The University awards the following degrees after examination and/or assessment of the candidate. All degrees are religious in nature and are designed to prepare students for religious vocations as ministers, professionals, or laypersons in the categories of ministry, counseling, theology, education, administration, music, fine arts, media communications, or social work. The University does not award secular degrees.
Links are provided to specific syllabuses and rubrics where applicable. Where no link is provided, the degree can be earned via learning contract or via dissertation, both of which methodologies are explained below.
As well as earned degrees, the University awards honorary degrees which are discussed below.
All degree titles awarded are regulated in accordance with Section 1005.06(1)(f), Florida Statutes. The word “pontifical”, which means “pertaining to a bishop”, is a religious modifier in accordance with the said Statutes and refers to the fact that the University is under episcopal governance. Where appropriate, the religious modifier may also be applied on a discretionary basis to degree titles where it is not obligatory by statute, for example Pontifical Doctor of Theology. It is listed below only for those degree titles where it is a statutory requirement.
- Certificate of Higher Education in Theology (Cert.H.E.(Th.)) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Western Orthodox Academy pathway
- Certificate of Higher Education in Public Worship (Cert.H.E.(P.W.)) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Epiphany Guild pathway
- Associate of Ministry (A.Min.)
- Associate of Ministry in Public Worship (A.Min.(P.W.)) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Epiphany Guild pathway
- Associate of Theology (A.Th.) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Western Orthodox Academy pathway
- Associate of Sacred Music (A.S.M.)
- Pontifical Associate of Arts (A.A.) which may be awarded in counseling, education, administration, music, fine arts, media communications or social work.
- Bachelor of Ministry (B.Min.)
- Bachelor of Ministry in Public Worship (B.Min.(P.W.)) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Epiphany Guild pathway
- Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) as a freestanding award, as offered for ordinands, or as part of the Western Orthodox Academy pathway
- Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) as a freestanding award, or as offered for ordinands
- Bachelor of Sacred Music (B.S.M.)
- Pontifical Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) which may be awarded in administration, media communications, music, or counseling, or in a combination of areas to form a Christian liberal arts programme.
- Pontifical Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)
- Pontifical Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)
- Pontifical Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.)
Research Bachelor’s degree
- Pontifical Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) which may be awarded in any of the areas of study offered by the University.
- Postgraduate Diploma in Theology (P.G.Dip.(Th.)) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Western Orthodox Academy pathway
- Postgraduate Diploma in Public Worship (P.G.Dip.(P.W.)) as a freestanding award, or as part of the Epiphany Guild pathway
- Master of Ministry (M.Min.)
- Master of Theology (M.Th.)
- Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.) in composition or performance
- Pontifical Master of Education (M.Ed.)
- Pontifical Master of Arts (M.A.) in administration, counseling or media communications, or in a combination of areas to form a Christian liberal arts programme.
- Pontifical Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
- Pontifical Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)
Research Master’s degree
- Pontifical Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) which may be awarded in any of the areas of study offered by the University.
Honorary Master’s degree
- Master of Christian Arts (M.C.A.) which may be awarded under Regulation 4.8 for existing graduates
Professional Doctorate degrees
- Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
- Doctor of Sacred Music (D.S.M.) in composition or performance
- Pontifical Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
- Pontifical Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
- Pontifical Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.)
- Pontifical Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)
Research Doctorate degrees
- Pontifical Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) by research or by published work which may be awarded in any of the areas of study offered by the University. The degree of Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) may be substituted where the research submission is in that area.
- Pontifical Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) by published work which may be awarded in any of the areas of study offered by the University.
- Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) by published work or under Regulation 4.7
Honorary Doctorate degree
- Doctor Christianissimus (D.C.)
While the degrees of the University are free-standing, there are also pathways that allow a candidate to progress from an initial postsecondary level to the graduate level through a series of staged awards. These pathways are offered in Public Worship (with majors in Research, Spoken Word and Music) (the Epiphany Guild pathway) and in Theology (the Western Orthodox Academy pathway). The pathways are not the only routes to the awards in question, but they may be helpful to candidates who do not wish to commit to a full degree programme at this stage, or who would like the progressive stages of their degree programme to terminate with a specific award as recognition of that achievement.
