Meister Eckhart Divinity School

An Educational Institute For Ministry, Personal Growth And Religious Degree Or Certificate Programs

Our new Program in Canon Law will be offered in 2023

The Purpose Of Canon Law

Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant and some Eastern Rite churches have a type of intact judicial system; some with an appellate level and some without. However, there are also denominations that appear to have some form of a court system, sometimes unclear how it exactly works. Finally, there are those churches without a court system. If an issue arises needing adjudication and if it is serious enough, it will be referred to the civil system. If it is internal in nature, the pastor handles it or the hierarchy who may have little knowledge on how a legal system works, because they have only their written law without an explanation or system of proper defense prosecution or an entrance of the case with prejudice.  Furthermore, some churches may or may not have assistance in adjudicating cases,  have untrained people in charge of settling and judging ecclesiastical cases involving ambiguities of their Code of Canon Law.  It may even be the case that, if the offense is serious enough and the church’s legal system is not trained in how to effectively try cases, it may escalate into possible civil action. For the churches that have a codified, intact and working Code of Canon Law, the Inter-jurisdictional Canon Lawyer can assist and work with a person by giving a second opinion or venue to retry a case. Additionally, he or she  is removed enough from the particular church as to maintain a sense of fairness and a blank slate when trying a case — without prejudice.

The purpose of the educated and degreed Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Lawyer is multifaceted when it comes to governance and actual practice as an ecclesiastical lawyer or judge.  The structure of the Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law degree gives the individual an organized format that can be used if there is an exception that is not covered in a particular denomination’s canon law but should be there (lacuna legis) and does not justify civil intervention. Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law invites any denomination to learn this structure and incorporate it into that particular denominational system based on that church’s Code of Canon Law without changing the structure of that church’s particular law.  It offers each church, through their own Canon Lawyers whose dissertations or Licentiate projects must be directed toward their church’s law; or if the church doesn’t have a codified law, a project or dissertation presenting a new manner to govern judiciously.  This system of adjudicatory process and procedures is an efficient system of judicial governance drawing from a body of Canon Lawyers without detracting from each church’s methods or ways of meeting out their own system of justice under the law. If however there is little structure in the denomination’s judicial system, Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law puts that structure in the Church’s judicial system without breaking the church’s structure or interfering with its judicial system but adds to or accentuates it. It also gives the church’s lawyers familiarity with due process of law and the proper adjudication and trying processes of cases. It offers judges for basic cases and a type of supreme court system for more complex cases as well as an appellate court to reassess cases that may need reconsideration.

The purpose of the Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Lawyer is to assist and enhance, if necessary, a church with an already established Canon Law system. The Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law is designed to assist in either the creation of or the enhancement of a system of canon law that either needs to be more clearly defined, structured or passed on judicially. It is meant to assist in the systematization and structure of a code of canon law for interdenominational purposes where there may not be a code of canon law, yet there is need for the development and implementation of a code of canon law. The Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law legal system is designed to be made available to all denominations (with the only exception being the Roman Catholic church, since their Canon Law and Court have already been well established throughout the centuries). Finally, the Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law system gives the ecclesial judiciary possible insights and innovative ways to better decide cases with a structure of checks and balances as needed.

The Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law Degree (Licentiate or Doctorate) will hopefully give the already established lawyer or denomination a disciplined structure of research methodology for the purpose of enhancing, updating or changing the Canon Law of a particular denomination to better meet the needs of the church and the faithful in a fair and just manner that is both inquisitive and reconciling.

Licentiate And Doctorate 

Of Inter-Jurisdictional Canon Law

The Meister Eckhart Divinity School

Inter-jurisdictional Canon Law Studies

Required Credits: Licentiate 60 credits

Doctorate 120 credits (included in this are the 60 credits from the Licentiate)

Congratulations on the successful completion of your first year’s studies.  Upon the successful completion of your second year’s course work, for those of you who wish to earn only the Licentiate in Canon Law (Interjurisdictional), your journey ends at the completion of this year.

