The Doctor of Sacred Theology, S.T.D. is an academic degree conferred only after a candidate with a basic, tested theological orientation and proven competence in one area of specialization has shown ability for achievement in scholarly research and publication.


Applicants for the S.T.D. program are requested to submit their applications for admission, along with their letters of intent, prior to Feb. 1. Applications received after that date will be considered; however, such applications will have passed the deadline for most university-level scholarships.

The following prerequisites will be evaluated by the Committee on Admissions:

  1. Possession of the S.T.L. degree from The Catholic University of America or from another ecclesiastical faculty or university or a graduate degree in theology that demonstrates equivalency to the S.T.L. requirements. (Additional seminars may be required for the doctoral program to provide the faculty the opportunity to be of greater assistance to a candidate who has been educated elsewhere.) Students whose preparation (S.T.L. or equivalent) is in an area of concentration differing from that proposed for the S.T.D. will be required to take additional courses and/or pass the licentiate comprehensive examination (3.0) in their new academic area of study.
  2. A cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or better in S.T.L. work or that which has been accepted as its equivalent.
  3. A letter of intent stating the proposed area of concentration, previous preparation in that area, and anticipated achievements.
  4. The results of the Graduate Record Examination, GRE, or Miller Analogies Test, MAT. However, GRE scores (vs. MAT) are necessary for applicants to be considered for most university scholarships.
  5. Non-native English-speakers should demonstrate evidence of English proficiency through submission of Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL, scores or through some other means.
  6. At least three academic letters of recommendation.
  7. Demonstrated proficiency in Latin and biblical Greek. In addition, the student should have a reading proficiency in either French or German.


Twelve semester hours of credits selected from the doctoral seminars relevant to the student's area of concentration/proposed research topic. Normally, these will be 800-level courses in the student's academic area. Any course taken to fulfill this requirement must require (or make provision for) a substantial research paper (ca. 25 to 30 pages). The Proseminar in Research and Dissertation Methodology (noncredit) is required of all candidates in their first semester in the program (save those who have the S.T.L. from the Department of Theology).

Course Load

No more than six credit hours of coursework in the academic area plus dissertation guidance may be taken during any one of the four semesters of work in the S.T.D. program, for a total of nine semester hours.

Grade Point Average

The student must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.

Language Requirements

Demonstrated proficiency in Latin, Biblical Greek, and one modern language are prerequisites. Any student entering the S.T.D. program without them must satisfy these requirements by the end of the first fall semester in the program. Reading proficiency in a second modern language, i.e., French or German, must be demonstrated through successful completion of the school's modern language requirements (in both general and theological usage). This is ordinarily done during the first semester of matriculation. It is expected that all language requirements be satisfied by the end of the semester in which the student's dissertation proposal is submitted to the faculty for approval. Exceptions to this rule can be made only with the approval of the associate dean for graduate studies.


To be eligible for admission to candidacy for the S.T.D. degree, the student must (a) satisfy the language requirements and (b) complete at least six credit hours of coursework. Students should make the request for candidacy in writing to the associate dean for graduate studies.

Dissertation Guidance

Four successive semesters of dissertation guidance over and above the 12 credit hours of doctoral seminars are required. The candidate may choose (or, if circumstances require, will be assigned) a faculty advisor upon entering the program. The faculty advisor chosen or assigned may be changed with the approval of the academic area director.


Prior to defense of the doctoral dissertation, the student must pass a comprehensive oral examination (lectio) based on the origins, history and contemporary status of the entire major area suggested by the topic of the dissertation.


Each candidate must prepare and successfully defend a dissertation written under the guidance of a director. The dissertation is expected to demonstrate technical mastery of the subject and the ability to engage in scholarly research and to formulate conclusions significant to the academic theological community.


The residency requirement for the S.T.D. is four semesters in full-time enrollment. Students who have completed the S.T.L. at The Catholic University of America or in an institution with requirements judged equivalent by the Admissions Committee require only two semesters of residence, followed by such extended residence as is needed during the preparation of the dissertation.