MAPPL (SC) - Specialization in Spiritual Care

The specialization in Spiritual Care is designed for those intending to pursue vocations as spiritual care practitioners in settings such as health care 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.

Note: An additional Advanced Unit and residency is 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 into the modern health care 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.

Note:  To complete the Spiritual Care specialization, MA PPL students must apply to, and be accepted by, the spiritual care supervisor of the Hospital Authority with which they plan to do their CPE units.  Admission to the MA PPL does not guarantee acceptance into the spiritual care specialization.  Application to a Clinical Psychospiritual Education Unit is completed separately.


Program Length
Distance Learning

Length of Program

As a specialization within the larger MA PPL degree, this program likewise carries 48 credit-hours of study. The specialization can be completed in three full-time years of academic and clinical study. 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.


A graduate of the MAPPL program at VST will know, articulate and integrate aspects of religious heritage, cultural context, and public and pastoral leadership:

  1. Demonstrate Master’s level knowledge of biblical, theological, and historical traditions and contexts, including the student’s own denomination or faith tradition.
  2. Analyze the relationship between religious faiths and contemporary culture, and demonstrate how engagement with both impacts one’s contribution to public and pastoral leadership.
  3. Analyze and interpret various cultural, congregational, and organizational contexts where ministry is practiced.
  4. Demonstrate positive growth in self-knowledge, emotional maturity, and spiritual vitality necessary for leadership in community.
  5. Articulate and practice an ethical and theological framework for decision-making and action.
  6. Articulate the student’s own purpose or call within their community of faith and wider society, making use of and possibly going beyond current models of ministry.
  7. Demonstrate integration of the knowledge, reflection and skills described above in theological reflection on the practice of ministry and leadership, in relation to major challenges facing contemporary religious communities and society.
  8. Demonstrate skills as a practitioner in spiritual care, working with a care team in a clinical institutional setting.



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 through the Registrar’s office.

Pastoral Identity, Leadership, and Spiritual Care Practice


  • Electives in Spiritual Care Practice (3 credits)
  • Open Electives in any area of study (6 credits)

Culminating Assignment

The final requirement for graduation in the MA-PPL will be an Integrative Paper and presentation (PPL697 – non-credit). The final requirement is normally done in the student’s final year or semester of study.

Cross-Registration of Courses

VST has a relationship with UBC’s Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies (CNRS) Department that allows VST students to take graduate courses offered by that department as electives. For a course listing and detailed descriptions, please see the CNRS Department website ( Students are also welcome to take advantage of course offerings at Regent College and St. Mark’s College, our theological neighbours on the UBC campus.  In all cases, the VST Registrar will confirm eligible courses for transfer.

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 half time 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.

Information Literacy and Research Skills

All degree and diploma students are required to complete six hours of non-credit, no-fee research modules in Information Literacy. The modules will engage students in hands-on as well as theoretical work intended to develop knowledgeable, disciplined and critically astute researchers.

See the Research Skills Module Schedule for further information.


An undergraduate degree is required, preferably in the humanities.

Additional tuition fees for Clinical Pastoral Education 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.  Each CPE unit normally carries $2000 of tuition fees plus a $250 registration fee with the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care.  Student’s must also register for a Student Membership with the Canadian  Associate of Spiritual Care each year they are taking a unit (approximately $60/year)  Some bursaries are available.

Distance Learning

Please note:  Clinical Pastoral Education units are always in person, although accredited units from outside of the Greater Vancouver Area may be transferred into a student’s program.

MDiv and MA PPL (ministry-oriented programs) require that 1/3 of the degree be completed on-site at VST’s main campus.

On-site requirements are fulfilled in 3 ways:

  • Intensive courses offered in the January Interterm or Summer School in which all students are present on campus for the entire course.
  • Hybrid courses in which distance students are present on campus for one intensive 3-day weekend and are connected by Zoom to the rest of the classes spread out over the semester. The intensive weekend falls mid-semester and contains over half the classes of the course (6); the other 5 classes of the course are accomplished through synchronous or asynchronous Zoom connections.
  • Specialized on-site weekend intensive courses in which all students are present for the entire course. These short courses (1 – 1.5 credit hours) are used for particular denominational requirements like polity courses or spiritual retreats. This format used in these courses helps address the needs for denominationally-relevant opportunities for interaction, peer learning, development of pastoral skills, and growth in personal, spiritual formation

Please contact the Registrar for more information,