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

Download a pdf of the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) program handbook, 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 Licentiate in Sacred Theology (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 of Theology or at a comparable theological center. Requests for exceptions will be considered by the Admissions Committee and the Academic Dean.
  2. Proficiency in ecclesiastical Latin strongly recommended. This is understood to be a working reading knowledge sufficient to use ecclesiastical documents in Latin.
  3. The completion of 24 hours of philosophy.

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 Latin, with a working reading knowledge of the language sufficient to use ecclesiastical documents, if this was not completed prior to enrollment in the STL.  
  5. FE 4400: As of 2015-16, all students in the STL program must be enrolled in FE 4400 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 4400 (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.

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.


STL students may wish to earn a ThM during the course of their studies.  Upon matriculation to the STL degree at JST, such students may petition the Associate Dean for admission to the ThM program.  To earn the ThM as an additional degree, STL students must be admitted to the ThM program, complete all requirements for the STL degree and take ST 3999 (1 credit) during their last semester of study.