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St. Cloud VHA CPE Program- Frequently Asked Questions

St. Cloud VHA CPE Program - Frequently Asked Questions

FY24 ACPE CPE Program

VA Midwest Health Care Network (VISN 23) ACPE System

What programs do you have? 

We have a full-time, one-year Residency I Program in which residents receive a stipend from the VA. We also have a second-year Resident II, Specialty CPE Fellowship Program, which starts at the same time. Lastly, we offer an Extended and Summer Unit of CPE based on interest and availability. An extended unit is a part-time CPE Intern unit in which the standard 400 hours of clinical and educational time is “extended” for those who are seeking a more flexible learning format.  A summer Unit is a full-time intern program for 11 weeks during the summer months.

What makes the St. Cloud VA CPE program unique?

We are in St. Cloud, MN, about 60 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.  It is a VA Healthcare System. This means that we serve Veterans of all ages, sexual orientation, ethnicities, and religious/spiritual preferences.  We have long-term care, mental health and addictions, hospice and bereavement services, Veteran and caregiver support services, women’s issues, out-patient medical services, and a host of other services for Veterans.  What is unique about a VA hospital is that it serves our Veterans who have served our country in war and in peace time.  One experiences the stories of Veterans through their military and civilian lives, hears about and has contact with families, works with the interdisciplinary team as a team member, and deals with crises as they arise. Our program will use family systems theories and other theories of human and faith development, theories on aging, grief, etc. 

What are the education requirements?

  • Residency: Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have a Masters of Divinity or in process from a school recognized by the Department of Education, or an M.Div. equivalent, as defined by the ACPE: See FAQs, “Accredited vs. Non-Accredited Seminaries/Universities”

At least one year of ministerial experience, and a previous unit of CPE is preferred, but not required.

  • Specialty/Fellowship: In addition to the requirements for Residency, applicants must have at least four previous units of CPE.

What is the cost? There is no application fee or tuition for CPE in the VA.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying for any CPE program, you will need to complete an ACPE application HERE. Please read the instructions on the application signature page thoroughly, and sign the application (an e-signature is fine). The responses for questions #2 - 6 typically run 7 - 10 single spaced pages, although there is no specific page limit. Please submit a 1 - 2 page resume for question #13. You are encouraged to save the essays as one document and submit your application via email to

Can I use the same essays from my last unit of CPE?

If you have completed CPE previously, your application essays should reflect what you have learned about yourself and your spiritual journey. Be sure to re-read the application instructions, especially Questions 5 and 6, and update your essays accordingly. Applications submitted for Residency and Fellowship without a verbatim may not be considered.

When will I get an interview? 

After we receive your application, we will review your application for completeness. At that point, we will email you for further documentation and/or to set up a possible interview. If you do not hear from us within two weeks of applying, you may want to contact us to ensure that we received your application. It is our policy not to offer feedback to potential students about your application. You may want to seek feedback about your application from a mentor or trusted colleague before submitting your packet for admission. Please be aware that we routinely receive applications for potential students with significant ministry experience and/or 1 - 2 units of CPE. Applicants may not be interviewed who are underqualified, or who offer minimal responses to the essay questions.

What are you looking for in the interview? 

CPE is an educational program in a professional, clinical environment. Therefore, we screen potential students for their capacity to participate in intensive Clinical Pastoral Education with peers, educators, and professional chaplains, in other words. Students must be able to self-reflect, receive feedback, communicate effectively in English, and provide spiritual care to diverse Veterans in a secular, government institution. Students must be tolerant of others and have a willingness to learn and engage the CPE process.

What can I do to prepare for my interview?

It may be helpful to speak with a chaplain mentor, faith group leader, or Spiritual Director who has completed CPE. We are looking for candidates motivated to become professional chaplains, or seeking to complete CPE for their professional development. We do not expect applicants to have extensive health care chaplaincy experience.

When do you accept applications? 

Applications are received on a rolling basis, until all positions are filled. Once the positions for the upcoming program have been filled, your application may be held on a waiting list or considered for the next available program. Applicants are notified if the positions are filled.

What are the hours

Every CPE unit includes 300 clinical hours and 100 educational hours. Residency units are full time, 40 hours/week for 10 - 11 weeks, with clinical breaks between units when students can take breaks for leave.


What does a typical week look like? 

  • The weekly schedule for the residency is Monday-Friday 7:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. The Residency group meets for typically 6 hours on Mondays. Residents meet with the Educator once a week for an hour, and the remainder of their time (30 hours/week) is spent in clinical time, visiting patients, leading Spirituality groups, writing chart notes, interdisciplinary team meetings, and/or meeting with staff. Ministry hours may include a commitment to facilitate Sunday worship.
  • For our Extended Units, the CPE group typically meets for 4 hours on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Ministry hours are scheduled at student’s convenience. Ministry hours may include a commitment to facilitate Sunday worship.

What are your fellowship specialties? 

The CPE fellowship program is a second year of CPE specializing in Mental Health and/or Hospice & Palliative Care, with the possibility of working toward Board Certification as a Certified Chaplain. The fellows complete 100 educational and 300 clinical hours per unit. 

Do you offer stipends? 

Yes. CPE Resident I and Resident II Fellows are paid a stipend through the VA Office of Academic Affiliations. The amount increases slightly each year. For FY 2024, the first-year stipend is $39,828 and the second year is $42,616.

Do you offer housing?

It is highly recommended that students familiarize themselves with the local housing market before applying to the program.  For Summer Interns, housing options may be available through St. John’s School of Theology in Emmaus Hall (Co-ed Dormitory). To apply for housing, please use the Housing Application HERE . (Note—this is the school year application, but it gives St. John’s the necessary data for your stay at Saint John’s.) For room rates, availability and details, contact Patty Weishaar at, .

Can I take CPE online? 

Only the Summer Intern and Extern CPE Programs education hours are completed online. The Resident I & II Programs at our site are designed for in-person, hands-on learning. CPE is an experience of providing ministry in the health care setting under supervision.

Who can I contact for more information?

Daniel Duggan, M. Div, BCC, ACPE Certified Educator 

St. Cloud VA HCS, 4801 Veterans Drive

St. Cloud, MN 56301

ext. 7543



Nondiscrimination Policy

The St. Cloud VA HCS CPE Center does not discriminate in admission or administration of its program or activities on the basis of age, gender, race, national origin, religion, creed, color, marital status, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, ancestry, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by the federal state of local law. In addition, the center provides reasonable accommodations for otherwise qualified disabled individuals.