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Educational Requirements and Seminary

Educational Requirements  |  Education Requirements: FAQs  |  Seminary  |  Seminary: FAQs

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for priesthood ordination are as follows:

  • Four-year undergraduate degree in any field of study.
  • Two-year Pre-Theology Program - Thirty (30) credit hours in selected areas of philosophy and twelve (12) credit hours in selected areas of theology.
  • Four-year Master of Divinity degree from a Catholic seminary.

Generally speaking, it takes 6 years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree to complete the educational requirements for priesthood ordination.  For men without a bachelor’s degree, a special program exists.  For men over age 30, a shorter program may apply.


Educational Requirements: FAQs

Q. I am 35 years old and I haven’t completed my bachelor’s degree.  How many years of study would be required to become a priest?
A. Depending on your educational background, you could spend from 5-7 years preparing for ordination.

Q.What is the “Pastoral Year” all about?
A. A pastoral year is not required in the Diocese of Albany but the pastoral year program is available to those seminarians who wish to participate in it.  Generally, a seminarian begins the pastoral year after completing the 2nd year of theological study.  The seminarian is placed in a parish within the diocese for a full calendar year to experience the life of a priest.  During the pastoral year, the seminarian immerses himself in all aspects of parish life.

Q. What would I do in the summers between semesters of study?
A. Seminarians are assigned to different parishes within the diocese during the summers of their seminary training.  These summer assignments help them experience parish life, rectory living and priestly work.

Q. If I am in college and I’m thinking of entering the seminary in the future, are there courses that would be wise for me to take while still in college?
A. Yes!  If you have some electives in your course curriculum, consider taking some philosophy courses.  But don’t take just any philosophy offering because some philosophy courses would not meet the requirements of the pre-theology program.  Contact Fr. Anthony F. Ligato to determine which courses would satisfy the pre-theology requirements should you decide to apply as a seminarian.

Q. Do I have to be an “A” student to enter the seminary?
A. No.  A seminarian should be an average or above average student.  A priest need not be a Rhodes Scholar but must have the ability to pass the courses the seminary requires in order to serve the people entrusted to him.

Other questions? Email: Fr. Anthony F. Ligato



The seminary is where a young man “discerns” whether or not he is called by God to be a priest.  The seminary experience includes four components: academic, spiritual, human and pastoral.

The Diocese of Albany does not operate its own seminary.  Therefore, men studying for the priesthood from Albany are sent to various seminaries outside the diocese.  Presently the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has men in Formation at Cathedral Seminary (College Seminary and Pre-Theology program) Douglaston, New York; St. Joseph’s Dunwoodie Yonkers, New York; St. Mary’s Seminary and University Baltimore, Maryland; St. Mary’s of the Lake (Mundelein) Chicago, Illinois; Pontifical North American College Rome; Pope St. John XXIII (Second career vocations age 34 and up) (Weston) Boston, Massachusetts;


Seminary: FAQs

Q. Can I afford to go to the Seminary?
A. Once a man is accepted as a candidate for priesthood (seminarian), the room, board and tuition costs associated with the seminary are paid for by the diocese.  Additionally, the diocese covers the seminarian’s health insurance and assists with the cost of books. The seminarian is responsible for his personal expenditures (e.g. the cost of operating and maintaining an automobile, clothes, gifts, etc.)  A modest stipend is given to seminarians on a monthly basis to defer some of their expenses.

The candidate is responsible for the cost of his undergraduate education.  Assistance with educational debt can be discussed on an individual basis.

Q. Where would I go to complete “pre-theology?”
A. Priesthood candidates complete the two-year pre-theology program at the St. Isaac Jogues House of Discernment, located within the Albany Diocese. Academic studies are completed at Siena College in Loudonville. In addition to their academic responsibilities, residents of St. Isaac Jogues House have a communal prayer life, parish assignment and are encouraged to participate in various programs throughout the diocese.

Q. What types of courses would a seminarian take during pre-theology?
A. The program for Priestly Formation requires 30 credit hours of philosophy come from the areas of logic, epistemology, metaphysics, anthropology, ethics and history. The 12 credit hours of theology come from the areas of scripture, liturgy, sacraments and moral theology.

Q. What types of courses would a seminarian study during his four years in a seminary?
A. A typical course summary would include: biblical studies (17 credits), systematic theology (20 credits), moral theology (8 credits), spiritual theology (5 credits), historical studies (8 credits), pastoral studies (22 credits), word and worship (19 credits) and various electives (11 credits).

Q. If I decide to enter a seminary, am I committed for life?
A. No!  The decision to enter a seminary is a decision to further discern a possible call to the priesthood.  In fact, the only way to really know that you have a vocation to the priesthood is to go to the seminary and try.  It will become more and more clear once you are in an environment where every man is trying to discern the same question.   Should a man decide he is not called by God to be a priest while in the seminary, he is free to leave without financial obligation to the diocese.

Q. Why is the preparation period to become a priest so long?
A. There are two reasons for this.  First, the people of our diocese deserve to have well-trained, healthy and knowledgeable priests.  Second, it takes time to discern God’s call to the priesthood.  The seminary environment is conducive to listening to the stirrings deep within the heart.  A man called by God to the priesthood will experience a growing sense of peace, contentment and confidence as he progresses through the seminary.

Q. What is a typical day in the seminary like?
A. Read about a typical day.

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