Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

School of Theology and Ministry

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

school of theology and ministry

Apply Now »

S.T.D. Program Handbook and Academic Forms


The highest degree the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (STM) offers is the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.). The S.T.D. is the culminating step in the three-degree ecclesiastical program, which starts with the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.), progresses to the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.), and ends with the successful completion of the S.T.D. STM is one of only seven ecclesiastical faculties within the United States empowered to offer the Doctorate in Sacred Theology.


The purpose of the S.T.D. program is to create scholars who combine broad knowledge of a certain area, a critical knowledge of theological methodology, and an ability to contribute original research in a chosen field of study. Most students who complete the S.T.D. go on to teach in university faculties, seminaries, and theological centers. They also contribute to Church administration and pastoral work, using their extensive study, training, and expertise as resources for their community. Students interested in the S.T.D. usually have discerned a vocation of working within the Catholic Church or a related environment. As with the S.T.L., the S.T.D. can open many doors for service in the Church, in a number of official capacities within dioceses, religious communities, and institutions of higher learning.


Under the S.T.L., students refine their focus on a particular branch of theology and, then in the S.T.D., an even more specialized area of theology. After the extensive work required to obtain the two previous ecclesiastical degrees, S.T.D. students work even further to create an expertise in a specific area and to critically master the issues and methodologies of their area and discipline. The culmination of the S.T.D. is the doctoral thesis, which the student must defend at the end of his or her program. The thesis should be approximately 300 pages and "make a real contribution to the progress of science" and theological studies. In addition to the thesis and academic rigor, there is an important formation component to the degree. S.T.D. students spend at least two semesters as teaching assistants, learning the craft of teaching on the graduate level. Doctoral students also participate in the S.T.D. colloquium and other events intended to introduce them professionally and vocationally to the life of faculty and teaching within higher education.


  • A three-semester residency
  • One modern language beyond S.T.L. requirements
  • Four courses or seminars in area of specialization
  • One semester as a teaching assistant
  • Preparation and successful completion of comprehensive examinations
  • Preparation and approval of a thesis proposal
  • Successful completion and defense of a doctoral thesis, approximately 300 pages in length


  • An S.T.L. degree or near completion
  • 3.7 G.P.A. in S.T.L. course work or its equivalent

Apply Now »