Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship


The Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship is a non-degree program designed to train students in the transformative work of Christian formation and discipleship. The Certificate in Spiritual Formation is designed for:

  • Persons who desire training in biblical and theological studies, in spiritual formation, and in discipleship
  • Persons who feel called to spiritual-formation ministry in the church or parachurch settings
  • Professionals who desire formational experiences and training in an academic environment

The Curriculum

The certificate is focused on expanding biblical and theological knowledge, deepening awareness of God and self, integrating life experiences, and enhancing Christ-like spiritual practices, so that students can demonstrate characteristics of Jesus in their vocational contexts. 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 spiritual practices that promote authentic Christian discipleship.

Certificate Program Outcomes

The Spiritual Formation and Discipleship Certificate will:

  • Develop the student's capacity for theological reflection regarding the psychological and socio-cultural dynamics that are at play in becoming transformative agents of Christ’s love
  • Equip students to develop habits of authentic disciplines that center on thinking and living in Christ's presence
  • Foster socio-cultural awareness and relational skills that cultivates maturity into God’s fullness
  • Offer tools for cultivating and communicating authentic Christian discipleship

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Describe, critically and constructively, the biblical, theological, socio-cultural, and psychological dimensions of living in Christ’s presence
  • Demonstrate the reflection and integration of lived experiences with an understanding of God and the scriptures
  • Implement new understandings and lived experiences into spiritual and relational practices that result in personal transformation and can be integrated into discipleship relationships
  • Identify and evaluate their own spiritual formation journey of conforming to the image of Christ, and develop tools for guiding the journey of others as disciples of Jesus

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship program must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5. In addition, applicants must complete the following to be considered for admission to the program:

  • Submit Portland Seminary application form and application fee
  • Submit one official transcript from each college/university attended
  • Resumé
  • Personal mission statement and statement of faith
  • Three letters of reference (as specified in admissions materials)
  • An interview

†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

Transfer of up to 12 hours credit is allowed toward the Certificate in Spiritual Formation program from ATS accredited graduate schools, as appropriate to the curriculum. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer. In addition, only courses taken elsewhere within 10 years of the date of matriculation to the Certificate in Spiritual Formation program will be considered for transfer. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the registrar's office for information on eligibility of transfer credit.

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 Certificate in Spiritual Formation program, students are required to complete half of the certificate (12 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 Certificate in Spiritual Formation program is generally two years in length with 24 semester hours of coursework required as a minimum for graduation. Of the total hours required for the degree, 12 are in biblical and theological foundations courses, and 12 are in spiritual formation courses.

Graduation Requirements

In order to receive the Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship students must:

● Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 24 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
● Successfully complete each milestone
● Successfully pass candidacy
● Be recommended by the seminary faculty for graduation from Portland Seminary of George Fox University

Curriculum Plan (24 credit hours)

Biblical Studies Courses (6 hours)
BIST 501 Old Testament Introduction 3
BIST 502 New Testament Introduction 3
BIST 503 Engaging the Old Testament 3
BIST 504 Interpreting the New Testament: Use and Abuse of the Bible 3
Required sequence: BIST 501 and 503; BIST 502 and 504
Christian History and Theology Courses (6 hours)
CHTH 507 Historical Theology: Early Church through Reformation 3
CHTH 508 Essentials in Christian Theology 3
CHTH 509 History of Christianity in America 3
CHTH 510 World Religions and Christian Thought 3
Required sequence: CHTH 507 and 509; CHTH 508 and 510
Spiritual Formation Courses (4 hours)
SFAD 510 Knowing Self, Knowing God 1
SFAD 520 Mystical Experiences and Images of God 1
SFAD 530 Christian Prayer in a Global Context 1
SFAD 540 Spiritual Life 1
Spiritual Formation Studio Courses (8 hours)
SFAD 551 Awareness and Identity I 2
SFAD 552 Awareness and Identity II 2
SFAD 555 Seminar in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship I 2
SFAD 565 Seminar in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship II 2
Seminary Course Descriptions