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.

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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 is 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 require 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 a 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 complete. 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 uses 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 at 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.

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute

St. Marys Ecumenical Institute

Program Standouts:

The Doctorate of Sacred Theology at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is an ecclesiastical degree that gives graduates the opportunity to teach in church faculty. The degree program is designed to train scholars who already have a broad knowledge of theology and competence in theological methodology. A specialization of interest in which the student can pursue original research is also desirable for entering the program.

Campus Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Accreditation: St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 624 Market St. Philadelphia, PA 19111

Admission Requirements:

Among other items for admission, St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute requires:

  • Official Transcripts
  • Application Form and Fee
  • Baptism and Confirmation Certificates
  • Statement on the Priesthood
  • Evaluations/Recommendations
  • Autobiography

Course Sample:

  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Prayer and Priesthood
  • Ancient Philosophy

Degree Outcomes: The School of Theology at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is designed for the theological formation of seminarians at St. Mary’s Seminary and University.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DOCTOR OF SACRED THEOLOGY DEGREE AT ST. MARY’S ECUMENICAL INSTITUTE

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Program Standouts:

The focus of the Doctorate in Sacred Theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry is to focus on a particular branch of theology. Extensive work is required to master issues and methodologies of an area and discipline. The S.T.D. culminates with the completion of a doctoral thesis which is expected to “make a real contribution to the progress of science.”

Campus Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Accreditation: Boston College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, 3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100, Burlington, MA 01803-4514

Admission Requirements:

  • Application Form and Fee
  • Standardized Tests
  • Transcripts
  • Recommendations
  • Writing Sample
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement

Course Sample:

  • Modern Research Language
  • Professional Ethics in Ministry

Degree Outcomes: Graduates of the Doctor of Sacred Theology program at Boston College will be able to teach at the post-secondary level as well as engage in research with mastery in a particular discipline.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DOCTOR OF SACRED THEOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM AT BOSTON COLLEGE

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Program Standouts:

The Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University offers a Doctorate in Sacred Theology degree program which completes scientific theological formation. As the highest Roman Catholic ecclesiastical degree in theological study, the STD prepares students for scholarly careers and as experts in the theological intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church. The STD program emphasizes the interplay between culture and faith and preparing students to address theological questions and issues.

Campus Location: Berkeley, California

Accreditation: The Jesuit School of Theology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 1001 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 402, Alameda, CA 94501

Admission Requirements:

  • Completed Licentiate in Sacred Theology with a GPA of 3.7 or above
  • Proficiency in a modern language suitable for theological research
  • Major research paper from the STL

Course Sample:

  • Theological Anthropology
  • Cross-Cultural Christologies
  • Theological Methods

Degree Outcomes: Graduates of the Doctorate in Sacred Theology degree program at the Jesuit School of Theology will acquire a preparation for research and teaching at post-secondary schools, as well as the ability to address pastoral and theological issues.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DOCTORATE IN SACRED THEOLOGY AT THE JESUIT SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception

Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception

Program Standouts:

The Doctorate in Sacred Theology, offered at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, a division of the Dominican House of Studies, is a specialized degree in Thomistic studies. As a terminal degree granted by the authority of the Roman Catholic Holy See, candidates specialize in either Thomistic systematic theology or Thomist moral theology.

Campus Location: Washington, D.C.

Accreditation: The Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate Conception is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 624 Market St. Philadelphia, PA 19111

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology
  • Minimum GPA of 3.25
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • CV
  • GRE scores
  • Writing Sample
  • Other Prerequisites

Course Sample:

  • Aquinas and the Fathers
  • Faith and Reason
  • Thomas in Modernity
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DOCTORATE IN SACRED THEOLOGY AT THE PONTIFICAL FACULTY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Final Thoughts

Earning a Doctor of Sacred Theology can be arduous. It requires just as much time, energy, and effort as any other doctorate program. However, more than 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.