Differences between Theology Degrees


I don’t know if this is the right place to post this (probably not, since it doesn’t really fall under the category of “vocation”) so if I need to post elsewhere, just let me know. Sorry in advance.

I am wondering if anyone could give me a description of all the different Catholic Theology degrees, what each does and what it is for. I am interested in pursuing a degree in Theology but when I look at exactly what I should be doing school-wise, it starts to get confusing. There seem to be so many acronyms out there (M.Div, Ph.d, MA, STB, STD, etc.) that I simply don’t know how to make heads or tails of it all. If someone could lay out a nice list of all of them and what they do, it would be so helpful!

Thank you!


It really depends on what you want to do with it.

The most common path in Catholic circles in the U.S. is the traditional path:

BA (bachelors) to MA (masters) to PhD (doctorate)

Then there are the ecclesial degrees. There are only a handful of places in the U.S. that give these out as there are stringent guidelines to be met to a school to offer an ecclesial degree. This path goes:

STB (bachelors) to STL (licentiate) to STD (doctorate)

Then there’s the MDiv to DMin. From my experience, that seems a more common path in the Protestant world than the Catholic, but there are also Catholics that goe this route, too. These degrees are more practically oriented.

Note that you don’t necessarily need a bachelors in theology before you get a masters. If you already have another bachelors degree, often you can get by with just taking a few catch-up classes.

Hope this helps!


Maybe they should change that abbreviation from STD to something else… :smiley:


:)That is the same thing I thought! :thumbsup:


Agreed! :D:rolleyes:


Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Why would a Catholic lay person want to get a University degree in Theology? If one does not enter the Clergy, how could such a degree help one gain employment?
In my experience in the business world, a degree in Theology, like a degree in the Fine Arts, would be a hindrance in gaining employment with a secular business firm.


Enlighten you, I shall. :wink:

A Theology degree isn’t just for those who are looking into the Priesthood. A Theology degree can be useful for those who wish to teach Religious Education classes at their parish, their local school(s), or, depending on what type of degree you get (i.e., Masters), you could teach at a college level. I know in a couple of Diocese’s they are short on R.E. teachers, which means that there are two to three times as many students for one class, all of different ages. I am a girl who is looking to major in Theology, because I would like to teach Religious Education classes once I’m finished with college (along with another teaching profession), and because I believe it will be very helpful once I choose a religious order to enter.


I know a priest who has an STD (along with six other degrees). One year, a group of students got him a black T-shirt. The front said (in big letters) “Ask me about my STD.” Then on the back it said “Sacrae Theologiae Doctor.” :smiley:


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: I bet he got a kick out of that one! :smiley:

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