The purpose of the licentiate program is to help the student become acquainted with the whole corpus of church law, understand it in terms of its theological, philosophical, and historical background, and learn the method and practice of scientific research.
The level of research for the licentiate is that expected of professional canonists, specifically the exacting investigation of canonical questions encountered in curial, tribunal, and similar practice, and the articulation of one's findings in written opinions and briefs.
Students may choose to complete the program in two years, i.e., six consecutive semesters (fall, spring, and summer), in three years, excluding summer semesters, or in five summers.
Canon Law is an international law. The official texts of the law and of many documents with canonical importance are in Latin. Other texts appear from time to time in various modern languages. Many of the significant commentaries on the law, and studies about canon law topics, appear in languages other than English.
In order to understand this law more accurately, to interpret and apply it more fully, and to instruct others more effectively as to its meaning and proper application, it is important to have access to more than the limited amount available in English translations or studies concerning canon law. The development of an ability to use canonical Latin or the canonical literature in a modern language is an integral dimension of formation as a canon lawyer and subsequent professional work.
In conjunction with the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America, the School of Canon Law offers a dual-degree program for students who qualify for admission to the canon law program and to the law school program. The Dual-Degree Program makes it possible to earn a J.D. degree in American law and a J.C.L. degree in canon law; requirements of the respective degree programs must be met, but some courses in the law program are accepted as electives for canon law, and some canon law courses are accepted as law electives. Please note that both the School of Canon Law and Columbus School of Law require six semesters of study. For more information, contact the Dean of the School of Canon Law.