Ecclesiastical Faculties

Academic Collaborations

What are Ecclesiastical Academic Collaborations?

An ecclesiastical academic collaboration is a form of ecclesial service undertaken by an ecclesiastical Faculty/University by which it commits to the guidance and supervision of other ecclesiastical Institutes of Higher Learning within the same region. This entails promoting and ensuring suitable academic standards for the conduct of specific canonical degree programs, which enables it to grant to the graduates of these Institutes the corresponding canonical degrees. There are three types of academic collaboration:

  • Affiliation – for the Baccalaureate degree
  • Aggregation – for the Baccalaureate and Licentiate degrees
  • Incorporation – for the Licentiate and/or Doctorate degrees

Each academic collaboration is juridically established by a formal decree from the Congregation of Catholic Education after a very thorough process of ascertaining that the minimum academic standards for granting the degrees are all in place.  With this decree, a commitment is established between the Faculty and the Institute, which means that the Faculty assumes “full responsibility for maintaining the academic level, vouching that the Institute is suited to attain its goals” (Congregation for Catholic Education, Quality Culture: A Handbook for Ecclesiastical Faculties, 195) This relationship is subject to review and renewal every five years to ensure that current conditions and standards are maintained if not improved.  

As such, a juridically established academic collaboration enables an ecclesiastical Institute of Higher Education to grant, through an ecclesiastical Faculty or University, an academic degree canonically recognized by the Catholic Church. The Faculty or University in turn commits to safeguard and maintain the academic standards of the Institute and mentor its continued growth, as part of its service and educational leadership in the wider Catholic Church.

Academic collaborations is particularly important in Institutes involved with the theological training of future priests. As the Apostolic Constitution says, “it is highly desirable that theological study centres, whether diocesan or religious, be affiliated to a Faculty of Theology” (Veritatis Gaudium, Art. 63 § 2).  Such affiliation aims to ensure a solid foundation in the sacred sciences to adequately equip future shepherds in their exercise of ministry.  

Academic Collaborations are governed by the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium and by the Instructions approved by Pope Francis on 1 December 2020 and promulgated by the Congregation for Catholic Education on 8 December 2020. 

Instruction on the Affiliation of Institutes of Higher Studies (link)

Instruction on the Aggregation of Institutes of Higher Studies (link)

Important Links

Congregation for Catholic Education:
University of Santo Tomas:
UST Miguel de Benavides Library:
UST MyUSTE Student Portal:


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