Master of Tribunal Studies in Canon Law (M.Tr.S.) – online program


This degree is designed for already practicing volunteer or credentialed chancery and tribunal personnel (lay, religious, ordained, or civil lawyers) who wish to foster self-improvement and motivation in the pursuit of canonical education as an end in itself or in preparation for doctoral studies.  With its specialized focus on tribunal agenda found in the Code of Canon Law and the practice of the Roman Rota, the M.Tr.S. is ideally suited to the formation and practice of the Assessor (canon 1424), the Auditor (canon 1428), the Advocate (canons 1483,1490), the Notary (canons 483,1567,1568), and other Formal Trial officials, although this training is never a promise of employment.  Graduate-level work involves an understanding of doctrine and the formation of skills needed for the various tribunal departments, and preparation for the Master of Tribunal Studies thesis.
This academic degree is a 30 credit program that may be completed in no less than eighteen months and no more than three years.
  • 18 credits (6 courses)
  • 6 credits (Practicum)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
(Note: Because the M.Tr.S. requires a thesis rather than a project, it is considered an academic rather than a professional degree.)

Would you like to be put in touch with a member of the Canon Law faculty? Click here

Admission Requirements
  1. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
  2. Five years of professional experience, salaried or volunteer, in tribunal-related work for the diocese verified by a chancery letter.
  3. Completion of the application process. 

Program Requirements

  1. Completion of six Units of Study (18 graduate credits). Four Units of Study must be taken from the Tribunal Studies Curriculum, plus the Research Methodology course, and one elective from either the TheologyBiblical Studies or the Pastoral Care and Counseling Psychology E-Tutorial Roster.
  2. Participation in the five-day residential Case-Based Tribunal Studies Practicum (6 graduate credits).
  3. Completion of a 30,000 to 35,000 word thesis written under supervision by a faculty member of the Graduate Theological Foundation (6 graduate credits). 

Total Program Cost:  $16,200

Degree candidates are bound by the regulations of the Student Handbook of the year in which they are accepted into their program of study. Tuition fees will not change during a student’s course of study, providing the student submits payments and papers on schedule and completes the degree program within the prescribed time. If the student does not conform to scheduled payment and/or paper submission deadlines, the student’s file will be deactivated. Upon reactivation, the student will be responsible for the tuition and degree requirements which are current at the time of reactivation.
Tuition payment schedule
  • Activation fee due within 30 days of acceptance
  • $1,200 due at time of registration for each course
  • Completion fee due upon submission of thesis
Payment Plan Option
Students who are unable to make the initial activation fee may break that initial payment into 3 equal installments.  If a student requests a mailed invoice as a reminder to make payment, there is a ten dollar fee per invoice.
To make tuition and fee payments online click here. 
If you have a question for the Bursar please contact our office.
Tribunal Studies Practicum
            The Practicum is based on case studies and is a five-day residential experience. The student will participate with five to ten other students (when enrollment exists) or the student will engage one-on-one with a Tribunal Studies faculty person in a tutorial format for the five days. The venue is Chicago and recommendations for accommodations are provided. There is no fee for this Practicum but the student is responsible for room and board costs. Hosted by Tribunal Studies faculty, the dates are arranged for the convenience of both students and faculty.
Selection of Faculty Thesis Supervisor and Nomination Procedure
Fr. John Mulvihill, (Profile), Gratian Professor of Canon Law, will serve as thesis supervisor to students in the M.Tr.S. degree program.  This enables the student to receive helpful and pragmatic evaluative feedback from a member of the faculty in the developmental process of producing the master’s thesis. The role of the Thesis Supervisor is responsive and suggestive. The faculty person is encouraged to limit feedback to pragmatically helpful hints and suggestions and not to attempt any censorship of the thesis. The exercise of discretion with respect to time demands is very important for both the student and faculty member. The Thesis Supervisor must give final approval of the student’s work by submitting the Thesis Supervisor Report Form.
  • The student will work with Father John Mulvihill (Profile), Gratian Professor of Canon Law, as thesis supervisor.
  • When the student is ready to begin the writing of the doctoral thesis, the student completes the online Faculty Thesis Supervisor Nomination form, nominating Fr. John Mulvihill to serve in that capacity.
  • Academic Affairs informs the student and faculty member of relationship approval and contact information is provided. 

Master’s Thesis

After completing all coursework for the Master of Tribunal Studies (M.Tr.S.), a candidate undertakes the writing of a master’s thesis of 30,000-35,000 words in the field of canon law which is clearly a work of applied scholarship making a contribution to tribunal studies. The master’s thesis must include a table of contents and bibliography of a minimum 20 sources, with annotations for the 10-12 key sources. The thesis must be written in 12 point Times New Roman (or comparable) font, double-spaced and with the appropriate table of contents and bibliography. 

The thesis is shaped as a written work of case-based applied research with a demonstrated familiarity with the appropriate scholarly and professional literature. It should be noted that the written form of the thesis is to be in the style of an actual scholarly paper which may be considered suitable for publication.  When the thesis in its final form has been reviewed and approved by the student’s Thesis Supervisor, it must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar for final review.  Click here to fill out the form to request the email address of the Office of the Registrar. 

Professional Associations in Canon Law
  • Canon Law Society of America
  • Canon Law Society of Canada
  • Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Canon Law Society of India
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