Pontifical university

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Pontifical universities are "academic institutes 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 the Christian revelation and related disciplines, and the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel, as proclaimed in the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana".[1] Many of them, on the other hand, have most of their students studying secular topics.

Pontifical universities follow a European system of degrees in the sacred faculties, granting the baccalaureate, the licentiate, and the 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.).

Quality and ranking

Compared to secular or Catholic 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". [2][3]

Like other Catholic institutions, pontifical colleges and universities are generally nondenominational, in that they accept anyone regardless of religion or denominational affiliation, race or ethnicity, nationality, or civil status, provided the admission or enrollment requirements and legal documents are submitted, and rules & regulations are obeyed for a fruitful life on campus. 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.

Current international quality ranking services do not have a quality ranking category that reflects the unique nature and mission of Pontifical universities, nor do their methodologies take into account this unique nature and mission in a way that reflects their educational quality. Since 19 September 2003 the Holy See has taken 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". The Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO) was established on 19 September 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI "to promote and develop a culture of quality within the academic institutions that depend directly on the Holy See and ensure they possess internationally valid quality criteria." [3]

List of pontifical universities









Dominican Republic








Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)









Puerto Rico


United States

United Kingdom


Former pontifical universities

See also


  • Matthew Bunson, ed. (2010). Catholic Almanac 2010. Our Sunday Visitor. pp. 546–550.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  1. http://www.avepro.va/ Accessed November 1, 2012
  2. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_15041979_sapientia-christiana_en.html Sapientia Christiana], Accessed June 24, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 Agenzia della Santa Sede per la Valutazione e la Promozione della Qualità delle Università e Facoltà Ecclesiastiche (AVEPRO), http://www.avepro.va/ Accessed November 1. 2012
  4. Principal source: "Pontifical Universities", Annuario Pontificio
  5. Denmark ruled Lund till the Great Northern War; Andrina Stiles (1992), Sweden and the Baltic, 1523—1721, London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  6. Andrés Beltramo Alvarez (20 July 2012). "Peru: Vatican removes titles "Pontifical" and "Catholic" from university name". La Stampa.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. David Kerr (2012), "Elite Peruvian University Stripped of Catholic Credentials", Catholic News Agency, July 21, 2012, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/elite-peruvian-university-stripped-of-catholic-credentials