Qualifying for Board Certified Chaplain

If you sense that God is calling you to ministry as a healthcare Chaplain, check out the prerequisites for becoming a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) with HCMA.

After reviewing the requirements, if you’re interested in pursuing this journey to become a BCC, contact us.

If you realize that you do not measure up to these standards, primarily from the theological education and ordination perspective, check out the qualifications for a Certified Clinical Chaplain (CCC).

Qualifying as Board Certified Chaplain Policy

This policy describes the process in qualifying for clinical pastoral education with HCMA leading to professional certification as an HCMA Board Certified Chaplain (BCC). This title for a certified Chaplain with HCMA was formerly called a BCC-Full.


An HCMA BCC is a person who has demonstrated professional excellence as a Trainee and  Intern Chaplain and has completed all eligibility requirements (including four units of clinical pastoral education, a 1,600-hour internship, ordination, ecclesiastical endorsement, etc.), has been peer reviewed by the Area Steering Committee for meeting the Professional Chaplain Competency Standards and being in compliance with the HCMA Code of Ethics, has been recommended by the Teaching Chaplain, and has been approved by the HCMA Board of Directors.
1. HCMA BCC candidates have:

a. A clear statement of conversion to Christ.
b. A clear leading to Christian service in general and chaplaincy in particular.
c. A vital walk and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
d. An undergraduate bachelor’s degree in any subject from a college, university, or theological school accredited by a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
e. A graduate-level theological degree consisting of at least 64 semester units from a college, university, or theological school accredited by a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Theological coursework is generally religious, spiritual, theological, or pastoral in nature, including such subjects as sacred literature and the original languages, theology, religious philosophy and ethics, rituals and liturgy, religious history, comparative religions, evangelism and missions, religious education of laypeople, organization and administration of religious institutions, pastoral care and counseling, and personal spiritual formation.
f. Equivalencies for graduate-level theological education may be granted.

1) Graduate-level coursework not taken at a school accredited by a member of CHEA may be granted as qualifying for fulfilling the graduate-level education requirement. List courses and provide transcripts.
2) Graduate-level coursework in secular psychology or counseling may be granted up to a maximum of 15 semester units. No other secular subjects will be accepted for credit. Provide detailed course descriptions and transcripts.
3) Professional continuing education courses that are theological, religious, spiritual, or pastoral in nature may be granted as qualifying for educational equivalency. Ten hours of accepted professional continuing education equals 1 semester unit. A maximum of 150 hours of accepted professional continuing education (15 semester units) will be granted for educational equivalency. Provide certificates of attendance. A certificate that does not list the number of hours (CEU credit) for the seminar will receive only one hour of credit. You may not use continuing education courses used to meet the undergraduate education requirement.
4) Professional-level theological teaching may be granted as qualifying for educational equivalency credit. List graduate-level and professional-level courses and seminars taught, with an estimate of number of hours involved, and number of semester credits or CEU hours granted for each. Each course or seminar may be counted only once. It takes 100 hours of graduate-level and professional-level theological teaching to equal 1 semester unit. You may not use teaching of undergraduates or laypersons, or teaching of courses used to meet the undergraduate education requirement.
5) List other supervised studies or internships that may be granted for graduate-level equivalency with a detailed description of each. You may not use unsupervised life experience, unsupervised ministry experience, private unsupervised study, teaching of undergraduates or laypersons, or experience used to complete the undergraduate bachelor’s degree requirement. It takes 100 contact hours to equal 1 semester unit.

g. A minimum of two years experience in pastoral care ministry.
h. Ordination or commission by a recognized faith group to function in a pastoral care ministry.
i. Ecclesiastical endorsement or evidence of good standing in accordance with the requirements of candidate’s own faith tradition.
j. Good references.

2. The Board has the right to waive or add to any of the above requirements.
3. The distinction between an HCMA BCC and a Certified Clinical Chaplain (CCC) is primarily a difference in credentials (theological education and/or ordination), not in function or competency.

  1. The initial application process for acceptance as a Chaplain-Trainee includes an extensive interview with the Area Steering Committee, a complete and descriptive résumé, the HCMA Preliminary and Final Application Form (along with the Final Application Fee of $225), a credential, credit, and criminal background check, and the taking of the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis.
  2. The HCMA BCC candidate will follow the HCMA Certification and Recertification Policy for receiving and maintaining professional certification as an HCMA BCC, which includes:
    • Completing 1,600 hours (4 Units) of supervised clinical pastoral education.
    • Completing a 1,600-hour (4 quarters) Internship under the supervision of an HCMA Teaching Chaplain. This is in addition to the time spent as a Chaplain-Trainee in a CPE program.
    • Meeting the HCMA Code of Ethics.
    • Meeting the Professional Chaplain Competency Standards established by HCMA for a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC).
    • Having a written and oral peer review by the Professional Certification Commission (aka: Area Steering Committee) to assess chaplaincy competencies.
    • Being recommended by his/her Teaching Chaplain, the Area Director, the Area Steering Committee, and the Executive Director for certification.
  3. Final approval of professional certification is made by the Board of Directors.
  4. The HCMA BCC candidate, upon approval by the Board of Directors, will be assigned an account number and may raise and begin to receive financial support. These charitable contributions are to be channeled through the HCMA and will be subject to the 7% deduction for the operational expenses of HCMA. Any salary or stipend the HCMA BCC receives from his/her healthcare organization will also be subject to the 7% deduction for support of the ministry of HCMA. For the financial obligations of a BCC to HCMA, see Financial Obligation Policy.
  5. Once certified as a BCC by HCMA, the Chaplain will complete twenty (20) chaplaincy continuing education units per year, will undergo an annual performance review by his/her Supervisor, will abide by the HCMA Code of Ethics, and will be recertified every five years from the first year of professional certification (see Certification and Recertification Policy).
  6. The HCMA BCC has the right to vote, per HCMA Bylaws. Additional benefits include professional certification, housing allowance, liability insurance, administrative assistance, access to the member only section of the HCMA website, and conference discounts (see Financial Obligation Policy).


See Certification and Recertification Policy.