Readiness for Ministry Program
Bachelor of Sacred Theology
Master of Arts
Master of Arts in Ecclesial Ministry
Master of Divinity
Permanent Diaconate
Dual Degree Program
Continuing Education

The Bachelor in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) is a first level, four-year, ecclesiastical degree granted in the name of the Holy See through Saint Vincent Seminary in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. By virtue of its affiliation with the Ecclesiastical Faculty of St. Anselmo, Saint Vincent Seminary is accredited by the Vatican Congregation of Catholic Education.  The S.T.B. prepares one to pursue the Licentiate, the second-level, research-oriented ecclesiastical degrees—Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.), the Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (S.S.L.), or the Licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.). These second-level degrees are necessary for acceptance into the third-level terminal ecclesiastical degrees—the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.), the Doctorate in Sacred Scripture (the S.S.D.), of the Doctorate in Canon Law (J.C.D.).

The STB program at Saint Vincent Seminary is open to both non-ordination and ordination students.

This four-year program consists of studies in five major areas: Sacred Scripture, Systematic Theology, Church History, Pastoral Studies and Languages. As such, its aims are more academically directed than the civil Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, by definition a graduate professional degree. Courses in the S.T.B. program are designed to present an introduction to the scientific and academic study of theology, to enable each graduate to pursue further studies in the sacred sciences and to exercise appropriate responsibility in the Church.


The goals of the program are as follows:

  • Students will acquire an organic exposition of the whole of Catholic doctrine, together with an introduction to theological scientific methodology (Sapientia Christiana, 72);
  • Students will obtain a solid, organic, and complete basic instruction in theology, which will enable them either to go on to the next cycle of higher studies or to exercise some office in the Church (Norms of Application for the Implementation of “Sapientia Christiana,” 52).

The admission requirements are as follows:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college;
  • 24 credits in philosophy
  • 12 credits in undergraduate Judeo-Christian theology;
  • A letter of recommendation from the student’s sponsor.
  • 2 credits in New Testament Greek;
  • 6 credits in Latin;
  • dual degree candidates must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 after two semesters of theology.
Degree Requirements

Click this link to view the degree and course requirements for the S.T.B. degree.

Academic Advisement

Each S.T.B. candidate is responsible for seeking an academic advisor from the faculty of Saint Vincent Seminary. The student obtains from the Academic Dean a copy of an agreement form that is signed by the faculty member and indicates that member’s willingness to serve as advisor. It is the student’s responsibility to meet regularly with his faculty advisor to discuss the student’s progress in studies, seminar projects, research and preparation for comprehensive examinations.

Comprehensive Examinations

Purpose of the Examination: The principal purpose of the written thesis component of the S.T.B. examination is to test the candidate’s ability to research and articulate theological matters, especially as it concerns doctrinal formulation, scriptural sources, historical development and theological context.

The principal purpose of the oral component of the examination is to test the candidate’s ability to integrate what he has learned in his theological studies and to order these materials towards a reasoned theological judgment or conclusion.



Purpose of the Examination:I: Part One: The Thesis
The S.T.B. candidate must research and write a thesis of 10,000-12,500 words using the Times New Roman font (not counting footnotes and bibliography), under the direction of a faculty member. Following the agreement of a faculty member to direct the thesis and the concurrence of the Academic Dean, the student submits a formal thesis proposal to the Academic Dean. This proposal should include the following elements:

  • a statement and brief synopsis of the topic;
  • reasons for the choice of the topic;
  • a tentative thesis outline;
  • preliminary annotated bibliography;
  • a two semester project schedule including due dates for drafts and revisions.

The thesis proposal must be signed by the thesis director and the Academic Dean, and is sent to the S.T.B. Committee for final approval. Following the approval of the S.T.B. Committee, the student may begin working on the thesis. The student should work closely with the thesis director, and in conjunction with the thesis director, he should secure the agreement of another faculty member to serve as a second reader. The director is the primary guide for the student in the progress of their work and should be the holder of a Pontifical degree. The second reader, who does not have to have a pontifical degree in the area of the thesis, is to be given at regular intervals (to be determined between the student and second reader), up-to-date versions of the manuscript. His or her job is to comment upon and critique the work and to make suggestions for needed improvement. The student is to take very seriously any feedback and critique offered by either their director or the second reader and to incorporate these into his work.

The thesis should be written during the last year of the student’s S.T.B. program. It is typically a two-semester project that results in serious research in the topic approved by the S.T.B. committee. Topics are only approved if the student has completed adequate course work or other preparation in the area of interest. In their research, students must appropriate a minimum of 10 primary (original) sources and 20 secondary sources (as approved by their thesis director) and choose a topic relevant to their area of interest. With the aid of secondary sources, the papers must reflect the students’ ability to integrate the primary sources with content from the S.T.B. courses. Students should not seek so much to be “original” but rather should demonstrate their ability to articulate the content and development of the Catholic theological tradition in their specific area of research. The quality of the thesis should demonstrate the potential for publication.

During the first semester, the student should perform his research, formulate his thesis statement and create a final comprehensive bibliography and outline. This outline should be detailed enough to indicate that the student is ready to begin the writing process. It should provide a complete sense of the arguments the thesis will make and the evidence that will be used to support them. At the director’s discretion, when all the preliminary work is completed, the student may begin writing. During the second semester, the student completes the thesis and is expected submit a final draft of the entire thesis to both the director and second reader at least two weeks prior to the final due date. The official due date (usually 5-6 weeks before the end of the semester) is determined by the Academic dean when the S.T.B. committee approves the thesis and is communicated to the student in the letter of approval.

