The programme for a licentiate's degree is equivalent to a total of two years of full-time study after receiving a college degree and the Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree [S.T.B.] (SC 72b). Students may pursue the license as either a transitional or a terminal degree. As a transitional degree, the S.T.L. program introduces students to a more scientific study of theology in pursuing Doctoral studies. The program develops research skills and treats theological questions in greater depth. As a terminal degree, the license prepares students to be teachers and resource persons. A graduate of the S.T.L. program is prepared to teach theology in a college, seminary, or university, to function as a chaplain to various professional groups, and to act as a theological resource for a diocese and diocesan agencies. A person who has a doctoral position normally teaches on the undergraduate programmes, equivalent to a maximum of 20% of the working time. It then ought to be possible for a licentiate's degree to be taken within 2.5 years. In several European countries, the master level degree is referred to as a license - from its original meaning as a "license to incept", i.e., that is, permission from the local bishop to actually take the degree of master or doctor, an event which took place through the ceremony of inception.
The usual prerequisites to become a Licentiate of Sacred Theology are that a candidate must have the Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.B.) or its relative equivalent, thus, e.g., a master of divinity degree (M.Div.) from a Catholic graduate school of theology. In addition, it is understood that a candidate has completed at least the rough equivalent of a bachelor's degree in primarily scholastic philosophy (B.A.). In order for a candidate to receive a license in sacred theology, he or she must engage in a two-year program of theological studies and propose an original thesis which contributes to the understanding of sacred theology.
The license in sacred theology is required for a person to teach sacred theology in a pontifical university (SC 17) or major seminary (SC 50.1). The license is also the prerequisite to the doctorate (S.T.D.) in the same field (SC 49.2).
Notable faculties which offer the degree Licentiate of Sacred Theology include: The Catholic University of Louvain; the Pontifical University of Salamanca; the Catholic University of America; the University of Fribourg, Switzerland; the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum); the Pontifical Gregorian University (Gregorianum); the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce); the Pontifical Urban University (Urbanianum); Regis College, University of Toronto; and, the Pontifical Lateran University (Lateranum).
The Licentiate of Sacred Scripture is a similar degree in the field of biblical studies.