Program Overview
The Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program consists of three consecutive January terms, each three weeks in length. These three weeks of intensive study and practice form the heart of the DASD program. During each January term, students enroll in two graduate level courses of 3 credit hours each. Combined, the three January terms constitute 18 semester hours of graduate level credit. Depending on individual need, students may take these courses for a letter grade or on a pass/fail basis. In the months between January intensives, students engage in spiritual direction practice under the guidance of a competent and approved supervisor in their own geographical area. Issues and case materials from the supervision session are integrated into the January course work. Students receive a total of 6 semester hours of graduate credit - 3 credits per year - for their supervised work of spiritual direction. Supervision courses may be taken only on a pass/fail basis. In sum, the DASD requires 24 graduate credits for completion.

Each of the DASD courses is designed to provide specific knowledge of various aspects of spiritual direction and to enhance and develop particular skills and sensibilities for this ministry. Students first explore and develop sensibilities and skills in individual spiritual direction. They then expand these into spiritual guidance ministries with groups and congregations. Because of the highly integral nature of individual courses as well as the curriculum as a whole, credits from other institutions are not accepted for the completion of this Diploma. Thus the three January terms constitute the residency requirement of the program.

In addition to the academic requirements of the program, each January term begins and ends with time for retreat and prayerful reflection. Each includes time for explorations in prayer, music, movement, and art. The community also gathers daily for common prayers and for Holy Communion. The development of a community of peers during the program provides opportunities for companionship and mutual support that often continue well after students graduate from the program.

Prospective Students
Appropriate candidates for the DASD program include those seeking to test a call to the ministry of spiritual direction through a combination of academic course work and on-site supervision and those wanting to enhance or expand an already existing ministry. The DASD program recognizes the theological and ecclesiastic situation of Protestant candidates and welcomes those of any denomination who seek to understand and undertake a ministry of spiritual direction in a Protestant context. Ordination is neither a prerequisite nor an expected outcome of this program.

Course Work
Participants may enter the DASD program in any year since courses are offered on a revolving basis. Two courses are offered during each January term according to the following groupings.

First year:
  • The Art of Christian Listening
  • Fundamentals of Spiritual Direction
Second and third years in rotation:
  • The Art of Discernment
  • History of Christian Spirituality
  • Contemporary issues in Spiritual Direction
  • Discernment: Systems and Nature

All courses carry 3 semester credit hours. These courses, then, constitute 18 hours of graduate credit. The 6 additional hours granted for the completion of supervised spiritual direction complete the 24 credit hours required for the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction.

Students are required to do reading for courses well before the January term starts. Reading lists are sent to second and third year students during the summer months with the expectation that they will complete these assignments before the January term begins. First year students are invited to begin reading upon acceptance into the program. A sample portion of the first year reading list might include such works as:

  • Margaret Guenther: Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction
  • Thomas Hart: The Art of Christian Listening
  • Gerald May: The Awakened Heart

Occasionally, a course instructor may require an additional pre-course assignment. In general, however, students write final papers for their courses after they return home. These papers are due at a time specified and announced by faculty at the end of the January term, though students generally have a period of 6 to 8 weeks to complete their papers. While papers vary according to the nature of the course, most papers involve integrating selections from readings, class presentations, relevant student experience, and the demonstration of skills developed during the intensive. Thus, the January term is preceded by several months of work at home and followed by a period of integration and writing.

Within the totality of the course work and supervision, the following themes are emphasized, and they express the particular focus and commitment of this program.

  • Biblical grounding
  • Covenant theology
  • Integration of head, heart, and body
  • Individual and group (including congregational) spiritual guidance
  • Transformation of social systems, structures, and institutions
  • Ministry of spiritual companionship that is collaborative and non-hierarchical
  • Multi-cultural dimensions of spiritual guidance and direction
  • Integration of psychology and spirituality
The costs per January Intensive are as follows:

Tuition: $2,900 (tuition rates may increase slightly each year)
Supervision: $450-$1,080
Meals & Materials: $295-$415 (depending on meal plan)
Housing: $625-$1,300 (depending on shared or single room)
Application Fee: $40
Graduation Fee: $50
Book & Reader Costs: varies each year


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Educational Programs

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San Francisco Theological Seminary
105 Seminary Rd
San Anselmo CA, 94960
Phone: 415.451.2800