Saturday, May 20, 2023

Becoming a Board Certified Chaplain


The role of a chaplain is one of great significance, providing spiritual guidance and support to individuals and communities during times of crisis and need. If you are a Universal Life Church (ULC) Minister seeking to expand your ministerial skills and become a board certified chaplain, this blog post will guide you through the process. While the path may require dedication and effort, the rewarding nature of the profession makes it worthwhile. In this article, we will explore the steps necessary to become a board certified chaplain, highlighting the requirements, training, and certification process.

Step 1: Understand the Role of a Chaplain:

Before embarking on the journey towards becoming a board certified chaplain, it is important to have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of a chaplain. Chaplains work in diverse settings, including hospitals, military organizations, correctional facilities, hospices, and more. They provide spiritual care, emotional support, and counseling to individuals and families, respecting their beliefs and backgrounds.

Step 2: Research Board Certification Options:

There are several certifying bodies for chaplains, each with its own requirements and application process. One prominent organization is the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). Visit their website ( to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps and criteria for certification. The APC offers two certification options: the Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) and the Board Certified Associate Chaplain (BCAC).

Step 3: Fulfill Educational Requirements:

To become a board certified chaplain, you must meet specific educational criteria. Typically, a minimum of a master's degree in divinity, theology, or a related field from an accredited institution is required. If you do not already hold such a degree, consider pursuing one to fulfill this requirement.

Step 4: Gain Clinical Experience:

In addition to educational qualifications, chaplaincy certification bodies require candidates to accumulate a certain number of hours of clinical pastoral education (CPE) or equivalent experience. CPE programs are typically offered in hospitals, and they provide hands-on training in spiritual care. Completing a CPE program not only fulfills the certification requirement but also offers valuable practical experience in working with patients, families, and healthcare professionals.

Step 5: Join a Professional Chaplaincy Association:

To enhance your professional development and stay updated with the latest practices and trends in chaplaincy, consider joining a professional chaplaincy association such as the APC. Membership in such organizations offers networking opportunities, access to resources, continuing education options, and a sense of community among fellow chaplains.

Step 6: Begin the Certification Process:

Once you have fulfilled the educational and clinical requirements, you can begin the certification process. Start by submitting an application to the certifying body of your choice. For example, for the BCC certification through the APC, you will need to complete an application form and provide the necessary supporting documents, including educational transcripts, CPE certificates, and letters of recommendation. Please note that only Rev. Andre Hensley of the Universal Life Church headquarters in Modesto, California can provide official ULC endorsement for prospective BCCI chaplains. No other denomination of Universal Life, including the one based out of Seattle, is so authorized. Be sure to obtain your ordination through the Modesto ULC if you haven't already, prior to beginning this process. 

Step 7: Prepare for the Certification Exam:

After submitting your application, you will need to prepare for the certification exam. The exam assesses your knowledge and competence in various areas of chaplaincy, including theology, ethics, counseling, and cultural competency. Utilize study materials provided by the certifying body and consider joining study groups or seeking mentorship to enhance your preparation.

Step 8: Take the Certification Exam:

Once you feel adequately prepared, schedule your certification exam. The exam may be administered online or in-person, depending on the certifying body. It typically consists of multiple-choice questions, essays, and case studies. Remember to manage your time effectively during the exam and draw upon your practical experience and knowledge gained through your education and training.

Step 9: Complete the Certification Process:

Upon successfully passing the certification exam, you will move forward in the certification process. This may include additional steps such as an interview or an oral examination. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the certifying body and submit any required documentation promptly.

Step 10: Maintain Certification and Continued Professional Development:

Once you have achieved board certification, it is essential to maintain your certification by fulfilling the ongoing requirements set by the certifying body. This typically includes continuing education, professional development, and periodic renewal of your certification. Engage in conferences, workshops, and seminars to stay updated with the latest advancements and best practices in chaplaincy.


Becoming a board certified chaplain after being a Universal Life Church Minister requires dedication, education, and hands-on experience. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can embark on a fulfilling journey of professional growth and spiritual service. Remember to research the specific requirements of your chosen certifying body, pursue the necessary education and clinical experience, and prepare thoroughly for the certification exam. As you navigate this process, embrace the opportunity to connect deeply with individuals and communities, providing them with the spiritual support they need during challenging times.

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