Degree Programs

Master of Arts (Theology) (M.A.)

The M. A. (Theology) was introduced in 1993 to better serve lay people. The M. A. (Theology) is an accredited two-year program of theology in the Thomistic tradition which prepares students for advanced theological studies or for service to the Church. The course of studies includes classes in systematic theology, moral theology, Church history, and Scripture. This 36 credit degree involves the writing of a thesis assisted by an advisor and defended before members of the faculty.

Lay students who earn an M.A. (Theology) at the PFIC do so for personal enrichment and professional competence, but not as a preparation for the ordained ministry. Information from graduates indicates that the M.A. degree has enriched their lives and provided them with the tools needed for Church related employment.

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Master of Arts (Thomistic Studies)

The M.A. (Thomistic Studies) is a degree program offered by the Thomistic Institute of the PFIC, which specializes in the study of the theological synthesis of St. Thomas Aquinas. This 36 credit program is designed to be taken over four consecutive summers, with the possibility of a fifth summer for thesis development and defense. Students receive an intensive formation in Aquinas’s texts and ideas, and classical Thomistic thought is presented in the areas of systematic and moral theology. The course of studies also considers modern topics, highlighting the relevance of Thomistic studies for contemporary theological discourse. The degree prepares students for advanced study in the area of Thomistic thought and theology.

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Master of Divinity (M. Div.)

The Master of Divinity degree is a first professional degree, which is designed to foster basic theological understanding and to develop initial pastoral competence on the part of students preparing for ministry. Accordingly, the M. Div. curriculum involves an in-depth study of the Christian, and especially the Roman Catholic, theological tradition, and a supervised practice of ministry. The degree conforms to the revised standards of the Association of Theological Schools, as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation. Integral to the Master of Divinity program, and accenting our Dominican tradition, is the emphasis given to the preaching ministry.

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

The degree of Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology provides the student with a solid, organic, and complete instruction in theology at the basic level, including studies in philosophy, history, Scripture, moral theology and systematic theology, which enable graduates to pursue further studies in the sacred sciences. This pontifical degree program fulfills the requirements laid out in the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana. The degree is a prerequisite for the Licentiate in Sacred Theology, which presupposes familiarity with the wide variety of subject matter and disciplines that constitute the Christian theological tradition.

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Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.)

The Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) is an advanced and specialized research degree, granted by the authority and in the name of the Holy See. The program consists of 36 credits, a tesina, and a lectio coram, and normally takes two years to complete. The Licentiate is immediate preparation for doctoral studies in Catholic theology.

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

The Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) is a specialized degree program in Thomistic studies. It offers a terminal degree (the ecclesiastical doctorate) that is granted by the authority and in the name and Holy See. Candidates may specialize either in the domain of Thomistic systematic theology or Thomistic moral theology.

The program consists of two parts. First, the candidate must complete a specialized S.T.L. program consisting of 36 credits, a tesina, and a lectio coram. This program has specific course content that is historical and systematic in kind, and which is ordered toward doctoral research in Thomistic theology. This stage normally takes two years to complete. Second, the candidate must complete the official proposal, research and composition of the doctoral thesis, which are subject in various stages to both internal and external examination.

Inquiries can be made to the Director of the Doctoral Program, Fr. Andrew Hofer, O.P.

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Dual Degree Candidacy

Dual degree candidacy may include any combination of two of the three first-cycle degrees currently offered by the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception. In order to maintain the integrity of each degree program, dual degree candidates must complete full requirements for each degree, including language examinations, comprehensive examinations, and theses for each program where applicable.

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Non-Degree Seeking (N.D.S.)

Taking courses at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception is a great way to continue to learn and grow in the Catholic Faith. In order to serve those who wish to further their education and their professional competence, but who do not currently desire to embark on a full degree program, the PFIC offers courses on an individual basis.

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Transfer of Credits

A student may transfer no more than 45 credits from another graduate school for the M.Div. degree and no more than 6 credits for the M.A. or M.T.S degrees. In evaluating the transfer of credits, the unique mission of the PFIC, centered as it is on the theological tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas, is considered normative (cf. Catalog, 7-8).

Courses in scripture and those that might serve as elective requirements are accepted with discretion for transfer by the PFIC. Acceptance of philosophy credits for the M. Div. degree or qualifying pre-requisite course work for the M.A. also follow the review process outlined below. The determining factor is whether or not the content of the course has sufficiently prepared the student for engaging Thomistic theology in these areas.

A more careful scrutiny is undertaken of other required core courses, particularly in systematic and moral theology taking into consideration course equivalency on a course-to-course basis, the time frame of matriculation, the number of credit hours and the grade received by the student. In order to provide the student with an integral theological education in the Thomistic tradition the student may be asked to provide the syllabus of certain courses.

The process of evaluation involves a review of the official student transcript by the Academic Dean and the Registrar who consult, in turn, with the Admissions Committee. The final judgment rests with the Academic Dean who discusses the matter with the student at the time of registration.

Graduation Rates (Fall 2010 – Fall 2020)





N.B. The publication of the above graduation rates is required by accrediting agencies. The figures represent the percentage of students who have completed the respective degree programs during the years of assessment. An entry year is assessed once 150% of the expected time period to complete a degree has transpired. Thus as of June 2021, this includes students who entered the M.A. (Theology), M.A. (Thomistic Studies), M.Div., S.T.B., or the S.T.L. program between Fall 2010 and Fall 2014.

These figures do not distinguish between students who fail to complete their program for academic reasons, or for personal reasons, or because he or she has been reassigned by his or her religious superiors. The MDiv program in particular is an intellectually and socially demanding program expecting the highest levels of performance and personal integrity from students in priestly formation. Most MDiv students are also STB candidates.

Degree Completion Periods (Fall 2010 – Fall 2020)

Standard Publicized Degree Requirements
MA = 4 semesters (36 credits)
MDiv = 8 semesters (112 credits)
STB = 8 semesters (90 credits)
STL = 4 semesters (36 credits)

Full-time MA students typically complete their studies in 5.72 semesters.

Full-time MDiv students typically complete their studies in 9.66 semesters.

Full-time STB students typically complete their studies in 8.14 semesters.

Full-time STL students typically complete their studies in 4.01 semesters.

Part-time MA students typically complete their studies in 5.00 semesters.

Part-time MDiv students typically complete their studies in N/A semesters.

Part-time STB students typically complete their studies in N/A semesters.

Part-time STL students typically complete their studies in 4.00 semesters.

N.B. The publication of the above list of degree completion periods is required by accrediting agencies. The assessment period follows that listed above under “Graduation Rates”. No distinction is made between students who begin studies in one program and complete it, and students who switch programs at some later date. The latter will have effectively shortened degree completion periods, but since these are highly variable they are not accurately reflected in a separate table. Likewise, the above periods make no distinction between those who transfer credits from another school, whether pre-requisites or otherwise, and those in more or less need of credits with the PFIC. Any such table will bear significant limitations in the impression it conveys because of the high variability of coursework with which an individual student begins a program. Only those students who have graduated are considered herein.

Placement Rates

MDiv = 100%

For lay students undertaking study with the PFIC, the M.A. degree is for personal enrichment, and not a ministerial degree designed necessarily to lead to employment or a vocation. Information from the graduates indicates that the M.A. degree enriched their lives and fulfilled the purposes for which they undertook the study.

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