|Click on the topics below or scroll down to view Frequently-Asked Questions about Initial Board Certification with the NACC.
If you are looking for the FAQ page for Renewal of Certification go to this page.
|Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
Deadlines and Timeline
Education (Degree Requirements)
Fees and Payment Options
Letters of Recommendation
Materials Required for Board Certification Application
Prerequisites to Apply for Board Certification
Roman Catholic Requirement
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) (Back to top)
I’m currently in my fourth unit of CPE. May I apply for certification?
I can’t find one or more of my evaluations from CPE. What do I do?
If you cannot find your CPE evaluations in your personal files, contact the institution in which you took CPE. If they do not have your evaluations on file, ask them to write a letter on your behalf stating as such. If you are unable to submit your CPE evaluations after due diligence to obtain them, please contact the Director of Pastoral Care and Certification at email@example.com for further instructions.
What accrediting bodies are acceptable for CPE?
The NACC accepts accredited units of CPE from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), or the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC).
ACPE is the only US Department of Education recognized accreditor of programs of clinical pastoral education centers and Certified Educator CPE programs, the NACC Certification Program requires candidates for Board Certified Chaplains to have successfully completed a minimum of 4 units of ACPE Certified CPE and candidates for Certified Associate Chaplains to have successfully completed a minimum 2 units of ACPE Certified CPE to enter the certification process. A candidate for Board Certification may apply for an equivalency for 1 unit of CPE successfully completed in a non-ACPE accredited program. For consideration, the candidate must submit the appropriate Clinical Pastoral Education Equivalency Worksheet along with the appropriate fee.
Is there a certain level of CPE required as a prerequisite to applying for certification?
No, there is no required level of CPE as long as you have four units accredited by ACPE, USCCB or CASC.
What does Certification by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains Mean?
- The chaplain has documented evidence of an undergraduate degree granted or acknowledged by an accredited academic institution.
- The chaplain has documented evidence of a Master’s degree in theology, divinity, religious studies, pastoral ministry, pastoral studies, or spirituality granted or acknowledged by an accredited academic institution.
- The chaplain has documented evidence of completion of four units of clinical pastoral education from a program accredited by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, or the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care.
- The chaplain demonstrates maintenance of high standards of professional competence and moral and ethical conduct.
- The chaplain demonstrates personal, professional, and Roman Catholic theological competencies.
- The chaplain has ecclesiastical endorsement.
- The chaplain has demonstrated competence through submission of extensive written materials for review.
- The chaplain has been deemed competent by a three-member interview team of certified professional chaplains and/or clinical pastoral education supervisors and was recommended for certification by the interview team.
- The chaplain has been certified by the vote of the National Certification Commission upon their review of the interview team’s report and recommendations.
- The chaplain goes through a Renewal process every five years for professional chaplains and clinical pastoral educators to renew their certification.
When may I submit my certification application portfolio and supportive materials to the NACC office?
Certification Application Portfolios
Certification application portfolios are only accepted during the six week window before the application deadline.
Transcripts/Letters of Recommendation
Transcripts and letters of recommendation may be sent at any time. Transcripts are kept on file for 5-years from the date of origin and letters of recommendation for 1-year from the date of origin for those that have not yet been certified. Transcripts and letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NACC office requests an endorsement on the behalf of the applicant upon the applicant’s materials being deemed acceptable to move forward with an interview. The applicant does not request the endorsement.
Other Supportive Materials
All other supportive materials are to be submitted in the application binder as outlined in the Checklist for Supportive Materials Required for a Certification Interview
What are the postmark deadlines for applying for certification?
Postmark deadlines are no longer applicable. Beginning in September 2023, initial certification applications will only be accepted digitally through an upload portal on the NACC website.
I need extra time to put together my certification application materials. May I have an extension?
If you cannot submit a completed certification application by the current deadline, you will have to wait to submit your certification application at the next applicable deadline.
Do I need to obtain a letter of ecclesiastical endorsement for myself?
No, the NACC office requests a letter of endorsement on your behalf once your application materials are deemed acceptable to move forward with an interview.
From whom will the NACC National Office request my letter of endorsement?
- If you are a lay person, we will request your letter of endorsement from the (Arch) Bishop of the diocese in which you minister.
- If you are a Religious Priest, Brother, or Sister, we will request your letter of endorsement from your Major Superior.