This year is considered the Civil Year of Canon Law.  Because Canon Law (Church Law) must, in some areas, correspond and agree with Civil Law, you will be introduced and immersed into the areas of Civil Law applicable to Canon Law.  Since this is not a Juris Doctorate (JD) program as one would experience in Law School, upon completion you will not receive a Civil Law Degree (JD). If you wish to ascertain a Civil Law Degree please feel free to contact the Law school of your choice and present to them the course syllabus to see what classes, if any, they will accept to enter into their program. 

Upon completion of this year, you will be taking a written comprehensive examination that will cover all the modules in years one and two.  You will have two chances to pass the written examination.  Upon completion of the examination, for those stopping here at the Licentiate, you will be awarded the Licentiate in Interjurisdictional Canon Law (JCL-I) and graduate.  For those of you continuing onto the Doctorate, you will be given the choice of either receiving the JCL-I and moving onto your Doctoral year or waiting and not receive the JCL-I at this time but upon successful completion of all your work in the Doctoral program, you will then receive both the Licentiate and the Doctor of Interjurisdictional Canon Law (JCD-I) and then graduate.

As with the first year, this year is self-paced. You have one year to complete this program before graduation or moving on to the Doctorate.  If any extensions are needed, they are to be done in writing with a legitimate cause for the extension and presented to the Dean of the department who will review the letter and decide if the extension will be granted or not.  In the event that this year is not passed the student will have the opportunity to repeat any courses failed.  Please note that full course fees may or will be charged according to school policy on retaking a class. If any course within the retake is failed a second time, the student will be dismissed from the second year.  The student may, after 6 months, reapply to the school for readmissions at the full fee. The student will repeat the entire second-year program and not just the failed classes. Upon successful completion of all requirements, the student will be awarded either the Doctor of Canon Law-Interjurisdictional or both the Licentiate in Canon Law - Interjurisdictional (JCL-I) and the Doctor of Canon Law - Interjurisdictional (JCD-I).

If the student fails a second time, that student will be dismissed from the school with the opportunity to reapply for the program missed after 1 full year.


I. Master's Degree Program:  

Iuris Canonici Licentiatus 

Licentiate of Inter-Jurisdictional Law (JCL)

II.  Doctoral Program

Iuris Canonici Doctor  

Doctorate of Inter-Jurisdictional Law (JCD)

There are 120 credit hours to complete the Doctoral level program.  Ecclesiastical Canon Law Doctors are eligible to teach and be ecclesial judges.  Those with a Licentiate will be qualified to work and present cases but not to teach nor function as a judge.  This is the major distinction between the JCL and JCD.  The modules will between 5 and 7 weeks long,  not including the Civil Law part for each book with assignments and tests of 30 hours.  One 30-hour course equals 3 credit hours.  At the end of the Ecclesiastical Canon Law portion the student will earn between 15 and 21 credit hours per 30 hour course.  The completion of the Ecclesiastical Canon Law part should be a total of around 75 academic credit hours.  The student completes the Civil Law portion regardless whether it is the JCL or JCD (which will be another 75 academic Credit hours for a total of 150 Credit hours). This includes the Licentiate final exam and for the Doctorate, the Dissertation with no exam (because the doctoral candidate will have already taken the comprehensive exam since in order to get the JCD, the student will need to get the JCL).

Dissertation Details

The questions for the comprehensive will be agreed upon by the curriculum director and the doctoral candidate.  The verbal defense will be no more than 2 hours in length and consist of the presentation of a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation from the candidate based on the candidate’s dissertation and questions from the committee evaluating the candidate.  The candidate will be granted the doctoral Degree upon completion of the verbal presentation. The defense should be nothing short of a conversation and illustration in mastering the subject matter. If this is not accomplished before the defense, the candidate should not be allowed to defend.