*PLEASE NOTE, NEW GUIDELINES TO COMPLY WITH THE VA.*
The board-certified Chaplain is a professional that is employed in the Veteran’s Administration or settings that require full board certification and in keeping with qualifications as developed by BCCI. These include hospitals, military, hospices, long-term care, corrections, first responder organizations and corporate settings.
The board-endorsed Clinical Chaplain is a professional that serves in settings that do not require U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs standards. Such Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplains provide care in civilian settings including hospitals, hospices, long-term care, corrections, first responder organizations and corporate settings.
The board-certified Pastoral Counselor is primarily a CPE trained pastor serving in a congregational setting as a pastor. Their primary area of responsibility is the local church. This certification follows the qualifications as put forth in the Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplain designation above. An additional 2,000 documented counseling hours are required for those Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplains and Board Certified Chaplains seeking to be dual certified with the BCPC credential.
The Associate category is for those seeking professional chaplaincy certification but do not yet meet the other requirements for that status. The Associate level still requires all qualifications of the BECC certification including four (4) units of CPE and, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. The applicant may be lacking one of the other requirements (e.g. M.Div, ecclesiastical endorsement, or ordination/licensure/consecration). Once an associate completes the requirements they are automatically granted full board certification.
The Chaplain’s Assistant category is for those lacking the higher education component of full certification. To meet this category the applicant is required to complete all the other requirements for certification but is lacking a higher education degree. A high school diploma with some college credit is required.
Your payment is due when you apply. As soon as you hit "Submit" on the application form with payment, you will be taken to a page that contains a link to upload your documentation (in its entirety) as well as a link and password to take your 25 question core competency test.
Take the test
The test consists of 25 general chaplaincy questions from a pool of 50 questions. You may take the test as many times as you need to get a passing score, but the questions will change each time you take the test. Once a passing score of 70% is attained, there is no need to take the test additional times.
Submit your documentation
All documentation is submitted on one page at the same time. This documentation must be completely submitted within 3 months of the application being submitted. Failure to submit documentation within 3 months will result in forfeiture of the application fee and the application will be vacated.
Wait to hear from the administrator
Once your documentation has been verified, the administrator will work to schedule your interview which occurs on Monday evenings at 4 p.m. CST via Microsoft Teams
Attend your interview
Interviews take between an hour and a half to two hours. You will be asked questions about your documentation, your discoveries of self during CPE and engage in a roleplay based on a real-life encounter. You will be sent the video of your role play, usually within a week of the interview, and you will be asked to write a verbatim case study on your encounter. It is also not uncommon for the candidate to receive additional didactic assignments, based on how their interview went, to address areas that could be improved.
Complete your roleplay verbatim case study and any additional didactic assignments
There is no required time frame. Didactic videos are between 5 minutes and 15 minutes so the assignments should be impactful but easily completed.
ACCC, SCA, BCCI, NACC, NAVAC and NAJC follow the National Common Standards. Both organizations have been thoroughly vetted by VA officials to be compliant with their certification needs. ACCC also includes a standardized test in addition to the common standards
Only six chaplain certifying bodies follow the National Common Standards: ACCC, SCA, BCCI, NACC, NAVAC and NAJC.
As you take the next step on your journey to board certification with the Association of Certified Christian Chaplains, a significant portion of that process includes the demonstration that you, as an applicant, meet the generally accepted competencies of a spiritual care professional. With over thirty professional competencies, we understand that this can feel like a daunting challenge. Nevertheless, this is an important step in substantiating your readiness for the work of a board-certified chaplain. It is our hope that the following document will provide you with the guidance and confidence you need in order to meet this challenge with confidence.
This document will be formatted with invitations to writing and specific questions to be answered. Each invitation or question will also have a response limit – oftentimes only a few paragraphs. Within your writing, there are a few things we are looking for (recognizing that not every question will require every element):
1) A demonstrated ability to succinctly speak to the nature of the competency.
2) Appropriate personal vulnerability in speaking to areas of growth or challenge.