- If you are a Diocesan Priest or Deacon, we will request your letter of endorsement from your Ordinary (from the diocese in which you are incardinated).
As a lay person, do I request a letter of recommendation from a priest or pastor in active ministry?
Yes, you request a letter of recommendation letter from a priest or pastor in active ministry within the diocese of your ministry. The letter must be on letterhead, include original signature, and be no more than one-year older than the application deadline for which the applicant is applying. The priest letter should be sent electronically to email@example.com. The NACC will include a copy of this priest letter along with the request for your ecclesiastical endorsement.
I am in the process of completing my Master’s degree. May I apply for certification?
You may only apply for certification if you have met all of the prerequisites and will complete your degree before the next certification application deadline.
How can I tell if an educational institution is accredited and that accreditation is accepted by NACC?
You can find out if an educational institution is accredited by going to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website . If the institution shows an accreditation on this website, its accreditation is accepted by NACC.
What if I acquired my degree from outside of the United States of America?
For all degrees acquired outside the United States (except for degrees earned at a Pontifical University or an affiliated institution), you are required to have transcript analysis at your expense to verify that your international degree(s) meet(s) the requirements for master’s degree in the United States. For a list of credential evaluation services that have admission standards and an enforced code of good practice, see the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) at: www.naces.org/members.
Are online degrees acceptable for certification?
Yes, as long as it is an accredited institution. For more information on accreditation, see How can I tell if an educational institution is accredited and that accreditation is accepted by NACC?.
Does the NACC require that I be employed in order to apply for certification?
No, the NACC does not require that you be employed in order to apply for certification.
Is there a required number of work hours to apply for certification?
No, the NACC has no required number of work hours.
How much does it cost to apply for certification?
It currently costs $395 to apply for certification. Applicants will be invoiced for the application fee the day after the certification deadline. Invoices will be sent via email.
What methods may I use to pay the certification fee?
Check or Money Order
You may submit a personal/institutional check or money order for the payment of the fee. If your institution submits a check to the NACC, be sure they include your name on the check so we know to apply it to your account. Once you receive your invoice you may send your check through the mail.
Credit Card (Mastercard or Visa Only)
To pay by credit card, you may pay through the member portal. Once you receive your invoice, you may use the link in that email to pay your open invoice at that time.
What happens if I have a conflict with the dates of the interviews?
If you are unable to make it to your scheduled interview, please contact the Director of Pastoral Care and Certification. It may be possible to schedule you for the next round of interviews instead, but it is not guaranteed. Keep in mind that interview dates are between five and seven months apart for any given round.
Do I have to travel for my interview?
No, at this time, all interviews are conducted virtually via Zoom.
Why is there so much time between the time I submit my application and the time I’m scheduled for an interview? What is happening behind the scenes?
Initial Certification at the NACC office is handled primarily by one staff person. The time is used to review each application portfolio for completeness, work with applicants on any corrections or missed requirements, and plan the interview weekend. Each interview weekend requires 50-60 volunteers or more who generously donate their time. Most volunteers are Board Certified members of the NACC. In addition, at any given time, we are at different stages in two application processes.
As a lay person, do I request a letter of recommendation from a priest or pastor in active ministry?
Yes, you request a letter of recommendation letter from a priest or pastor in active ministry within the diocese of your ministry. The letter must be on letterhead, include original signature, and be currently dated (no more than one-year older than the application deadline for which the applicant is applying). The letter should be sent directly from the priest to the NACC office. The letter should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. This priest letter will accompany the NACC’s request for your ecclesiastical endorsement.
How do I find a mentor?
We recommend working with a mentor as you prepare your application materials. The mentor should be Board Certified with the NACC and be familiar with the current procedures. The NACC does not facilitate a mentor relationship.
You can find a mentor in your area by logging into your member profile on our website and searching the directory in your area. Be sure that they are Board Certified with BCC or BCC-S after their name.
If none of those mentors work for you and you need assistance finding a suitable mentor in your area, please contact your State Liaison. The state liaisons are listed here: https://www.nacc.org/membership/state-liaisons/#1447047174357-c7ef4587-0103.
More information here: Mentors for NACC Board Certification Applicants
If I am not Roman Catholic, may I still apply for Certification with NACC?
No, you may only apply for certification with the NACC if you are a member in good standing of a church in union with Rome. Please see the this list for churches that are in union with Rome.