Role of the Thesis Director
The primary responsibility of the director is to play an active role in guiding the student towards appropriate sources, methods and approaches to the topic. This includes meeting with the student regularly during both semesters; advising him on appropriate research directions; and providing timely feedback on written work (bibliography, outlines, chapters, drafts), and suggesting revisions that can be incorporated into the final version of the thesis. The student is expected to submit drafts of his work to the director by the deadlines on the project schedule.

Role of the Second Reader
Though the second reader may play a substantially smaller role in guiding the thesis, the student is still expected to seek the reader’s input and keep him/her apprised of the status of his research and writing throughout the project (see above). Monthly meetings are recommended, though these can take place more or less often at the discretion of the second reader. The student is expected to submit drafts of his work to the second reader by the deadlines set in the project plan. The second reader’s responsibility is to offer comments, critique, and feedback for revisions that may be incorporated into the final version of the thesis.

Completion of the Thesis
The thesis is to be submitted to the director and to the second reader in its final and completed form two weeks before the due date. On the due date, the student will submit three (3) copies of the thesis to the Academic Dean (one for the Library, one for the Seminary records, and one to be sent to the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. It is to be bound with plastic/heavy paper covers. The thesis title page should follow the standard format for thesis title pages (c.f. the style book used by the seminary) and the front cover should reduplicate the title page. Both the director and the second reader are to grade the thesis independently and submit their grades to the Academic Dean in writing by the due date. The final thesis grade will consist of the average of the grades submitted by the thesis director and the second reader.

The Thesis grade will be determined by:

  • satisfactory completion of the approved thesis proposal;
  • thorough exploration of the state of the question within contemporary research at the Master’s level;
  • innovative reflections or approaches to the question;
  • adherence to approved Seminary style regulations.

II: Part Two: The Oral Examination

The oral component consists of a forty-five minute examination.
The examination board for the oral examination consists of five individuals:

  • the Rector, who will preside over the oral examination board;
  • the Academic Dean;
  • a professor of Sacred Scripture;
  • a professor of Dogmatic or Fundamental Theology;
  • a professor of Moral Theology.

The oral component of the S.T.B. examination will be scheduled within two weeks after the due date for the thesis. No student will be admitted to the oral examination without receiving a passing grade on the thesis.

During the oral component of the examination a complete set of study questions will be provided in the examination room for reference by both the examiners and the candidate.  A Bible will be provided for the oral examination. Note that questions on the oral examination will not be limited to the list of questions utilized for the written exam. These questions are intended as a study guide to prepare students to field a variety of theological questions from the three areas of examination.

III: Grading of the Examination

An 83% constitutes a passing grade on each section of the examination.

Part I: The Thesis:
An average of the director and second reader’s grades will comprise the grade for the thesis. The thesis grade will count as 50% of the total grade for the comprehensive exams.

Part II: The Oral Examination:
Each examiner will assign a grade evaluating only those questions of the examination which he/she presented. The average of the grades given by the five examiners in the oral examination counts for 50% of the total grade. The grades for both the oral examination and the thesis will be available from the Office of the Academic Dean. The final result of the examinations is recorded on the student’s official transcript.

In case of failure in any part of either the written or the oral examination, the failed section can be repeated once.

The Results of the S.T.B. Comprehensives will be incorporated into the student’s cumulative G.P.A. for the S.T.B. course of studies according to the following formula:

  • comprehensive exam—25%
  • course work—75%

The results of the S.T.B. comprehensives do not affect the student’s G.P.A. for the M.Div. or M.A. degree programs.

The final results of the student’s S.T.B. grade point average will be recorded on the student’s official transcript in the following way:

  • Passed with highest honors, 96-100;
  • Passed with high honors, 91-95;
  • Passed with honors, 86-90;
  • Passed satisfactorily, 83-85;
  • Failed, 0-82.

As our S.T.B. affiliation is now (pending) with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, there are a few important differences from our previous affiliation with the Dominican House of Studies.

Regarding the Thesis: The Rector and the Dean of the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo require that we send to them a copy of each thesis, and the grades that our professors have given to each thesis. They will be reviewed and evaluated by one of their professors before each respective degree is granted and sent. This is the primary reason for the delay in the awarding of the degrees.

The S.T.B. Diploma: The Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, will now issue the Pontifical S.T.B. Diploma for those completing the S.T.B. at Saint Vincent Seminary. It will reference the fact that the studies were done at Saint Vincent Seminary. This process will take several months and these diplomas may not be available for our graduation ceremonies. Surrogate certificates will be used and as soon as the official diplomas arrive they will be forwarded to the graduates.

Credit Load for Bachelor of Sacred Theology Students A normal credit load for the Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree student is 16/17 credits per semester. This consists of a planned balance of courses, some more heavily academic, some more pastoral, to help facilitate a holistic integration of studies, reflection and ministerial skills.
Credit Transfer A maximum of 60 credits may be transferred from other graduate schools, although not all transfer credits or courses may necessarily apply to the program.
Academic Dismissal from the Bachelor of Sacred Theology A student may be dismissed by the Seminary from the S.T.B. program for failing to attain a cumulative average of 3.25 by the end of the second semester of study. If a student’s cumulative average falls below 3.25 in the second year of the program, a warning letter will be issued. If the required cumulative average is not attained by the end of the following semester, the student will be dismissed from the S.T.B. program. A student may be readmitted to the S.T.B. program if he does acceptable remedial work. Once readmitted, the student must maintain the required cumulative average at each grading period. A second dismissal from the program is final.


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