The S.T.L. degree involves the development of appropriate methods of scientific investigation in theology, specialization in one area of theological concentration through a thesis, and a set of written and oral comprehensive examinations. The Licentiate in Sacred Theology has a long history that helps explain its present significance in this program and university. All its candidates must have completed a previous academic program calculated to engender a basic familiarity with the long history of Christian theological endeavors.


  1. Possession of the S.T.B. degree from an ecclesiastical university or faculty or a comparable M.Div. or an M.A. or M.T.S. with coursework that is equivalent to that required for the S.T.B. at Catholic University. Such coursework must have been completed with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 comparable means.
  4. At least three academic letters of recommendation.
  5. A reading knowledge of Latin.

Conditional Admission

The committee reserves the right to admit conditionally those applicants not meeting the above prerequisites. In such cases, the Admissions Committee will decide under what circumstances the conditions may be lifted. Those students in the Department of Theology who are entering their seventh semester of theological study in the S.T.B. program, and have obtained permission to delay their S.T.B. comprehensives until the scheduled dates during that semester, may apply for conditional admission to this program provided they have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 or higher. The condition will be lifted once the student has successfully completed all S.T.B. requirements.



Students must satisfy 24 credits of coursework, plus 6 credits for the thesis after it has been approved.

  • Each student must take and successfully complete at least 24 semester hours of coursework on the 700 level or on the 800 level. These required credits must be taken in the student's chosen field of concentration.
  • Up to six semester hours in another school or department may be taken; such courses are to be in the student's area of concentration. In each instance the written approval of the chair and the dean or the department head of the other school or department are required.
  • All students are required to take and successfully complete, during their first semester of registration in this program, the noncredit course Proseminar in Research and Dissertation Methodology (TRS 799).

In addition to the minimum 24 credit hours of coursework, each student must prepare and obtain final approval of a written thesis on a research project. The candidate will be expected to register for S.T.L. thesis guidance (TRS 696A) for each of three successive semesters, beginning with the second semester of enrollment in the S.T.L. program. The purpose of the non-credit research guidance is to direct the student in readings pertinent to the chosen area of concentration, help the student prepare a thesis proposal, and guide the student in the writing of the thesis. Students must submit their thesis and successfully pass their comprehensive exam within 2 years of completing their coursework. 

Language Requirements

Candidates for the S.T.L. degree in theology must fulfill the following language requirements by the end of the semester before the candidate takes the comprehensive examination.

  • Latin: Successful completion of the Latin Proficiency Examination administered by the Department of Theology each semester. The Latin prerequisite must be satisfied by the end of the first fall semester in the program.
  • Greek: Successful completion of a research project or reading course involving biblical Greek, or an examination in biblical Greek.
  • Modern Language: A reading ability in either French or German must be demonstrated by a satisfactory translation of a theological passage in a test administered by the School of Theology and Religious Studies, or an extensive project that uses the modern language under the direction of the instructor in a course; this project must be approved by the area director. Theological usage in German also has a third option which is to satisfactorily pass TRS 501 “Theological German.” A different modern foreign language may be substituted for French or German where the needs of the student’s research call for this, subject to the agreement of the director and reader and with the approval of the Ecclesiastical Degrees Committee.


Each candidate for the S.T.L degree must write a thesis between 75 and 100 pages (approximately 25,000-35,000 words) which demonstrates the ability to proceed further in scientific theological research. The thesis should give evidence of training in research and make a contribution to theological knowledge involving a limited, yet significant, problem of investigation. It must prove the candidate's familiarity with basic methods and techniques of research, technical mastery of the limited subject matter, and ability to exercise sound theological judgment and formulate accurate conclusions.

Comprehensive Examinations

The student must successfully complete comprehensive examinations both written and oral, which evidence relative mastery of the chosen field of concentration. The comprehensive examinations are normally to be based on the departmental list of books in the student's area of concentration. In an individual case where good reasons exist for so doing variations that preserve the rationale of the departmental list may be allowed. These are to be submitted by the student with the approval of his/her director and reader to the judgment of the Ecclesiastical Degrees Committee chair. The booklist for each area of concentration can be obtained from the Theology office.

To qualify for the comprehensive examinations, the student must maintain at least a 3.00 cumulative average. The comprehensive examinations may be done when the thesis has received the approval of the director and reader, but not before mid-point of the final term of residency (October 31 or March 15).

Final Grade

The three components of the S.T.L. degree program, i.e., course work, thesis, and comprehensive examinations (written and oral), will be graded on the basis of the usual grade point average (meaning that 4.0 is the highest possible grade), and the average of these components will comprise the student's final cumulative grade average. This means that the average of the grades for courses will be one-third, that the average of the two grades for the thesis (from the Director and the Reader) will be one-third and the combined average of the final grade for the written and oral comps will be the last third. The student must have a 3.0 average to receive the S.T.L. degree.

To be admitted to the S.T.D. program, however, a student must successfully complete the S.T.L. degree with a cumulative average grade of 3.3.