Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Units by Discipline
Total Units Price per unit Intercultural Studies Languages Philosophy Practical Ministry Research / Christian Education Spiritual Formation Theology Electives
18 $621 0 0 0 0 0 15 3 0


The Certificate is devised to assist individuals in personal growth, provide some training in lay ministry of spiritual formation in the local church, and give the student opportunity to understand their giftedness. Certificate course work may later be applied toward a Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree.

For additional information visit the ISF website.


As a result of this program, the student will:

  • Appreciate to some degree and begin to grow in the reality that true Christian spirituality is grounded in the double knowledge and encounter of God and self. Students will begin to understand through experience and theory that growth in Christ is based upon an encounter with God and oneself in the Truth.

  • Understand the Word of God and its role as a primary datum for true Christian spirituality. Students will come to have some grasp and commitment to the Word of God as a primary source of truth for their understanding of spiritual formation and spiritual direction (through courses in theology, biblical studies, and spiritual formation).

  • Integrate truth from the data of extra-biblical sources of wisdom and true Christian spirituality. Students will also come to have some minimal appreciation for the relevant information from the history of the church, spiritual classics, personal experience, the humanities, and the social sciences relevant to spiritual growth.

  • Develop some discernment regarding what is of truth or falsehood in light of various contemporary competing spiritualities. Students will begin to be able to discern truth and error, what is helpful and unhelpful in true Christian spiritual growth in light of various competing contemporary spiritualities.

  • Foster honest self-assessment and humility. Students will gain some honest understanding of themselves in the presence of God and truth through various experiential prayer projects, meditation on the Word, retreats, and spiritual direction.

  • Develop some minimal understanding of the sinful dynamics at work in one's life and others. Students will become somewhat aware of the sinful dynamics that govern their lives and those they will be ministering to as well as a deeper appreciation of the origin of those dynamics from interaction with the Scriptures, some psychological theory, philosophy, prayer projects, and personal experience in retreats and spiritual direction.

  • Cultivate deeper intimacy with Christ in prayer. Students will personally nurture intimacy in their relationship to Christ in their meditation on the Word, experiential prayer projects, retreats, and personal experience in spiritual direction.

  • Grow in personal commitment to obedience and character of Christ. Students will cultivate growth in character as well as behavior consistent with the faith in their interaction with their spiritual directors, in projects of personal prayer and meditation on the Word, retreats, and therapy.

  • Expose oneself to ministries of spiritual formation in the local church in courses and experience. Students will be exposed to the various ways spiritual formation may be part of the ministries of a local church in preaching, adult education, and mentoring (through exposure in courses and experiences in retreats and spiritual direction).

  • Explore one's calling to ministry and to the need for more training and preparation. Students will be given the opportunity to explore in prayer, courses, the community of the program, retreats, and spiritual direction their own personal calling to the ministry and whether they should go on for more training in ministry.

Admissions Requirements

Are you an international student? Please view the international admissions requirements

Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree. Each should be a graduate from an accredited college with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

Three essays and an additional letter of reference in addition to those required by the Talbot application are required (to be submitted with the supplemental cover sheet):

Due to the unique nature of this program, all applicants will be personally interviewed.

Graduation Requirements

  • Satisfactorily complete all courses for a total of 18 semester units as outlined in the curriculum below.

  • Obtain a 3.0 GPA with no grade below a “C-” in all courses to be credited toward graduation.

  • Complete the entire program in no more than five years.


Course Units
Required Courses
TTSF 521 Introduction to Christian Spirituality and Prayer 3
TTSF 524 History and Theory of Christian Soul Care and Direction 3
TTSF 532 Developmental Spirituality and Contemplative Prayer 2
TTSF 543 Personal Foundations of Spirituality and Retreat 3
TTSF 672 Personal Retreat and Formation 2
TTSF 701 Spiritual Formation Seminar 2
Select one course from the following:
TTSF 701 Spiritual Formation Seminar 2
TTSF 517 Hermeneutics and the Word in Spiritual Formation 3
TTSF 521 Theology I: God, Scripture, Creation 3
TTTH 522 Theology II: Christ, Humanity, Sin, Salvation 3
Co-Curriculuar Requirements
TTSF 585 Personal Spiritual Direction (each semester enrolled)  
TTSF 672 Personal Retreat & Formation  



BOLDED courses are available in an Online or Hybrid format



  • Personal Spiritual Direction
    Insofar as the student is to be trained to do mentoring or spiritual soul care for the Church, it is incumbent that each student has the opportunity to experience his/her own spiritual direction. Each student is required to enroll in Personal Spiritual Direction (0 units) for each semester they are enrolled in courses. The student is required during each semester to arrange monthly direction meeting with an approved mentor who is to be his/her spiritual guide for the duration of the student's program (approximately 10 sessions per calendar year).

  • Faculty-Student Retreat
    For all ISF students, along with weekly chapel, faculty and students participate together in a yearly weekend retreat for the purpose of developing a more intimate and meaningful community in relation to God. Faculty, advanced students, and outside lecturers will lead the community in seminars and spiritual disciplines. Student costs for such retreats are the responsibility of each student.

  • Personal Retreat
    All students in the ISF program are required to go on one weekend retreat each semester for the purpose of cultivating the inner life before God (a total of four weekend retreats). Certificate students will enroll in two units of SF 672 Personal Retreat in their last semester.

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639