Open House and Info Session

July 2 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Open House and Info Session

August 6 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


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The interfaith Chaplaincy & Ministry Program is designed to inspire, nurture and educate a new kind of clergy: those who are called to lead and serve in an interfaith capacity.  Many individuals enroll in this program to satisfy the longing and curiosity they have to live meaningful, engaged lives. Others arrive feeling called to a specific area of spiritual leadership or service.  Whether in traditional or emerging contexts, this program equips its graduates to meet the individuals and issues happening now, in our increasingly intricate and diverse world.

Our innovative program focuses on a combination of the study of the world’s religions, an exploration of mystical paths and teachings, as well as on developing skills for ministry and providing spiritual care. Program participants immerse themselves in a deeply creative and nurturing environment to inquire, explore and grow who they are. Integral to spiritual formation and vocational preparation, seminarians are encouraged to retain and deepen their personal theological perspectives, while also expanding their capacity to serve the spiritually and culturally animated world in which we live.

Those completing the Interfaith Chaplaincy & Ministry Certificate Program may choose to follow the path to ordination as an Interfaith Minister with The Chaplaincy Institute’s (ChI ) Interfaith Community. Our goal is to offer a complete and well-rounded experience that prepares our graduates to lead and serve in whatever capacities they are called.

Once ordained, the community offers our ordained ministers an ecclesiastical home and provides them with Clergy in Good status, which is a professional requirement in many chaplaincy and ministerial settings. More about Interfaith Ordination.

Core Curriculum

The ChI curriculum provides students with a comprehensive, integrated, interfaith, and applied-theology education.  Self-care practices are incorporated throughout, as fundamental learning for all individuals called to caring professions.

Our curriculum has its roots in, and speaks to, the universal language of the psyche and soul of all human beings. Designed to address the evolving spiritual needs reflected in our communities and larger society, each course syllabus undergoes annual review, adapting and changing for relevance and usefulness.

The Core Competencies for Ministerial Formation, inform the classroom learning objectives, homework assignments and independent study requirements, which prepare and measure each seminarian’s readiness for graduation.

1. Interfaith Wisdom – Engage with the world’s knowledge, beliefs, traditions and practices

  • World Religions & Perspectives: Understanding world traditions, exploring culture and practices, cultivating mystical awareness
  • Contextual Education & Immersion: Personally engaging spiritual and cultural traditions, inter-religious dialogue and hospitality
  • Theological Literacy: Understanding faith and the Interfaith movement, engaging sacred texts, exploring personal and Interfaith theology

2. Spiritual Psychology – Deepen understanding of self and psyche

  • Psycho-spiritual development
  • Strengthening the container of self for health in ministry
  • Dreamwork

3. Spiritual Leadership & Development – Define, express and embody one’s personal connection to Spirit

  • Embodied Care & Leadership: Deepening one’s spiritual practice(s) for self-care, personal transformation, and responsive ministry with others
  • Public Speaking & Community Ministry: Developing inspired teaching, public speaking and facilitation skills for myriad settings
  • Arts for Awakening: Engaging transformative artistic practices in visual arts, music, and movement as pathways to the Divine

4. Interfaith Ministry & Service – Explore spiritual care practices for individuals and communities

  • Spiritual Care: Developing practical, inclusive spiritual care and ministry skills, prayer, spiritual care theology, and personal competence in deep listening, presence and compassion
  • Ceremonial Ministry & Ritual-Making: Understanding ceremonial rites, elements of interfaith worship and tools for effective ritual creation
  • Prophetic Voice & Social Transformation: Exploring pathways to applied ministry, cultural advocacy and social activism

5. Vocational Formation – Design and practice your unique path to service or ministry

  • Supervised Practicum:  Integration and application of core competencies
  • Calling & Discernment: Exploring how your gifts, growing edges, vocational experiences and inner guidance interweave to form your way of ministering to the world.

Program Structure

In order to graduate, chaplaincy program students must complete each of the eight (8) required foundational courses, as well as 12-13 additional days of elective courses. Students should plan to begin with the Global Spiritual Tradition (GST) courses (parts 1 & II) before pursuing other required work and electives. Reading assignments and homework are due at the beginning of each course and typically include a reflection paper and an expressive arts project.

Students have up to three years to complete the coursework.  While it may seem technically possible to complete the program in one year, a more realistic time frame is 18 months to 2 years.  A two-year process allows for greater continuity and a deeper engagement with both the material and with The CHI Community.

In addition to multi-day intensive coursework, students take some classes online and work independently on requirements that include:

Work with a Spiritual Director or Counselor/Therapist with a spiritual focus
Each student is required to complete once-monthly Spiritual Direction/Spiritual Counseling sessions with an approved director, to commence after the student’s first module, and completing a minimum of 1 session per month for every month prior to graduation (or ordination), unless otherwise agreed upon between the student and CHI .  [Note: Minimally this means 15 sessions, typically closer to 22.]

Commit to a personal spiritual practice and participate in a spiritual community (different traditions very acceptable)
The options for a personal spiritual practice are multiple and flexible.  Examples include attendance at a weekly worship service, daily meditation, prayer based on a primary faith tradition, yoga, art or journaling, and so on. Practice should be discussed and tended in spiritual direction as well as in the Core Competencies Self-Assessment review.

