May 23, 2024  
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog 
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog Archived Catalog

Certificate in Spiritual Direction

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Master of Science and Graduate Certificate Programs in Pastoral Care and Counseling


The Department of Pastoral Care and Counseling offers a Master of Science degree program in Pastoral Counseling as well as graduate certificate programs in both Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction. The Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling and graduate certificate programs in Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction actively integrate psychology and spirituality in an ecumenical learning community that is both spiritually nurturing and intellectually challenging. The Neumann approach stresses a developmental understanding of individuals and groups, preparing students to meet the unique mental and spiritual demands of a complex pluralistic world, while responding in a spirit of contemplative love. People of all faiths and spiritual practices are welcome. Spiritual Direction certificate programs provide training in spiritual direction, spiritual direction supervision, and additional courses in spirituality.


The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has granted accreditation to Neumann University’s Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling degree program, under the standards in Community Counseling, 1001 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314; Telephone: 703-535-5990; Fax: 703-739-6209; or, The Pastoral Counseling Program is also accredited by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), 9504A Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031; Telephone: 703-385-6967; Fax: 703-352-7725; E-mail:; or The Pastoral Counseling Program is also approved to be a provider of CEUs by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), 3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403; Telephone: 336-547-0607, Fax: 336- 547-0017; or,

Admission Requirements

Applicants with a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited, degree-granting institution who have successfully completed all prerequisite courses are eligible for entrance to the Master of Science in Pastoral Care and Counseling or Spiritual Direction program, subject to the approval of the Program Coordinator. 

  • A completed Graduate Student Application, in print or online through
  • Official transcripts from each regionally accredited institution attended. 
  • Letter of Intent or essay not to exceed three pages describing your interest in the program and your goals upon completion.  The spiritual direction program requires an explanation of the individual’s spiritual journey.  PC does not.  
  • Three official letters of recommendation from persons with whom you are familiar and who can speak to your academic suitability for graduate studies, your personal maturity, and your potential for graduate work.  The spiritual direction program requires that one of them be from the individual’s spiritual director.

Once all admission materials have been received and processed through the Office of Admissions, the graduate Program Director will arrange for an interview, if appropriate, following a review of all candidate credentials.    

Limitation on Transfer Credit

Because of the ever-evolving and pre-paradigmatic nature of the foundation on which Pastoral Care and Counseling rests, the program has set a limit of seven years for the acceptance of transfer credit for which a minimum grade of “B” has been earned from any regionally accredited, degreegranting institution to Neumann University. This time limitation applies to all Core and required courses.  Exceptions to this policy can only be made with the written approval of both the Dean of the Division of Education and Human Services and the Coordinator of Pastoral and Theological Studies.

Non-Matriculated Students

A maximum of 9 credits earned over no more than three semesters may be taken as a non-matriculated student. To transfer non-matriculated credits to a degree or certificate program, a student must receive permission from the Coordinator of the Program.

Course Schedule

Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction courses meet on weekdays in the late afternoon and during the evening, with some elective courses being offered on Saturday and Sunday.

Progression/Retention/Graduation Requirements

For the Master of Science in Pastoral Counseling, continued progress requires that the student maintain both a “B” average as outlined in student handbook and a satisfactory rating in all characteristics judged necessary for the profession. Students in practicum and internship courses must demonstrate competence in technical performance and professional attitude in the clinical setting. All degree requirements for the program must be completed in no less than two years and not more than five years. Students who wish an exemption to this time frame must submit a written request to the Coordinator of the program. Graduation from the program is contingent upon: (1) submitting a signed Application for Graduation form to the Registrar on or before the date specified in the Academic Calendar, (2) completion of the program with at least a cumulative 3.00 GPA, with no more than two grades of “C,” and (3) successful completion of a final Seminar Paper in which the student integrates the practice of pastoral counseling or spiritual direction, using both theological and psychological resources.