Degree programme general requirements and durations
The associate’s degree represents a minimum of sixty semester credit hours and occupies a minimum of two years of full-time study or part-time equivalent. The bachelor’s degree represents a minimum of 120 semester credit hours (60 credits above the associate’s degree) and occupies a minimum of four years of full-time study (two years above the associate’s degree) or part-time equivalent. At the graduate level, where a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is required for entry, the master’s degree occupies a minimum of a further thirty semester credit hours and can be completed in between one and two years of full-time study or part-time equivalent. Doctoral programmes are either designated as professional doctorates (Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Sacred Music) or as research doctorates (Pontifical Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Divinity). The former require a minimum of 60 semester credit hours above the bachelor’s level and the latter a minimum of 120 semester credit hours.
Individualized, mentored study
including information about learning contracts, the structure and design of programmes, and applying prior formal and informal learning for degree credit.
Programmes by Dissertation
The dissertation or thesis option allows for a master’s or doctoral degree to be completed on the sole basis of the submission of a piece of substantial written work that incorporates the results of an independent investigation of a given topic. At master’s level, this work may be either original or the result of a systematic and critical exposition of existing knowledge. At doctoral level, this work must show significant originality. Full guidance is given as to the expected format and structure of the dissertation.
The degrees of Pontifical Bachelor of Philosophy, Pontifical Master of Philosophy and Pontifical Doctor of Philosophy, are generally earned entirely by dissertation. The University also offers the option of a conversion bachelor’s degree by dissertation for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field.
A further option for the highly experienced candidate, or those who are transferring in significant prior learning credit, is to use APEL as a means to reduce the dissertation requirement.
Programmes for Ordinands
The University’s Bachelor of Theology/Bachelor of Divinity is intended primarily for seminarians, although members of the public are also able to participate. The degree of Doctor of Ministry is offered to serving clergy of any Christian denomination.
Doctorates by Published Work
The published work route to a doctorate is currently offered by many universities, but is generally restricted to university staff, or in some cases to existing alumni. At the University this route is open to all candidates meeting the academic prerequisites, and can include subject areas that are not otherwise offered by the University. The award will be available to those who have published substantial work representing an original and significant contribution to their discipline, usually in the form of books and scholarly articles that have been made available to the public in a recognized format. Interdisciplinary work can also be considered. Submission is made via a portfolio of this work together with an accompanying paper that places the work in its context.
The Pontifical Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Theology degrees areavailable via this route, as is the Doctor of Sacred Music. Also available is the higher doctorate of Doctor of Divinity. The higher doctorate is an earned rather than an honorary award and represents a standard significantly beyond the ordinary doctorate.
Degrees awarded other than by assessment
Since its inception, the University has not only awarded degrees following assessment of work but has also bestowed degrees honoris causa or jure dignitatis, either on an honorary basis or as a result of the senior status of the graduate. The University can also incorporate a degree awarded by another university by awarding its own degree ad eundem, usually a privilege reserved for graduates or Fellows. All of these awards are officially classified as honorary degrees.
Degrees honoris causa are awarded to individuals of achievement who have established themselves as leaders in their field and to persons who have rendered particular assistance to the University. Those who have the ability to render advisory service to the University may be considered for the award of Fellow of the University (F.W.O.U.)
The University’s highest honorary award is the degree of Doctor Christianissimus (D.C.). This degree has been awarded by the Western Orthodox University since its inception, but has its origin in its parent body the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, in which it is attached to the Order of the Crown of Thorns.
At the University, the degree of Master of Christian Arts is a degree awarded jure dignitatis that signifies the senior status of an existing graduate. A graduate of good character and proven achievement holding any bachelor’s degree of the University may, after a period of three years have elapsed, petition the University for the grant of the degree of Master of Christian Arts jure dignitatis for which a nominal fee is payable. The degree of Master of Christian Arts may also be conferred upon Fellows or other persons with a connexion with the University jure dignitatis. It is not conferred on completion of an examined course of study and is classified as an honorary degree.
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