Healthcare Chaplaincy

Master of Divinity with a Concentration in Healthcare Chaplaincy 

The Houston-Galveston Extension Program at Perkins School of Theology is uniquely positioned to provide exceptional training experiences as well as in-depth holistic theological reflection designed to promote spiritual, social, mental, and physical health in the context of healthcare chaplaincy. Required and electives courses in this concentration will be offered primarily at Houston Methodist Hospital, which has consistently ranked as "One of America's Best Hospitals" according to U.S. News and World Report. Houston Methodist Hospital and Perkins School of Theology and its Houston-Galveston Extension Program have become institutional partners providing a unique opportunity for students to learn and develop the basic skills and knowledge required for hospital chaplaincy and other healthcare related ministries. 

Competencies
Students pursuing this concentration will be able to articulate the holistic nature of healthcare chaplaincy and how it relates to pastoral care, healthcare, and administration. Students who successfully complete this concentration should be able to: 

  1. Articulate the biblical and theological underpinnings for healthcare chaplaincy.
  2. Demonstrate pastoral and spiritual leadership, as well as relationship-building skills in a hospital setting--with its employees, and with patients and their local congregations.
  3. Understand the multifaceted, multicultural, religiously pluralistic nature of healthcare chaplaincy.
  4. Exemplify skills for self-care and a healthy lifestyle.

Since this is a H-G based concentration, some of the required and elective courses will be offered exclusively in Houston. Dallas students may register for these, after the H-G priority registration, and will be required to travel to Houston. 

Required Courses 12 Credits

PC 7639 - Level 1 Clinical Pastoral Education 
Credits: 6 
Supervised pastoral experience approved by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. Normally offered during a 10-week summer term of 40 hours/week. Requires prior consultation with a faculty member in pastoral care. 

TC 8325 - Bioethics 
Credits: 3 
A study of critical religious and moral issues affected by recent developments in the biological sciences and in medical technologies and practices. Topics include experimentation on human subjects, abortion, physician-patient relationships, and access to the healthcare system by the poor and ethnic minorities. Also, the decision to let someone die, the nature and determination of death, and the concept of health. No prerequisites.

XS 8331 - Health Care/Holy Care 
Credits: 3 
A high impact/in-depth engagement with people from a variety of social locations within the faith-based healthcare community of the Houston Methodist Hospital. In this immersion course, students concentrate on doing pastoral care “in the moment.” Drawing on theological theory, students will take what they have learned and apply a theology of care to a variety of human needs and crisis situations. Prerequisites: HX 6305 or HX 6306, and NT 6301, OT 6301, NT 6302, or OT 6302. Prerequisite or corequisite: XS 6310. 

Core Elective Courses (select two courses from the following list) for 6 credits

BB 7330 & TC 7330 - Disability Studies, the Bible, and Theology 
Credits: 3 
An exploration of the intersection of disability studies, biblical studies, and theology to equip students with a nuanced approach to disability in contemporary culture, biblical interpretation, and theological construction. Prerequisite for BB7330: NT 6301, NT 6302, OT 6301, or OT 6302. No prerequisites for TC7330. 

HX 8338 - Patristic Anthropology and Soteriology 
Credits: 3 
An examination of Greek and Latin early Christian views of the human person as the image of God and related understandings of salvation, with analysis of primary sources and modern scholarly works. Prerequisites: HX 6305, HX 6306.

MT 8332 - Ethics, Theology, and Children 
Credits: 3 
An exploration of Western understandings of childhood and the formation of moral children, recent changes in parenting and childhood, and implications for ministry. Draws on classical and contemporary resources in ethics, theology, and sociocultural analysis. No prerequisites. 

MT 8335 - Ethics, Theology, and Family 
Credits: 3 
Drawing on classical and contemporary resources in ethics, theology, and sociocultural analysis, students review Western models of family, examine ethical issues confronting U.S. families, and identify the implications for ministry. Prerequisite: MT 6303. 

MT 8352 - Contemporary Moral Issues 
Credits: 3 
A study of selected moral issues concerning abortion, crime and punishment, the environment, sexuality, war and peace, and other subjects. Each issue is examined in relation to moral-theological questions and to the morally relevant circumstances. Prerequisite: MT 6303.

NT 8365 - Evil, Suffering, and Death in the New Testament 
Credits: 3 
An exploration of views on evil, suffering, death, and afterlife evinced by various New Testament authors. Prerequisites: NT 6301, NT 6302. 

PC 7322 - Pastoral Care and Family Systems 
Credits: 3 
An introduction the church’s ministry of pastoral care by means of theological reflection upon, and application of, relevant family systems theories in the nurture of congregations. The role of the minister/counselor in his or her family of origin is addressed as well as the minister’s or counselor’s role in the “church family”. No prerequisites. 

PC 8301 - Pastoral Care: Special Problems 
Credits: 3 
An examination of several major areas of pastoral work and of the relationship between pastoral care and some of the other functions of ministry. Specific topics are selected by the instructor or class itself. No prerequisites. 

PC 8341 - Spirituality and the Human Life Cycle 
Credits: 3 
An introduction to intersections of spirituality and developmental psychology. Includes case analysis of autobiographies, novels, and film. Prerequisites: HX 6305 or HX 6306, and NT 6301/OT 6301 or NT 6302/OT 6302. Prerequisite or corequisite: XS 6310. 

TC 8360 - Issues in Science and Theology 
Credits: 3 
An overview and examination of the interaction of science and theology, with an emphasis on selected areas of study. Specific attention is given to the historical interaction of science and theology, as well as to their mutual concerns and respective methods. No prerequisites. 

XS 7303 - Medical Music Therapy and Spiritual Care 
Credits: 3 
Offers an in-depth exploration of the role that music in therapy and spiritual care plays in the hospital setting, including end of life; ways in which music can be used to address spirituality, spiritual needs, and well-being within the therapeutic context; and the impact that co-treating between music therapists and spiritual care workers can have on patient care. Provides an overview of medical terminology and population needs and explores cultural and ethical issues, professional scope of practice, boundaries and contraindications, and issues in self-care. No prerequisites. 

XS 8370 Religious Beliefs/Practices: Honoring the Body 
Credits: 3 
This course explores practices and theories of religious education that encourage caring for the human body. Using a Womanist practical theological method, students will investigate interaction between Christian faith and culture in congregations, schools, community agencies, and public forums and notions about the human body. Emphasis will be given to the Christian practice of honoring the body through topics that include healthy eating/exercise, gender specific/intimate partner violence, pain/palliative care, access to health care, clinical trials and volunteer patients, female genital mutilation, and peyote (and other cultural rituals) in the USA. No prerequisites. 

TC 8308 - Contemporary Issues in the Philosophy of Religion (MT XXXX Moral Theory and Bioethics) 
Credits: 3 
Critical investigation of a selected issue in philosophy of religion based on current literature in the field. 

Additional Requirements

In addition to these courses, students in this concentration will be required to participate in two one-day events (one per semester) to be scheduled before or after one of the F2F weeks each semester, in which the students will be invited to attend a lecture sponsored by HMH, participate in a “shadowing” program, and share their personal reflections with seasoned hospital chaplains and administrators.