The School of Canon Law is an ecclesiastical faculty preparing students for licentiate and doctorate degrees authorized by the Apostolic See. The school is a community of students, faculty and staff working together for the purpose of the study of canon law in service to the Catholic Church, with particular attention to the needs and opportunities of the Church in the United States.


For admission to candidacy for the doctorate, a student must have successfully received the licentiate degree at Catholic University and demonstrated superior academic ability as demonstrated by achievement of an overall A- average in the various components of the licentiate program (i.e., coursework, thesis, comprehensive examination) taken in the aggregate. However, within this overall average, the grade for the thesis must be at least A-.

If they did not earn the licentiate at Catholic University, in addition to the University admission process, a formal letter of application must be submitted to the dean of canon law. In addition, a student must submit a thesis or major writing project for faculty review and two letters of recommendation from professors on faculty where they earned their licentiate.


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, or 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.

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. The student has four 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.