Interfaith Studies Certificate Course

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this program for?

This program is designed for people who are called to serve in an Interfaith capacity in our increasingly diverse world. Many individuals enroll in this course to satisfy the longing and curiosity they have to live meaningful, engaged lives. 

Who takes this program?

Our students come from a diverse range of backgrounds—from nurses to yoga instructors to business people to psychologists. They also come from a diverse range of theological backgrounds—for example, Buddhists, Catholics, and many people who don’t define their spirituality through a specific faith tradition. 

What are the components of the program?

5-day thematic module intensives (12 in all), reading & writing, field visits, personal spiritual practice, practicum, and vocational discernment. Read more here

Can I participate in this program on-line?
How many (if any) courses are offered long distance over the internet?
How long is this course?

The shortest amount of time to complete the course is 12 months, the longest is 36 months. Typically, students proceed through the curriculum and attend the thematic module intensives as they are able. Most students attend every month or every other month. Thematic module intensives do not need to be taken sequentially, as the calendar repeats itself each year.

How many people are in the course?

Small group sizes ensure a relaxed, intimate environment with a high level of interaction between faculty and other participants, and ample opportunity for dialogue and questions.

Can you tell me more about the integration of creativity and the arts into the curriculum? 


The arts as a “second language” are emphasized at ChI because they are a primary mode through which we sense and express the Divine throughout our lives. Creative expression of the religious or spiritual experience has been part of all religions and faith traditions, dating back to prehistoric times. We hold, as a learning objective, the fostering of creative approaches to ministry as a universal, accessible pathway. Use of the arts in spiritual care connects people with meaning and with Source, whether or not they relate to the vocabulary of “God” or “the Divine.”

Can I get academic credit for this course?

Ours is not an accredited school in the same manner of traditional denomination-centric seminaries. However, students enrolled at the Graduate Theological Union have taken our course as an elective with prior approval from their academic advisors.  Also, this course is valued as 18 graduate level credits toward Masters Degrees at Starr King School for the Ministry and the course is valued at 24 graduate level credits by the Association of Professional Chaplains, helping to meet their requirements for professional board certification as a chaplain.

What if I have studied elsewhere?

If you have a theological degree from a seminary, graduate school, or the like, you may request a waiver of some of the course requirements. These are addressed on a case-by-case basis and begin with submitting a Request for Requirements Waiver form.

What is the cost of the program?

Tuition is $14,400 for 12 thematic module intensives, with additional expenses. Payment can be made in installments. More info is here

Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, click here to learn more.

Does this course qualify for financial aid from the government?

No.  However, if you choose to enroll in the Joint Program with Starr King School for the Ministry, financial aid and government grants may be available.

What are the prerequisites for enrollment?

A Bachelor's degree.  If you do not have a Bachelor's degree, you can apply for a Education Prerequisite Waiver. More info is here.

Can you help me with a foreign student visa?

No

How do I enroll in the course?

By completing a written application.  Enrollment information is here. Acceptance into the program is based on a written application and interview. Applications received by the last day of the month are reviewed for admission to the following month’s Learning Module, or later. Skype interviews may be conducted for long-distance applicants.

How soon can I start?

This course operates on rolling admissions, so you can begin any time of year. In most cases, you can begin as soon as 8 weeks after we receive all of your application materials (including letters of reference).

I am not sure if I want to take the whole course. Can I attend just one thematic module intensive and check it out?

Yes. We appreciate that choosing to enroll in a program such as this is a considerable investment of time and resources. You may attend up to 3 modules without applying to and matriculating into this course. More information about enrolling for single modules is here

I am a licensed clinician, so can I get Continuing Education Units?

We encourage you to approach your board and appeal to them for CEU's for our courses.

What happens at a thematic module intensives?

Each thematic module intensives has a distinct theme—either a world religion or a particular aspect of Interfaith ministry. Class content flows between didactic and experiential, theological and psychological, artistic and reflective modalities. Although each is different, all of them contain elements of ministry, chaplaincy and spiritual care skill-building. Each module offers opportunities to explore prayer, meditation and ritual through the lens of a particular faith tradition. A contextual learning trip to a center of worship further integrates each module’s learnings. We’ve found that it is not enough just to read about the world’s religions; it is also vital to reach out into our communities and experience how others pray and celebrate their faiths. Recent field education experiences have included visits to a Mosque, a Sikh temple, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Christian church, a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple, a Sufi sema gathering, and a Jewish Song of Songs service.

In addition, students prepare and present a short sermon for other students in the thematic module intensives. This is the part of each module where we are blessed to discover the gifts and talents of our students, as we come together to learn from each other. Sermons—like our studies overall—are not required to be in the didactic verbal presentation style; students are welcomed to use creative expression to convey their messages. Preparing and offering sermons is an important part of each module. Shy students receive support and encouragement to find their personal voice. The messages offered by our students transcend the limits of the educational exercise itself, becoming part of our interconnections with other members of the student community, as well as part of the growing collective body of inter-religious wisdom speaking to the spiritual needs of our pluralistic world.

When are thematic module intensives held?

Every month of the year. Each module theme is offered the same month of the year. Students choose when to take teach module. All modules run once a month, from Wednesday through Sunday, most run from 9am to 5pm. There are often one to two evening activities that take place from 6pm to 8pm.

Where do the modules take place?

The modules take place at Christ Church Babcock Room, 2138 Cedar Street, Berkeley, California. All modules are held within walking distance of BART.

Do I have to attend each of the 5 days of a thematic module intensive?

Yes

If I come from out of town, where do I stay during a module intensive?

At a hotel or rented room of your own choosing. More info is here

Where do I do my practicum?

Practicum settings may include hospitals or places of worship, singing at the bedside in a home for the elderly, working with animals in a shelter, or leading spiritual growth workshops. In any case, the practicum serves as a bridge to creating a ministry that suits your unique call to spiritual service. Students serve at hospitals, hospices, correctional facilities, social service agencies, etc. and are responsible for obtaining a practicum position.


Will completing this course make me a chaplain and enable me to get a job?

This course is one component of qualifying for chaplaincy work. Professional chaplains are trained and credentialed by several organizations, and most employers require this credential. This training, however, can serve as preparation and discernment for people considering a career in professional chaplaincy. More information is here.

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