As part of the Prophetic Voice and Social Transformation (PVST) coursework, students are also expected to attend and participate in the life and activities of an organized spiritual community. The community may be your long-standing religious home, but may as readily be a church temple, zendo, mosque, ashram or other community you feel called to meet more intimately for the period of time you are enrolled at CHI .

Visit spiritual centers
Each Chaplaincy Program student is expected to visit and experience worship at a variety of houses of worship or spiritual centers in several faiths in his or her local community. The intent of this contextual learning requirement is to have the student engage with different faith traditions/expressions of spirituality beyond just observation (and, especially, to avoid “spiritual tourism.”) Site visit reports should contain evidence of both personal and contextual/cultural examination.
Find a mentor in a secondary faith tradition

The student should pick a second tradition beyond their personal spiritual practice to delve into more deeply, and find a mentor to give guidance in that tradition. This second tradition should be explored formally for at least 6 months through regular study.

Complete the Core Competencies Assessment *
Each student is required to complete a written self-reflection assessment and assessment interview, which are to be completed about two-thirds of the way through the program.

Complete a practicum *
Contextual learning gives each student the opportunity to integrate theological concepts and intellectual constructs into the flow of lived experience. Students are required to complete a 200-hour-supervised practicum (400 hours for those wishing to be ordained) in an area of interest relating to their desired focus of ministry or spiritual care. This is where each student can test their wings and begin to grow their ministry within the supportive structure of our learning community.

*Students pursuing ordination will have additional requirements for these elements, further detailed in Ordination Requirements.

Certificates & Titles Bestowed

All graduates of the Interfaith Studies Certificate Program receive a Certificate of Completion from The Chaplaincy Institute. All students who successfully complete the Interfaith Studies Program also receive an official transcript from The Chaplaincy Institute, which lists the student’s program start date and graduation date, and assigns a passing grade for all academic requirements.  The ChI Seminary bestows Certificates of Completion and issues transcripts.

The ChI Interfaith Community bestows Interfaith Ordination and Clergy In Good Standing status.



A Bachelor’s degree is required.

We recognize that many people have engaged in life and learning experiences in a variety of contexts that can develop knowledge and abilities that equal a Bachelor degree. Applicants without a Bachelor’s degree can apply for an education equivalency/life experience waiver of this requirement, by completing a Bachelor Degree Prerequisite Waiver Request, available from our office.


A written application, transcript, professional resume or CV and letters of recommendation are required. Application materials can be sent in as they are completed; they do not all have to arrive together.

Application Deadline

Applications are welcome any time. Plan to have application materials in no later than 2 (and ideally 3) months prior to the date of the first module you plan to attend.

Admissions Interviews
We review applications in the order we receive them, within 2 weeks of receiving them. Once reviewed, we will be in contact with you to schedule an interview either in person or by Skype.


If accepted into the program, the student will receive an acceptance letter and all that is necessary to get started. Plan on one to two months’ time to prepare for the first class (administrative forms, student handbook, “primer” reading/videos, class reading and homework assignments).

Sample admissions timeline:
February 1 – Complete Application package received
February 14 – Application Materials Reviewed. Contact made to Schedule Interview
March 1 – Interview held. Acceptance (or denial) letter received (immediately thereafter)
March 7 – Student Enrollment Materials shared (if accepted)
March 10 – New Student Orientation scheduled (online orientation will occur within two months of acceptance)
March 15 – ChI Primer (IS Program prerequisite) and First Class homework assignments provided
Two months (approximate) – Complete ChI Primer and First Class assignments
May 1 – First Class tuition payment due
May 14 – First Class homework assignment due
May 15 – First day of class


We appreciate that some people need support in making such an important decision. Indeed, choosing to enroll in a program such as this is a considerable investment of time and resources. Our Admissions Manager is available to guide you in your discernment about enrolling in the Interfaith Chaplaincy Program, at no charge to you, and can be reached at admissions@chaplaincyinstitute.org or 510-843-1422.

The Chaplaincy Institute (“Chand so many others like me, the opportunity to engage in the Interfaith dialogue in ways that most of us never imagined. ChI ’s curriculum is unique, in that students who are interested in Interfaith Ordination not only read, reflect, and engage with literature and liturgy from a wide scope of faith traditions, it also insists upon first-hand experience. This Nice Jewish Girl found herself genuflecting in embodied Muslim prayer, meditating with a Buddhist nun, kneeling in a Catholic mass, and sweating in a lodge with a Lakota guide. The insistence upon empathy and the invitation to compassionate sharing offered a clerical formation unlike anything I could have imagined.

ChI envisions as many different types of ministers, chaplains, and spiritual directors as individuals striving towards those ends. It is often repeated that people of all faiths, no faith, and everything in between are welcome both at the seminary and at the Interfaith services and workshops. There is an emphasis on the arts, inviting people to bring their authentic voice to their service. We sing, we dance, we eat, we pray, and we sit in silence while holding sacred space for each other.

ChI ’s Ministers, Spiritual Directors, and Chaplains are spiritually, emotionally, and academically ready to support the journeys of those whom they serve. With creativity and the remarkable talents of their dedicated staff and faculty, they offer so much more than a seminary; they have created their own community as well, one where inclusion and integrity are paramount. I feel blessed by my calling to service, but I feel that call answered by my experience at ChI .

Rev. Jen Bernstein, ChI Ordained 2014