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Pontifical universities are higher education ecclesiastical schools established or approved directly by the Holy See, composed of three main ecclesiastical faculties (Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law) and at least one other faculty. These academic institutes deal specifically with the Christian revelation and related disciplines, and the Church's mission of spreading the Gospel, as proclaimed in the Apostolic Constitution both "Sapientia christiana".[1] Many of them, on the other hand, have most of their students studying secular topics. They are governed by the apostolic constitution Veritatis gaudium issued by Pope Francis.


Quality and rankingEdit

Pontifical universities follow a European system of study hour calculation, granting the baccalaureate, the licentiate, and the ecclesiastical doctorate. These ecclesiastical degrees are prerequisites to certain offices in the Roman Catholic Church, especially considering that bishop candidates are selected mainly from priests who are doctors of sacred theology (S.T.D.) or canon law (J.C.D.) and that ecclesiastical judges and canon lawyers must have at least the Licentiate of Canon Law (J.C.L.).

Pontifical colleges and universities are generally nondenominational, in that they accept anyone regardless of academic merit, religion or denominational affiliation, race or ethnicity, nationality, or civil status, provided the admission or enrollment requirements and legal documents are submitted, and rules & regulations are obeyed for a fruitful life on campus. However, some faculties or degrees and disciplines may be for Catholics only, and non-Catholics, whether Christian or not, may be exempted from participating in otherwise required campus activities, particularly those of a religious nature.

Pontifical universities are not ranked by International quality ranking services and student research thesis' are not published in the academic mainstream. It is therefore impossible to have information about the student assessment methods or transparency in nominating degrees. In 2003 the Holy See took part in the Bologna Process, a series of meetings and agreements between European states designed to foster comparable quality standards in higher education, and in the "Bologna Follow-up Group". Pope Benedict XVI established the Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO), an attempt to promote and develop a culture of quality within the ecclesiastical institutions and enable them to aim in developing internationally valid quality criteria."[2]

Compared to secular universities, which are academic institutions for the study and teaching of a broad range of disciplines, ecclesiastical or Pontifical universities are "usually composed of three principal ecclesiastical faculties, theology, philosophy, and canon law, and at least one other faculty. A Pontifical university specifically addresses Christian revelation and disciplines correlative to the evangelical mission of the Church as set out in the apostolic constitution Sapientia christiana".[3][2]

List of pontifical universitiesEdit









Dominican Republic








Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)










Puerto Rico



  • Facoltà di Teologia di Lugano, Lugano[4]

United States

Additionally, numerous other United States institutions have arrangements by which they may grant pontifical degrees, including:


Cf. Former pontifical universities

See alsoEdit


  • Matthew Bunson, ed. (2010). Catholic Almanac 2010. Our Sunday Visitor. pp. 546–550.
  1. ^ "AVEPRO". Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b Agenzia della Santa Sede per la Valutazione e la Promozione della Qualità delle Università e Facoltà Ecclesiastiche (AVEPRO), Archived 8 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 1 November. 2012
  3. ^ "Sapientia Christiana (April 15, 1979) | John Paul II". Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  4. ^ Offers the S.T.B., according to "Gradi accademici" (in Italian). Lugano, Switzerland: Faculty of Theology. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) – Sacred Heart Major Seminary". Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  6. ^ University, St. Patrick's Seminary & (30 July 2018). "St. Patrick's Seminary – St. Patrick's Seminary & University". St. Patrick's Seminary & University. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  7. ^ "STB". Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  8. ^ User, Administrative. "Bachelor of Sacred Theology – Mount St. Mary's University". Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Zwierlein, Frederick. The Life and Letters of Bishop McQuaid: Prefaced with the History of Catholic Rochester Before His Episcopate, Volume 3 (Rochester, 1927), p. 454–455.
  11. ^ Denmark ruled Lund till the Great Northern War; Andrina Stiles (1992), Sweden and the Baltic, 1523–1721, London: Hodder & Stoughton.