The presenter writes a summary report intended to facilitate sub-committee, committee or Commission engagement of the applicant about the applicant’s meeting ACPE standards.

Presenter’s Report

In the context of the certification process, presenters prepare a report reflecting their review of the materials and give it to other group members prior to the meeting. Except in unusual circumstances, a hard copy of the presenter’s report is made available to the person seeking consultation or certification no earlier than 24 hours and no later than 12 hours prior to the subcommittee, committee, or Commission meeting. With written permission (letter or email) from the CES/Certified Educator Candidate/Associate Certified Educator, the Presenter can email the Presenter’s Report to the applicant no earlier than 24 hours and no later than 12 hours prior to their appearance. Presenters are responsible for addressing the formal requirements and areas of competency required by the standards in the report.

Preponderance of Evidence – qualitative, not quantitative, standard; means whether it is more likely than not a violation occurred.

Primary Certified Educator – person holding official responsibility for conducting the unit of CPE and signing the evaluations.

Process Model of Education – an understanding of growth and change (in behavior, beliefs, ideas, awareness, etc.) as taking place gradually or in ongoing modifications, and as never being finished or perfected.

Professional Integration –ability to bring together various aspects of one’s personal makeup, such as cognition, affect, imagination, and direct observation, in one’s professional, pastoral, peer, and supervisory relationships.

Professional Quality Materials – materials adhering to publication-grade writing, formatting, and presentation.

Program Management – responsibility and oversight for all aspects of a CPE program, including finances, administration, clinical and accreditation issues by an ACPE Associate Certified Educator or ACPE Certified Educator.

Reciprocity – mutual exchange of the status of certification of ACPE Certified Educators as authorized by the ACPE Board of Directors.

Sexual Exploitation – any sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or physical contact of a sexual nature, even if by mutual consent, between persons in situations of unequal power. Sexual exploitation is inclusive of the terms “sexual harassment,” “sexual abuse” and “sexual misconduct.” Sexual contact with those served pastorally or supervised, even if by consent, is considered a violation of the ACPE Code of Professional Ethics.

Social Location – a person’s position in a given society and world culture.

Standards – adequate and relevant parameters of educational quality that define and advance practice and provide a framework for evaluation.

Student – person admitted to and participating in a program of CPE.

Student Directory Information – student information not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released.

Student Record – (1) any record (paper, electronic, video, audio, biometric etc.) directly related to the student from which the student’s identity can be recognized and (2) maintained by the education program/institution or a person acting for the institution.

Supervised Supervision – the educational process of direct or indirect observation, exploration, instruction, feedback, and challenge of clinical supervisory work.

Supervision (CPE supervision, pastoral supervision) – an educational method by which a supervisor, through a face-to-face relationship, enables students to learn about self, others, the spiritual, and ministry from clinical experience and examination of that experience so that students integrate their learning in their professional identity and functioning.

Supervisory Competence – Demonstrated ability to plan and implement a program of CPE and effectively assist students in meeting the objectives and expected outcomes of CPE.

Supervisory Observation – a primary supervisor’s viewing of a supervisory student’s clinical supervisory work deemed important for that student’s learning and for the protection of pastoral care students and the persons to whom they minister.

_Supervisory observation can be provided through direct observation by:

  • the Certified Educator’s physical presence, or
  • viewing/listening in real time electronically or through a one-way mirror.

Supervisory observation for the work of a Certified Educator Candidate in a CPE Level I/ Level II curriculum can include these direct observation methods as well as indirect observation by:

  • conjoint analysis of videotapes,
  • thorough review of Certified Educator Candidate’s process notes of student encounters, or examination and feedback of transmitted video conferences.

Supervisory Theory – a cohesive set of educational and psychological principles that guide the practice of clinical pastoral education.

Toll – suspend or temporarily stop the time limits.