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What You Need to Know When Filling Out a CPE Application

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

Completing a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) application can be a daunting task. These applications ask for a lot of information like a "reasonably full account of your life." What does that even mean?!?

Don't worry. This guide will help you navigate and complete a CPE application.

Where do I find a CPE program to apply to?

The first thing to know is that there are several accrediting bodies of CPE programs. I am an ACPE Certified Educator, so this guide is intended for anyone applying to an ACPE-accredited CPE program. Many students hear about CPE programs through their schools, classmates, or colleagues. However, it is good to know that there are over 200 programs in the U.S. You can find a complete list of ACPE-accredited programs here.

This directory allows you to customize your search by state, types of units offered, the type of Center, and so on. One way people use this directory is to search for CPE programs with online options. If you are interested in online CPE because you don't have a CPE program in your area or already have a chaplain job, and you don't want to quit to pursue more training, you can look for an online program using this directory. All you have to do is click on the "Units Offered" field, click "Online Options," then "Search." Viola! A list of ACPE-accredited programs with online options will appear.

Where do I find a CPE application?

Now that you know where you want to apply, it is time to fill out the application. The good thing about the application is that it is universal - all CPE programs accept it. Some may have additional questions, so be sure to check their websites for their specific requirements. Generally speaking, though, once you complete this application, you basically have everything ready to submit.

Follow these steps to locate the CPE application:

  1. Go to

  2. Hover your cursor over "Education" at the top of the page (don't click it; just hover)

  3. Click "CPE Application," and you will see the page below

  4. At the bottom of the page, in yellow, you will see three different applications. You should select either the first one (an M.S. Word or Docx file) or the second one (an Adobe PDF file.) I find the Word file easier to navigate, but you should choose whichever one you are most comfortable with.

  5. Once you click on the word "download" next to the first or second option, a file will download to your computer.

  6. Click on the downloaded file and open it.

A Few Guiding Principles to Keep In Mind Before You Fill Out the Application

Before you jump right into responding to the prompts, there are few things you should keep in mind.

  1. Read each prompt carefully and respond to what it is asking. Don't go off on unrelated tangents.

  2. Be reflective in your responses, highlighting self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

  3. Don't try to impress the readers. Be real. Be yourself.

  4. Be vulnerable as you write your responses. You don't have to bleed all over the paper, but it is good to demonstrate that you know how to reveal parts of yourself.

  5. Answer all the questions. Do not skip anything.

How Do I Respond to the Prompts?