3) Affirmative language describing your skills and successes with a competency.
4) Relevant disclosures of experience and lessons learned.
5) A balance between being overly theoretical or overly practical, instead preferring to see how theory and practice intersect.
With those concepts in mind, the remainder of this guide will lay out the specific expectations for written submissions. Your ability to communicate effectively in writing through this means is not only a vital skill (one that will serve you well in a variety of ways in the clinical setting), but is also a competency in itself. You will be expected to ensure that your verbal communications in the interview are both equally effective and that they reflect a clearly complementary relationship with your written responses. We encourage you to use this to write out your answers in a Microsoft Word document and upload all documents in one entry. Save your answers frequently, and review them before uploading and submitting them via this upload tool. Only complete submissions will be accepted, so please do not fill out one section and submit it.
Finally, we highly recommend that you do not delete your final word processing document after using the web-based submission tool, in the event of a server failure or other technical issue that does not allow the transmission of your final written submissions. The board will review your written submissions prior to your interview. If minor deficiencies are found, you will be given the opportunity to address those deficiencies in the interview. If significant deficiencies are discerned, you will be notified of the deficiencies and invited to resubmit. Please note, in such an instance, you will be removed from the interview queue until updated submissions are received.
Please note: The following Competencies and learning outcomes should be reflected in your writing.
Suggestions are provided in each Essay for what ICPT Core Competencies the board will be looking for in your submissions.
ICPT Chaplain Core Competencies
ICPT Curriculum Components
U1.1 Cultural Competence, Inclusion, and Vulnerable Populations
U1.2 Living with Heartbreak: Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
U2.1 Powerful Communication Techniques
U2.2 Values, Obligations, and Rights: Health Care Ethics
U2.3 When It’s Time to Say Goodbye: Introduction to Spiritual Care at the End of Life
U3.1 When Care is Tough: Supporting the Interdisciplinary Team
U3.2 Talking about What Matters: Advance Directives and Planning
U4.1 What to do with Information: HIPAA Compliance
U4.2 What We Hear and Say: Spiritual Assessment and Documentation
SECTION ONE: ESSAYS
Essays provide you with a lengthier format to engage with the Board Certification Committee on ‘big questions’ that are not easily summarized in a brief format.
ESSAY 1 Spiritual Autobiography -
This essay addresses
ICPT Core Competencies: 1, 4, 5, and 9
ACPE Learning Outcomes: L1.1 and L2.1
Word Limit (Word Limit means do not exceed that amount. Our interviewers don't want to have to read through 200 pages of text to find your answers): 2000 words (approximately 4 single-spaced pages)
In the first essay, we are seeking to know you better. We want to learn about your life-story, as told principally through the lens of your faith experience. While it is certainly appropriate to include certain basic facts and formative experiences within your Spiritual Autobiography, the principal content should relate to your journey of faith. Areas to reflect upon include:
ESSAY 2 Theology of Chaplaincy
This essay addresses
ICPT Curriculum: 1.1, 2.2, and 3.1
ICPT Core Competencies: 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 12, and 13
ACPE Learning Outcomes: L1.1, L1.2, L1.7, L2.1, L2.2, L2.3, L2.4, and L2.7
Word Limit (Word Limit means do not exceed that amount. Our interviewers don't want to have to read through 200 pages of text to find your answers):: 4000 words (approximately 8 single-spaced pages)
In the second essay, we take the opportunity to explore your theology of chaplaincy. As a Christian certifying agency, it is important for us to see a manifest understanding of the origins of our faith tradition and its belief structure, as well as how you apply such insights into your delivery of spiritual care as a professional chaplain. A complete essay address the following competencies:
ESSAY 3 Professional Authority of the Chaplain - (core competencies 3,5,6,7,8,10,11)
This essay addresses
ICPT Curriculum: 1.1, 2.1, and 2.2
ICPT Core Competencies: 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11
ACPE Learning Outcomes: L1.4, L1.5, L1.7, L2.2, L2.3, L2.4, L2.5, L2.6, L2.7, and L2.9
Word Limit (Word Limit means do not exceed that amount. Our interviewers don't want to have to read through 200 pages of text to find your answers):: 2000 words (approximately 4 single-spaced pages)
In the third essay, the board will be looking for your ability to lay hold of a balanced and healthy sense of professional authority on the part of you, the applicant. A complete essay address the following competencies:
ESSAY 4 Professional Ethics - (core competencies 9,10,11)
This essay addresses
ICPT Curriculum: 1.1 and 2.2
ICPT Core Competencies: 9, 10, and 11
ACPE Learning Outcomes: L1.5, L2.2, L2.5, L2.8, and L2.9
Word Limit (Word Limit means do not exceed that amount. Our interviewers don't want to have to read through 200 pages of text to find your answers):: 3000 words (approximately 6 single-spaced pages)
In the final essay, the board’s focus is on exploring your ethical foundations and framework. Emphasis should include how your faith forms your ethics, secular influences on your ethical outlook, and your agreement with the Code of Ethics of the Association of Certified Christian Chaplains. Additional areas that should be addressed effectively include:
In this essay, please ensure that you reflect on the emotional and spiritual challenges that come with navigating professional ethics.
