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Vancouver School of Theology MA PPL in Spiritual Care
Vancouver School of Theology

MA PPL in Spiritual Care

Vancouver, Canada

3 Years


Full time, Part time

Request application deadline

Sep 2024

CAD 290 / per credit *

Blended, On-Campus

* please note there will be extra costs for the CPE units



The concentration in Spiritual Care is designed for those intending to pursue vocations as spiritual care practitioners in settings such as healthcare facilities, prisons and correctional facilities. This specialization has been designed to be in sync with the BC provincial government framework standards as well as the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care certification requirements. Within 24 months students can meet the BC standards requirements for a spiritual health practitioner. An additional Advanced Unit and residency are required by CASC for certification as a specialist. These are normally completed post-degree.

This program provides an integrated approach to learning in which pastoral studies are intentionally integrated with clinical experience in therapeutic methods. Student/interns are immersed in the modern
healthcare team context and learn the pastoral leadership skills essential to ministering within an institutional setting. All students must pass a readiness interview with one of the VST adjunct faculty CPE supervisors prior to being accepted into the program. Persons wishing to enroll should be aware of the emotional rigour that is part of CPE and be prepared for focusing full time on their studies if they wish to complete the program in 24 months.


As a concentration within the larger MA PPL degree, this program likewise carries 48 credit-hours of study. The concentration can be completed in two full-time years (24 months) of academic and practical study, which includes a full-time Clinical Pastoral Education Unit over the summer months following a student’s second full-time year of theological studies. If a student wishes to study part-time, all courses required for this degree must be completed in seven years from the date of first registration.



Theological Core
Students from religions other than Christianity may substitute some of these courses for courses in their own tradition. It is up to the student to find these substitutions and have them approved by the
Registrar’s office.

  • TH500 – Constructive Theology (3)
  • ETH500 – Introduction to Christian Ethics (3)
  • Religious Pluralism or course in a tradition other than one’s own (3)
  • HB500 – Introduction to Hebrew Bible (3 credits)
  • One of NT500 – Synoptics or NT501 – Paul (3 credits)
  • One of HIS500 – Christianity and Judaism in Greco-Roman Antiquity or HIS600 – Canadian Church History Seminar (3)


  • PT500 – Spiritual and Theological Foundations for Public and Pastoral Leadership (3)
  • PT501 – Personal Foundations in PPL: Self as Leader (1.5)
  • PT502 – Practical Foundations in PPL: Leadership in Context (1.5)
  • PT651/652 – Public and Pastoral Leadership Studio I & II (6)
  • PT611 – Leadership Skills for Community Ministry (1.5)
  • PT653 – Leadership Here and Now (1.5)
  • ETH630 – Professional Ethics (3)

Plus 3 units of Theological Field Education: A field-based practice placement found in the Studio course is one way of providing a modicum pastoral base for those entering into a clinical education setting. Through the Studio, students become at least partially prepared for their future task of integrating the pastoral and clinical poles of spiritual care practice into their personhood. The Studio helps students to acquire a sense of pastoral role and, identity within the community that later becomes the basis for how they develop their role as a humanizing agent within the health care system. The ability to embrace pastoral role and identity is also conducive to learning certain aspects of how one can hold the present moment with another human being so as to experience a healing mutual mindfulness. Such factors are a large part of what the Spiritual Health Practitioner brings to the healthcare team and the hospital/institution as a whole that is valued as distinct to the profession.


  • CPE Unit I (3)
  • CPE Unit II (3)
  • CPE Unit III (3)


3 credits in any area of study

Additional tuition fees for CPE units


The total cost of this program is higher than the other streams due to the 6 – 1 student – CPE supervisor
ratio and other factors associated with the costs of running a clinical program. Some bursaries are

Culminating Assignment

The final requirement for graduation in the MA-PPL will be a capstone project and presentation (see below) or one of the following alternatives:

  • Students completing an MA PPL toward a vocation in ministry may, with support from their Director of Denominational Formation, petition the PPL committee to write a position paper on ministry (see M.Div requirements);
  • Students wishing to continue academic study after completing the MA PPL may petition the Research Studies Committee to write a thesis (worth 6 credits – see MATS requirements)

The final requirement is normally done in the student’s final year or semester of study.

Capstone Project and Presentation Description

The Capstone Project is an opportunity for students to complete their MA PPL degree by addressing a practical, real-world leadership challenge or opportunity using the skills and knowledge they have gained
throughout their program of study. The Capstone Project and Presentation provide an opportunity for students to synthesize and apply their knowledge and experiences from their whole program. It helps
them to negotiate successfully the transition to the next stage of their career, whether to the workplace or further study.

Meeting Canadian Association of Spiritual Care (CASC) and provincial government standards:

Students who graduate from the MAPPL with their 3rd CPE unit designated by CASC as “advanced”, will meet the minimum education expectations of persons working in BC Health Centres. Students who complete a 2nd “advanced” unit, and subsequently complete 1000 hours of spiritual care experience in a residency, or other workplace position, can apply for certification as a CASC specialist. Various full and halftime residency positions with stipends are available at VGH and St Paul’s in conjunction with VST post-graduate credits. For information on residencies, students in their final year of studies should contact the CPE supervisors at the aforementioned sites.

About the School