General Questions

Every applicant is unique and personal circumstances vary. The length of time from application submission to approval/rejection takes an estimated 4 to 6 months. The timeline is mainly dictated by the candidate’s readiness to take the test and availability to be scheduled for the exam.
SCA offers three types of certification: Advanced Practice Board Certified Chaplain (APBCC), Board Certified Chaplain (BCC), and Credentialed Chaplain (CC), as well as one specialty certification (APBCC-HPC). In addition, SCA offers a Spiritual Care Generalist Certificate for candidates interested in becoming spiritual care generalists.
An Advanced Practice Board Certified Chaplain (APBCC) has demonstrated advanced skills in the provision of and leadership in spiritual and chaplaincy care by successfully completing a standardized test of core knowledge derived from evidence-based quality indicators for spiritual care as well as a simulated patient exam that evaluates competency in direct patient care. APBCC chaplains have been trained and tested in standardized curriculum based on the latest evidence in areas including department management, HIPAA regulations, the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of spiritual distress, cultural competency, advance care directives, patient clinical care, staff support, grief, and bereavement among other essential topics.

If you haven’t already done so, you must first become a member of the Spiritual Care Association.

After carefully reviewing the requirements for the certification you are seeking, begin an online application (please note you must be logged in in order to begin an application).

Submit your application online along with all the required supporting documents. You will receive an email once your application and documents have been reviewed and accepted. At this point, you are “pre-approved” to continue to the next phase.

Next phase: you will need to complete (1) the Standardized Clinical Knowledge Test, and (2) the Simulated Patient Exam through a patient encounter. You will have 6 months to successfully pass both the test and the exam (the 6 months begin from the day you receive notification that your documents have been accepted). You can take the test and exam in any order.

The non-refundable application fee varies depending on which certification you are pursuing. Click here for a full listing of all the fees.

Advanced Practice Board Certified Chaplains (APBCC), Board Certified Chaplains (BCC) and Credentialed Chaplains (CC) need to pay annual maintenance fees to maintain their APBCC, BCC and CC. The annual maintenance fee is $180. Maintenance fees are due annually every January 1st. You will be invoiced in November/December of the previous year for the upcoming year. There are no additional fees associated with the APBCC-HPC specialty certification. Please note: your first invoice will also include a pro-rated amount for the balance of the current calendar year in which you were certified/credentialed. For example, if you are certified/credentialed in August, you will be invoiced for September, October, November, and December of the current year (pro-rated amount of $60, which is 4 months), and the maintenance fee for the following calendar year of $180. In this example, you would be invoiced a total of $240. For subsequent years, you will only be invoiced the annual maintenance fee of $180.
To maintain Advanced Practice Board Certification (APBCC) status, 30 continuing education hours are required every year. To maintain Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) status, 24 continuing education hours are required every year. To maintain Credentialed Chaplain (CC) status, 12 continuing education hours are required every year. There is no particular format for filing this report. You will get a notice from SCA when fees and CE reports are due. Simply sending a list of activities that have advanced your practice of spiritual care and how many hours you spent on each in the last year will be sufficient.
Yes. Current membership in SCA is required for all three types of certification: APBCC, BCC, and CC.

If you have any questions during this process, please contact our Certification Administrators at: If you would like to reach the Director of Certification of the Spiritual Care Association, The Rev. George Handzo, BCC, you can reach him at Questions about fees and payments should be sent to Cindy Melero at

Standardized Clinical Knowledge Test

You will have 6 months starting on the day you receive your login credentials to take the test. You will receive your login credentials (and instructions) after your documentation has been accepted. We will notify you via e-mail.
  • The APBCC Test has 100 questions. You will have 120 minutes to complete the test. A passing score is 75% or higher.
  • The BCC Test has 85 questions. You will have 100 minutes to complete the test. A passing score is 75% or higher.
  • The CC Test is 85 questions. You will have 100 minutes to complete the test. A passing score is 65% or higher.

