The Western Orthodox University: Programmes

Degrees awarded

The University prepares students for the following degrees which are conferred after examination and/or assessment of the candidate. The awarding body for all degrees is European-American University (Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara, Republic of Panama), of which the Western Orthodox University is a specialist division.

Information about the legal status and accreditation of European-American University can be obtained here. European-American University’s degrees are mapped to the levels established by UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) (2011 edition) for easy comparability across different educational systems. All degrees are issued under the authority of European-American University’s Royal Charter of Incorporation in the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (one of the subnational kingdoms of the Republic of Uganda) and the University’s incorporation as an international private university in the Republic of Panama. They are not United States, United Kingdom or European Union degrees.

Degrees are listed in ascending order of rank within the University.


Associate of Arts (A.A.)
Associate of Ministry (A.Min.)
Associate of Theology (A.Th.)
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.)
Bachelor of Ministry (B.Min.)
Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.)
Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.)


Master of Arts (M.A.)
Master of Music (M.Mus.)
Master of Ministry (M.Min.)
Master of Theology (M.Th.)
Doctor of Humanities (D.Hum.)
Doctor of Music (D.Mus.)
Doctor of Canon Law (D.Can.L.)
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)
Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.)
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)

Degrees in Ministry may be awarded in three majors: Research, Lay Readership, or Church Music.

Programme information

The programmes are designed to be fully non-residential and are undertaken by mentored study delivered nontraditionally, principally via correspondence-based distance learning.

The programme requirements are determined individually, with each candidate subjected to a thorough preliminary assessment concerning their past formal and informal learning experiences and identifying any credit that may be applicable towards their chosen degree. Following the results of this assessment, the student works with their mentor to establish a learning contract that is then submitted for University approval.

The learning contract sets out the route to completing the requirements for their degree, identifying the work that will be undertaken during the programme and the appropriate method by which the resulting learning experiences will be assessed. The flexibility of the University’s programme structure can incorporate both highly traditional dissertation and coursework-based studies and also more practically-based approaches, including the preparation of an assessed portfolio of experiential learning. Some programmes involve the assessment of work as a minister, lay reader or church musician. These assessments are either undertaken in person (where an examiner is available) or by submission of a video recording.

The Bachelor of Theology degree for ordinands

For ordinands in the Catholicate of the West, the minimum standard required for ordination to the diaconate is the Bachelor of Theology or an equivalent degree. Unlike other students, ordinands must satisfy a set of specific competencies set by the Catholicate in the course of their degree program. These requirements are usually fulfilled by essay-based assignments, but in some cases students may, with mentor agreement, challenge them through other academic methodologies.

Once the two matrices have been completed, most students will then fulfil the remainder of their degree requirements by undertaking either a dissertation or equivalent extended project. However, some candidates may alternatively opt to offer New Testament Greek, in which case successful completion will lead to the degree of Bachelor of Divinity rather than Bachelor of Theology.

Prescribed requirements – First Matrix

The student selects eighteen assignments, so that at least two are chosen from each block, with the remaining four being freely chosen from the remaining topics.

Block 1 Block 2 Block 3
Genesis 1-11 The Pauline Epistles History of the Celtic Church before 1066
Pentateuch The Epistle to the Hebrews History of the Church up to the Council of Chalcedon in 451AD
Psalms The Acts of the Apostles The Reformation
Prophecy during the pre-exilic period The Book of Revelation The Oxford Movement
Prophecy during and after the period of exile The Synoptic Gospels The Thirty-Nine Articles
Block 4 Block 5 Block 6 Block 7
The Holy Trinity Healing Ministry Liturgy Homiletics
The Incarnation and the Atonement Pastoral Theology Funeral Ministry The Nature of Ministry
The Gifts of the Spirit Prophecy in the Modern Age Pastoral Counselling Christian sexual morality
The Creeds Anglican Realignment Hymnology The Sacraments
The Nature of Sin Youth Ministry History of Church Music Ecumenism

Prescribed requirements – Second Matrix

The learner selects eighteen assignments, so that at least one is chosen from each block, with the remaining ten being freely chosen from the remaining topics. Subjects already taken from the First Matrix may not be duplicated.

Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4
Genesis 1-11 The Pauline Epistles History of the Celtic Church before 1066 The Holy Trinity
Pentateuch The Epistle to the Hebrews History of the Church up to the Council of Chalcedon in 451AD The Incarnation and the Atonement
Psalms The Acts of the Apostles The Reformation The Gifts of the Spirit
Prophecy during the pre-exilic period The Book of Revelation The Oxford Movement The Creeds
Prophecy during and after the period of exile The Synoptic Gospels Theodicy The Nature of Sin
Block 5 Block 6 Block 7 Block 8
Healing Ministry Liturgy Augustine History of
the Papacy in the twentieth-century
Pastoral Theology Funeral Ministry The Nature of Ministry Outline of a particular monastic
Prophecy in the Modern Age Pastoral Counselling Christian sexual morality Non-Conformism
Soteriology Hymnology The Sacraments The Holy Spirit
Determinism and Free Will History of Church Music Ecumenism Aquinas

Individualized, mentored study

The University is designed primarily to meet the needs of mature, working adults (typically aged over 25) desiring to pursue ordination or lay ministry in the Catholicate of the West, or for existing clergy or lay members of the Catholicate desiring further training in theology or ministry according to the principles and teachings of the Church. Others, such as members of the San Luigi Orders, may be admitted by special arrangement.

In the first instance, these are students for whom a fully residential educational experience is not possible or desirable. The use of mentored learning in a one-to-one setting is the preserve of the oldest and most exclusive universities today, and is at the heart of the University’s learning provision. The University approaches this traditional way to learn in a flexible and student-centered manner so as to maximize the opportunities available.

Where practicable, there is no restriction on students at the University meeting in-person with their mentors, but in the majority of cases, telephone and email or Skype communication will substitute. During mentored sessions, usually via a weekly meeting, telephone call or email, the mentor will assess and discuss the student’s reading and written or assessed work, direct their further reading and study, suggest any outside resources that might be beneficially brought into the programme, and generally guide the student so that they understand and can meet the University’s requirements for their chosen program.

At the graduate level, students can either pursue a traditional dissertation-based program or effectively design their own modular programme subject to University approval. This is a highly rewarding but undeniably demanding way to study and is suitable only for students with considerable motivation and organizational skills. Although the mentor system offers plenty of support and guidance, it is not in any sense a “spoon-feeding” experience and prospective students should satisfy themselves before enrolling that they are prepared for the challenges involved.

It is also possible for external mentors to be brought into the University’s programme, subject to University approval in each case. This enables a greater breadth of expertise to be drawn upon and even the assessment of subjects in which the University does not currently appoint mentors of its own. The external mentors, usually serving or emeritus faculty at another institution, are contracted by the student to assess the work concerned and the University then convenes a moderation panel to consider the outcome. At all points the student will have a University mentor appointed for support and academic liaison.

The learning contract

The University’s programme structure is deliberately flexible so as to allow the student a high degree of autonomy and the means to create a largely bespoke program structured around specific interests and needs. The heart of the student’s programme at the University is the learning contract. When making application, the student will be asked to outline clearly the route that they intend to take towards the goal of their chosen degree; the studies they intend to undertake and the means by which they intend to demonstrate their learning. This may be a programme of systematic enquiry or research leading to the completion of a dissertation, or a series of essays and extended written assignments that explore a number of related areas within a given field. In some cases, such as programmes in ministry, church music or for lay readers, the assessment may take a form other than written work.

It is usual for the learning contract to take some time to prepare and this is often the subject of lengthy discussion between the student, the mentor and the University, which must approve all learning contracts as well as any changes to a learning contract that may become necessary while the student is mid-program. The question of the availability of learning resources is often of importance, and the student is encouraged to explore widely to find the best materials to bring to their studies. The University can supply students with letters of credence to allow them to access reference collections where needed, and mentors are also a key resource in this aspect.

Although mentors are usually able to guide students as to what amount and level of work is necessary to reach a given set of assessment criteria to earn the degree that is sought, the University has model frameworks available in the most common subjects which can be used as templates for program structure where needed. It is also possible to map a program to frameworks provided by other educational institutions and thus effectively for the student to “challenge” some components of the framework by demonstrating equivalent learning in their own chosen way.

Beginning and ending a programme

There are no formal start or end dates and it is possible to begin a program at any time of the year.

A student graduates at any time of the year when they are notified by the University that they have completed the requirements of their programme to a satisfactory level. The diploma and other graduation documents are sent by postal mail.

The University’s diploma is accompanied by a European-style Diploma Supplement that acts in place of a traditional transcript and puts the award into context. The University does not award grades or credits to the student, although mentors are free to use grades in assessing work if this is considered helpful.

