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 institutions agree on standards of institutional and educational
quality and hold themselves, as well as other institutions, accountable to those standards. Accreditation offers an opportunity for institutions to demonstrate that they are committed to maintaining a high level of quality in their programs and that
their programs are performing at the level required by the field. Continued accreditation by ACPE provides lasting benefits to students, the institution, 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 center 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 center greater recognition in the larger community. By completing the ACPE process, each ACPE accredited center 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 a 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 centers 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 center has voluntarily signed on to meet and exceed the professional standards of CPE.
For information about how to become an ACPE accredited center, send an email here.
The Accreditation Manual is the official guide to the process of accreditation
of clinical pastoral education centers and programs through ACPE. It is designed to assist centers in understanding, planning for, and engaging ACPE’s accreditation process.
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.
Public Comment Invited
A comprehensive directory of centers and programs accredited by ACPE is located online. Written comments are especially welcome early in the year of the ACPE accredited center's scheduled review.