The Catholic University of America
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Pursuing an S.T.L. in Moral Theology/Ethics

The S.T.L. in Moral Theology aims to give students a solid grounding in this sacred science covering fundamental moral theology, the historical development of the Catholic moral tradition, and current developments in the various branches of contemporary theological ethics.

In addition and specific to the general requirements for obtaining an ecclesiastical degree, the Moral Theology/Ethics area requires the following:


  • Applicants should possess an S.T.B. in theology or religious studies as offered by this faculty, or the equivalent of this degree from another pontifical university or faculty.


  • 24 credit hours of course work in moral theology at the 700 or 800 level, plus 6 credits for the thesis after it has been approved.
  • The doctoral-level required prerequisite course (TRS 799 Proseminar for New Doctoral Students.)
  • The student will be expected to register for research guidance (TRS 993) for each of three successive semesters, beginning with the second semester of enrollment in the S.T.L. program. The student must prepare and obtain final approval of a written thesis on a reserach project.
  • Reading proficiency and facility for use in theological research in two ancient languages (Latin and Greek) and one modern language (ordinarily French and German).


  • Students must compose a thesis of 75-100 pages which demonstrate the ability to proceed further in scientific research in the area of moral theology. The thesis should give evidence of training in research and make a contribution to theological knowledge involving limited, yet significant, problem of investigation.



Comprehensive Exams

  • The comprehensive examinations include both written exams and an oral exam.
  • The written examination is based on a reading list of works in moral theology available from the academic area.
  • To qualify for the comprehensive examinatinos, the student must maintain at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA.

Final Grade

The three components of the STL degree program, i.e. course work, thesis and comprehensive examinations (written and oral) will be graded on the basis of the usual grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and the average of these components will comprise the student's final cumulative grade average. The student must have a 3.0 average to receive the STL degree. To be admitted to the STD program, however, a student must successfully complete the STL degree with a cumulative average grade of 3.3.

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Contact Information

For more information about the S.T.L. in Moral Theology/Ethics, contact the MT/E area director, Dr. John Grabowski at or 202-319-6509.