Certificate in Chaplaincy

Northeastern Seminary’s chaplaincy certificate program is designed for students who have completed or are in the process of completing a theological Master's program. This certificate, offered on-campus or online, explores the spiritual formation and training needed to become a chaplain equipped to minister in a variety of multifaith contexts. 

Accredited Chaplaincy Program

Students can seamlessly move from this certificate to eventually complete their Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree, which is typically required to formally serve as a chaplain. Combining practical ministry skills with Christian spiritual formation, our chaplaincy program is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

Our students grow as compassionate spiritual guides through chaplaincy courses that are Biblically-based, expertly taught, and holistically supported. Through Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) opportunities, students learn to serve in hospitals, the military, prisons, businesses, or other organizations. 

As part of our accredited chaplaincy program, you will: 

  • Develop the ability to attend to God's active presence in one's own life, the lives of others, and the world
  • Cultivate an aptitude for theological reflection on matters of war, peace, dying, and other aspects of the human experience
  • Foster your ministerial identity and ethics for service in religiously plural contexts
Ready to Learn More?

Northeastern Seminary is a Military Friendly School

Proudly Military-Friendly

Become a military chaplain! As an honored member of the Military Friendly® Schools program, Northeastern Seminary is part of a small group of higher education institutions in the U.S. that make up the Military Friendly® School list created by G.I. Jobs magazine.

100% online

Study Chaplaincy 100% Online or On-Campus

Experience our chaplain training online wherever you are located or take on-campus courses in Rochester, NY.

Set Your Own Pace

Full-Time or Part-Time Options

Chaplain candidates pursuing their master’s degree can select a flexible course load that allows for either a full-time or part-time schedule. The full-time program to become a chaplain typically takes 3 years to complete.

Personalized Assistance

Receive Personalized Assistance

Our CPE friendly, accredited chaplaincy program is designed to be supportive. Students can utilize the assistance of the Seminary's full-time benefits support specialist. 

Stackable Curriculum - Certificate to Master’s

Your chaplaincy education develops the ministry skills to become a chaplain with the flexibility of selecting courses that fit your calling with Northeastern Seminary's stackable curriculum.*

Earn a certificateYear 1: Certificate in Chaplaincy

Becoming a chaplain starts with exploring the ethics of chaplaincy care and ministry in multifaith contexts with an accredited certificate.* 


Master's DegreeYear 2: Master of Arts

Continue your education with another stackable block of courses to receive a Master of Arts degree in Ministry Practice or Theological Studies.*

Earn a Master of Divinity degreeYear 3: Master of Divinity Option

Complete the requirements for service as a chaplain when you assemble multiple stackable competency blocks to earn your Master of Divinity with a Chaplaincy concentration.*

*Assumes a full-time course load of 9 credits/semester, possibly including summer sessions. Federal financial aid is not available for students pursuing a graduate-level certificate. Students wishing to retain their M.A. and earn an M.Div. must complete additional coursework that will most likely exceed the three-year assumption. Contact admissions for more details.

Chaplaincy Courses

The following courses explore important themes related to pastoral ministry. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate in chaplaincy, and you can apply these classes to earn your master's degree.

Required Courses

MIN 624 | Care and Counsel | 3 Credits

This course surveys the scope and practice of pastoral care. Employing the analogy of a physician’s care for the physical body, the course seeks to develop proficiencies necessary in the pastor’s responsibility to care for the spiritual person. Among the issues explored, specific attention is given to spiritual direction, pastoral counsel and counseling skills, crisis ministries, care of the dying, development of Christian community, and social justice as pastoral care.    

MIN 632 | Chaplaincy Seminar | 3 Credits

This course provides students with an overview of the complexities of the specialized role of chaplains within a variety of contexts including healthcare and correctional facilities, schools, fire and police departments, and the military. Students will consider topics such as the history of the profession and the professional identity of chaplains, ministry within complex institutional systems, assessing individual spiritual needs, expanding cultural competence, faith as it relates to ethical decision-making, and providing pastoral and emotional/spiritual support to others, as well as caring for staff and caregivers. In addition, students will be introduced to the various competencies expected of board-certified chaplains and will explore the regulations related to healthcare privacy. Students will have the opportunity to expand their understanding of the importance of research in ministry and the need to develop self-care practices. The course will include presentations from chaplains serving in a variety of setting and will enable the student to compare the uniqueness and commonalities of ministry within each context.

MIN 633 | World Religions and Human Spirituality | 3 Credits

This course explores the global character of the church and the practice of ministry in the multifaith and multicultural context of contemporary society. Attention is given to the wide diversity of religious traditions present in the potential ministry settings and considers how the church can serve with faithfulness and respect in a religiously pluralistic culture. Students will have the opportunity to develop their theological convictions in dialog with other religious traditions and gain skills in interfaith engagement as an expression of their Christian discipleship. Cross listed as PSF 633 and THE 633.

MIN 647 | Ministry to the Dying and Bereaved | 3 Credits

This course seeks to develop pastoral leadership skills to provide spiritual care to those experiencing loss and grief. The course focuses on the role of the minister in providing understanding, guidance, and support to children and young, middle, and senior adults. Strategies for helping people of all ages cope with loss and grief will be discussed. Cultural practices relative to funerals, graveside services, viewing, cremation, and hospital visitation will be explored. Participants will develop listening skills and the ability to interpret and use Scripture appropriately within the context of loss.

Choose One

MIN 635 | Moral Injury: Navigating Shame, Guilt and Trauma | 3 Credits

Moral injury is a term used to describe extreme and unprecedented life experience including the harmful aftermath of exposure to such events. In the Armed Forces, it focuses on the trauma of those who experience deep inner wounds created by an incongruity between their actions and convictions of right and wrong. This course will examine the differences between moral injury and PTSD and other frequent diagnoses related to trauma experienced in the military. Focus will then be given to the nature and devastating effects of moral injury along with ways to identify and enter its brokenness in order to move toward health and wholeness.

MIN 650 | Bioethics and Ministry in the 21st Century | 3 Credits

Human cloning is very near. Healthcare rationing is an increasing reality. Comfort care for the dying increasingly hastens death. This course is designed to help those currently in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective (their own general approach to ethical decision-making) and how this perspective applies to bioethical tensions such as those mentioned above. Students will have the opportunity to prepare and present a detailed analysis of an ethical issue they perceive to be of particular social significance.

THE 731 | Suffering, Pain, and Evil: A Theological Response | 3 credits

Those in ministry must often respond to the following question: “Why did God allow that horrible event—that tragic accident, that terrible betrayal, that intense suffering—to happen?” After outlining the various responses (theodicies) available to Christians, this course will discuss how best to help those asking “why” determine what these responses have to offer. Included among the texts read will be the book of Job.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

MIN 731 | Field Education I | 3 Credits

One unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is required and fulfills Field Education I (MIN 731).

Field education courses provide the student with hands-on professional training from capable practitioners and educators. Students will develop professional understanding and competence in ministry. Each course provides time for on-site training, personal and peer-reflection, and classroom instruction. Personal and spiritual formation is a continuing aspect of field education.

Learn More About Northeastern Seminary’s Certificate in Chaplaincy

Northeastern Seminary’s chaplaincy program offers students the comprehensive training necessary to become a chaplain at our campus in Rochester, NY or through 100% online courses. Our accredited chaplaincy program and a subsequent graduate degree prepares students for service in multifaith contexts. Start your journey to chaplain ministry today!