SECTION TWO: INDEPENDENT WRITING - (demonstrate any core competencies you feel appropriate, especially those you have not covered already)
Independent Writing offers specific, focused topics linked to the competencies of professional chaplaincy. In these areas, be bold about your competencies, use appropriate examples to demonstrate competency, and share areas where you are either actively seeking growth or are aware of the need to grow. Each Independent Writing topic offers specific guidance on the length of the response, and the response should represent a blend of self-awareness, theory, and practice.
For the Board Certified Chaplain certification, recognized by the VA, click here.
For the Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplain, Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, Board Certified Associate Chaplain, or Chaplain Assistant, click here.
-Board Certified Chaplain Interview Fee: $400 + $120 (application fee which includes the cost for the core competency exam). Your fee includes membership for the balance of the calendar year.
-Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplain, Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, Board Certified Associate Chaplain Fee: $300 + $120 (application fee which includes the cost for the core competency exam). Your fee includes membership for the balance of the calendar year
-Annual Membership: BCC after 1/14/2020 – $200 (January 1 – December 31)
All other certifications – $100 (January 1 – December 31)
-Dual Board Certification Fee with the Spiritual Care Association: $50 (optional: January 1 – December 31)
-Reinstatement Fee – If your board certification with ACCC expires due to nonpayment (due January 1), you must pay a $35 late fee per year you are expired. Individuals expired for 3 years must reapply for board certification and pay fees as a new applicant.
-Returned Check Fee: $50.00
Each person applying for certification will receive a link and password on the screen immediately following the submission of their application and payment.
The exam is based on core competencies in chaplaincy and consists of 25 questions, randomly selected from a 50 question pool. You can take the exam multiple times but the questions will change each time. A passing score of 70% is required.
50 units are required per year. Failure to submit 50 CEUs on our CEU page results in suspension of certification. To find out what qualifies as a CEU as well as how many units of each category can be claimed, visit this CEU page. This is also the page for certified members to submit their units.
To receive Board Certification Chaplain credentials with ACCC, you must meet the following requirements:
• Documentation of at least 4 CPE Units, 3 must be from a U.S. Department of Education Accredited institution (please note, we initially only accepted 4 units from U.S. Department of Education Accredited institutions, but revised this policy on 7/8/21 to be more in line with other VA approved chaplaincy organizations). The only two CPE institutions that are accredited by the DoE are the Institute of Clinical Pastoral Training (ICPT), and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).
To receive Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplain credentials with ACCC, you must meet the following requirements:
All documentation must be submitted, in its entirety, at the following link BECC, BCAC, BCPC Documentation Submission link
The board-certified Pastoral Counselor is primarily a CPE trained pastor serving in a congregational setting as a pastor. Their primary area of responsibility is the local church. This certification follows the qualifications as put forth in the Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplain designation above. An additional 2,000 documented hours are required for those Board Endorsed Clinical Chaplains seeking to be dual certified with the BCPC credential.
