Sometimes referred to as a Doctor of Canon Law, a Doctorate in Sacred Theology is only limited to seven ecclesiastical faculties within the country. Unfortunately, a fully online program in sacred theology is not yet possible although it is undoubtedly on the horizon as technology deeply penetrates the educational system. One can expect to take this degree program entirely online in the near future.

However, for now, students who wish to study dogmatic theology must do it on-campus. This program usually requires them to spend at least two semesters as teaching assistants. This is where they learn the ins and outs of teaching in this particular field in preparation for their career as teachers of Canon Law.

Also required of students is their attendance in the sacred theology colloquium and other events that serve as their introduction to the professional and vocational life of a faculty to represent and impart knowledge on the Catholic system. This is another reason why a Doctorate in Sacred Theology cannot be available online yet.

In a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree program, students are expected to acquire knowledge, practical skills, and research abilities that can help them in their future scholarly careers as part of their pledge of service to the church. If one aims to serve the church in various capacities, earning a Ph.D. in Sacred Theology is the most obvious path to reach that goal.

What is a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree program?

The Catholic Church’s pontifical university system embraces three degrees of study for those wishing to obtain an academic post in a Catholic university.

The Doctorate in Sacred Theology is the third and terminal research degree in the ecclesiastical program that helps scholars continue expanding their critical knowledge on theological methodology. It is also where they refine their focus on a specialized area of theology, mastering its issues and methods and completing original research on that particular discipline. As an ecclesiastical degree, the Doctor in Sacred Theology program is granted by the authority and in the name of the Holy See.

This doctorate instrumental in obtaining administrative and pastoral work of advanced capacities. Most students who wish to study and earn this degree have a strong calling to do diverse types of vocational work within or related to the Catholic Church.

How can I obtain a Doctorate in Sacred Theology?

While open to qualified clerical and lay students, the process and admission requirements for a Doctorate in Sacred Theology can be rigorous and competitive. Most institutions offering the Doctor of Sacred Theology requires students to complete a Licentiate in Sacred Theology with a certain GPA, depending on the school. Meeting this requirement, however, is not a guarantee for admission. Some schools admit only a limited number of students while others permit only those candidates whose research interests coincide with faculty members who are capable of and interested in the doctoral direction.

Aside from the applicant’s native language, proficiency in another modern language suitable for theological research is also a must, along with a reading knowledge of Latin and Greek. Some modern languages that they can choose from including French, Spanish, Italian, and German. Other requirements include a letter of intent, letters of recommendation from academics and sometimes an examination.

Students have extensive coursework, covering courses like Liturgical preaching, the theology of culture, modern theology, and many others. They are also required to complete a successful production and defense of thesis related to the students’ specialization under the direction of a faculty member.

Designed as a two-year program, a Doctorate in Sacred Theology can take three to four years to compete. Some schools compel students to finish the program within five years from the first date of registration.

What are the career options for Doctorate in Sacred Theology holders?

Doctorate in Sacred Theology holders usually use their broad knowledge and research methodology skills to contribute original research to the broader community. They are typically involved in church service in various capacities. Some take on official roles within the dioceses, religious communities, and institutions of higher learning. Some go on to become priests.

Those who hold a Doctorate in Sacred Theology are qualified to teach theology on a Catholic university. It can also open doors for other administrative posts within the Catholic system. Since this type of Ph.D. involves a lot of research and critical thinking, it prepares the graduate for careers as university professors, researchers, and expert resource persons.

What salary range can I expect if I hold a doctorate in sacred theology?

The salary of Catholic priests can range between $15,000 to $30,000. However, it is common practice for them to donate their wages to public funds within their religious communities to fulfill their vow of poverty. Serving as priests within the Catholic Church is done out of the vocational call. The necessities like food and shelter are provided for by the church.

Those who assume posts in Catholic universities make anywhere between $30,000 and $72,000 yearly. An assistant professor can earn an average of $68,842 a year. Administrative assistants make around $39,584 annually.

Where can I obtain my brick-and-mortar Doctor of Sacred Theology degree?

In the United States, there are seven ecclesiastical faculties with a doctorate in sacred theology program. It includes St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute in Baltimore, Maryland; Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Brighton, Massachusetts; Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California; the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Study in Washington DC and the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Washington DC.

Earning a Doctor of Sacred Theology can be arduous. It requires just as much time, energy, and effort like any other doctorate programs. However, more than the academic performance, it also requires deep spiritual commitment. Those who wish to earn this degree must be unequivocal in their pledge to serve the Catholic Church, as it opens up more opportunities for vocational service than other ecclesiastical programs.