The S.T.D. in Moral Theology is a degree conferred after students with a basic tested theological orientation and proven competence in moral theology have shown ability for achievement in scholarly research and teaching. The program is focused on completion of a limited number of seminars and the preparation and defense of a dissertation. It aims to prepare students to undertake the responsibilities of teaching and research at the highest academic levels.

In addition and specific to the general requirements for obtaining an ecclesiastical degree, the Moral Theology/Ethics area requires the following:


Applicants should possess an S.T.L. in Moral Theology as offered by this faculty, or the equivalent of this degree from another pontifical university or faculty.


  • 12 credit hours of coursework in moral theology at the 700 or 800 level, plus 6 credits for the thesis after it has been approved.
  • The doctoral-level required prerequisite course (TRS 799 Proseminar for New Doctoral Students).
  • Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0.
  • Reading proficiency in two ancient languages (Latin and Greek) and two modern languages (ordinarily French or German) for use in theological research.


  • Students may apply for admission to candidacy after they have satisfied all language requirements and completed at least six credit hours of coursework.
  • Students should make the request for candidacy in writing to the Area Director and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.


Students must register for four successive semesters of dissertation guidance over and above the 12 credit hours of doctoral seminars. The candidate may choose a faculty advisor upon entering the program. The faculty advisor chosen or assigned may be changed with the approval of the academic area director.

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

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