Qualifying for Clinical Chaplain

HCMA recognizes that there are some Christian Pastors and ministry people who are called and gifted by God to serve as pastoral caregivers in the healthcare setting, but they do not have all the credentials to qualify as a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC). Normally, this means they do not have a seminary degree and/or they are not an ordained minister.

This is where the Clinical Chaplain fits. HCMA will still provide clinical pastoral education to someone who does not meet the seminary education and/or ordination requirement, but is obviously called and gifted by God for ministry at the bedside. HCMA is convinced that our clinical pastoral education program (four units = 1,600 hours), along with an 800-hour internship, will help equip these people who are called to “love your neighbor” in the healthcare setting so they can provide competent and compassionate pastoral care at the bedside.

People in this category need to realize that without the credentials of a BCC, there may be doors for ministry as a Chaplain that will be closed to a Clinical Chaplain. However, there are still a lot of ministry possibilities within those boundaries. For example, many long-term care facilities (often called convalescent homes) do not have the same requirements as acute care facilities (hospitals) and they would welcome a trained Chaplain to serve the spiritual needs of their residents.

Review the qualifications for becoming a Certified Clinical Chaplain (CCC). If interested in pursuing this journey to become a CCC, contact us.

Qualifying as Certified Clinical Chaplain Policy

This policy describes the process for a candidate to qualify for clinical pastoral training with HCMA leading to professional certification as an HCMA Certified Clinical Chaplain (CCC). This title for a certified Chaplain with HCMA was formerly called a BCC-Affiliate.


An HCMA CCC is a person who does not meet the qualifications for Board Certified Chaplain (ordination and/or seminary education), but has demonstrated professional excellence as a Trainee and Intern Chaplain and has met all eligibility requirements, including completion of 1,600 hours (4 Units) of clinical pastoral education, an 800-hour internship, peer review by the Area Steering Committee for meeting the Professional Chaplain Competency Standards, compliance with the HCMA Code of Ethics, recommendation for certification by the Teaching Chaplain, and has been approved by the Board of Directors of the HCMA.
1. HCMA CCC 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.
d. An undergraduate bachelor’s degree consisting of at least 120 semester units from a college, university, or theological school accredited by a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).Equivalencies for undergraduate education may be granted.

1) Coursework not taken at a school accredited by a member of CHEA may be granted as qualifying for fulfilling the undergraduate education requirement. List courses and provide transcripts.
2) Coursework in secular psychology or counseling may be granted up to a maximum of 30 semester units. 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 300 hours of accepted professional continuing education (30 semester units) will be granted for undergraduate 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.
4) Professional-level theological teaching may be granted as qualifying for educational equivalency credit. List 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 professional-level theological teaching to equal 1 semester unit.
5) List other supervised studies or internships that may be granted for equivalency with a detailed description of each. You may not use unsupervised life experience, unsupervised ministry experience, or private unsupervised study. It takes 100 contact hours to equal 1 semester unit.

e. At least two years of pastoral care ministry experience.
f. Endorsement by the candidate’s church.
g. Good references.

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


  1. The initial application process for clinical pastoral education 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 credit, credential, and criminal background check, and the taking of the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis.
  2. The HCMA CCC candidate will do the following:
    • Complete 4 Units (1,600 hours) of supervised clinical pastoral education.
    • Complete an 800-hour (2 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.
    • Meet the HCMA Code of Ethics.
    • Meet the Professional Chaplain Competency Standards established by HCMA.
    • Have a written and oral peer review by the Professional Certification Commission (aka: Area Steering Committee) to assess competencies.
    • Be 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 CCC 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 Clinical Chaplain receives from his/her healthcare organization will also be subject to the 7% deduction for operational expenses of the HCMA office. For the financial obligations of a Clinical Chaplain to HCMA see the Financial Obligation Policy in the HCMA Policy Manual.
  5. Once certified as a CCC 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 CCC Chaplain 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 HCMA Conference discounts (see Financial Obligation Policy).


See Certification and Recertification Policy.