Degrees and Programs

The Pre-Theology Non-Degree Program

There are two possible Pre-Theology programs a student may pursue at Saint Vincent Seminary – a Non-Degree Pre-Theology Program and a Master of Arts: (Catholic Philosophical Studies) degree program. Both are two-year formation programs which are designed to prepare candidates for entry into the Theological formation and degree programs. The goals of these Pre-Theology programs are measured by the formation faculty using direct and indirect measures of achievement in intellectual, spiritual, pastoral and human formation and, for those enrolled in the M.A. program, culminates in the awarding of an academic M.A. degree.

The Non-Degree Pre-Theology Program

Purpose: This two-year program has as its purpose the preparation of candidates for entry into the ordination program.

  • For those who have completed college but lack the philosophical and theological background necessary to enter the ordination program, this two-year program will equip them with 30 credit hours of philosophy (PPF 152-160), plus Ecclesiastical Latin, Biblical Greek, and some basic introductory undergraduate theology.
  • For those who have not yet completed an undergraduate degree, an individualized curriculum can, in most cases, allow students to complete the academic requirements for pre-theology (PPF 161) at the same time they complete the requirements for their bachelor’s degree.


Content and Learning Outcomes of the Pre-Theology Curriculum: The spiritual and academic Formation Program during Pre-Theology aims at an adult level of affective maturity and interpersonal skills, a practical spiritual discipline, an exposure to apostolic life, and intellectual readiness for graduate theological studies. This takes place within the context of a strong community of faith and education comprised of the Benedictine community of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Saint Vincent Seminary, Saint Vincent Parish, and Saint Vincent College. This entire larger community seeks to support candidates in their vocational discernment. Pre-Theology students participate in all communal spiritual exercises of the Seminary. These include daily celebration of the Eucharist, Morning and Evening Prayer, spiritual conferences, monthly days of recollection and an annual retreat. In addition, an approved spiritual director is assigned to each seminarian and meets with him regularly, focusing in these meetings on progress in prayer, spiritual reading, and personal faith development.

The primary academic focus of the Pre-Theology Program is a study of philosophy which is balanced, comprehensive, integrated, and coherent (PPF 155). It has the following specific goals:

  • an introduction to the main historical periods, the major figures, and the main fields of philosophy (Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary);
  • an introduction to major positions taken in the philosophical tradition that have significance for theology (Metaphysics, Philosophical Anthropology, Thomistic Philosophy);
  • the development of analytic and critical abilities (Logic and Ethics);
  • the development of a reflective awareness of the relation between reason and faith (Philosophy as a Foundation for Theology);
  • the development of the possibilities for a coherent vision of reality (Theories of Knowledge).


The secondary focus of the Pre-Theology Program is to afford the student four courses designed to give some of the essential and foundational “introductions” to faith, morality, spirituality, and Sacred Scripture as they begin their preparation for a life of ministry and service as priests. The entire ordination program will presume and build upon these introductions—The Basics of Catholic Faith and Culture, Introduction to Catholic Morality, Introduction to Spirituality, and Introduction to the Study of Sacred Scripture.
The majority of the philosophy courses in our program are taught by our excellent College Philosophy Department in consultation and cooperation with the Seminary. The remainder of the philosophy and theological courses are taken through the Seminary itself. Pre-Theology students reside in the Seminary residences, pray with the seminarians, and take their meals in the Seminary dining facilities. They also partake of the integrated formation program of the Seminary for both pre-theologians and theologians, which is built around the four-dimensions of the Program of Priestly Formation.

Cycle of Courses for Pre-Theology

Pre-Theology I:

  • SPL 501: Ancient Philosophy 3
  • SPL 521: Logic and Philosophy of Knowledge 3
  • TH 600: Introduction to Philosophy (Philosophy of Nature and Contemporary Science) 3
  • TH 620: Basics of Catholic Faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church Part I) 3
  • TH 704: Latin I 3

Total: 15

  • SPL 502: Medieval Philosophy 3
  • SPL 515: Ethics and Moral Philosophy 3
  • TH 621: Introduction to Catholic Morality (Catechism of the Catholic Church Part II) 3
  • TH 700 Research and Writing Skills (for Pre-Theology Non Degree Only) 3
  • TH 804: Latin II 3

Total: 15

Pre-Theology II:

  • SC 701: Intro to New Testament Greek 3
  • SPL 503: Modern Philosophy 3
  • SPL 510: Philosophical (Anthropology) 3
  • SPL 580: Thomas Aquinas on Economic and Political Philosophy 3
  • TH 622: Introduction to Spirituality (Catechism of the Catholic Church Part IV) 3

Total: 15

  • SC 600: Introduction to the Study of Sacred Scripture 3
  • SPL 506: 19th and 20th Century Philosophy 3
  • SPL 540: Influences of Philosophy on Theology 3
  • SPL 530: Metaphysics (Philosophy of Being and Natural Theology) 3

Total: 12

Students who have transferred credits from another institution and need credits to fill out their schedules may enroll in up to 6 credits a semester from First Theology.

All Degrees and Programs

Master of Arts (Catholic Philosophical Studies) (MACPS)

The two-year Master of Arts (Catholic Philosophical Studies) degree program was accredited in 2015. This academic degree, together with the formation program which the students also partake of, fulfills all the requirements of the Pre-Theology formation program required for entrance into the M.Div. program.

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Master of Arts in Ecclesial Ministry

The Master of Arts in Ecclesial Ministry degree program (MAEM) is a professional degree open to candidates for the permanent diaconate and lay students. This is a three-year program. The curriculum consists of three major areas: Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, and Pastoral Studies.

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Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.)

(Four-Year Academic Degree in Affiliation with the Pontifical University of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome) This degree is offered under an affiliation agreement (approved by the Vatican’s Congregatio de Institutione Catholica and in keeping with the Apostolic Constitutions Sapientia Christiana and Veritatis Gaudium), with the faculty of the International Benedictine University in Rome, Italy – the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo.

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