Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Teacher Qualification and Certification

There are 3 designations of MSC teachers:

Teacher In Training | Trained MSC Teacher | Certified MSC Teacher

Teacher in Training

The first step toward becoming a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Teacher is to take a 6-day MSC Teacher Training program (TT).  After the TT, participants are known as Teachers-in-Training.

Prerequisites for attending a MSC Teacher Training are:

Personal Skills
  • Established daily mindfulness practice of at least two years.
  • Ongoing, daily, sitting meditation practice
  • Ongoing practice of loving-kindness and self-compassion in daily life
  • Attendance in at least one 5-day silent, teacher-led meditation retreat
Professional Skills
  • Previous participation in a five-day or eight-week; MSC
  • Experience teaching meditation in groups, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or in clinical settings
  • You do not have to be a clinician to take the MSC Teacher Training

Upon completion of the MSC Teacher Training, participants receive a Certificate of Attendance from the Center for MSC stating that he or she has attended the TT in its entirety and can start teaching MSC as a Teacher in Training. Teachers in Training are considered a Trained MSC Teacher only after completing 10 online consultation sessions (described below, at a cost of $40 per session) and are asked to represent themselves accurately regarding these designations in all promotional material.


Trained MSC Teacher

The process of becoming a fully trained MSC teacher in conjunction with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion encompasses all of the pre-requisites for attending the MSC Teacher Training (TT), as well as the following additional requirements:

  • Completion of the MSC Teacher Training (TT)
  • Teaching or co-teaching a full 8-week MSC group course (after Teacher Training).
  • Active participation in 10 online consultation sessions while teaching or co-teaching one’s first MSC group course.  Consultations are hosted by a MSC teacher trainer or experienced MSC teacher with a maximum of six teachers in training and a fee of $40 per session is charged for the service
  • Ongoing personal practice of mindfulness and self-compassion, including sitting meditation and practice in daily life.

Upon completion of these requirements, the teacher trainee can apply for a Certificate of Training from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. This certificate indicates that he or she has fulfilled the necessary requirements and is now trained to teach or co-teach MSC, and can apply for teacher certification. The bearer can now advertise him or herself as a “Trained Teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion”. The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion reserves the right not to grant a Certificate of Training if it is determined that the teacher trainee has not successfully completed the requirements and/or needs further consultation or remediation.

Trained teachers can be listed on the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion website along with their MSC programs (see www.CenterForMSC.org). In the future MSC teachers will be expected to engage in continuing education in order to maintain their affiliation with CMSC (not yet available).


Certified MSC Teacher

Certification is verification of a teacher’s competence whereas the designation of Trained MSC teacher simply recognizes that a person has completed the requisite training activities. This level of training and verification is highly recommended for those who continue to teach the program, and offers a number of opportunities and advantages as well. The designation of Certification indicates that the individual has been individually mentored by an expert MSC teacher, has received specialized advanced training in teaching the program, has taught a significant number of MSC courses and had his or her teaching reviewed by an expert MSC teacher for competence.

Advantages of becoming a Certified MSC Teacher include:

  • You may represent yourself publicly, including in the directory of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (CMSC) website, as a Certified Teacher who has received the approval and support of CMSC and the UC San Diego Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute.
  • You will be approved to offer MSC in the intensive format.
  • You will have the support of CMSC to adapt MSC for special populations (subject to review and approval by CMSC)

Furthermore, all CMSC Teacher Trainers, Mentors and Teacher Training Consultants are required to be Certified as well. Thus, those who hope to potentially serve in those roles must obtain certification in order to be considered for these positions.

Beginning the Process

You will begin the enrollment process by registering online in the UCSD Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute (MBPTI) as a Trained MSC Teacher seeking certification. Enrollment includes a non-refundable application fee of $100, plus a $140 Mentorship Administration Fee ($10 per session for the 14 individual mentorship sessions).

