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Translating Roman and American degrees

So, I am studying for a License in Sacred Theology (STL). What is that? How does it compare to the MA in Theology that almost/never was? How do the American and Roman degrees correlate?


Academic Biretta, worn by a Doctor of Sacred Theology

Rome has answered a frustration I had at CUA, which was shared by several of my classmates: the graduate courses there seemed to be really geared at a more basic, undergraduate level. Some blamed the overwhelming presence of seminarians, for whom classes had to be “dumbed down”. Others attributed it to “the lack of academic freedom” at the only U.S. University officially run by the Catholic Church (as opposed to a religious congregation or non-profit). I believe this to be primarily the result of the difference between the Roman and secular/American degree systems, and a less-than-efficient blending of the two.

Europe has a host of different practices, i find out, and for the last decade they have been in the process of synchronizing the systems. Some graduate secondary (high school) at 17, then have a 3-year bachelors program. Others graduate secondary at 19. Italy currently has what they are calling a 3+2 program for college studies, the three years for a bachelors, and the 2 for a masters – or what we might call a masters. But Italy is different than the Pontifical system.

In the pontifical system, you earn the Baccalaureate first, then a License, and then a Doctorate. If you are studying theology, however, you need at least two years of Philosophy first, then a Bachelors in theology, before doing the License and Doctorate. So, the STB really is an undergraduate degree, and it makes little sense to compare it to an M.Div., though these are respectively the basic ministry degrees required by each system.

So, if one were to go straight through in each of the systems it would look something like this:

HS + yrs Pontifical American
+2  Philosophy (no degree) Associate (AA)
+4   Bachelor (BA/BS)
+5 Baccalaureate  (STB)  
+6   Master (MA), or
+7 License (STL) Professional (M.Div.)
+9 Doctorate (STD) Pastoral Doctorate (D.Min)
+10   Research Doctorate (Ph.D.) 

Thus, my License is both the completion of the work i began at CUA for the MA in Theology, and the begining of my doctoral work.

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