St. Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology

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The St. Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology is a three-year, distance-education-based, certificate program sponsored by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Under the Antiochian House of Studies, the non-accredited course is aimed at introducing laiety and clergy alike to the richness of Orthodox theology through rigorous and extensive readings, practical ministry projects. Students also receive in-person instruction during a one-week summer residency.

Targeted students

  • Anyone interested in studying Orthodox theology but unable to attend an Orthodox seminary.
  • Clergy converting to Orthodoxy within the Antiochian Archdiocese and intending to petition for ordination, who have received a Masters of Divinity degree from a non-Orthodox seminary.
  • Those seeking advanced training in Christian Education or Youth Ministry.
  • Those who are permitted by their bishops to prepare for the ministry of the diaconate through means of this course.


Directed readings

Each year of the program consists of two semesters, during each of which the student completes significant directing readings in the subjects of scripture, doctrine, Church history, liturgy, and practical theology. Each course is designed and mentored by a recognized Orthodox educator or theologian. Auxiliary support is provided by local clergy.

Examinations take the form of substantial written essays. Five to ten such essays are completed at the end of each semester.

Directed projects

In addition, for each year of the program the student must complete a major project. The project is mentored and must conform to requirements set forth in the syllabus, but the topic is left to the discretion of the student. Some suggested projects include:

  • A year-long adult education class, focusing on the weekly Gospel lessons.
  • Development of educational materials for use in the church school program--pamphlets, videos, books, etc.
  • A written document for publication that focuses on Orthodoxy and adds to the knowledge base of the faith.

Residency program

To fulfill the requirements for the certificate and master's programs, students must also complete three consecutive units of the Antiochian House of Studies residency program--one for each year of the St. Stephen's Course.

Each unit of the residency program consists of one week of intense instruction at the Heritage and Learning Center at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA. Each day of the program is packed with instructional lectures by leading Orthodox figures. Morning and evening services are celebrated each day. The schedule is quite rigorous, generally beginning at around 8:00 a.m. and ending around 10:00 p.m.

Accomodations at Antiochian Village are spartan but comfortable. Each room has a writing table, beds, icons, alarm clock, and bathroom. There are no televisions.

Meals are quite good and Antiochian Village boasts a tremendous library.


Applications to the program must be submitted by August 1 of each year. The first unit begins in October and exams are mailed in January. The second unit begins in March and exams are mailed in June.


As of the 2009-10 term, tuition is $450 per semester.

External link