Post-Master's Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Post-Master's Certificate in Spiritual Formation

An in-depth, intensive program of study to enhance one’s ability to mentor the spiritual lives of individuals and Christian faith communities.

Take the next step in your ministerial career and strengthen your ability to transform the spiritual lives of individuals and Christian faith communities. Three themes—prayer and discernment, the art of spiritual direction, and working within faith communities—highlight the program. This advanced certificate is offered only in the summers and is completed over three summers. The program includes discussions with faculty, who are established professionals, and hands-on, small-group work. Prerequisites include a master’s degree in theology and full-time experience in ministry.

Features of the Post-Master's Certificate

An introduction to the fundamentals of spiritual direction practice

An opportunity to fine-tune retreat skills

Convenient summer study – two weeks for three consecutive summers

Opportunity to participate in vibrant daily liturgy

Economical on-campus housing

Alumni Spotlight: Crista Carrick Mahoney

Alumni Spotlight: Crista Carrick Mahoney

"The past three years in the Post-Master's Certificate program has not only given me the practical skills and experience to make spiritual direction part of my everyday ministry, but it has reinforced the importance of my own continued prayer, discernment, and learning as a professional minister. Each summer has been an oasis, a chance to gather with colleagues and engage in what feels like a two-week retreat; to fill the cup of the mind, heart, and spirit. From looking at some of the spiritual "greats" when we learned about ways of prayer and discernment, to reflecting on the role of neurobiology to more deeply understand the human mind and our stories, to engaging with the arts to access new avenues of spiritual reflection, this program has given me tools that enrich my ministry, and my own spiritual life."

At a Glance

Unit A: Ways of Prayer and Discernment

Morning Session Themes
Historical developments in prayer, teaching forms of Christian prayer, comparative approaches to prayer,
the significance of place and body in prayer, the art of discernment, and tools and resources in discernment.

Afternoon Session
Interactive spiritual direction exercises, verbatims, role plays, and peer review of prayer rituals.

Unit B: The Art of Spiritual Direction

Morning Session Themes
Historical roots of spiritual guidance, contemporary understandings of spiritual guidance, developmental considerations
for spiritual guides, ethical considerations in spiritual direction work, contemplative listening, and particular issues in spiritual direction.

Afternoon Session
Interactive spiritual direction exercises, verbatims, role plays, and peer review of retreat presentations.

Unit C: Fostering Creativity and Communal Spiritual Formation

Morning Session Themes
Creative approaches to ritual, creative approaches to dreams in spirituality work, creative writing as a spiritual resource,
multiple intelligences and diverse ways of knowing in spiritual formation work, extended senses of community,
spirituality and one’s work community, group discernment, group spiritual direction, and spiritual issues arising in community.

Afternoon Session
Interactive spiritual direction exercises, verbatims, role plays, and peer review of scriptural reflection.

  At the end of years one and two, assignments are given to be completed in preparation for the next year’s session (i.e. reading, verbatim, prayer ritual, retreat presentation, and/or scriptural reflection). 


Please Note
The order in which Units A, B, and C are offered will not necessarily coincide with year I, II, and III of participation in the program.  Students will begin with the unit being offered that year (Unit C for 2023).  Completion of all three units is required to earn the certificate.

This experience has given me a language for and a capacity to recognize the movements and realities of the human spirit; something not always sought nor honored in our world. The coursework in the art of spiritual direction particularly, has deepened my appreciation for this ancient Christian practice of accompanying others who seek to find meaning in the vastness of a loving, kind yet mysterious Creator who unfolds in all of our lives. I am more capable of honoring that and assisting that growth in all persons.
Joseph Lagan, Current Student in the Post-Master's Certificate

Common Career Paths

Students use our certificate programs to begin exploring graduate-level coursework or to specialize and focus in a particular theological area. Career development and other student formation resources are available to certificate students throughout their time at STM. Common careers include:

Spiritual direction

High school or college campus ministry

High school teaching

Parish ministry

Non-profit work

Application Information


Lay and ordained persons experienced in ministry with a master’s degree in a theological discipline are invited to apply.  This program cultivates skills that are helpful for a wide range of ministerial positions, and can be applied in a variety of settings.


Priority Deadline
April 21, 2023
Please Note
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after this date if space remains.

Application Form

The application to STM must be completed online.

Application Form


Additional Requirements:

International applicants

Religious applicants

Application Fee

A non-refundable fee of $75 is required for every degree and non-degree application submitted.

Payment Options

  • Pay by credit or debit card via the web; You can pay the application fee at the same time your submit your application form.  However, if you do not pay the fee at the same time you submit your application, you can pay online at a later date through the Agora Portal. You must use your BC Username and password to log in.

  • Pay by check or money order made payable to Boston College, via regular mail.  Please include your check with a copy of your application form submission confirmation page and include your name and intended degree program.

Please note: The application fee cannot be refunded for any reason. If you qualify for a fee waiver, you should not pay the fee when you submit the application form. Fee waivers are granted to the following applicants: Jesuits, veterans, applicants currently completing a year of service, and current STM students. We do not waive the application fee for other reasons.

Personal Statement

The personal statement must be uploaded as part of the application.  The personal statement should be two to three pages in length, double-spaced.

Your statement should address the following:

  • What leads you to apply to this program at this time?
  • How do you hope this program will contribute to your growth as a minister?
  • What do you understand by the term "spirituality"?
  • How do you describe "spiritual direction"? 


We require transcripts from all colleges, universities, seminaries, or theological schools that you have attended. Each transcript should contain a list of all coursework taken, grades/marks received, and, if applicable, degree granted and date of degree confirmation. If your college or university will send official transcripts electronically, they can be emailed to  Otherwise, transcripts must be mailed and be contained in a sealed, signed envelope. If the official transcript is not English, a translation should be provided with the official document. Please alert us if your transcript will be arriving with a different name than the one you are using on your application (e.g. your maiden name). Please note that a transcript is only considered official if received directly from the institution issuing it.

Please note that your application may be reviewed with unofficial copies of your transcripts. If you send unofficial copies, know that if admitted, you must sent official copies before you begin coursework. If you are currently finishing your theological master's, you must send a final, official version of your transcript upon graduating, and before beginning the Post-Master's Certificate. If you have questions, please reach out to us.

Mailing Addresses
For applicants using the U.S. Postal Service:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Simboli Hall
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

For applicants using FedEx or UPS:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Simboli Hall
9 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135-3841


Applicants to the Post-Master's Certificate are equired to submit one recommendation using the online application system. 

The recommender should be familiar with the applicant’s academic competence as well as the applicant's suitability for advanced training in spiritual formation work. Please be sure that your recommenders are aware of the application deadlines and online process, and choose them carefully to ensure that they can write on your behalf in a timely manner.


The resume must be uploaded as part of the application.  It is helpful if you highlight relevant ministry, service, and leadership positions you have held.