Online degree for intended seminary study?


Hi All,

I was thinking I may be feeling the call to priesthood, however, I need to acquire a bachelors before I could go to a seminary. I completed two years of college, then dropped out, so, two more years, not too bad. But, there are no affordable colleges in my area which offer a philosophy degree, therefore, I wonder if there are any online colleges which offer such a program, which would be “good enough” to gain admission into a Catholic seminary?




Hi James,

I would strongly suggest you discuss with your family and contact your diocese vocation office or your parish priest for starters. They are in a much better position to give you the info you need. If this is your calling I’m sure the Church will help with your education. God Bless.


Generally speaking, you are going to want a university that is regionally accredited. But if you intend to use the degree for a specific purpose, you should find out the precise requirements for that purpose.


Catholic Distance University offers a degree completion program for a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. It is designed for students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. CDU is accredited as well as on the USCCB list of approved Catholic colleges and universities offering distance education. They take * Ex corde ecclesiae* as their guiding light and are also listed in The Newman Guide to Catholic Colleges.


Note that CDU is not regionally accredited, only nationally accredited.


Would not the national accreditation be more significant? Please forgive my ignorance. This list looks fairly impressive to me:

In Peace


See here for a discussion of regional versus national accreditation. Credits from nationally accredited schools can often be difficult or impossible to transfer. It depends what you are trying to accomplish with your studies and/or degree.


My experience with CDU was completely negative.

I would recommend looking around for a different school.


Also know that a Bachelors of Arts in Theology will not get you the required 30 credits of Philosophy that is needed for entry into a major seminary.


Have you talked with the vocations director at your diocese (or the diocese you would be applying to)? Since the program for priestly formation calls for 6 years minimum formation you may be able to complete your degree in a college seminary in or near your diocese. Otherwise, the diocese should have arrangements in conjunction with a Catholic college to cover this part of the program while beginning formation.

Also the discussion of CDU is moot as they do not offer the Philosophy classes necessary (very few Distance Learning programs do).


Does it call for 6 years? I do not remember reading that. Can you give me a reference?


[quote="ByzCath, post:11, topic:196050"]
Does it call for 6 years? I do not remember reading that. Can you give me a reference?


I seem to have been incorrect, however, I can only think of one 5-year program in the US in the past few years, and of course, religious orders have a longer formation program.


Yes we do.

Most diocese I know of do a 5 year program in the major seminary. 4 years of school with a pastoral year, usually after the 3rd year.

Most will now have to have at least a 6 year program if they do not have a pastoral year as the only candidates with a philosophy degree accepted by the major seminary will be able to enroll there right away. So dioceses will have to send the candidates off to fill the philosophy requirements at a college seminary (if they use one, not all do).


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