We will provide a letter of acceptance you can provide to your employer as soon as your certification is complete. Your certificate will be awarded at the annual conference as part of a ceremony. If you are unable to attend the conference, your certificate will be mailed soon after. After the annual conference, your digital certificate will also be posted to your online profile on our website for you to download.
A Master's of Divinity degree (MDiv) is the standard degree required for chaplaincy. For our Board Certified Chaplain certification, it must be obtained from an accredited institution. In certain cases, we may recognize an MDiv equivilency based on 70+ credit hours in a degree that closely aligns with the work of chaplaincy, i.e. D.Min, degrees in social work or counseling, etc.. You are encouraged to contact the administrator to determine if your current degree can count towards this requirement.
Generally, the answer is yes. Historically, chaplains have been drawn from the ranks of ordained clergy, and so ordination and endorsement is typically required. In certain settings, such as the military or the VA, it is often impossible to be accepted as a chaplain without ordination. If you belong to a denomination where ordination is not possible for you, we have professional chaplaincy organization partnerships that may be able to work with you to meet this requirement. Likewise, we recognize that some denominations commission and license properly prepared laypersons as chaplains. In either instance, please email the administrator with the particulars of your situation, and we will gladly review and advise.
Endorsement is important because as an endorsed chaplain, you operate as an extension of your denomination. Endorsement means your denomination will both stand behind you and hold you accountable.
The answer is NO. Prostelytizing is against our code of conduct. As Christian chaplains, we deliver care to all, regardless of their status in life, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or any other defining characteristic. Our goal is to provide care to all, at all times. We also, as Christian chaplains, will coordinate care with clergy of other faith groups when we ourselves are unable to directly provide care because of practices that are outside of our denominational endorsers' practices.
Due to an agreement with the Spiritual Care Association, our board certified chaplains and board endorsed clinical chaplains can apply for dual board certification after they receive their welcome letter. This is a designation that allows their employers to know that, not only is this chaplain a certified "Christian" chaplain, but they also hold board certification with the Spiritual Care Association, an interfaith organization that serves all faiths.
In order to participate in this, the chaplain must not be in the Spiritual Care Association's database already. We do not poach their members, nor do they poach ours. Please note, this certification DOES NOT include membership in SCA. We pay one lump sum for our dual board certified members to SCA and there is no exchange of data. To join SCA as a member to receive their newsletters and CEU opportunities, you must do that directly with them. Any of our dual BCC members can ask for a 50% discount code to join SCA.
We currently offer 3 specializations with additional programs in development.
What if I am not a member of ACCC but am board certified by another certifying organization? If you agree to our statement of faith and the organization you are certified by is recognized by the Veteran's Administration (ACCC, SCA, BCCI, NACC, NAVAC), then you can apply to have your certification recognized by ACCC and thus become a board-member. Click here to learn more.
We assess a $35 late fee per year your dues are not paid. However, ACCC reserves the right to require you to reapply, resubmit all documentation and reinterview if your membership expires. The chaplaincy world is constantly evolving and so do our requirements as we respond to best practices. Such changes mean that expiration of membership may require a re-engagement with the process to meet new standards.
You may join ACCC as a member without applying for board certification. Membership costs $100 per year and is for the calendar year. Fees are not prorated based on join date. To join, click here, fill out the application in its entirety, and pay your $100 fee. By joining, you can take advantage of the member rate for our annual conference which is $100 off the non-member rate.
Our website is designed to be self-service. Simply login on the "member sign-in link" by clicking here. Then use your email address and password to login. If you do not remember your password, simply use the "Request password" button and a new password will be emailed to you. Once you login, your profile will pop up. Scroll down to the bottom for the payment area. Click Here for a photo tutorial.
We have 2 options. You can print one from your profile or you can order one that will be shipped to you in the mail with our gold embossed foil emblem.