The University holds convocation ceremonies from time to time at which graduates may opt to receive their degrees formally from the officers of the University wearing the traditional academic dress of cap and gown. Past ceremonies have been held in Togo, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Mode of assessment

It is not usual for a distance learning programme to include formal examinations and thus the assessment of written work, portfolio, or other scholarly material is the sole basis for the award. At the doctoral level there is no requirement for an oral defense of the dissertation.

External learning resources and prior learning (APL, APEL)

It is possible to bring multiple external resources into the programme for credit. The most obvious way that this is done is through the assessment of prior certificated learning (APL) and the assessment of prior experiential learning (APEL) which considers previous formal and informal learning respectively that has a bearing on the degree award that is desired. The University has many years of experience in this area, including among its mentors several experts who have been professionally engaged in experiential assessment as part of national immigration processes. In addition, it is possible to take courses at other providers and accumulate these for credit towards a University award; the University has awarded degrees on the basis of the accumulation of credits since its foundation. One popular option is the “top-up award” where an existing professional certificate or diploma can be converted to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree by the completion of a dissertation or professional project. Another situation sometimes encountered is the “all but dissertation” or ABD candidate for the Doctor of Theology or Doctor of Ministry degrees who has already completed the coursework component of their degree and now needs to undertake the dissertation at another institution in order to graduate.

Programs by Dissertation

At the University, the dissertation or thesis option allows for a master’s or doctoral degree, and occasionally a bachelor’s degree, to be completed on the sole basis of the submission of a piece of substantial written work that incorporates the results of an independent investigation of a given topic. At master’s level, this work may be either original or the result of a systematic and critical exposition of existing knowledge. At doctoral level, this work must show significant originality. Full guidance is given as to the expected format and structure of the dissertation. Degrees earned solely on the basis of a dissertation have their heritage in the European education system although there are a number of precedents within the United States as well.

The University’s degrees of Master of Theology and Doctor of Theology are usually earned entirely by dissertation. The University also offers the option of a conversion bachelor’s degree by dissertation for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field. This is usually the Bachelor of Theology but in some cases may be designated as a Bachelor of Ministry instead.

A further option for the highly experienced candidate, or those who are transferring in significant prior learning credit, is to use APEL as a means to reduce the dissertation requirement.

Doctorates by Published Work

The published work route to a doctorate is available at the University in respect of the degrees of Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Theology and Doctor of Ministry. This route will be available to those who have published substantial work representing an original and significant contribution to their discipline, usually in the form of books and scholarly articles that have been made available to the public in a recognized format. Interdisciplinary work within an overall context of religious studies can also be considered. Submission is made via a portfolio of this work together with an accompanying paper that places the work in its context.

Degrees awarded other than by assessment

Since its inception, the University has not only awarded degrees following assessment of work but has also bestowed degrees honoris causa or jure dignitatis, either on an honorary basis or as a result of the senior status of the graduate. The University can also incorporate a degree awarded by another university by awarding its own degree ad eundem, usually a privilege reserved for those of senior standing.


The University does not charge tuition or examination fees.

The student is asked to offer an honorarium as a voluntary donation directly to their mentor. This is the subject of individual arrangement between the parties concerned rather than being co-ordinated by the University. However, it is at the mentor’s discretion as to whether they wish to accept any honorarium at all, and how much it should be; this will typically be discussed at the point of enrolment when the learning contract will determine how much mentor involvement with the programme is likely to be necessary. While some programmes may require a good deal of mentor input in respect of the assessment of written work and guidance with assignments, other programmes that are reliant more heavily on APEL and project assessment may require little or none. The honorarium, as the name implies, is seen strictly as a matter of honour on the part of the diligent and appreciative student who wishes to recognize the work and service of the University’s mentors. It is a donation, not a fee.

Some students may not be in a position to pay an honorarium, and in these cases either the mentor will opt not to accept an honorarium and to donate their services voluntarily, or the University will provide a scholarship. The University’s policy is that no candidate shall be prevented from proceeding as a result of their financial position.


Admission is primarily restricted to members of the Catholicate of the West and to others associated with the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, although others may be invited to become candidates for degrees under special arrangements. There is no admission of members of the general public to programmes.

Existing clergy should address enquiries regarding admission to the Office of the Catholicos. Ordinands will be assessed regarding admission as part of the ordination process. Lay members should enquire via any member of the clergy.