What Training Is Required to Become a Chaplain?

Chaplains can be found in many environments, including hospitals and military bases. The training and education to become a chaplain varies based on the particular field you want to work in. Schools offering Christian Ministry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The Role of a Chaplain

When you work as a chaplain, your job is to provide counseling and religious or spiritual services to people on-site in many different types of settings, such as military installations, hospitals and prisons. While chaplains historically have been tied to the Christian faith, it's not unusual for today's chaplains to be associated with other religious and spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism.

Required Education

Although many chaplains are ordained ministers, you don't have to be ordained to work as a chaplain, but you do have to have an endorsement or commission from your faith group. An endorsement may be obtained after satisfying specific education and training objectives outlined by an authority in your faith group. Chaplaincy training programs can be found at a colleges and universities; many of these programs are master's degree programs designed to train you to work in businesses, crisis centers, hospices and schools. Courses may include counseling theory, theology and officiating religious ceremonies.

You may find that educational requirements vary depending on the type of work you choose to pursue. For example, the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces reports that military chaplains need a master's degree with a minimum of 36 hours in theology and ministry, while an entry-level pastoral care chaplain may only require a bachelor's degree, according to the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

Training and Experience Requirements

You may also need experience as a religious leader before you apply for a chaplain position. Some organizations require prospective chaplains to have between two and four years of religious leadership experience, and some require ordination. Requirements in training and experience can vary depending on the type of chaplaincy you're seeking or your religion. For instance, military chaplains are required to go through basic training in the same way that a new recruit would.


There are many professional chaplaincy organizations that offer certification, the largest of which is the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). The APC's Board Certified Chaplain program provides you with the opportunity to become a certified or provisionally certified chaplain or an associate certified chaplain. Each certification requires that you complete graduate-level coursework in theology and pastoral care. Although certification is not always required, it demonstrates that you have education, training and experience in chaplaincy.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • DeVry University

    DeVry University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at DeVry University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix
    • California: Alhambra, Anaheim, Bakersfield, Colton, Daly City, Elk Grove, Fremont, Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, Oxnard, Palmdale, Pomona, San Diego, San Jose, Sherman Oaks
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Greenwood Village, Westminster
    • Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Tampa
    • Georgia: Alpharetta, Atlanta, Decatur, Duluth, Stockbridge
    • Illinois: Addison, Chicago, Downers Grove, Elgin, Gurnee, Naperville, Tinley Park
    • Indiana: Indianapolis, Merrillville
    • Maryland: Bethesda
    • Michigan: Southfield
    • Minnesota: Edina
    • Missouri: Kansas City, Saint Louis
    • North Carolina: Charlotte, Morrisville
    • New Jersey: Cherry Hill, North Brunswick, Paramus
    • Nevada: Henderson
    • New York: New York, Rego Park
    • Ohio: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Seven Hills
    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
    • Oregon: Portland
    • Pennsylvania: Fort Washington, King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
    • Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville
    • Texas: Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Irving, Richardson, San Antonio, Sugar Land
    • Utah: Sandy
    • Virginia: Arlington, Chesapeake, Manassas
    • Washington: Bellevue, Federal Way, Lynnwood
    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Penn Foster Career School

    Penn Foster Career School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster Career School:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Phoenix

    University of Phoenix responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of Phoenix:

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, Yuma
    • California: Bakersfield, Beale AFB, Bonita, Costa Mesa, Diamond Bar, El Centro, Fairfield, Fresno, Gardena, La Palma, Lancaster, Lathrop, Livermore, Murrieta, Oakland, Ontario, Palm Desert, Pasadena, Sacramento, Salida, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, San Marcos, Visalia, Woodland Hills
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Lone Tree, Westminster
    • Illinois: Chicago, Schaumburg
    • Michigan: Detroit, Southfield
    • New Mexico: Albuquerque, Santa Teresa
    • Nevada: Henderson, Las Vegas
    • Utah: Clearfield, Salt Lake City, South Jordan

 More Schools