Clinical Pastoral Education

Why CPE at HUSD?

HUSD is a unique and irreplaceable graduate theological school that engrafts the spirit of excellence in learning and service. Howard University School of Divinity is one of the fourteen schools and colleges within Howard University. It is the only African-American theological school connected to a comprehensive category II research institution. For more than 150 years, HUSD has been training men and women for ministry in a wide variety of settings. We provide a theological education in a community driven by intellectual rigor, a passion for justice and freedom, and a relentless search for truth.

The Washington, DC metropolitan area is an extraordinary location for clinical training. The needs and the opportunities available in the nation’s Capital will enrich your preparation for pastoral education.

During your CPE journey, you will be involved in a wide variety of situations, helping to care for people of various faith traditions, cultural backgrounds, and belief systems. You will also work with those who have no formal faith background but who may be deeply spiritual. In addition, as a member of the spiritual care team, you will also work alongside medical professionals, students, caregivers, and families.

The ACPE Certified Educator will be your guide throughout this program. You will also receive a CPE manual, which highlights the requirements and goals of your training. You will learn from your peers and instructors in a collegial and inclusive environment.

The Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Howard University School of Divinity.

CPE Information

CPE Program Design

HUSD offers a consortium model of CPE and draws upon the rich particularity of the School’s posture in the Washington, DC area. A consortium approach enables great diversity among care-seekers as well as approaches to serving through spiritual care. Students will either match with an existing community of service or work with their educator to have a clinical placement agreement fostered between their preferred site and the Center. Coming into this setting, Level I and Level II CPE students carry a significant amount of pastoral and professional responsibility. They essentially conduct the work of a chaplain within the parameters of their goals and growing edges and with the help and support of each other, the CPE supervisors, mentors, spiritual leaders, and volunteer ministers from their own communities. Therefore, students need a curriculum that grounds them in sensitivity to flexibility, diversity, spiritual care, pastoral listening skills, crisis interventions, and assertiveness. Learners can expect to embody care and skill with program staff, the HUSD community, their peers, and the spheres of service from which they come.

Including students in designing the curriculum is a pillar in our educational approach to adult learners. Supervisors emphasize trust and use students’ awareness of themselves to accomplish in curriculum development what will be most helpful for learning and growth. In the beginning of the unit, we spend time reviewing and discussing the ACPE standards, objectives, and outcomes. We invite students to consider topics they feel will help them meet the objectives, standards and outcomes, as well as their goals. The educator, having created a basic map of learning, adapts where needed. The hope is that the CPE students are encouraged to use their creativity, past experiences, and expertise to continually embrace authority, freedom, and opportunity. Helping to decide the curriculum, choosing timely media, giving voice to group activities and instruction, are direct pedagogical approaches to bring students into their roles as co-creators, spiritual caregivers, and leaders. This empowering engagement centers the students and their whole selves without compromising service as a center. It occurs simultaneously with the integration of core curriculum topics that have been chosen by the educator and affiliated faculty, namely the program’s Professional Advisory Group (PAG).

The written requirements for our programs at HUSD will ground students in their own hopes and goals for CPE. As a student-centered approach to learning, particularly within our School itself, our program acknowledges that the learning goals are different for different persons, and each unit of CPE adjusts to meet the different goals and needs of the current group of students. CPE is not a static field, but it is continually growing and developing. Educators and students learn more about ourselves as we learn in service with the people with whom we offer ministry. CPE students can expect to be called to a regular combination of action and reflection, service and consideration of that service and toward the aim of integrating what they know with who they are and who they are becoming as ministers.

The specific writing requirements for the unit of CPE is discussed during the orientation week for the program. Students are invited to make full possible use of these writing opportunities. If the student feels like what they are doing is not productive, it is important for them to talk to their educator regarding such.


How to Apply for CPE at HUSD

CPE Steps

The Relational Learning Environment

The main task together as learners is to engage the human, clinical reality, our own included, and be open to the awareness and insights that evolve. The goal is to be deeply rooted and steeped in human experience while encountering care-seekers, patients, families, colleagues, and one’s own personal and professional lives. Participants listen and learn from what they hear, feel, sense, and see, while adding to that direct experience, insights and information from medicine, theology, psychology and other behavioral sciences.

