Spiritual Direction Certification

More about program 


The Spiritual Direction (SD) certification program is designed to equip newly trained spiritual direction graduates to serve as professional spiritual directors. The program offers scriptural and Christ-centered training from skilled and experienced spiritual directors who are attuned to the vulnerability of the other and the internal dynamics that arise in the context of a contractual relationship.

The Curriculum

The SD certification curriculum is designed for persons who have completed initial training in spiritual direction. We provide leveling coursework for students who have a theological degree, but require courses to be better prepared to step into SD certification. Our spiritual formation curriculum is biblically grounded and Christ-centered and our understanding of spiritual formation involves the intersection of Scripture, theology, psychology, and social-cultural factors. The focus of our curriculum, therefore, is on developing awareness, increasing empathy and compassion skills, and building distinct practices that are spiritually centering.

Program Outcomes

The SD certification program will:

  • Enable students to deepen ethical skills and professional practices in spiritual direction
  • Enhance student capacity for noticing and attending to self while maintaining effective spiritual-direction relationships

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Demonstrate reflection on spiritual conversations and the integration of the client’s understanding and experiences of God
  • Implement (and evaluate effectiveness of) skills for establishing and maintaining spiritual-direction relationships
  • Identify & evaluate their own formational journey as a spiritual director, & conforming to the image of Christ for the sake of others
  • Expand their experience base as practicing spiritual directors

Admission Requirements

A well developed understanding of spiritual formation and a biblical and theological foundation are required prior to completing the certification. Applicants seeking admission to the SD certification program must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5, and a master's degree from an ATS-accredited seminary with min GPA of 2.5.

Completed graduate degrees must meet equivalency for the Portland Seminary Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction degree, or leveling courses will be required. If students have a specialization in spiritual formation and discipleship from Portland Seminary, they will need to take SFAD 571/2 Becoming a Spiritual Director I and II as leveling work. If applicants have experience in spiritual relationships without formal training, or if training was completed at another institution, the seminary will do a leveling evaluation on a case-by-case basis in light of the standards of this certificate program.

For Portland Seminary graduates without a spiritual formation or spiritual direction degree or specialization/concentration, leveling will require:

  • At least 8 months of spiritual-direction experience (as a directee) prior to beginning the leveling work or certification program
  • SFAD 551/552 Awareness and Identity I & II
  • SFAD 571/572 Becoming a Spiritual Director I and II
  • PSTD 521/522 Pastoral Counseling and Ethics I and II

Applicants must complete the following to be considered for admission to the program:

  • Portland Seminary application form and application fee
  • Submit one official transcript from each college/university attended
  • Personal mission statement and statement of faith
  • Letter of recommendation from spiritual-direction instructor and/or trainer (SFAD 571/2 at Portland Seminary) or interview with a current instructor

Applicants who do not hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university may apply to the university, but will be required to submit additional documentation to be considered for admission.

Transfer Credit

No transfer credit is awarded for this certification.

Credits in Residence and Program Delivery Formats

Residence, as described in this section of the catalog, does not refer to the time a student spends on campus. It refers to the portion of a degree program that students are required to earn with Portland Seminary, as compared to transfer credits and credit applied as advanced standing. With regard to the SD certification program, students are required to complete all of the program requirements (2 semester hours) directly with Portland Seminary. A leave of absence is valid for up to one year after which the student must reapply to the program. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the certificate.

Course Requirements

The certification program includes:
1. Successfully completing SFAD 576 Spiritual Direction Certification I and SFAD 577 Spiritual Direction Certification II
2. Completing 30 hours of spiritual direction with at least three persons over one year
3. Receiving 10 hours of supervision
4. Providing a written recommendation from student’s spiritual-direction supervisor after all supervision and direction hours are complete
5. Passing a final interview with a Portland Seminary spiritual-formation professor
Note: There is a course fee for SFAD 576 and 577 to cover the cost of contracting with program selected spiritual directors and supervisors.

Graduation/Certification Requirements

In order to receive the SD certification, students must:

  • Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 2 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Be recommended by the seminary faculty for certification from Portland Seminary of George Fox University

Spiritual Direction Certification

Curriculum Plan

Spiritual Formation and Discipleship Courses (2 hours)

SFAD 576 Spiritual Direction Certification I     1
SFAD 577 Spiritual Direction Certification II 1