Like the traditional format, the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) is a post-graduate pontifical degree in pastoral theology with a focus on the New Evangelization. The Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the Angelicum) in Rome confers the degree through Sacred Heart’s faculty.
The Online STL in the New Evangelization consists of four program elements: 1) online courses, 2) summer courses with an on-site requirement, 3) an off-site practicum, and 4) an off-site thesis direction, spread over a period of four years.
Online Courses: While serving in his home diocese or on another pastoral assignment, a priest takes one course online per semester (Fall and Winter semesters) from roughly September through April for four consecutive years. Online courses will begin in September 2014.
Residential/Summer Courses: In early spring, students receive syllabi and read short assignments prior to the program’s five-week summer residency component. Students are expected to complete all the reading for a course prior to the program’s five-week summer residency component and may be expected to complete some short writing assignments as well.
Living on-site in seminary residence rooms, the priest takes three intensive courses and participates in discussion. Summer courses run from July - August. Longer assignments, including research papers, are to be completed and submitted six-to-eight weeks after the summer residency.
Off-site Practicum: The student works with a local supervisor approved by the seminary and communicates with a Sacred Heart faculty member via Skype or other electronic means.
Off-site Thesis Direction: The student works via the internet with his Sacred Heart faculty advisor to complete his thesis. He then returns to the seminary after his thesis is approved to give his lectio coram, a defended academic lecture.
A complete list of course requirements can be found here.
The Online STL in the New Evangelization degree is very attractive to priests actively engaged in ministries of evangelization, but experience has shown that many bishops and religious superiors may be reluctant to allow a priest time to spend two to three years away from the home diocese or apostolate to complete the degree, given personnel needs and shortage of clergy.
With the Online STL, priests blend online courses during the traditional academic year and then attend intensive classes on-site at the seminary during the summer, when parish work slows down somewhat. This alternative format will enable more priests to benefit from the program without sacrificing pastoral needs.
The S.T.L. degree can be transitional for priests planning to earn the Doctorate in Sacred Theology, or the degree can be terminal, meaning a final degree. The STL prepares graduates to teach theology in pontifical universities and major seminaries. Priests may also find it greatly benefits their work in diocesan administration, ministries or research.
“Whether you are from Africa, India, China or America, the program teaches you principles you can apply in your particular cultures.”
Archdiocese of Owerri, Nigeria
Fr. Tim Hepburn, S.T.L. 2009
Archdiocese of Atlanta
Fr. Matthew George, S.T.L. 2010
Archdiocese of Trivandrum, India
Tuition (2014-15 academic year):
$685 per credit hour
Room & Board (summer residency):
Registration and graduation fees:
To be determined
Based on a four-year 48-credit hour program and expected 3% annual increase in tuition, the expected total cost is $40,000. This does not include travel costs or personal expenses.
Yes, you may need an F-1 visa even if you plan to only be in the United States for the five-week summer residency courses. For more information on the F-1 student visa, please visit the U.S. State Department website. In addition, you must possess a passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
If you are an international priest currently in the United States on either an F-1 or R-1 visa, please call us at (313) 883-8792 to discuss U.S. immigration requirements.
The Online STL program is currently only for priests. Qualified laypersons are still able to enrolled for the STL degree or take courses toward the STL in the traditional format, whether attending part-time or full-time.
Admission requirements for any student wishing to apply for the S.T.L. program include:
- Online application
- A letter of support from proper ecclesiastical authority (e.g. diocesan bishop or religious superior) attesting to character and good standing of priest applicant
- An interview with the Director of Admissions; this interview can be conducted in-person, via phone, Skype or other electronic means. Please contact Mrs. Tamra Fromm at 313.883.8696 to arrange an interview date and time.
- Official academic transcripts from previous universities or seminaries
- Two additional letters of recommendation or recommendation forms from a former instructor or supervisor
- A 500-word essay or statement of intent outlining the student’s biographical and spiritual background, reasons for pursuing the degree as well goals upon graduation
- A 15-20 page written sample from previous academic work demonstrating the student’s aptitude and capacity for theological research
- Completion of Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.), Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or equivalent from an accredited Catholic institution
- Reading ability in Latin and one modern language (e.g. Spanish, French, German)
- International priests must also submit a copy of their current passport. If the priest is currently residing in the U.S. on an R-1 or F-1 visa, a copy of the visa should also be provided.
Admission deadline for the new Online STL program, beginning in Summer 2015 semester, is April 15, 2015. Admission deadline for Winter 2015 is December 5, 2014. Applicants are welcome to begin the admission process for enrollment in subsequent semesters.