CPE is an educational endeavor that can never be fully explained, only experienced. Most students find CPE to be more enlightening and rewarding than they had imagined. Learning in CPE is integrated and connected, emphasizing that we are social, cultural beings with particular histories, ethnicities and racial backgrounds, learning and growing interdependent mutual relationships with all creation.

            Engaging in CPE involves risk and change. Students often feel challenged to step out of their comfort zone and experience sides to themselves and/or others they haven’t quite felt or experienced before. Students may experience anxiety, fears and resistance they haven’t felt before. Our goals as a Center involve providing students with the boundaries, care and support they need to feel, process and integrate their feelings and new learnings as these emerge. We facilitate a caring, productive and safe learning environment where students have freedom and space to be open to themselves, reflect, attend to themselves and their processes, and grow. Students best know themselves, their limits, strengths and vulnerabilities, and they are expected to be responsible for their own risk-taking and sharing.

            CPE is an action-reflection approach to learning, i.e., we engage in ministry or another program activity; we take time to reflect on what we learned through this experience; we engage in new action and seek to implement or practice the awareness of insight(s) we gained. Real learning is applied learning. CPE fosters the development of critical consciousness where participants are open to critically evaluating ministry and self for the sake of ongoing learning, understanding of others, and growth.

Consortium of Clinical Contexts

The school partners with a diverse collection of clinical contexts for students in order for their learning and practice of spiritual care to reflect a diversity of settings where our students serve. These communities of service reflect service opportunities in governmental, congregational, rehabilitative, political, social, and advocacy contexts. Students either match with an existing community of service or work with their educator to have a clinical placement agreement fostered between their preferred site and the Center. A dynamic list, each unit can contain a different participation based upon clinical mentors, student interest, and the availability of site mentors.


CPE Program Administrator

Rev. Dr. Perzavia Praylow


ACPE: A Brief History

            Clinical Pastoral Education was conceived in the 1920’s by Dr. Richard C. Cabot as a method of learning pastoral practice in a clinical setting under supervision.  It was a time of ferment in many fields of professional education, including medical, social work and ministry. The approach was expanded by the Rev. Anton T. Boisen, a congregational minister who, among other places, studied at Chicago Theological Seminary and was a chaplain at Elgin State Hospital in Illinois. He began to include the case study method of theological inquiry: a study of “the living human documents.”


            As clinical pastoral education has developed over the years, other leaders have opened the doors to the integration into pastoral practice of knowledge from medicine, psychology and other behavioral sciences.  Helen Flanders Dunbar, Carl Rogers, Wayne Oates, Seward Hiltner, Carroll Wise, George Polk, Howard Clinebell, John Patton and Teresa Snorton, to name a very few, have been instrumental in the evolution of the practice. That early background is documented by Protestant men primarily, and Protestant male expression was predominated in early CPE. It was not until after decades of experience, development and practice of clinical pastoral education within several organized but uncoordinated groups that the ACPE, Inc. (ACPE) was formed in 1967.  The ACPE resulted from the merger of The Institute of Pastoral Care, Inc., The Council for Clinical Training, Inc., and the Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators, and it drew upon the functions of certification and accreditation from the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A.


            ACPE today is the standard-setting, accrediting, certifying, resource agency in the field of clinical pastoral education to centers and supervisors who offer training programs and certify men and women as supervisors to conduce these programs.  The organization conducts periodic reviews of both the hospital as an educational center and the performance of the supervisors in order to ensure observation of and compliance with the Standards of ACPE.  ACPE is in compliance with the standards of the U.S. Department of Education. Further, 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.


During the last 10-20 years, ACPE has become increasingly more diverse in membership and leadership. ACPE as an education and service organization has a multi-cultural and international membership of persons and programs.

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education 

HUSD CPE Press Release

CPE Program Administrator

Rev. Dr. Perzavia Praylow


Current & Upcoming CPE Units

Current & Upcoming CPE Units at Howard University School of Divinity occur during the following:


  • 2022-2023 Winter-Spring Unit
  • 2023 Summer unit
  • 2023 Fall unit 
  • 2024 Spring unit 
  • 2024 Summer unit