To download and print your certificate:
Simply login on the "member sign-in link" by clicking here. Then use your email address and password to login. If you do not remember your password, simply use the "Request password" button and a new password will be emailed to you. Once you login, your profile will pop up. Click on the second tab in your profile to find a link to your certificate. Simply copy and paste the text into a web browser. The certificate will download as a PDF which you can either print on your printer or take to a print shop. Please note, the certificate is 11X17 in size.
To order a new certificate with gold embossed foil seal:
Simply go to this page and login.
Please mail your check to:
Association of Certified Christian Chaplains
1600 E 14th St.
Sedalia, MO. 65301
Yes! CPE is also known as Clinical Pastoral Education. Much like a doctor goes through specialized training to become an M.D., a board-certified chaplain goes through a specialized training called Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE typically is done in "units" with each unit being comprised of 100 classroom hours and 300 clinical hours under the direction of a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor. This is typically done over a 3-month period of time. 4-units is the minimum required to apply for BCC, BECC, and BCPC. For those with 2 units, that meet all other requirements, the Board Certified Associate Chaplain is an option.
There is no substitution for CPE.
Yes. First, we have a statement of ACCC's Professional Ethics that you must agree to before your application can be submitted. You can find it here.
Second, you must agree to our Affirmations of faith which is part of the application. Our statements of faith read:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
There is one true God Creator, Redeemer, and Preserver of the universe. God is eternal, God is holy, God is love; God is triune, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct attributes but without division or nature, essence, or being, and who alone is worthy of worship.
“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9)
Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who, in His incarnation, was conceived of the Holy Spirit and Born of the Virgin Mary, fully God and fully human. Jesus lived perfectly and revealed the will of God was crucified, died, was buried, and, on the third day, rose from the dead. Having atoned for the sins of humankind on the cross, He ascended into Heaven, is exalted at the right hand of God, and will return in power and glory to judge the world. Christ dwells in all believers as the
living ever-present Lord.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another, the Advocate, to be
with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth— whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. The Spirit exalts Jesus Christ and convicts humans of sin, unrighteousness, and of judgment. The Spirit enables humankind to understand truth, calls all to the Savior, effects regeneration of those who accept Christ as Savior, and infuses believers with the Fruit of the Spirit
“It is by grace through faith that you are saved. This is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)
“Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
The salvation of sinners is wholly God’s work of grace, offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by his life, death, and resurrection obtained eternal redemption for the believer. This salvation by grace through faith is secured through repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord.
“So God created humankind in His image, in the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Created in God’s image, humankind is the crowning work of creation. By free will humans rebel against the love of God, rupturing the relationship by transgressing the commands of God and falling under condemnation. Only the grace of God can restore humans into a proper relationship with God and enable them to fulfill the creative purpose of God.
“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The ordinances of the Lord are sure, and altogether righteous.”
The Holy Bible is the divinely inspired book of Old and New Testament scriptures, authoritative for faith and practice, wherein the way of salvation and holy living is illumined. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in a covenant commitment. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman, in marriage, the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
“And He has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:20-23)
The church is composed of all true Disciples of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. Christians are to associate themselves with local churches. The church is an autonomous body, operating under the lordship of Christ. Each church is given the authority to worship, carry out ministry, and to exercise the gifts and privileges invested in them by Christ.
In God’s time and in His own way, He will bring the world to its appropriate end. God has appointed a day when He will judge the world by Jesus Christ—when all people shall receive their just reward; the unredeemed shall be condemned to everlasting punishment; the righteous shall be given everlasting life in the glory of God.
Our Christian Worldview
“… are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)
Christ is “… the image of the invisible God… For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible … all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him, all things are held together.” (Colossians 1:15-17)
Christ is the Creator and center of the universe. Jesus proclaimed; “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6) It is this Way, this Truth, and this
Life, the Association of Professional Conservative Chaplains promotes. Our Lord invites us to “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
This invitation we accept. All truth is God’s truth. All sound learning is part of our Christian heritage and calling and is centered in a Christian world view, where Jesus is Lord and we are His Disciples.