The Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) is the second in a series of three ecclesiastical degrees offered at STM. A two-year, thesis-driven degree, it enables both lay and ordained students to focus on the specialized theological topic of their choice.
In two years of full-time study, students complete 24 credit hours and a nine-credit thesis.
Proficiency in Latin, Hebrew, or Greek and in one modern research language (German, French, Spanish).
Take half of the program's course credits within the specific concentration of your choice.
Write a thesis on the topic of your choice and then present and defend your research.
The S.T.L. enables both lay and ordained students to build upon their previous work and focus on a particular subject or field within a Catholic context. An advanced degree, it provides students with two full years of study beyond the S.T.B. or M.Div. and qualifies them to continue on to the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.).
The S.T.L. is a thesis-driven degree that culminates in a research thesis of approximately 100 pages. Upon entering the program, S.T.L. students choose to focus on one of five branches of theology (see below), and they then narrow down their area of interest within that branch to concentrate more deeply on a specific topic area. Coursework is focused on supporting the student’s thesis.
The Licentiate is available in the following theological disciplines:
The S.T.L. is the academic degree that officially enables graduates to teach in a major seminary or at an equivalent school. Students use the degree to continue their work in Catholic theological studies, prepare for the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) or other doctoral study, teach, or conduct other valuable work within the Church.
The S.T.L. can open many doors for service within the Church, and graduates work in a number of official capacities within dioceses, religious communities, and institutions of higher learning.
Spring 2024: November 15, 2023
Fall 2024 Priority Scholarship Deadline: January 11, 2024. Applications are still accepted after this date as space allows.
The application to STM must be completed online.
Admission Prerequisites for the S.T.L.:
Since the S.T.L. is granted through the Holy See, S.T.L. students are not eligible for federal loans through the U.S. government. S.T.L. students are still eligible for STM scholarships, which are awarded at the time of admission.
Applicants who are Catholic diocesan priests or deacons or members of religious orders must submit a letter of approval and financial support from their bishop, major superior, or Provincial. Please select "Bishop/Major Superior" as the recommender type on the application form.
A non-refundable fee of $75 is required for every degree and non-degree application submitted.
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 granted to the following applicants: Jesuits, veterans, applicants currently completing a year of service or who are Pell Grant-eligible, and current STM students. We do not waive the application fee for other reasons.
GRE scores are wavied for S.T.L. applicants.
English Proficiency Exam
All applicants for whom English is not their native language must provide TOEFL or IELTS test score results. Read more about special instructions for international applicants here. This webpage will also indicate under with criteria a waiver may be granted. Waivers must be approved in writing by the admissions office.
We require transcripts 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 email@example.com. 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). Please note that a transcript is only considered official if received directly from the institution issuing it.
Please note that your application may be reviewed with unofficial copies of your transcripts. If you send unofficial copies, know that if admitted, you must sent official copies before you begin coursework. In addition, if you are currently finishing a degree, you must send a final, official version of the transcript upon graduating, and before beginning coursework at STM.
For applicants using the U.S. Postal Service:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
For applicants using FedEx or UPS:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
9 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135-3841
S.T.L. applicants are required to submit three recommendations using the online application system.
Each recommender should be familiar with the applicant’s academic background and capacity to fully engage in this advanced degree, including writing a substantial thesis.
Applicants who are Catholic diocesan priests or deacons, or members of religious orders must submit a letter of approval and financial support from their bishop, major superior, or Provincial. This is in addition to the other three recommendations. Please select "Bishop/Major Superior" as the recommender type on the application form.
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.
A writing sample must be uploaded as part of the application. The sample should be an academic paper of around 15 pages.
The resume must be uploaded as part of the application. It is helpful if you highlight relevant ministry, service, research, teaching, and leadership positions you have held.
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: