CPE Program Accreditation

ACPE is the only agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) to accredit programs of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in the United States. ACPE currently accredits over 300 CPE programs offered in hospitals, prisons, churches, seminaries, community-based organizations, and other settings across the United States. View a searchable comprehensive directory.

Accreditation is a primary means of quality assurance in the field of CPE. Having originated in institutions of higher education in North America, accreditation is a voluntary activity in which programs agree on standards of educational quality and hold themselves, as well as other programs, accountable to those standards. Accreditation offers an opportunity for programs to demonstrate that they are committed to maintaining a high level of quality and that they are performing at the level required by the field. Continued accreditation by ACPE provides lasting benefits to students, the program, faculty members and employees, the profession, and the larger community.

Through Its Accreditation Process, ACPE Seeks to:

  • assure quality and promote excellence in CPE programs;
  • promote the involvement of faculty and staff in self-assessment of the program and engagement in continuous quality improvement processes;
  • assure students of consistency in educational programs;
  • promote fairness in conduct and evaluation of educational programs;
  • integrate unique clinical/educational resources based on clearly identified learning objectives;
  • ensure that the students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the roles of spiritual care as clergy and lay leaders as well as to develop professional skills for chaplaincy.

In addition, ACPE programs also help to prepare students for board certification as well as to continue on in a Certified Educator CPE program, which can lead to ACPE Educator Certification.

Benefits of Accreditation with ACPE:

The Accreditation process provides an impetus towards continuous improvement—the reflective institutional self-study provides a starting point for ACPE accredited centers to review their practice, evaluate their programs and receive feedback from professional peers, and the yearly portfolio reviews and the six-year site visit ensure ongoing compliance with ACPE standards.

  • The accreditation process gives an ACPE accredited program greater recognition in the larger community. By completing the ACPE process, each ACPE accredited program joins the ranks of institutions who have met the professional standards of ACPE and continue to excel in their missions.
  • The accreditation process is an external, objective assessment of an ACPE accredited center’s programs that gives assurance to the community about the quality of the program being offered.
  • The accreditation process offers guidance in developing and sustaining institutional functions.
  • The accreditation process helps ACPE accredited programs to justify staffing and programmatic needs.
  • Because ACPE accreditation is recognized by the USDE, programs are eligible to apply for Medicare Passthrough and Government Funding.

Earning ACPE accreditation is a powerful recruiting tool, signifying that an ACPE accredited program has voluntarily signed on to meet and exceed the professional standards of CPE.

For information about how to become an ACPE accredited program, send an email here.

Accreditation Manual

The Accreditation Manual is the official guide to the process of accreditation of clinical pastoral education programs through ACPE. It is designed to assist programs in understanding, planning for, and engaging ACPE’s accreditation process.

Quick Link:  To update your center's listing complete a Changes in Programs and Personnel Form or Directory Update Form.

ACPE is nationally recognized as an accrediting agency in the field of clinical pastoral education by the U.S. Secretary of Education through the U.S. Department of Education.

Confirmation of Status Available
The United States Department of Education 
Accreditation and State Liaison Division 
Office of Postsecondary Education
1990 K Street, Room 7105
Washington, D.C. 20026-8509
Fax: (202) 219-7005

Public Comment Invited

A comprehensive directory of programs accredited by ACPE is located online.  Click here for a listing of programs scheduled for review by the ACPE Accreditation Commission in 2024. Written comments are especially welcome early in the year of the ACPE-accredited program's scheduled review.