Higher Diploma in Pastoral Theology

This level 8 programme forms part of a person’s initial formation for ministry leadership in the Church, preparing him/her to minister effectively in a peer relationship with other pastoral ministers.

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This level 8 programme forms part of a person’s initial formation for ministry leadership in the Church, preparing him/her to minister effectively in a peer relationship with other pastoral ministers.


Application Closing Date - Non-EU 30th April 2024 - EU 30th August 2024

Students are taught to use advanced skills in professional ministry, especially leadership in public prayer, pastoral care and spiritual accompaniment, and building and strengthening community. This includes using and transforming advanced skills and tools to teach in diverse settings, provide effective catechetical and faith formation, and exercise responsible stewardship of parish personnel and resources.

This level allows students to develop a detailed knowledge of theological principles as these relate to ministry practice, and an understanding of concepts, methods, and models pertaining to ways of doing theology in practice. It enables students to develop the ability to act in variable contexts, to be flexible in response to the needs of a community, and a diversity of situations and people, to go beyond their comfort zone, and act effectively within a changing ministerial landscape.

The programme further enables students to:

  • exercise appropriate judgment in complex planning, leading groups, and managing resources;
  • take responsibility for forming a habit of reflective practice for ministry;
  • express a comprehensive, internalised, personal worldview, achieving self-awareness and critical reflection as these relate to pastoral ministry;
  • face the demands of making collaborative ministry work;
  • exercise initiative and independent thought, to interact intelligently, empathically, ethically, and professionally within their ministerial context;
  • differentiate appropriate ministerial approaches, and to formulate pastoral responses to complex situations in pastoral contexts.

This Higher Diploma follows the same academic and placement schedules as the Diploma in Pastoral Theology, and is awarded on the successful completion of one year’s full-time engagement.

Career Outcomes

Pastoral Work


Catechesis & Faith Development

Sacramental Preparation Coordination

Course Structure

Pastoral Practice 30 Credits
Prayer Leadership 7.5 Credits
Caring and Spiritual Accompaniment 5 Credits
Theology and Pastoral Ministry 7.5 Credits
Organisational Leadership in Ministry Contexts 5 Credits
Healthcare Chaplaincy: Ministry of Presence and Visitation 2.5 Credits
Educational Chaplaincy: Ministry of Catechesis and Faith Formation 2.5 Credits
Under Stream One - Pastoral Practice

Application Requirements

Admission Requirements


Candidates are required to have a recognised degree qualification where theology is at least a minor component.

Candidates with other degrees may be admitted if they have experience in pastoral ministry.

They may be required to take courses in theology to qualify for admission.

Applications are now being accepted on www.pac.ie (Code - MU520)

If you have any queries please contact admissions@spcm.ie.

PLEASE NOTE: Application forms must be completed in full, and all documentation must be provided BEFORE an application can be considered. Applicants will not be called for interview if an application is incomplete.

Candidates whose first language is not English will be required to satisfy the English language requirement.

Successful individual and group interviews are an essential part of the selection process.

If you live outside Ireland, check out our dedicated area for international students.

Let’s talk

For Undergraduate queries: email admissions@spcm.ie.

For Postgraduate queries: email pgadmissions@spcm.ie.

For The Centre for Mission & Ministries queries, email: cmmadmissions@spcm.ie.