How can I fulfill my philosophy prerequisite?

Here’s my situation:

My dad refuses to let me enter seminary/religious life without first finishing my bachelor’s degree. So I’m stuck, It will take two maybe three years to get it all done, and I don’t want to think I’m not still working towards my vocation. I know that theology has a fairly strict philosophy requirement, so how much of that can I meet by getting a BA in philosophy at a state school?

You have to check the specific college that you plan to attend by I would guess that usually you can get 100% coverage of the seminar requirements for philosophy.

It might vary from school to school and seminary to seminary. The only way to find out would be to contact the seminary you think you would most likely attend and ask them about transfer credit. They’d be in the best position to walk you through it.

I agree with the first 2 replies. If you are taking courses at a secular university rather than a Catholic university, the curriculum may be different than the curriculum at the seminary. More emphasis on philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Hippocrates rather than classic Catholic philosophers like Thomas More and Thomas Aquinas. While the former are necessary, Catholic philosophy is more important in the seminary, if I understand it correctly. Definitely get in touch with the vocations director and/or seminary you plan to attend and ask what the transfer requirements are. Not all college credits are transferable.

Oh, and just a question: How old are you? Are you 18? If so, you are legally an adult and are not forced to listen to the demands of your father. Your vocation shouldn’t have to suffer because of unreasonable demands. If you are feeling called NOW then speak to your vocations director NOW. That’s what they are there for. Tell him what you are experiencing and see if it’s worth delaying your vocation a while so you can get your Bachelor’s. Most of the time, you can complete your Bachelor’s degree in the seminary. Does your father know this? Just my opinion. :thumbsup:


You will need to figure out what seminary you would be going to which will be hard to do if you have not even applied to a diocese or religious community.

When you know what major seminary you will go you will need to contact them and find out their policy on acceptable credits for philosophy and theology. If you are attending a non-catholic institution the answer will probably be “not much”.

While this is true one must keep in mind that while a person over 18 years of old is an adult if their parents’ are footing the bill for their education then they must follow what their parents’ wish. If they do not want to do as their parents’ wish then they may not have money for their schooling.

Thanks for the replies! Yes, I’ve been in the process of trying to figure out the transfer credits. I was just hoping someone might know of a Church document laying out norms for philosophy in seminaries. Or maybe someone might be or know of a priest/religious who studied philosophy in a secular university then went on to seminary.

The only problem is that my father doesn’t approve of my re-entering seminary. I was a seminarian, a religious one though, and I lasted long enough only to complete my novitiate (almost 2 years). I started showing signs of a movement disorder and it caused some worry, so I was obliged to leave and take care of it. It’s since been taken care of and I’m fine, it was benign and hereditary. But in any case, when I left to enter religious life I was adamant that I wasn’t going to let the educational “hoops” get in the way of my vocation. I fought the issue and in the end I was given permission. When my condition flared up and I had to leave, my father was a bit traumatized by it all and now he’s adamant that he won’t consent to it again. I know that I’m of age (24) and can do as I see fit, but I have a duty to obey him. He isn’t acting out of malice, and what he wants is not sinful, and he specifically asked me out of filial obedience. So in the end I’m just going to buckle down and suffer for a few more years and postpone my re-entrance. The worst that can happen I guess is that only some of my philosophy will count, at least it won’t be a complete waste.

Yes, I would be surprised if none of it counted. Some of the basics (e.g., logic, ancient Greek philosophy, even metaphysics to some extent) are pretty much the same regardless of who is teaching it and where. But if you’re taking a topical course on the morality of abortion as taught by an atheist humanist philosopher (as I did :o), it may not transfer. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t really understand this. If you are doing this out of “filial obedience” then what will change in a couple of years when you do try to re-enter the seminary?

I do not see how obedience to your father in this case would change in the future or how it can really bind you from entering the seminary when you wish.

You need to work with a spiritual director on this as I see this as a bigger issue than the possibility of transfer credits for philosophy and theology taken at a secular institution.

I will say this though, most likely you will get little to no transfer of such credits. I say this from personal knowledge of one case at one Catholic institution.

Thank you Br., I think I’m causing more confusion than light, my father supports my going back, he doesn’t support however my going back without a bachelor’s degree. He is merely attaching my obtaining a bachelor’s degree as a condition to obtaining his blessing and support. I don’t think I can, nor do I think I want to undertake my re-entrance without it, so I’m agreeing and am going back to college first. My spiritual director is allowing the move in either direction (although he favors my going back asap). And I thank you for the input, I’m in touch with my former community’s philosophy head trying to sift through the secular course list at present. I might have to re-think this, but still, taking philosophy again in seminary was a given, this might just make that a little easier the second time around.

Again thank you all for the input, I really wanted to see if anyone out there had similar experiences and could spare some sound advice. Thank to all who gave it! :slight_smile:

I understand now! Thanks for spelling it out for me. I can be quite dense at times.

I assume you are already in college? If so have you considered transferring to a Catholic institution? If you are not yet in school have you thought about a Catholic institution?

You would have a higher chance of getting philosophy and theology credits accepted by a major seminary if they were acquired in a bachelor’s degree program at a Catholic institution.

The state of philosophy education at secular schools is very bad and I would think that they would not be accepted by a major seminary and I would also say that they would be very hard on a faithful Catholic to the point of being harmful to the spiritual life. Again, this is from personal experience.

I am going to talk to you from a father’s point of view. Recently my son expressed the desire of entering seminary immediately after high school. I simply said no, I told him that he will go to college as a lay person and after that he will consider either graduate school or the seminary if he still wishes. I know his strengths and weaknesses and I know that I have to do what is right for him. Vocations are not something that come and go easily; however, it is very important to support a vocation in a proper way. Answering a vocation has to be done freely and have seen people that consider seminary and the priesthood mainly as a safe tenured job and because of their issues they are not able either to be ordained or to move on with a lay life. A parent, as the primary spiritual guide of the child, has the moral obligation not only to support a vocation but also to support a true discernment. I told my son that probably in his life he will always have to obey to someone and accept their decision, initially his parents and later his bishop.

It’s worth noting that some dioceses require +/-6 years of seminary formation (assuming you are discerning the diocesan priesthood), regardless of previous philosophy studies (including a BA). My understanding is that this is because the “formation” aspect of all years of seminary cannot be replaced by just fulfilling the academic requirement of philosophy.

Seminarians with a previous philosophy BA, though, might spend their “pre-theology” years studying for a MA in philosophy, studying Latin/Greek, etc. I imagine this would be decided on a case by case basis.

The best thing you can do is speak with your diocese’s vocations director!

Of course, presuming you will attend college before seminary, I hope this doesn’t deter you from pursuing a BA in philosophy (or philosophy/theology double major) - it is the best thing you can do to better prepare you for graduate level theology/philosophy studies!

I will agree with you with one further addition. That such a degree or double major will help out at the graduate level if the degrees are gained at a Catholic institution. Getting them at a public institution will not be of much help and may actually lead you astray.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit