Seminarian students in the School of Philosophy

Certificate Program in Pre-Theology Studies for Seminarians

The School of Philosophy counts it a privilege to contribute to the education of future clergy and religious. We offer degree programs that are well suited to advance the academic formation of seminarians, priests and religious. We also offer a non-degree program tailored to prepare seminarians for subsequent theological study.

As an ecclesiastical faculty, the School of Philosophy offers degree programs in all three ecclesiastical “cycles” of study, which culminate, respectively, in the degrees of Bachelor of Philosophy (Ph.B.), Licentiate in Philosophy (Ph.L.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). At present, the program requirements for each of these degrees are identical to the program requirements for our three civil degree programs, which culminate in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Master of Arts (M.A.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

In the case of the first two ecclesiastical degrees, students can elect to have the degree conferred under either the ecclesiastical or the civil title, i.e., as a Ph.B. or a B.A., or as a Ph.L. or a M.A. No matter the designation, all of our degrees currently carry both civil and canonical effects.

Bachelor of Philosophy

Undergraduate seminarians at Catholic University typically pursue a Ph.B. degree as philosophy majors in the School of Philosophy. The major requirements fully satisfy the academic requirements in philosophy and other non-theological subjects stipulated by the Fifth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation.

Basselin Foundation

In fulfillment of the will of Theodore Basselin (1851-1914), The Catholic University of America established a foundation in his name to provide fellowships in a special course of studies for diocesan seminarians preparing for the Catholic priesthood. Candidates for the fellowships must already have completed two years of the liberal arts curriculum in a college or university or college seminary program. They must also have given evidence of superior performance in their studies. The Basselin Foundation fellowships carry such students through three years of intensive work in philosophy: two years at the undergraduate level, and one year of postgraduate work leading to the master's or licentiate degree. Those admitted to the Basselin Program must maintain an acceptable grade-point average to retain their fellowships.

The curriculum of the Basselin Program lays special stress on those branches of philosophy most necessary as a preparation for the study of theology. As is stipulated in its charter, the Program also requires that Basselin Fellows give special attention to public speaking in view of later pastoral responsibilities.

The three-year fellowship fully covers tuition, room, and board. In addition to its academic and financial benefits, the Basselin Program enables students to continue their preparation for the priesthood through participation in the seminary life and formation programs of Theological College of the Catholic University of America. Although Basselin seminarians are part of the larger undergraduate community at the University, they also receive individual attention from a spiritual director approved by Theological College and are assigned a formation adviser to assist them in their discernment process, as they develop spiritually and personally.

Basselin students take three courses in the area of public speaking. The first of these, DR 205, is usually taken in the junior year. The second and third courses are available through the School of Philosophy. The courses are:


● DR 205, Introduction to Speech Communication (3) - Theory and exercises in speech communication, emphasizing perception, language (verbal and nonverbal), and interaction. Students apply principles in a variety of transactions.
● PHIL 374, Ritual, Language, and Action (3) - A survey course of basic speech techniques and drama skills applied to the language and action of the liturgy. Students learn through lecture, classroom discussion, and ongoing development of skills and group critique. Leading prayer in the seminary community also serves as a practicum.
● PHIL 375, Liturgical Readings (3) - Through classroom discussion and ongoing practicum, students learn the foundations for and the skills of proclaiming the Word of God in the liturgical setting. Theological and practical skills learned in this course are applied in the seminary community and as reader at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

For application and admission information, please contact the Office of the Rector of Theological College at 202-756-4907 or olkiewicz@cua.edu

Certificate Program in Pre-Theology Studies for Seminarians

The Pre-Theology Certificate was developed by the School of Philosophy, in close collaboration with the School of Theology and Religious Studies. It provides a comprehensive and flexible pre-theological course of studies for candidates for priestly ministry that fully complies with the vision and norms of the Program of Priestly Formation, Fifth Edition.

The Certificate in Pre-Theology Studies is awarded upon the completion of 16 to 20 courses for a total of 48 to 60 credits over the two-year period of the program. The Certificate Program requires the following distribution of courses in order to reach 16 courses for 48 credits:

● 10 philosophy courses (30 credits)
● 4 theology courses (12 credits)
● 2 courses in Latin or other appropriate coursework as specified in the Program of Priestly Formation, Fifth Edition (6 credits).
● For candidates satisfying more than the minimum requirements for the certificate, further appropriate coursework in theology, languages, the liberal arts, and speech would be added, in accord with the norms of the Program of Priestly Formation.

To earn the certificate, those enrolled in the Pre-Theology Program must earn a grade of C or better in all courses.

In accord with the fundamental premise of the Certificate Program cited above, the following additional considerations apply:

● If students have taken theology courses elsewhere that are fully equivalent to the theology courses required for the certificate program, other appropriate theology courses would be substituted from the offerings of the School of Theology and Religious Studies. The Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies for Seminary and Ministerial Studies would determine issues of equivalency for theology courses and indicate the appropriate substitute theology courses to the Associate Dean of the School of Philosophy.
● Up to two three-credit undergraduate courses in philosophy taken elsewhere that are fully equivalent to courses required in the Certificate Program may be recognized and other appropriate courses substituted for them. In every case, at least half of the credits earned toward the Certificate will be in philosophy courses taken at Catholic University. Thus, if the Certificate is earned by completing sixteen courses at Catholic University, at least eight philosophy courses have to be included among those courses. If the Certificate is earned with twenty courses at Catholic University, at least ten philosophy courses have to be included among those courses. The Associate Dean of the of the School of Philosophy determines issues of equivalency for philosophy courses.