Yes, SCA offers a preparation course called, Preparation for Standardized Clinical Knowledge Test for Board Certified and Credentialed Chaplains. Please note: it is not a requirement to purchase this course for certification or credentialing.

If you fail the test, you will be allowed to retake the test one more time at no additional cost to you. If you fail the test again, you may retake the test again for a fee. There is no limit to the number of times to retake the test. However, all the retakes must take place within the 6-month deadline.
The test taker and SCA’s certification director are the only two people who receive notification of the test score. Test scores are not shared with anyone else.
Once you have completed the test, your grade will be displayed to you. You will also be notified by an SCA Certification Administrator as to the results of your test. Please note: we are not able to send reports of the test to you.
The Spiritual Care Association certification process includes a timed test which requires reading words in English on a computer screen with some speed and an interview online which requires being able to hold a conversation in English via computer. In general, the testing does not require any abilities beyond those normally required by any health care chaplaincy job. Any candidate who believes they need an accommodation to complete this testing should notify SCA no later than one week after they are approved to proceed with testing. This notification must include a description of the reason for the accommodation and documentation from the candidate’s physician of the condition requiring an accommodation. No accommodation will be granted after the candidate has begun the testing process.

It is very important to understand that the questions and the answer options are based on the evidence in the field. That is, every correct answer is evidence-based which means it is supported by research, guidelines, or expert opinion. This evidence may not conform to the way you have thought or done things or even how your institution does things. Put another way, you should answer each question based on what the evidence says rather than based on what you think is the right answer. Thus, your chances of passing the test will be significantly improved if you make sure you are familiar with the literature we have suggested.

While the questions and answer options on the test have been carefully vetted by subject matter experts in the particular content area, we welcome constructive and specific questions and suggestions about the clarity with which the questions or answers are stated and even smaller issues like grammar and spelling. Note that the questions cannot be considered unless the specific text of the question the concern relates to is stated. These questions should be sent directly to the Director of Credentialing and Certification at

Simulated Patient Exam

The Simulated Patient Exam is a simulated patient encounter that will be scheduled in advance with the candidate and will be done remotely using a computer application called Zoom (similar to Facetime or Skype). Zoom is a widely used free application that will easily run on any computer. Your computer needs to have a camera. You will also need access to a speaker phone in order to participate (alternatively, if your computer has a microphone, you can use that as well as your audio). The candidate can participate in this exam from any location where he/she can have privacy and quiet. At the start time for the session, the candidate will be presented with the text of a referral that mimics the kinds of referral a chaplain tends to receive in normal practice. The referral will be for a situation that requires an immediate visit. A couple minutes later, the client, who might be a patient or a caregiver, will join the call, and the chaplain will commence the encounter (visit) as he/she normally would. The client will be played by a professional actor who has thoroughly studied extensive information about the person he/she is portraying. The candidate will have 20 minutes for the encounter. Within 30 minutes of the close of the encounter, the candidate will submit a chart note on the encounter using the criteria on the scoring sheet. The encounter will be scored by the simulated patient and by two or three senior chaplains.
After your application and documents have been accepted, you will receive an email from an SCA Certification Administrator with several dates to choose from to be scheduled to take the exam. You must select one of these dates. Failure to select a date within the 6-month period will constitute a failed exam. Likewise, a no-show during your exam date will also constitute a failed exam.
Candidates will be notified by email as to whether they pass the exam or not, normally within a couple weeks. Those who do not pass will be automatically sent a copy of the reviewer’s comments. Any candidate who passes the exam and wants a copy of the reviewer’s comments can request them by email.
If you fail the Exam, you will be allowed to re-take the exam; however, there will be a fee involved. To re-take the exam, you will also be given up to three dates to choose from. You will have to choose from one of the dates offered. Failure to show up for a scheduled exam will be considered a failed exam and the re-take fee will apply.
No. You need to complete both successfully with the 6-month timeline, but it does not matter in which order.

Please email your questions to; however, please note that we cannot answer specific questions to your personal case. We can only answer general questions about the process. You will have an opportunity to have your personal case reviewed after you apply.

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