Admission to the School of Canon Law

Candidates interested in the School of Canon Law at Catholic University are often individuals with a strong interest in working for the diocese.

Our student body, 80% of whom are referred to us by their local diocesan bishop, comprises clergy and religious persons, as well as an increasing number of laity. The study of canon law provides degree holders in theology the opportunity to serve the Church, and provides laypersons the only ecclesiastical way to serve the Church in a non-religious capacity.

All applicants should submit an application form with the required application fee no later than one month prior to the beginning of the academic term. Online application may be obtained here.

Admission to study is open to properly qualified persons who meet the following requirements: A master’s degree in Theology or its equivalent, superior achievement, and ability to pursue graduate studies. The ability to pursue graduate studies will be evaluated on the basis of the following information, which should be submitted by the applicant together with his or her application.

Applications must include:

  1. Official transcripts of undergraduate studies and any post-graduate studies.
  2. Two or more letters of recommendation from officials or faculty members of institutions previously attended.
  3. A letter of support from a bishop or religious superior:
    Candidates for orders, deacons, priests and members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life must submit a letter from their (arch)bishop or superior. This letter must state that the (arch)bishop or superior is assigning you to studies here, that you are in good standing in the Church, and the specific office (individual or title and address) which will be responsible for payment of your University expenses.
    In addition, priests (religious and diocesan) should complete the forms required by the Archdiocese of Washington advising the Archdiocese of your residence here.
  4. A personal statement addressing motivations and goals for joining the program.
  5. Official GRE test scores (information can be found online at http://www.ets.org).
  6. Writing sample (Licentiate program only: paper, homily or article—does not need to be more than two pages).

Requirement for Doctoral Students (in addition to the above)

  1. Submission of a formal letter of application to the dean of the school stating why the student wishes to pursue doctoral studies.
  2. One copy of the student’s licentiate thesis.

Especific Requirements

  • Requirement for Dual Degree (J.C.D./J.C.L.)

    Admission is conditioned on the independent acceptance by the Columbus School of Law and the School of Canon Law although both Schools will take into consideration previous acceptance by the other School. The Law School requires applicants to have received a baccalaureate degree from an accredited College or University and to have demonstrated satisfactory performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Students seeking admission to the JCL program must have a masters degree in theology or its equivalent and have demonstrated satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). A student simultaneously accepted in both schools will have admission in one of the schools deferred pending successful completion of the first year in the other school. Students may also apply for admission to the dual degree program during their first year of studies in either the Law School or the School of Canon Law.

  • Requirements for the J.C.D. Program

    1.A. Students who have completed the Second Cycle in the School of Canon Law, The Catholic University of America:

    For admission to the third cycle, the doctor of canon law program, in addition to the University admissions process, a formal letter of application must be submitted to the Dean of the School, stating the reasons why the student wishes to pursue doctoral studies here.

    The student must have successfully completed the Seminar in Sources (CL 702), received the licentiate degree and demonstrated superior academic ability as demonstrated by achievement of an overall A- average in the various components of the licentiate program; the grade for the thesis must be at least A-.

    1.B. Students who have not earned their Licentiate in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America:

    For admission to the third cycle, the doctor of canon law program, in addition to the University admissions process, a formal letter of application must be submitted to the Dean of the School, stating the reasons why the student wishes to pursue doctoral studies here.

    In addition, the student must submit a thesis or major writing project for faculty review and two letters of recommendation, from professors on the faculty where they earned their licentiate degree. A decision is made by the faculty conjointly.

    2. After admission to the doctoral program, a candidate must demonstrate a fluency in canonical Latin and pass proficiency examinations in two modern languages (Italian, Spanish, German, French) administered by the School of Canon Law.  The student must formulate a dissertation proposal, approved by the School and the University and in accord with time limits established by both.

    3. After fulfilling the language requirements and formulating the dissertation proposal, the student applies for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree which requires a separate faculty judgment.

    4. The student has four [4] years to complete the writing, defense, and publication of the dissertation. This period of time is calculated from the beginning of the semester following admission to candidacy.

  • Requirements for Church Administration (M.C.A.)

    1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
    2. Superior achievement and the ability to pursue graduate work as indicated by official transcripts from previous institutions of study.
    3. The results of the Graduate Record Examination (G.R.E.)
    4. Non-native English-speakers should demonstrate evidence of English proficiency through submission of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores or through some other means.
    5. At least two academic letters of recommendation.


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