Pontifical university

A pontifical university is an ecclesiastical university established or approved directly by the Holy See, composed of three main ecclesiastical faculties (Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law) and at least one other faculty. These academic institutes deal specifically with Christian revelation and related disciplines, and the Church's mission of spreading the Gospel, as proclaimed in the apostolic constitution Sapientia christiana.[1] As of 2018, they are governed by the apostolic constitution Veritatis gaudium issued by Pope Francis on 8 December 2017.

Quality and ranking[edit]

Pontifical universities follow a European system of study hour calculation, granting the baccalaureate, the licentiate, and the ecclesiastical doctorate. These ecclesiastical degrees are prerequisites to certain offices in the Roman Catholic Church, especially considering that bishop candidates are selected mainly from priests who are doctors of sacred theology (S.T.D.) or canon law (J.C.D.) and that ecclesiastical judges and canon lawyers must have at least the Licentiate of Canon Law (J.C.L.).[2]

Pontifical colleges and universities are generally nondenominational, in that they accept anyone regardless of academic merit, religion or denominational affiliation, race or ethnicity, nationality, or civil status, provided the admission or enrollment requirements and legal documents are submitted, and the campus regulations are obeyed. However, some faculties or degrees and disciplines may be for Catholics only, and non-Catholics, whether Christian or not, may be exempted from participating in otherwise required campus activities, particularly those of a religious nature.[citation needed]

In 2003 the Holy See took part in the Bologna Process, a series of meetings and agreements between European states designed to foster comparable quality standards in higher education, and in the "Bologna Follow-up Group". Pope Benedict XVI established the Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO), an attempt to promote and develop a culture of quality within the ecclesiastical institutions and enable them to aim in developing internationally valid quality criteria.[3]

Compared to secular universities, which are academic institutions for the study and teaching of a broad range of disciplines, ecclesiastical or pontifical universities are "usually composed of three principal ecclesiastical faculties, theology, philosophy, and canon law, and at least one other faculty. A pontifical university specifically addresses Christian revelation and disciplines correlative to the evangelical mission of the Church as set out in the apostolic constitution Sapientia christiana".[4][3]

List of pontifical universities[edit]









Dominican Republic







Can grant pontifical degrees.

  • The Irish Dominican House of Studies(Studium) can grant pontifical degrees from the Angelicum, since 1971, originally from St. Mary's Priory but since 2000 from St. Saviour's Priory, Dublin.


(Pontifical Institutes and Faculties are listed in the Ecclesiastical Universities article, while here are the Pontifical Universities and Atheneum.)

Ivory Coast












Puerto Rico



United Kingdom

United States


Former pontifical universities[edit]

Pontifical faculties[edit]

Ecclesiastical faculties[edit]

Pontifical colleges[edit]

A number of national Roman Colleges designated as Pontifical Colleges serve primarily as residence halls for seminarians sent by the bishops of a particular country to study there, such as the Belgian Pontifical College. They may also provide housing for priests pursuing advanced degrees. Students may take classes at the Gregorian, the Angelicum or other universities in Rome. In addition, other members of the clergy may reside there when in Rome.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AVEPRO". avepro.va. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  2. ^ "The Pontifical Universities". vatican.com. 2023. Archived from the original on 19 May 2023. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b Agenzia della Santa Sede per la Valutazione e la Promozione della Qualità delle Università e Facoltà Ecclesiastiche (AVEPRO), http://www.avepro.va/ Archived 8 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 1 November. 2012
  4. ^ "Sapientia Christiana (April 15, 1979) | John Paul II". www.vatican.va. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  5. ^ PUC-Rio
  6. ^ Pontifical University St. Patrick's College Maynooth
  7. ^ Voice:Europe/Spain
  8. ^ "Mater Ecclesiae College – Ecclesiastical Faculties at St Mary's University".
  9. ^ Denmark ruled Lund till the Great Northern War; Andrina Stiles (1992), Sweden and the Baltic, 1523–1721, London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  10. ^ Pontifical Status, CUA
  11. ^ Offers the S.T.B., according to "Gradi accademici" (in Italian). Lugano, Switzerland: Faculty of Theology. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  12. ^ [Loyola School of Theology http://lst.edu/about-us/vision-a-mission]
  13. ^ School of Canon law, CUA