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Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.)

Download a pdf of the Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) program handbook, and read more about the program below:


The Doctorate in Sacred Theology is the third cycle in the program of ecclesiastical degrees intended to complete the scientific theological formation, especially through the writing of a doctoral dissertation.  The S.T.D. is the highest Roman Catholic ecclesiastical degree in advanced theological study, and is intended to further students' theological expertise in preparation for scholarly careers in service to the Church.  In keeping with the intellectual tradition and apostolic priority of the Society of Jesus, the program cultivates a critical fidelity to the Roman Catholic tradition, in service of the faith that does justice.  It enables students to understand the interplay between faith and culture, preparing them to address theological and pastoral issues that emerge in diverse cultural contexts.

Degree Objectives

Students of the Doctorate in Sacred Theology degree program will:

  • acquire a depth of knowledge, practical skills, and strong preparation for research and teaching within a particular area of concentration, and hone these in preparation for scholarly careers in service to 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 Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) admissions page for more information about applying to this program.


  1. A completed Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) or Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (SSL) with a minimum grade point average of 3.7.
  2. Proficiency in one modern language suitable for theological research other than the applicant's native tongue. In addition, candidates who intend to specialize in Biblical Studies must show proficiency in one Biblical language.
  3. A major research paper from the STL or SSL program, which demonstrates your research and writing abilities.

Degree Requirements

While the STD degree is designed as a two-year program, students typically take three to four years to complete the degree. All work for the STD must be completed within five calendar years from the date of first registration in the program.

  1. At the beginning of the STD program, there will be a diagnostic interview of the student conducted by the academic advisor and one other faculty member.
  2. The first year of course work will be at the 4000 level or above.
  3. Students will be required to do four courses in the area of concentration during the first year of the STD studies.
  4. The residency requirement will be registration for two years of doctoral study beyond the STL or SSL. Students must enroll full-time and pay full tuition during the two years of required residency.
  5. Students will need to establish proficiency in an additional modern language suitable for theological research other than English and other than the modern language required for admission. Students in Biblical Studies will also establish proficiency in Greek or Hebrew, the biblical language not presented for admission to the program.
  6. Students who have not taken comprehensive examinations as part of their STL or SSL program must take comprehensive exams in their area of concentration, ordinarily no later than the second semester of the STD. These exams will be administered by the appropriate department.
  7. Students will write a doctoral thesis to be read and approved by at least three readers. Each student will have a public defense of the completed dissertation.
  8. The doctoral thesis must be filed in the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) Library.
  9. FE 4401: As of 2015-16, all students in the STD program must be enrolled in FE 4401 Research Practicum every semester. All students in these programs are required to engage in some type of pastoral work for the duration of their program, and in FE 4401 (a) reflect as a group upon their pastoral placements and engagement and how this informs their theological studies; and (b) discuss progress on their research projects.

Credit Distribution for Course Work

Download the Program Guidelines PDF for extensive information about this program and its credit distribution for course work.