The Certificate in Spiritual Formation equips Christians to discern the Holy Spirit and integrate spiritual formation into their vocations.

Students should be committed Christians pursuing or exploring Christian ministry. The six courses in this certificate are intended to foster a thoughtful, loving, Christ-centered approach to your ministry context.

What is Spiritual Formation?

Spiritual Formation is the study of the Holy Spirit’s initiation and enactment of lifelong transformation in believers: the Spirit both conforms us into the likeness of Jesus Christ and enables us to grow in our relationship with God, knowing his love at increasing depths and experiencing rich fellowship with him.

The study of Spiritual Formation at Gordon-Conwell is intentionally kaleidoscopic, taking an interdisciplinary approach that mines resources from biblical studies, theology, church history, the arts, literature, counseling, and spiritual direction. We endeavor to equip students with a spiritual toolbox filled with ministry principles, models, methods, and skills that they can put to use for a lifetime. With an emphasis on discovering one’s unique God-given design, we help students catch a clearer sense of their vocational and spiritual identity, discern their calling for the sake of the church, become equipped to persevere in the midst of challenges and obstacles, and grow in attentiveness to God. Students learn how to develop integrated models for ministry that engage the whole person and bring coherence between theology, spirituality, and practice.

Designed for completion in one year or three summers, the Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Formation is accessible to both residential and low-residency students.

This certificate program is ideal preparation for:

  • Counseling
  • Leadership in Congregational Formation
  • Director of Spiritual Formation
  • Director of Discipleship
  • Corporate Worship Leader
  • Theology & the Arts
  • Wilderness, Camp, Conference, & Retreat Ministries
  • College Ministry
  • Life Coaching
  • Spiritual Director (additional training through our partner Selah)


Six courses (18 credits): 4 Required & 2 Elective

Spiritual Formation for Ministry

Spiritual Formation for Ministry (MC/SF501) develops a working knowledge of spiritual formation leading to a lifetime of continuing education. Special emphasis is given to spiritual exercise and small group practice for personal application and for leadership in ministry. 

Dynamics of Spiritual Life

Dynamics of Spiritual Life (CH/SF591) draws on the biblical Creation-Redemption narrative, training students in LifeStory Exegesis,™ a model of Christian spirituality that can be used in personal renewal, spiritual formation, direction, discipleship, mentoring, and counseling.

Spiritual Formation Course in Church History (Select One)

C.S. Lewis’ Life, Works, and Spirituality (CH/SF667)
Medieval Spirituality (CH/SF618)
Reformation Era Spirituality (CH​/SF/TH619)

Spiritual Formation Course in Counseling (Select One)

Cross-Cultural Counseling (CO/WM712)
Group Process (CO/PC/SF711)
Ministering to Women in Pain (​SF/CO/MC642)

Spiritual Formation Electives (Select Two)

Cross-Cultural Counseling (CO/WM712)
C.S. Lewis’ Life, Works, and Spirituality (CH/SF667)
Global Christian Spirituality & Leadership (CL/SF510)
Group Process (CO/PC/SF711)
Medieval Spirituality (CH/SF618)
Ministering to Women in Pain (​SF/CO/MC642)
Pastoral Counseling (PC511)
Reformation Era Spirituality (CH​/SF/TH619)
Spiritual Formation & the Arts (SF860)


Students in the Spiritual Formation Certificate are required to complete four personal retreats (for low-residency students, these may be in their local area) and two semesters of a supervised spiritual formation practicum through one of the following:

  • Mentored ministry
  • A LifeStory Exegesis™ small group (for residential students)
  • A Pierce Center soul care group
  • A discipling relationship through the Discipleship Experience Program
  • A certificate in spiritual direction through programs such as Selah

Further Study

In Fall 2021, Gordon-Conwell will begin offering a concentration in Spiritual Formation for two of our MA programs: the MA in Christian Ministry (MACM) and the MA in Theological Studies (MATS). The Certificate in Spiritual Formation provides a foundation for both degree programs and all certificate courses can be applied toward the MACM or MATS.


* All students can expect to receive some form of financial assistance. Most students qualify for the scholarship listed here. Reach out to our admissions team (using the form below) to see if you qualify for this or any other scholarships or financial assistance.


Note: Service fees will be charged as follows for each semester/summer session in which a student registers for courses, regardless of student status or credit hours or registration type.

Fall/Spring/Full Summer $175 per term
Summer I, II, III (Intensives) $35 per session
Technology Fee $40 per term

Note: Unfortunately, our Graduate Certificate programs are not eligible for federal aid.

Fall 2022

Accepting Applications for Fall ’22

The formal deadline for our Fall Semester is July 29, but check the following link for further campus and program-specific dates & deadlines.
Detailed Application Dates & Deadlines »

Have Questions?

Someone from our friendly admissions team would be happy to reach out to you.