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Philosophy for Ministry, Certificate

Saint Louis University's certificate in philosophy for ministry, offered at the College of Philosophy and Letters, is designed for students on the path to Catholic priesthood who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. The 38 credits of coursework in this SLU program satisfy the philosophical requirements for ordination, as determined by the Conference of Catholic Bishops and Society of Jesus.

Curriculum Overview

Certificate course requirements are typically satisfied by undergraduate courses, though students may, with the approval of the dean, also meet some requirements with graduate courses.

Transfer coursework may be accepted for most requirements, but at least 16 credits must be taken after admission to the College of Philosophy and Letters, including the special ethics/social analysis courses and capstone courses.

Specific course offerings that satisfy an area requirement are determined by the dean. The three special ethics/social analysis courses are selected with a view to the student’s capstone project and may include courses from disciplines other than philosophy.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must already have a bachelor’s degree. Students in training toward ordination in the Catholic priesthood must also be approved by a religious superior or bishop to pursue training toward ordination in the Catholic priesthood.


Tuition Cost Per Credit
Undergraduate Tuition $1,410

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

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For priority consideration for graduate assistantship, apply by Feb. 1. 

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  1. Graduates will be able to identify connections among major thinkers and ideas that have shaped the history of Western philosophy.
  2. Graduates will be able to state and explain key philosophical ideas and methods suitable for understanding and analyzing contexts of Catholic ministry.
  3. Graduates will be able to analyze specific challenges in the contexts of Catholic ministry using philosophy and other relevant knowledge.
Philosophy of Religion3
Philosophy of Human Nature3
Ancient Greek Philosophy 3
Medieval Philosophy 3
Modern Philosophy3
Contemporary Philosophy3
Special Ethics/Social Analysis 9
Capstone Preparation2
Capstone Project3
Total Credits38

Satisfied by historical survey courses or courses on period figures/topics; Ancient is also satisfied by PHIL 1050 Introduction to Philosophy: Self and Reality (3 cr).

The Special Ethics/Social Analysis requirements may be satisfied by appropriate courses in other disciplines.

Pre-Divinity Courses in Theology (Jesuits)

Jesuit post-baccalaureate students are expected to complete, in addition to their philosophy requirements, 6-8 graduate-level theology courses, in areas approved by the Jesuit Conference and United States Provincials. The theology requirements are normally satisfied by graduate courses offered by the Department of Theological Studies or by the Aquinas Institute of Theology. Six of these courses should be selected with a view toward their counting toward a future Master of Divinity degree offered by a Jesuit Theology Center. Students consult with the dean to identify appropriate courses.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a minimum 2.00 grade point average (GPA).

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
CORE 1700 Ultimate Questions: Philosophy 3
PHIL 2050 Ethics (Students may substitute courses with appropriate content) 3
PHIL 3250 Philosophy of Religion (Students may substitute courses with appropriate content) 3
Ancient Philosophy (if needed) Normally satisfied by PHIL 4400, but other courses with appropriate content may also qualify 3
PLJ 4900 Integration Seminar 1
Social Analysis/Special Ethics 3
Year Two
Medieval Philosophy (Normally satisfied by PHIL 4500, but other courses in medieval thinkers/topics may also qualify) 3
Philosophy of Human Nature (if needed). (Normally satisfied by PHIL 3300, but other courses with appropriate content may also qualify) 3
Epistemology (Satisfied by multiple offerings, including PHIL 3600 and philosophy of science courses) 3
Modern Philosophy (Normally satisfied by PHIL 4600, but other courses in modern thinkers/topics may also qualify) 3
Social Analysis/Special Ethics 3
Year Three
Contemporary Philosophy 3
Social Analysis/Special Ethics 3
Capstone Preparation 2
PLJ 4960 Capstone Project 3
 Total Credits42

Program Notes

General Program Note

The certificate is normally pursued concurrently with graduate coursework in another area. Jesuit students are also expected to complete six to eight credits in graduate theology.

Introduction to Philosophy

CORE 1700 Ultimate Questions: Philosophy (3 cr) or its equivalent is a prerequisite for the program. Students who enter the certificate program with some previous exposure to philosophy normally move directly to a 3000-level course, such as PHIL 3250 Philosophy of Religion (3 cr).

Approval for Course Substitutions

The determination of appropriate content for course substitutions is made by the dean of the College of Philosophy and Letters.

Integrative Seminars

These courses are required of Jesuit students only.

Social Analysis/Special Ethics Course Requirements

Courses taken to satisfy requirements for other degrees the student is pursuing at SLU may simultaneously satisfy the social analysis/special ethics requirement with the dean’s approval. To the extent possible, students should select courses that focus on areas of contextual analysis that are relevant to their envisioned capstone project. Social analysis courses include courses in social-political philosophy or courses in other disciplines, so long as course content is largely dedicated to understanding aspects of contemporary life, society or culture relevant to the context of ministry for the student’s capstone. Special ethics courses are satisfied by:

PHIL 3360Medical Ethics3
PHIL 3380Business Ethics3
PHIL 3400Ethics & Engineering3
PHIL 3050XComputer Ethics3
PHIL 3420Environmental and Ecological Ethics3
PHIL 3430Philosophy of Law3

Contemporary Philosophy Requirement

Satisfied by philosophy offerings that treat thinkers from the late 19th to the 21st century or contemporary treatments of philosophical topics (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, contemporary ethics, etc.). Special ethics courses do not satisfy this requirement.