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

As the culminating degree in the three-degree ecclesiastical sequence, the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) prepares scholars to combine broad knowledge of a particular theological area with critical knowledge of theological methodology to produce original research in their chosen field.

Want to learn more?

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

At a Glance

How long will it take?

This program typically takes five years, but some students complete it in four.

Language Requirement

Demonstrate proficiency in ecclesial Latin and in one modern language beyond English. 

Teaching Assistantship

Spend at least two semesters as a teaching assistant, learning the craft of teaching on the graduate level.

Pedagogy Experience

Develop a course syllabus, design learning modules, and work with faculty to create course content.


Choose and work closely with a faculty advisor based on your academic interests. 


Participate in a range of retreats, days of reflection, and faith-sharing groups offered at CSTM.

Comprehensive Examination

Master key areas related to your field and dissertation topic as you prepare for oral and written exams.

Doctoral Thesis

Complete a doctoral thesis that makes a contribution to the progress of theological studies. 

Academic Program

Year One: Foundation and Language Requirement

First-year S.T.D. students complete four advanced courses and the Pro-Seminar, which focuses on the Research Readiness Review process. They also pass the modern language requirement for further doctoral work.

In completing these requirements, students will deepen their knowledge of a chosen area of specialization, become more familiar with the BC faculty who may serve on their comprehensive examination and/or dissertation committees, and develop the mastery of scholarly research and writing needed to move through the remainder of the program.

Year Two: Comprehensive Exams and Pedagogy Work

The major focus of the second year is on the comprehensive examination, through which students will demonstrate a deep, integrated knowledge of both a general field of study and the pertinent literature in their chosen area of specialization, which will be further developed in the dissertation.

Students will acquire important skills that they will then employ to draft, write, and defend the dissertation. Students can also begin the pedagogical requirement in the second year.

Year Three: Pedagogy Requirement and Dissertation Proposal

In the third year, S.T.D. students acquire and demonstrate the pedagogical skills needed to teach effectively in the higher education context. In addition, they arrange the members of the dissertation committee and develop the dissertation proposal.


Year Four: Dissertation Research and Writing

In the fourth year, students concentrate on the research, writing, and revision of the dissertation itself, working closely with the dissertation director and the other members of the dissertation committee. Through this process, they deepen the research and writing skills they will need to gain recognition as a scholar in the academic field.

Year Five: Dissertation Completion and Defense

If students do not finish and defend the dissertation in the fourth year, they complete these steps during the fifth year. In the process of completing the dissertation, they acquire the skills necessary to bring a major work to completion with necessary attention both to academic deadlines and scholarly collaboration with the members of the committee.

Ecclesiastical Faculty

These are faculty who can direct S.T.D. dissertations. In addition to those listed, all faculty may serve on dissertation committees.



Most S.T.D. graduates teach as members of 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 diverse communities. 


Application Requirements


Fall 2024 Deadline: January 11, 2024

S.T.D. students are typically only permitted to begin their studies in the fall semester. If you have an extenuating circumstance that would require you to start in a different term, please email

Application Form

The application to CSTM 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

    Since the S.T.D. is granted through the Holy See, S.T.D. students are not eligible for federal loans through the U.S. government. S.T.D. students are still eligible for CSTM scholarships, which are awarded at the time of admission.

    Religious & International Applicants

    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.

    International 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 granted to the following applicants: Jesuits, veterans, applicants currently completing a year of service or who are Pell Grant-eligible, and current CSTM students. We do not waive the application fee for other reasons.

    Standardized Tests

    The GRE is optional, but preferred.

    Applicants who do send GRE scores should have them sent directly from ETS. Our GRE code is 2508.

    English Proficiency Exam

    All applicants for whom English is not their native language must also 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  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 CSTM.

    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:
    Boston College Clough 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 background and their capacity for success in a doctoral program.

    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.

    Writing Sample

    A 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 CSTM and the S.T.D. program. Please be specific as possible.
    • How do you plan to apply your theological education? Please specifically address what you envision an S.T.D. will allow you to do that the S.T.L. alone will not.
    • Information outlining your specific area and field of academic interest and how your previous academic, professional and/or pastoral experience has prepared you for studies within that particular field and the topic(s) you would address with your thesis.
    • How do you understand the role and responsibilities of a theologian and/or educator in the Church and the world?

    Explore CSTM's hilltop home, Simboli Hall, virtually or in-person.


    Quick Links