Santa Clara University

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.)

Download a PDF of the Licentiate in Sacred Theology Program Guidelines, and read more about the program below:


The Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) is a two-year Roman Catholic ecclesiastical degree in advanced theological study which gives students two full years of study beyond the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB) and Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree. The STL degree is suggested for lay, clergy and religious to further theological expertise for service in official capacities in religious communities and dioceses, and for teaching in higher education, diocesan schools and seminaries.

Degree Objectives

The Jesuit School's Licentiate in Sacred Theology degree program is designed to enable graduates to... 

  • acquire a depth of knowledge and practical skills within a particular area of concentration, and hone these in light of assuming leadership roles within the Church.
  • develop a critical fidelity to the Roman Catholic tradition, in service of the faith that does justice.
  • recognize the interplay between faith and culture in addressing theological and /or pastoral issues that emerge in diverse cultural contexts.

Admission Requirements

Navigate to the S.T.L. admissions page for more information about applying to this program.


  1. The Master of Divinity, Bachelor of Sacred Theology, or their academic equivalent must have been completed with an overall 3.0 (B) average, within the previous five years at the Jesuit School or at a comparable theological center. Requests for exceptions will be considered by the Admissions Committee and the Academic Dean.
  2. A "suitable knowledge of the Latin language" is required.  This is understood to be a working reading knowledge sufficient to use ecclesiastical documents in Latin.  This requirement can be met either by coursework, generally two semesters, or by an examination.*
  3. The completion of 24 hours of philosophy.

*To fulfill the Latin language pre-requisite for the S.T.L. program, language proficiency may be demonstrated by the following means:

  1. Successful completion of two semester-long, 3-unit courses, in the Latin language while in studies at JST.
  2. Four semesters of undergraduate language study with the equivalent of a B grade in the fourth semester.
  3. A written examination by a Latin instructor who is approved by the JST Academic Dean.
  4. Evidence of the completion of this language requirement at another school (transcript notation is acceptable).

Degree Requirements

Two year's residence is required in the STL program, even though students may complete all degree requirements in less time. All work for the STL program must be completed within four calendar years from the date of initial registration in the program.

  1. Area of Specialization The student must choose an area of specialization at the time of admission to the program. The specialization may be in any area of concentration within JST-SCU, i.e., Biblical, Historical, Systematic, Moral, Pastoral or Liturgical theology, or Christian spirituality.
  2. Course Work Twenty-four semester units of course work are required in addition to the courses counted toward the STB degree. One of these courses should be in the methodology appropriate to the area of specialization. Normally, courses must be 4000 level or above. A procedure for upgrading courses at the 2000 or 3000 level is outlined in the Guidelines for Advanced Master's Degrees.
  3. Modern Language Requirement Demonstration of skill in one modern language other than the student's native language. This may be done by evaluation in course work or by taking the language exams provided for the MA and Graduate Theological Union (GTU) doctoral students. For specialization in Biblical Studies, the student must also demonstrate a suitable knowledge of one of the biblical languages.
  4. Latin Requirement Demonstration of a working reading knowledge of the Latin language sufficient to use ecclesiastical documents in Latin. This is a prerequisite for the program, but students will be allowed to complete the Latin prerequisite while in STL studies at JST-SCU.

In consultation with the advisor, students will select one of the following two options for completing the program:


The student is responsible for registering for 9 semester units of research work which culminate in a thesis (of at least 75 pages) directed by a full-time permanent member of the JST-SCU faculty. The thesis director should also serve as the student's academic advisor for most of the degree program, including course work. With the advice of the director, the student chooses one other competent reader for the thesis, and submits his or her name to the Academic Dean for approval. The grade for the thesis units will be the average of the evaluations given by the director and the other reader. In particular cases, a third member may be appointed to the thesis committee. A one-hour oral examination on the STL thesis will be administered by the thesis committee.


Comprehensive Exam and Extended Research Paper

  • 6 units of comprehensive preparation.
  • 3 units of preparation for the extended research paper.
  • Successful completion of a written comprehensive examination which may be supplemented with an oral examination if the student's Comprehensive Committee deems it necessary in light of the written examination.
  • The production and oral defense of a 30-50 page extended research paper, representing an outgrowth of a research paper written in an advanced level course demonstrating familiarity with the relevant methods of the field, with the scholarly literature of the field, and demonstrating a thesis statement.

Students applying for the S.T.L. automatically also apply for the Th.M. After students begin matriculating at JST, they can decide to opt out of the Th.M. Students who plan to receive the Th.M. simultaneously with the S.T.L. take a one-unit seminar. The purpose of the seminar is to explore the doing of theology for different publics: ecclesiastical (S.T.L.) and the wider public (Th.M.).

Advanced Standing

A student who has taken graduate courses in theology not longer than six years prior to registration may petition for advanced standing in JST's S.T.L. program. This petition may be included with the Application for Admission, or it may be submitted during the first semester of study at JST.  No more than 9 units of advanced standing can be applied for the Licentiate program. These units must be from courses which cohere with the courses taken at JST as a specialization. Petitions for advanced standing are available from the Assistant Academic Dean or from the Office of Admissions.

No units will be transferred which have already been counted toward another degree. No units will be considered for transfer which are not from accredited institutions of higher learning or were not attained at a graduate level.

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Laura Nieto

Senior Administrative Assistant for Enrollment and Marketing
(510) 549-5033

Kristin Casey

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(510) 549-5013

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ATTN: Admissions
1735 LeRoy Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709

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