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.
STM is one of only seven ecclesiastical faculties in the United States empowered to offer the Doctorate in Sacred Theology.
This program typically takes five years, but some students complete it in four.
Demonstrate proficiency in ecclesial Latin and in one modern language beyond English.
Spend at least two semesters as a teaching assistant, learning the craft of teaching on the graduate level.
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 STM.
Master key areas related to your field and dissertation topic as you prepare for oral and written exams.
Complete a doctoral thesis that makes a contribution to the progress of theological studies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the end of the S.T.D. program, students will be able to:
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.
The application to STM must be completed online.
Admission Prerequisites for the S.T.D.:
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 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.
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 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.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.
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.
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: