Ecclesiastical Studies

Program Information

The Faculty of Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies is composed of three departments: Theology and Patristics, Liturgy, and History. Having completed a first degree in theology at another institution, students are admitted to the program for the licentiate degree (S.E.O.L.). Those who successfully complete the licentiate may go on to pursue a doctorate (S.E.O.D.).

The Faculty of Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies is thrilled to announce updated course offerings in patristic-theological, liturgical, and historical studies of the traditions of the Christian East!

Contact Information

For more information on the Faculty of Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies, new course offerings, and how to apply, please email


The Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana decrees, “For a person to join the Faculty for the attainment of academic degrees, he or she must have the qualification required for admission to the universities of one’s own nation or the region where the Faculty is located” (art. 32.1). Dated May 30, 1998, the Congregation for Catholic Education cancels any previous derogation and reiterates the faithful application of this provision.


Students must submit an academic transcript proving their eligibility of entrance according to the qualification mentioned above. They must also submit a copy of their diploma for the completion of a Bachelor’s of Theology OR a document proving that they have successfully completed their studies equivalent to the first cycle in a major seminary or in a similar academic institution.


It is up to the Dean to decide on a possible equivalence, taking into account the specific needs of each Faculty. To those requesting equivalence, please submit the following documents:


  • List of courses completed in philosophy and theology, indicating the number of hours for each course and names of the teachers;
  • A transcript showing grades and the completion of course exams.

Italian, Greek, and other languages


Most courses are conducted in Italian. Therefore a candidate must show competency in Italian in all the examinations, unless under special consent of the examiners where the candidate is allowed to express him or herself in another language.


All students are required to know Greek. It is also essential to study at least one oriental language (ex .: Old Church Slavonic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, etc.). Languages are included in the personal program of studies approved by the Dean.

Clerics & Religious

Clerics and men and women religious must enclose with their application a letter of recommendation from their own bishop or religious superior. They are also required to declare their domicile at an ecclesiastical or religious house college.


As established in the Congregation for Catholic Education, all students belonging to the secular clergy (priests or seminarians) should dwell in colleges or institutes in Rome, since all those who reside there do not have to submit, by November 30, the special rescript of extra-collegiality issued by the Vicariate of Rome.


The laity must enclose with their application form a letter of recommendation from an ecclesiastical or academic authority. For any lay person from countries outside the Schengen Treaty, it is necessary that they present by the Ordinary of their diocese of origin some documentation about the payment of academic and non-academic expenses (food, housing, health care, etc.).


Laity are also required to submit the following documents:


  • A standard form of registration, which may be obtained from the Secretariat, completed in block letters;
  • An original passport (with a copy) or identity card bearing the personal information of the student;
  • Two photographs;
  • Students from countries who are not members of the European Union should provide a Student Visa, issued by the Italian Consulate in the country of origin (the Tourist Visa is not valid);
  • Payment of the registration fee.


So that students can make the most out of their courses, the Institute offers a Preparatory Year in which one can study the needed languages (Italian and Greek) and attend foundational courses on the liturgy, theology, spirituality, history of the Christian East, and oriental canon law.



Before the start of the academic year, each non-Italian speaking student must complete a language test that determines whether the student has the knowledge needed. In the event of not passing the test, the student must complete a course of Italian during the Preparatory Year.




All students must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of classical Greek, which is critical for examining original sources pertaining to the Christian East. For this reason, all students must complete a proficiency test at the beginning of the academic year. Those who do not pass this test must enroll in a Greek course and take a Preparatory Year.


At the conclusion of the Propedeutic, students are required to take a comprehensive exam. Only those who have passed this exam with a minimum of 7 marks for each subject and an overall average of 8.5 are admitted to the Licentiate. In the event that the examination is not passed, the student must repeat the year. In the case of repetition, academic authorities will not offer a scholarship.

Language Exemptions


In the case that a student already possesses knowledge of Italian and Greek, but is not yet competent in other subjects, this student can, after completion of the language examinations, attend some courses of the Licentiate simultaneously with non-linguistic courses in the Preparatory Year. The student must not, however, take courses at the expense of  preparatory courses, which should be the main investment. This option is granted only with the approval of the Dean.


The Faculty of Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies is divided into three departments: Patristic Theology, Liturgy, and History. After choosing which department they would like to be a part of, students are thereafter obliged to take all their courses from this department. With the approval of the Dean, students may attend a course from another department.


If a student wishes to acquire a specialist in two or more departments, he or she must attend one department after the other, and pass the prescribed examinations (including the comprehensive examination) of the departments concerned. The Dean may waive the attendance of some courses, but not the examination of the specialization.

Distribution of Courses

Each department offers three required courses that allow students an overview of the Eastern traditions. Students are also offered some auxiliary courses, which they can choose from within their department or from other departments.


In addition, each department offers a number of seminars, of which students must participate in at least one per year. In order to help students make the most of this experience, seminars have an enrollment cap of eight.


Since the licentiate is cyclical, first and second year students may attend mandatory courses together.

Course Credits

Course credits are calculated in correspondence to an hour of weekly teaching throughout the semester. The duration of each course and seminar is normally 24 hours of instruction (2 credits), and 12 hours (1 credit).


Since the Holy See has joined the Bologna Process, the Congregation for Catholic Education has adopted the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) along with the traditional credit system. 1 ECTS credit equals 25 hours of student work: 8 hours dedicated to lessons, 15 hours dedicated to study, and 2 hours to exam preparation.


Throughout the time of the program for the completion of the Licentiate, students must successfully complete:


  • Twelve main department courses (24 cr. / 36 ECTS);
  • Optional department courses (16 credits / 24 ECTS);
  • Two seminars (4 credits / 10 ECTS);
  • Two annual language courses;
  • Some academic participation in the Institute (symposia, congresses etc.), with an equivalent calculation of 6 ECTS.


Students are required to submit the title of their dissertation together with the name of their supervisor to the Dean by the end of May 1st.


All courses end with an exam. Students must first obtain the signature of the professor certifying attendance in order to write the exam. At least two-thirds of lessons (cf. Statutes, Art. 46) must be attended. There are two ordinary sessions of exams at the end of the 1st semester and at the end of the 2nd semester. Outside of these times, no one can take an exam without the written permission of the Dean.

Licentiate Requirements

In addition to course examinations, a student will receive a licentiate after meeting the following requirements:


  • Submitting to the Secretariat two bound copies of the dissertation, amounting to at least 30 pages (approximately 2,000 characters per page) not including the bibliography;
  • Taking the written exam, lasting up to three hours;
  • Taking the oral exam before a board of three teachers, lasting 45 minutes (15 minutes for each teacher); this examination will include courses taken in Preparatory Year.


Licentiate Exam


Maximum marks for the Licentiate examinations are as follows: “30” for the dissertation, “5” for the written exam, and “15” for the oral exam. Other grades for exams taken in the 2nd cycle remain unchanged, and are determined by the number of credits in each course. The final grade of the Licentiate is the average of these marks.

Study Plan


Students pursuing a Doctorate must take four courses and a seminar (= 10 credits), chosen in agreement with their thesis supervisor and with the approval of the Dean. For students who have not obtained a Licentiate at the Institute, it is also required that they take a 3rd year seminar in methodology. Registration for these courses must be preceded by a formal registration into the 3rd year.

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