Skip to main content

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Talbot School of Theology


The Certificate in Spiritual Formation, offered through Talbot’s Institute for Spiritual Formation (ISF), is an introductory yet intensive program designed to assist your personal growth, to provide initial training for ministry in the local church, and to give you an opportunity to understand your giftedness to determine whether the Lord is calling you to more training and preparation for ministry.

As an introductory program, this 18-credit certificate has coursework designed to orient you to the practices of soul care and spiritual direction, including opportunities for you to experience personal spiritual direction and participate in various retreats. But unlike ISF’s master’s programs, the certificate does not include (1) actual practice in doing soul care and spiritual mentoring with others in a church or university context or (2) professional supervision from a faculty spiritual mentor regarding your practice of mentoring others.

Should you discern a call to further studies, certificate coursework may later be applied toward a Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree through ISF.

Yes! Tell Me More!

Why Pursue a Certificate at Talbot?

Study and Experience Spiritual Formation from a Trusted Program. Talbot’s Institute for Spiritual Formation is a trusted leader among Christian seminaries in the area of spiritual formation and soul care. Through your meditation on the Word, experiential prayer projects, retreats and personal experience in spiritual direction, this program aims to nurture your relationship to Christ, cultivate growth in character and develop behavior consistent with the faith.

Be Equipped to Serve Others. Develop your understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in a believer’s life with coursework in theology, biblical studies and spiritual formation. You will be better prepared to serve others in your current ministry or church as you learn, and personally experience, spiritual direction and the ministry of soul care.

Learn from ISF’s Reputable Faculty. All the courses in your program are part of Talbot’s degree programs, meaning you will receive the same high-quality education and training from ISF’s expert faculty and professional spiritual directors, each of whom are committed to God’s Word and to equipping men and women to serve the body of Christ.

Take a “Test Drive” of a Talbot Master’s Program. Not sure whether to pursue a full degree? This certificate program gives you a taste of what Talbot’s academic degree programs can offer. Should you choose to continue, your required courses can be applied to a Master of Arts or Master of Divinity degree.


Below are the course requirements for this academic program. For full program details, visit Biola's academic catalog.

Note: This list is intended to give you a quick glimpse into the program's academic offerings, and should not be used as a guide for course selection or academic advising.

Required Courses

An introductory study into the nature of spiritual formation and the various ways that Christians have sought to deepen their relationship with God, with special emphasis given to the nature and practice of prayer in the Church and the Christian life. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
An introduction to the history and theory of spiritual soul care, mentoring and direction from a biblical, experiential and psychological perspective. Specific focus is on assisting others in deepening their relationship with God through increased sensitivity and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit's presence and work in all areas of life (including the common and ordinary). Attention is also given to understanding the personal dynamics at work within and between the guide and directee and the role of spiritual guidance within the broader context of pastoral care and mentoring as well as in the more specific discipline of spiritual direction. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
An exploration of the various stages of growth involved in the believer's journey, employing both experiential and biblical data. Particular focus is given to St. John of the Cross who developed perhaps the most elaborate and influential approach to understanding the work of the Spirit in various phases of the Christian's life and how this relates to the relationship between discursive and contemplative prayer and meditation. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
This course focuses upon the importance of self-understanding for spiritual and emotional well-being as well as effective ministry to hurting people. It includes an investigation into the impact of personal and family history on theological outlook, emotional congruence, relational attractions and moral decisions. Several personal assessments as well as one or more therapy sessions are an integral part of this course and will require an additional fee. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: C.
Each M.A. concentration and Certificate student is required to go on one weekend retreat (Friday to Sunday) each semester for the purpose of cultivating the inner life before God (a total of four weekend retreats or two for Certificate). This is to be done in consultation with one's designated spiritual mentor and one's advisor before and after the experience. Student costs for such retreats are the responsibility of each student. The first half of this classroom course, taken early in the program (2 credits for both M.A. concentration and Certificate students), will cover theory and preparation for retreat. The second half (2 credits for M.A. concentration only), taken late in the program, and after completing the retreats, will serve to debrief and further understand the retreat process. Grade Mode: A.
Yearly required seminars are offered under this course designation which focus upon some issue, controversy or dimension in the area of spiritual formation. Notes: Required of all SF M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

Select one course from the following:

Training in biblical interpretation and its relevance to the process and goals of spiritual formation. Emphasis is given to analysis of written communication and language usage, general rules and specialized principles for the various biblical genre, and the place of the Word of God in Christian spiritual growth from a biblical, experiential and historical perspective. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
An introduction to theology and theological method. Scripture, including inspiration and inerrancy. God, including his attributes and triune nature. God's work of creation, including God's eternal plan, the angels, and providence. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students.Grade Mode: A.
Humanity in the image of God, including human nature, the family, and civil government. The fall and the effect of sin upon humanity. The person and work of Christ. The nature and application of salvation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students.Grade Mode: A.

Co-Curricular Requirements

See the Institute for Spiritual Formation section of the catalog for a full description.

Didactic Therapy (Recommended)
Faculty–Student Retreat

Students experience their own spiritual direction for the purpose of deepening their self awareness and relationship with God and implicit training in doing direction with others. The student is encouraged to be open and honest with the spiritual guide, hiding nothing regarding one's relationship with God and, within reason, attending to the direction of the guide. Notes: Required of all SF students each semester enrolled. Grade Mode: C.
1-2 years
Standard Duration
This indicates the standard duration of this program. Completion time may vary depending on transferred coursework and preferred courseload.
Total Program Credits
Every program at Biola University features rigorous academics, biblically integrated curriculum and vocational preparation.
Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Additional accreditations may apply to specific programs.

You may also be interested in