Diaconate Theology Training Certificate

Request InformationCatholic Distance University is pleased to offer a Diaconate Certificate Program that is designed to assist in the intellectual formation of candidates for ordination to the Permanent Diaconate.

Many dioceses have turned to the Permanent Diaconate in response to the Church's ministry needs. To form a deacon fully, a diocese has the challenge of offering a high quality formation program that is flexible, affordable, and meets the national guidelines set forth by the USCCB.

CDU can help meet this challenge by providing the necessary theological formation for men seeking to be deacons or deacons desiring additional education. Based on the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (2009) and also informed by the Program for Priestly Formation, the CDU Diaconate Certificate Program is intended to be used by candidates for the Permanent Diaconate who are in an existing program of formation and who will be studying with the approval of their diocesan bishop and under the direction of approved formators.

Two tracks of study are offered, one at the undergraduate level and one at the graduate level. Both tracks provide the intellectual component for diaconate training as described in the National Directory.

Using the best practices in online learning, CDU offers the flexibility to take courses at any time and any place, a necessary convenience for many busy diaconate candidates. Our program is faithful to the teachings of the Church, provides a stimulating learning process, and is taught by outstanding Catholic faculty recognized as experts in their areas of study.

If you are enrolling in the Certificate Program, be aware that completion of this CDU program will not automatically entitle you to ordination to the Permanent Diaconate. It is the duty of all students to seek the approval of their bishop and diocesan program directors before beginning work on the certificate. The program is to be considered only part of the proper formation for Permanent Deacons, and all candidates should expect to receive pastoral, spiritual, and human formation in their own dioceses in conjunction with the intellectual formation offered by CDU.

CDU is also able to develop certificate programs on both the graduate and undergraduate levels that are tailored to the specific needs of individual dioceses, including the number, sequence, and content of the courses. 

Additionally, CDU is able to offer an MA in Theology for qualified candidates who wish to pursue studies beyond the certificate. There is also the option for a BA in Theology that might be suitable for many candidates. Qualified graduates from the BA program would be automatically accepted into the MA program.

If you are planning to use CDU for intellectual training for the diaconate, it is important for you to work closely with your diocese for course approval and program guidance BEFORE registering for a course. Contact Admissions at 1.888.254.4238, ext. 700 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

Undergraduate Diaconate Formation Track
The undergraduate track is designed for individuals who do not have a bachelor's degree. Courses should be taken in the following order with modifications made based on course offerings for each term. The Admissions Director works closely with you and the diocese to ensure that all course requirements are met. A certificate of completion is issued upon completion of this track.

For a description of each of these courses, please consult the online course catalog.

Course Number Course Title Credits
THEO 301 Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine 3
PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy and Logic 3
THEO 313 God, Man and the Universe 3
SCRPT 310 Reading Scripture Theologically 3
PHIL 305 Introduction to Plato and Aristotle 3
THEO 332 Jesus Christ: God, Man, and Savior 3
THEO 342 The Four Constitutions of Vatican II 3
THEO 468 Principles of Moral Theology 3
THEO 353 Sacraments: The Masterworks of God 3
CHIST 314 Church History I: Early Christians to Middle Ages 3
CHIST 324 Church History II: Renaissance to Modern Church 3
RELED 432 General Catechetics for the New Evangelization 3
SCRPT 330 Introduction to Scripture and Salvation History 3
SPIR 301 Applied Catholic Spirituality 3


Graduate Diaconate Track

The graduate track is designed for individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in any field of study. Courses should be taken in the following order with modifications based on course offerings for each term. The Admissions Director will work with you and your diocese to ensure that all course requirements are met. A certificate of completion is issued upon completion of this track.

For a description of each of these courses, please consult the online course catalog.

Course Number Course Title Credits
THEO 503 The Catholic Theological Tradition 3
PHIL 508 Philosophy for Theology 3
SCRPT 520 Pentateuch 3
SCRPT 662 The Synoptic Gospels 3
THEO 510 Revelation & Faith: Fundamental Theology 3
THEO 631 Introduction to Christology 3
THEO 641 Theology of the Church 3
THEO 551 Theology of the Sacraments 3
CHIST 562 Church History, Part I 3
CHIST 563 Church History, Part II 3
THEO 560 Fundamental Moral Theology 3
THEO 671 Introduction to Canon Law 3
THEO 580 Introduction to the Church's Social Teaching 3
SPIR 501 Applied Catholic Spirituality 3
CHIST 544 History of the Catholic Church in America 3
RELED 432 General Catechetics for the New Evangelization
(This is an undergraduate level course and credits earned are at the undergraduate level)
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-Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
Apostolic Nuncio