Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.)


The Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree offered by Sacred Heart Major Seminary is an ecclesiastical degree conferred by the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum) through the faculty of SHMS.


The goals for the S.T.B. are reflected in the M.Div. degree program. In addition, "the theological disciplines must be taught in such a way that what is presented is an organic exposition of the whole of Catholic doctrine, together with an introduction to theological scientific methodology" (Sapientia Christiana, 72a). The students will demonstrate a thorough knowledge of fundamentals of Catholic doctrine.

Course of Study

The course of study for the S.T.B. normally takes four years. Because the S.T.B. degree is offered through aggregation by the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the course work required for the program is not subject to dual degree status.

At the end of the course of study, a student must successfully pass written and oral examinations.

The program requirements for the STB can be completed in one of two ways:

M.Div. Track

The courses of the M.Div. program fulfill the program requirements for the S.T.B., provided a biennium in philosophy has been completed as well (please see the curriculum for the M.Div.) At the end of the course of study, the student must successfully pass S.T.B. written and oral examinations.

Commuter Track (79 credit hours)

For lay students without an M.Div., the following graduate courses are required for the S.T.B.


Biennium in Philosophy

Church History (5 credit hours)

HS 512Church History: Christianity Divided3 cr
ST 600Church Fathers to Nicea2 cr

Scripture (18 credit hours)

SS 521Method and Pentateuch3 cr
SS 525Synoptics3 cr
SS 621Johannine Literature3 cr
SS 625Pauline Literature3 cr
SS 727Prophets3 cr
SS 737Psalms and Wisdom Literature3 cr

Dogmatic Theology (15 credit hours)

ST 500Theological Methodology*2 cr
ST 5351Human Person and Grace2 cr
ST 650Trinitarian and Christological Foundations of the Christian Faith3 cr
ST 6351Nature and Mission of the Church2 cr
SP 735History of Spirituality3 cr
HS 700Ecumenism3 cr
*ST 500 must be taken in conjunction with IS 505 Theological Research and Writing, 1 cr.

Moral Theology (7 credit hours)

MT 675Foundations of the Christian Moral Life3 cr
 An Independent Study course in specialized Moral Theology2 cr
 An Independent Study course in Catholic Social Teaching2 cr

Liturgy and Sacraments (11 credit hours)

LS 575Sacramental Life of the Church2 cr
LS 645Sacraments of Initiation2 cr
LS 746Sacrament of Marriage and Law3 cr
 An Independent Study course in Eucharist2 cr
 An Independent Study course in Holy Orders2 cr

Applied Theology (6 credit hours)

EV 500Evangelization and Catechesis2 cr
AT 780Introduction to Canon Law2 cr
SP 690Human and Spiritual Adult Development2 cr

Integrating Studies (2 credit hours)

IS 505Theological Research and Writing1 cr
IS 898Integrating Seminar II STB1 cr


Program Requirements

  1. A biennium in Philosophy required for admission
  2. A minimum of 79 credit hours must be earned through completion of the course of study.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 is required. The final GPA is calculated based
    80% on academic coursework and 20% on the comprehensive examination.
  4. A maximum of 40 hours may be applied to the program from other institutions or from other credit earning options.
  5. The program must be completed in six years from time of matriculation. Under extenuating circumstance, a student may request an extension in writing to the dean of studies.
  6. Reading ability in Latin must be shown during the first year of the program, and reading ability in a modern language pertinent to the student's course of studies must be done before completion of half of the degree program. Language competency can be demonstrated by the following:
    1. SHMS provides a course called Latin for Graduate Students that satisfies the Latin language requirement.
    2. Students can demonstrate competency in either Latin or a modern language through successful completion of a three credit hour undergraduate course with a pass grade of 'C' or better, or a two credit hour graduate course with a 'pass' or grade of 'C' or better. Courses must be taken for credit from an accredited institution of higher learning.
    3. Students may also study a language on their own. The student should contact the Dean of Studies when ready to be tested. The Dean of Studies will arrange with an instructor to conduct the examination. 
    4. The language examination will consist of a written translation of a theological text. The student will have 90 minutes and may use a dictionary to translate the pages. The student will also compose a paragraph summary of the two pages to demonstrate comprehension. Judgment of pass/fail will be based primarily on comprehension. An examination fee applies.
  7. Comprehensive Examination: At the end of the course of study, the student must successfully complete a written and oral comprehensive examination spanning two days earning a grade of a C (2.0) or better. If a student receives a grade lower than a 2.0 on the exam, he/she is permitted to re-take the S.T.B. exam once more. The examination is normally held in April, and students are required to register for the exam with the Office of the Dean of Studies at least a semester in advance. A study guide will be given to all students who register for the exam. Students must enroll in IS 898, the S.T.B. Integrating Seminar, during the semester in which they plan to take the S.T.B. exam. An examination fee applies.
  8. Students must complete a one credit course in graduate theological research, IS 505: Theological Research and Writing. This course must be done in conjunction with ST 500: Theological Methodology, and should be done within the student's first year of study. The course is graded pass/fail; credits earned do not count toward the 48 credits required in total for the degree.
  9. Students must participate in program assessment, including completion of a Graduating Student Questionnaire during the final year of study.

See a complete list of our Undergraduate Course Descriptions.

See our Academic Catalogs for this and past academic years.


Admissions information for this program can be found on the Graduate Admissions page.

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