Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

MDiv - Spiritual Direction Concentration

Curriculum Planning Worksheet for M.Div. Spiritual Direction Concentration

The IPS Master of Divinity (M.Div.) offers a unique Spiritual Direction concentration to provide students the opportunity to focus their formation on acquiring the theoretical and practical skills they need to provide spiritual direction, where they will accompany others with their spiritual development and relationship with God.  Spiritual directors walk alongside each person on his or her spiritual journey, accompanying individuals as they become more fully realized spiritual beings. Students also have the unique opportunity to learn to direct and use the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola in and for spiritual direction, offering spiritual accompaniment framed by and infused with the Jesuit perspective and values.

The M.Div. degree is a 72-credit-hour (24-course) degree program that builds on top of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree program. Course descriptions for several of the core courses below are described in the MAPS degree's core curriculum section of this website.

All components of the M.Div. Spiritual Direction concentration, except for CPE, can be completed online or on-campus. Students can complete the CPE requirement at any ACPE accredited location (across the USA). Some courses are also available in the summer through the IPS Rome program.

M.Div. – Spiritual Direction Concentration Curriculum

In sum, the curriculum requirements include:

  • Coursework
  • Contextual Education
  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
  • Mid-Point Review
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Final Integration Paper


Critical Understanding

Context, 2 courses, 6 credits

  • IPS 555—The Human Person and Psychological Development, 3 hours
  • IPS 532—The Social Context: Ministry in the City, 3 hours

Scripture, 3 courses, 9 credits

  • IPS 417—Literature of Ancient Israel, 3 hours
  • IPS 416—Christian Origins: An Exploration of the New Testament, 3 hours
  • Scripture Electives, 3 hours

Ethics, 2 courses, 6 credits

  • IPS 553—Moral Theology and Catholic Social Teaching, 3 hours
  • IPS 512—Ethics, Pastoral Counseling, and Spirituality

Christian Living, 4 courses, 12 credits

  • IPS 541—Liturgy and Christian Sacraments, 3 hours
  • IPS 545—Foundations of Christian Spirituality, 3 hours
  • IPS 403—Spiritual Paths in World Religions
  • IPS 572—Ignatian Spirituality

Ministerial Practice

7 courses, 21 credit hours

  • IPS 560—Liturgical Leadership in Public Prayer, 3 hours
  • IPS 565—Pastoral Leadership
  • IPS 564—Introduction to Pastoral Care & Counseling, 3 hours
  • IPS 501—Advanced Human Relations Skills
  • IPS 428—Introduction to Spirituality Praxis
  • IPS 429—Essentials of Spiritual Direction
  • Ministerial Practice Elective, 3 hours

Contextual Education

2 courses, 6 credit hours

The Contextual Education requirement is adapted to enable students of the M.Div. Concentration in Spiritual Direction to acquire the practical skills for and experience of spiritual direction in learning interaction with their peers and under the supervision of an experienced spiritual director. Students have the unique opportunity to learn to direct and use the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola in and for spiritual direction. They also have the possibility of learning to practice spiritual direction in a spiritual tradition other than Ignatian (e.g., Carmelite, Benedictine, Franciscan, etc.) under the guidance of a trained coach/mentor. Suitable field learning settings may be found in the Chicago area, elsewhere in the United States or in other countries, upon approval by Dr. Dan Rhodes, Faculty Coordinator of Contextual Education.

  • IPS 580—Contextual Education I, 3 hours
  • IPS 581—Contextual Education II, 3 hours

Clinical Pastoral Education, 0 hours

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an interfaith method of theological education through which a student learns pastoral skills within a context of ministerial relationships to people and under the direct supervision of a certified pastoral supervisor. It provides a learning situation for a ministerial student in which they may develop awareness of the theological and psycho-social concerns of persons in crisis.

The CPE component is typically completed before the application to candidacy to address one key candidacy concern, namely, personal growth matters of self-awareness and self-reflection. The student uses material from the CPE report to support his or her candidacy. Students complete CPE units at any ACPE Accredited Center and must concurrently register for IPS 530, a zero credit registration course.

Candidacy is the process by which the IPS faculty exercises its responsibility to the church and other concerned publics by determining that the student has both the potential to satisfactorily complete this degree and a readiness to begin ministry.

Spiritual Direction

Students must complete 4 semesters of spiritual direction. The 30-day or 30-week version of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola will count for 2 semesters of personal spiritual direction, Spiritual_Direction_Confirmation_Form.

M.Div. Midpoint Review

When students reach the half-way point in their coursework, they begin preparing for contextual education. As part of this preparation process, students will also do a Midpoint Review. The student will write a brief statement (3-4 pages) on his or her “Vocational Identity, Vision, and Practice." This statement will first be approved by the Faculty Coordinator for Contextual Education. It will be submitted to the student's advisor, and the student and advisor will meet to discuss the statement and the student's progress toward the completion of the M.Div. program. Alternatively, if the advisor has concerns about the student’s progress, further work may be requested to successfully complete this review (e.g., further units of CPE, spiritual direction, or pastoral counseling, re-taking courses in which one did not receive a grade of C or higher, etc.). Failure to successfully complete this review and/or any additional steps requested in this process may be grounds for dismissal from the program.

In addition, the statement will serve as a draft for this same section of the student’s final integration project, and the comparison of the two drafts will ideally demonstrate the progress and growth the student has achieved through completing the final half of the M.Div. program. For guidelines on drafting this statement, see the relevant section of the M.Div. Integration Project Guidelines Integration Project.

Final Integration Project

Students complete the program with IPS 593, the zero-credit course that facilitates the completion of the Integration Project, in their final year.

To learn more about the Spiritual Direction concentration, please fill out our request for information form or attend an information session.