Professional Membership and Liability Insurance

Students in Pastoral Counseling or Spiritual Direction programs are required to carry student liability insurance throughout their clinical sequence (i.e., clinical case practicum and internship) and practica, respectively. Proof of insurance is kept on file in the department office. Information on purchasing insurance may be obtained from the program secretary.

Spiritual Direction Skills

Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Direction (24 credits); Certificate of Advanced Study in Spiritual Direction Supervision (15 credits)

Spiritual Direction: The Neumann Approach

The required courses for Neumann University’s Spiritual Direction certificate programs have been designed to support the program’s focus of attending to manifestations of contemplative love through spiritual direction in one-to-one and peer group experiences. While utilizing psychological insights about human development, spiritual direction focuses on a person’s spiritual growth. The curricula of these certificate programs, therefore, reflect the theological and practical courses which are necessary for the ministry of spiritual direction. Classes and practica experiences integrate spirituality, developmental psychology, case studies, and the actual experience of spiritual direction, while balancing theory and practice with an emphasis on articulating one’s theology of spiritual growth and psychology of human development in the director and the directee. Focusing on Franciscan, Ignatian, Carmelite, and Salesian traditions, students are invited to describe and demonstrate how one particular spiritual tradition — for example, Catholic, Anglican, or Protestant — shapes or challenges their experience in the ministry of spiritual direction. Courses support and challenge students to describe, interpret, and evaluate their experiences in light of ecumentical and culturally diverse perspectives.

The certificate programs that are described below train and supervise persons called to a ministry of Spiritual Direction in which one person helps another to recognize and integrate God’s presence and direction in every aspect of life. All course work and experience focus on the integration of spiritual and psychological growth, with specific attention to faith development. The curriculum is coordinated to attend to the manifestations of contemplative love in spiritual direction and supervision relationships. Graduate studies in Spiritual Direction may be pursued in one of two ways:

  • Successfully complete a 24-credit Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Direction.
  • Successfully complete a 15-credit Certificate in Advanced Study in Spiritual Direction Supervision.


At the completion of the Program in Spiritual Direction students will have accomplished the following Learning Outcomes under each of the following categories of proficiency:

Professional Identity and Growth

  • Evidence a professional competency in recognizing and evaluating assumptions about theological/spiritual and developmental issues;
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive overview of the evolution, structure and expansion of the field of ecumenical spiritual direction.
  • Be able to apply a contemplative process of theological reflection for interpreting spiritual growth, discernment and decision making in themselves and in their directees.

Theoretical and Skill Areas

  • Recognize and employ skills for discernment and decision making in a variety of spiritual and ecumenical/interreligious contexts and ministries;
  • Apply and demonstrate a competency for interpreting ethical issues governing the covenant/contract between director and directee;
  • Develop an openness to feedback in the course of learning and practice that allows for critical integration of theological/spiritual and developmental themes in written reports and reflections;
  • Extend skills for critical reflection on and analysis of their practice through one-to-one and peer group consultation and supervision.

Spiritual Direction Certificate Requirements

  • Provide evidence of recent theology. Additional theology may be required before beginning the Practicum. (The admissions process and later consultation with faculty discern student needs.)
  • Receive consistent, ongoing spiritual direction before and throughout the program.

Spiritual Direction Certificate Outcomes

At the completion of the Spiritual Direction certificate programs, the student will be able to:

  • Express and evaluate one’s theological assumptions about issues central to spiritual direction, psychological development, and maturity.
  • Describe the relationship between spiritual and psychological development and maturity.
  • Distinguish spiritual direction from pastoral counseling and spiritual/pastoral care.
  • Use theology as a diagnostic tool in spiritual direction.
  • Apply skills of discernment and decision-making in a variety of spiritual and religious paths.
  • Develop and evaluate criteria according to which one could use past tradition to support contemporary Christian growth.
  • Integrate contemporary theory with the practice of sustained ministry of spiritual direction.
  • Describe the relationship between one’s own spiritual/psychological integration at the beginning and end of the certificate process.


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