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

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

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.

Why an S.T.D.?

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.

Focus of the S.T.D.

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.

Our Faculty

STM is one of only seven ecclesiastical faculties within the United States empowered to offer the Doctorate in Sacred Theology.


Application Information



Fall 2018
February 1, 2018

Application Form

The application to STM must be completed online.

Application Form

Admission Prerequisites for the S.T.D.:

  • An S.T.L. degree (completed or near completion)
  • 3.7 G.P.A. (or its equivalent) in S.T.L. coursework

Additional requirements for international applicants

Additional requirements for religious applicants

Application Fee

A non-refundable fee of $75 is required for every degree and non-degree application submitted.

Payment Options

  • Pay by credit or debit card via the web; You can pay the application fee at the same time your submit your application form.  However, if you do not pay the fee at the same time you submit your application, you can pay online at a later date through the Agora Portal. You must use your BC Username and password to log in.

  • Pay by check or money order made payable to Boston College, via regular mail.  Please include your check with a copy of your application form submission confirmation page and include your name and intended degree program.

Please note: The application fee cannot be refunded for any reason. If you qualify for a fee waiver, you should not pay the fee when you submit the application form. Fee waivers are automatically granted to the following applicants: Jesuits, applicants currently completing a year of service, and current STM students. We do not waive the application fee for other reasons.

Standardized Tests

GRE scores
All applicants applying to the S.T.D. program must submit GRE scores -- no exceptions will be made. Scores need to be received directly from ETS.  Our GRE code is 2508.

TOEFL scores
All applicants for whom English is not their native language must also provide TOEFL test score results. An acceptable TOEFL score is 85 or above on the internet-based test. When taking the exam, include STM’s institutional code – 3971 – so that your scores may be sent directly to the school. Learn more about the TOEFL and about qualifications for a TOEFL waiver.


One copy of each transcript is required from all colleges, universities, seminaries, or theological schools that you have attended. Each transcript should contain a list of all coursework taken, grades/marks received, and, if applicable, degree granted and date of degree confirmation. If your college or university will send official transcripts electronically, they can be emailed to  Otherwise, transcripts must be mailed and be contained in a sealed, signed envelope. If the official transcript is not English, a translation should be provided with the official document. Please alert us if your transcript will be arriving with a different name than the one you are using on your application (e.g. your maiden name).

Mailing Addresses
For applicants using the U.S. Postal Service:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Simboli Hall
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

For applicants using FedEx or UPS, please use this address:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Simboli Hall
9 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135-3841


S.T.D. applicants are required to submit three recommendations using the online application system. 

Each recommender should be familiar with the applicant’s academic competence. For applicants who have been out of school for a significant amount of time, the recommenders should be familiar with the applicant's professional competence. Applicants to our certificate programs are required to submit one letter of recommendation. Please be sure that your recommenders are aware of the application deadlines and online process, and choose them carefully to ensure that they can write on your behalf in a timely manner.

Writing Sample

The writing sample must be uploaded as part of the application. The sample should be an academic paper of around 25 pages. S.T.D. applicants are also required to submit a copy of their S.T.L. thesis upon its completion.


The resume must be uploaded as part of the application.  It is helpful if you highlight relevant research, teaching, ministry, service, and leadership positions you have held.

Personal Statement

The personal statement must be uploaded as part of the application.  The personal statement should be three pages in length, double-spaced.

Your statement should address the following:

  • The academic, professional, and personal development that has motivated you to apply to the STM. Include a sketch of your educational background and interests, any experience you have in ministry and/or religious education, and any other relevant professional and volunteer experience
  • Your understanding of theological education and/or ministry in the context of the Church’s mission
  • How you plan to apply your theological education
  • Given your experience, how you assess your principal strengths for theological education and/or ministry as well as your areas of needed development
  • Information outlining your specific area and field of academic interest, a proposed topic(s) for your research and dissertation, how your previous academic, professional, and/or pastoral experience has prepared you for studies within that particular field, and the STM faculty member(s) with whom you would like to work