Frequently Asked Questions

What is Renovaré?
Renovaré is a community of Christians seeking continual spiritual renewal in Christ. We are convinced that all people can enjoy a closer walk with Jesus, leading to a more vibrant and fulfilling Christlike life. Founded by spiritual formation author Richard J. Foster, Renovaré is Christian in commitment, international in scope, and ecumenical in breadth.

What is the Renovaré Institute?
Richard J. Foster first drew up a proposal for a spiritual formation academy/institute in 1991. Since that time, there has been an explosion of interest in spiritual formation with the majority of seminaries offering "something" related to spiritual formation. However, even with the burgeoning interest, it is rare to find programs that maintain what Renovaré champions—high Christology, balanced vision, practical strategies, a breadth of historical and ecumenical engagement, and a superior quality in ideas and written materials.

Who should apply?
The ideal individuals to benefit from the offerings of the Renovaré Institute are people within various local congregations who are profoundly dedicated to Christian spiritual formation. Their common desire is to know and live the "with-God life." Their common strength is the ability and the platform to influence others in living well.

What does the Renovaré Institute provide?
The Renovaré Institute offers a systematic way to articulate and develop—both in writing and teaching content—critical ideas of Dallas Willard and Richard J. Foster and others associated with Renovaré. In addition to providing an intensive environment for soaking in these core concepts, the Institute adds intellectual rigor and testable information to the Christian spiritual formation field. The Renovaré Institute is helping to develop the next generation of Renovaré teachers.

Is the Renovaré Institute a certification program in Spiritual Direction?
The certificate for the Renovaré Institute is in Christian Spiritual Formation. While there is certainly much synergy between spiritual formation and spiritual direction, and we do ask our students to be in spiritual direction during the last 18 months of the program, this is NOT a program for training in spiritual direction.

Where is the school located?
Most of the work is done online, but for two separate weeks each year students gather in person (for a total of four residencies.) All four residencies are held in retreat centers near the host city, which changes with each two-year cohort of students.

You don't have to live in the host city to apply, and Renovaré students come from all over the globe. We simply change locations to make the program possible for people in that part of the country who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend.

Are there prerequisites?
While the school is academically challenging, there are no formal prerequisites.

What does the program cost?
For the Charlotte Cohort (2025-27): The cost for each year of the two-year Charlotte Cohort will be $5,000. This includes all meals, lodging, and teaching at the residencies as well as the online courses themselves. (To make the RI as affordable as possible, tuition fees only cover approximately 80% of the actual expenses. The remaining 20% is covered by contributions to Renovare’s General Fund. ) 

Please note that tuition does not include books, travel to or from the residencies, or any costs associated with finding and seeing a spiritual director during the last 18 months of the program.

The first year's payment is due by July 1st of the startup year once a student is accepted. Payment plans are available.

Is financial aid available?
Scholarship funds have been made available as a part of a concerted effort by donors to make the RI accessible to well-suited candidates for whom finances would otherwise be a barrier. If you are concerned that the cost of tuition may prohibit your involvement in the RI, please go ahead and complete your RI application, and then fill out the RI Financial Aid Query Form, which is designed to facilitate mutual discernment about financial needs and possible resources.

How are scholarship funds prioritized?
Renovaré is convinced that the most transformative learning cohorts are composed of students from a rich variety of backgrounds, and our overall mission is to make the riches of Christian spiritual formation available to all communities. As a result, scholarship funds are prioritized for applicants from underrepresented age and ethnic demographics, as well as for those in full-time ministry.

How many students are in each cohort?
Due to our commitment to fostering a relatively intimate community experience, we limit each cohort to 45 students.

What is the workload?
Most students indicate they average 9-12 hours/week in the program, not including the residency weeks. The normal rhythm involves reading approximately one book/month and one article/week. Keeping good reading notes and exercise journals is key to the process (and foundational to the papers due at the end of each semester). We use a web-based learning platform called Moodle for online discussion and interactions with teachers and fellow students.

At the end of each six-month semester, there are two papers (5-9 pages each) due. By the second semester, discussion will begin with our Director of Education, Carolyn Arends, about how you intend to pass what you've learned along through a significant final project at the end.

What are the residencies? Are they mandatory?
We meet two times per year for a week (four times in all over the two-year period). The weeklong intensives include teaching, formational exercises, worship, and retreat. They are a mandatory part of the program.

Are small group meet-ups part of the program?
Yes. At the first residency, you will be placed into a small group of 5-6 students. You will be asked to arrange a time during the third week of each month when you can meet via video conferencing. You will be in a total of three different small groups throughout the two years of the program.

Will other graduate schools recognize the RI certificate?
Yes, many of our graduates go on to pursue additional graduate work and receive advance standing credits for the RI certificate. Typically, graduate schools grant RI grads 6-12 units towards master's and doctorate degrees in spiritual formation or spiritual direction. We’ve listed some of our key grad school partnerships here. Beyond this list, we’ve never had a student be denied at least some credit towards a graduate degree in a related field at any institution.

What if I have more questions, or just need to talk this through with someone?
Email Wendy Dean at [email protected] or schedule a time for her to call you HERE.

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Download the Renovaré Institute Program Overview

Includes course outlines, program structure, and breakdown of time commitment.