We recommend that you choose a mentor right away upon embarking on the path toward Certification, so that you can arrange an initial “orientation” mentorship session (the first of the 14 required). This session will serve as an opportunity for the applicant and the mentor to openly explore the applicant’s readiness to proceed toward certification. Input from the applicant and other Teacher Trainers (if they have had occasion to work with the applicant) will be considered and a final determination to accept or postpone the application will be made after the conclusion of this orientation. Recommendations for areas of teacher development will be made in either case, to either guide the applicant in growing as a teacher through the certification process or to highlight areas of remediation that should be addressed prior to re-applying for certification. In most cases, the trainee will be advised to continue teaching the 8-week MSC program and to complete the rest of the individual mentorship sessions while teaching his or her fourth or fifth program.

While your financial arrangement is between you and your mentor, we have asked the UCSD-approved mentors to agree to a standard hourly rate of $155 for US-based mentees and that the mentee pay for the full set of fourteen sessions up front, unless other arrangements need to be made. We understand that people have varying financial circumstances and live in varying world economies and may need some consideration for these circumstances. If the fee is a financial hardship, then you are encouraged to discuss this with potential mentors and see if you can mutually agree upon a fee that is acceptable to both parties. Keep in mind that these are highly experienced and very busy teachers and trainers, and their time is valuable and these rates are fairly consistent with others in our field.

Certification is a process of ensuring that an MSC teacher has achieved a level of teaching expertise that clearly demonstrates competency and best practice skills.

Register In The Institute

Requirements for MSC Teacher Certification are the following:

  • Completion of formal MSC Teacher Training (as described above).
  • Have taught a minimum of 5 MSC group courses, of which at least 4 are in the 8-week format.
  • Completion of at least six 90-minute webinars on Advanced MSC Training Seminars offered through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (to begin in mid-2016)
  • 14 hours of individual mentorship with an approved MSC mentor/teacher trainer concurrent with teaching an 8-week MSC course. Review mentor details on our MSC Mentorship page for more information. Four of these mentorship hours will be used by the mentor to review recordings of your teaching independently without you being present.

Mentorship and feedback will be based upon the following:

  • Video recordings of you teaching two 20-minute segments of inquiry, one from MSC sessions 1-4 and the second video from sessions 4-8.
  • Video recording of you teaching one exercise from MSC (with inquiry).
  • Video recording of you teaching a 20-minute sitting meditation practice.
  • Video recording of you teaching a 15-minute didactic portion of the MSC program.
  • Four audio recordings of guided meditations (in CD or mp3 format). These are recordings that you create for your participants to listen to at home.

Upon completing these requirements, please submit a formal letter of application for Teacher Certification to the UCSD Teacher Qualification and Certification Committee. Your letter must include documentation of the following:

  • The date you received your Certificate of Training in MSC.
  • The list of Advanced Teacher Training webinars attended (with dates)
  • The dates and venues (online or in person) of individual consultation sessions and name of consultant sessions and name of mentor
  • Location and number of participants in all MSC courses taught, copies of all course evaluations from the most recent course, any additional teaching materials or participant handouts beyond those standardly provided to MSC teachers, audio recordings and the videos required for consultation noted above (or equivalent)
  • In addition please submit a character reference from a colleague in your field, meditation teacher, etc. who is familiar with your work. Please also document your personal mindfulness meditation practice, self-compassion and/or loving-kindness meditation practice, and attendance at silent teacher-led retreats, naming the teacher(s) and location.
  • An application review fee of $500 will be charged for the Certification review process.

Your request will be reviewed by the Committee and upon approval, you will be issued with a letter confirming you have satisfied all the necessary modules for Teacher Certification status and you will be issued with a MSC Teaching Certificate. If any remediation is recommended prior to Certification, then there will be an additional $150 re-review fee once the remediation has been completed.

Fees for MSC Teacher Certification

Application Fee: $100

Mentorship Administration Fee: $140

14 sessions of Individual Mentorship: $2170 (based on US rate of $155 per session)

Six 90-minute Advanced MSC Training Seminars (currently in development): $240

Application Review Fee: $500