Clinical Pastoral Education

​Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is professional training designed for spiritual care professionals, clergy/religious community leaders of all faiths, and health care professionals.  

CPE interns at UC San Diego Health will explore spiritual issues in health care and advance care planning, and collaborate with health professionals to better support community members.

Placements include inpatient, outpatient and emergency medicine patient care settings throughout the health system. Interns will also have the opportunity to work with the Doris A. Howell Palliative Care Service.

Through encounters with people impacted by serious illness and feedback from peers, faculty and clinical mentors, students develop skills as well as new awareness of themselves and the needs of those who receive their care.

UC San Diego Health values diversity and encourages individuals from various backgrounds and cultures to apply.

Types of CPE Programs We Offer

UC San Diego Health Department of Volunteer and Spiritual Care Services houses these CPE programs. We are accredited by ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education to offer Level 1 and Level 2 CPE. 

  • Level 1 CPE is an introductory program in which students develop basic clinical skills while developing professional identity and pastoral authority. 
  • Level 2 CPE focuses on integration of advance clinical skills and reflection for students, including preparation for board certification. Level 2 CPE is appropriate for students who have met all Level 1 outcomes and completed a consultation to move to Level 2. 
  • Both levels are offered as:
    • An intensive full-time 12-week summer unit (300 clinical hours, 100 educational hours)
    • An extended part-time full unit over six months (300 clinical hours, 100 educational hours)
    • An extended half-time unit over six months (155 clinical hours, 60 educational hours) 
    • Distance learning. Distance learners may enroll in either Level 1 or Level 2 CPE but may only participate in an extended full or half unit. Distance learning students have the option of completing all clinical work through their place of pastoral care employment and participation in all educational requirements online. 

Note: We do not offer a stipended residency at this time.

CPE Program Details

Group Size
The average in-person CPE group size is five to eight people. Distance learning units include at least three students. 


  • Full intensive and extended units: $600
  • Distance learning units: $3,000


  • Summer Full-Time In-Person (Tentative): May 17, 2024 – August 16, 2024
  • Fall/Winter Extended In-Person (Tentative): November 1, 2024 – April 11, 2025

Application Deadlines

We accept and review applications on a rolling basis, which means you are welcome to submit your application at any time. We recommend you check with our program by writing to to determine if we are currently accepting applications for open spots or the waitlist.

How to Apply

Complete the application at the ACPE website . This is the common application for all CPE programs. CPE faculty and program advisors will review your application and let you know whether or not an interview will be offered within 30 days of receiving your application and fee.

Please send the completed application to Applications are received throughout the year, but no less than 60 days before the unit in which an applicant wishes to enroll. Mail the application fee of US $30 made payable to UC Regents to:

Volunteer and Spiritual Care Services
UC San Diego Health
200 West Arbor Drive
MC 8959
San Diego, CA 92103

Attn: Allison Kestenbaum


It is customary for CPE programs to offer stipends for residencies. We are not yet offering residencies at UC San Diego Health and therefore do not offer any stipends. Tuition assistance may be available thanks to the generous support of the Cambia Health Foundation.

For International Applicants

Consult the ACPE website for more information. Please note that ACPE will not be able to issue visa eligibility certificates for extended CPE programs or part-time programs with fewer that 32 hours per week. 

Health Requirements

UC San Diego Health requires all CPE interns to provide documentation of 2 MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shots and 2 Varicella (chicken pox) shots or blood titer test results for all four diseases.

Flu vaccines are required during flu season.

Contact US

Please address inquiries to

Email Us

Alumni Testimonials

"My experience at UCSD in the CPE program has been one of my greatest joys in 15 years of ministry. It has provided me the opportunity to learn new skills, explore who I am, and build new friendships. Lastly, working with an interdisciplinary team has not only strengthened my ability to communicate the purpose of spiritual care in a clinical setting but also deepen my understanding of the diverse roles and resources each discipline has to offer.

"I am thankful for the CPE program at UC San Diego Health as it is a foundational, first step to train leaders from different faith traditions to serve the broader community through chaplaincy. As a chaplain intern serving on one of the inpatient palliative care teams (summer 2019), serving in an interdisciplinary setting with social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and residents gave me perspective for a collaborative, holistic approach in providing comprehensive, patient-centered care. As such, I have a better understanding on providing spiritual care that is meaningful to the patient as they receive care from this institution."

Statement of Confidentiality and Student Rights

Annual Notice (published in accordance with ACPE Standard 304.4):
This ACPE CPE center/program guarantees to its students the rights to inspect and review education records, to seek to amend them, to specified control over release of record information, and to file a complaint against the program for alleged violations of these Family Education and Privacy Act (FERPA) rights.

A student has the right to object to record content. If not negotiable, the written objection will be kept with and released with the record. Grades are exempted from this right. Violations of these protocols may be reported to the Chair of the Accreditation Commission at: ACPE, 55 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Suite 835, Atlanta, GA 30308.

UC San Diego Health does not discriminate against any individual for reasons of race, gender, age, faith group, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression/identity or physical disability. Equal access to educational opportunities is extended to all qualified persons. All members of the CPE faculty, professional advisory group, and consultants are expected to adhere to this policy.