Meister Eckhart Divinity School

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

The Purpose Of Canon Law

Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant and some Eastern Orthodox 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.


Criteria for the Licentiate and Doctorate in Canon Law

Iuris Canonici Doctor  

Doctorate of Inter-Jurisdictional Law (JCD)


There are 145 credit hours to complete the Doctoral level program, and this includes all the requirements of the Licentiate.  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 be between 5 and 7 weeks long,  not including the Civil Law part for each book with assignments and tests of 72 hours.  One 30-hour course equals 5 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 of whether it is the JCL or JCD (which will be another 72 academic Credit hours for a total of 145-150 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 a 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.

How it Works

The criteria and subject matter for these courses are subject to change as demand increases at any time. However, once a student is enrolled at a particular time, that student will complete the assigned work at the time of registration and will not be required to attend any additional classes for the fulfillment of their degree unless they wish to.  Additional courses will not be part, however, of the final transcript.  The final transcript will be based on the successful completion of all academic requirements at the time of enrolment in the respective degree.

At the beginning of the course the student will be required to obtain their church’s Code of Canon Law or whatever that church uses as their legal body of work.  Some names may be “The Book of Order,” “The Manifesto,” “The Book of Discipline,” etcetera. This is to be kept with the student throughout their course work and should be retained in electronic form with the option of paper.

The respective Codes of Canon Law will be used in a twofold process. In the first process the student will use their code to do most of the assignments given to them irrespective of those assignments taken directly from the textbooks assigned for each course. The student is to go through their canons and begin to develop a text and commentary of their law. It is to be an original commentary and not a copy and paste product from another work.  However, the student has the license to use material from other work as a means of research and clarification of their own work and it is to be appropriately documented as such prior to graduation.  As the work is done it will be handed in for the professor to evaluate, return to the student to correct, resubmit and repeat the process until satisfactory completion to the standards of the department. The second process for the retention of the canons is that at the end of the licentiate program, if the student wishes to obtain the JCD, they will have 3 copies of their work hardbound and electronically sent to the school following the defense of their work.  The first copy goes to the student.  The second copy goes to the reader and the third copy is placed in the school library for future academic reference. In essence the text and commentary are the JCD directed dissertation that everyone must complete, but only the defense and any other work chosen to be completed during the doctoral evaluation must be completed within one year after the Licentiate or before.  Normally, with the dissertation complete, if nothing else has to be completed then all that is needed is the defense of the dissertation and onto graduation with the JCL and the JCD.

The purpose for all students to do the text and commentary is to begin to gather resources for the present and future litigants and judges to use.  The Inter-jurisdictional Canon Law Degrees are not solely degrees applicable to one faith based tradition such as the case with Roman Catholic Law.  The degrees cover a very broad and growing body of laws from diverse churches and denominations in the event that the services of a lawyer or judge are needed within that church or denomination to assist in the determination of a legal case.

The differentiation between the JCL and the JCD is the presentation of the text and commentary and completion of ancillary work given to the student during the JCD year, and the dissertation fee for the Doctorate.

The fee for the JCL and JCD is set by the Board of Directors.  The total fee for the JCL & JCD is $8000 regardless of if one chooses to only obtain the JCL or go onto the JCD which is the completion of all the JCL requirements, the dissertation defense and ancillary courses if demanded and the additional Dissertation Defense and graduation fees which both JCL and JCD candidates will assume.

The JCL  Project

As coursework commences there may be an interesting aspect that the student would like to explore.  The interest is to be expanded into a written presentation and submitted to the department of canon law or the dean or deans designate to evaluate and see if it would be worthy as a project that may be used in the future in any manner for the lawyer or judge.  Upon approval, this is the JCL project and will be submitted at the end of the curriculum period for review, a grade and placement into the school archive. If the student is pursuing the JCD, the JCL project is waved since the text and commentary discussed above takes the place of the project.

Graduation Requirements

All students in order to graduate must obtain a B+ or better. Any course that has failed or is below a B+ average must either be retaken for an additional charge or be placed under directive studies by the professor for a reevaluation upon completion of the directive studies also for an additional charge.  If the student does not accomplish success with the retake of the course or directive studies that student will be required to leave the program.  If the student wishes to complete the program, that student may return at the next registration period but must take an entrance examination prepared by the Dean of the Department. If the student passes parts of the examination and does not pass other parts, those parts that are in need of more study will be the area of focus on the return to studies. In other words, the student will be required to retake only those courses not passed on the comprehensive entrance exam.  If the student is not successful with that examination, then that student must begin the program all over from class one and successfully pass all classes with a B+ or better and pass the comprehensive final and if a JCD candidate, successfully pass the defense.  If the student is not successful after that, the student may not return to MEDS to retake the class for two years.


Completion Requirements (JCL-JCD)

The courses below are the order in which the courses will be taken

Required Credits: Licentiate 65 credits ( including electives)

Doctorate 145 credits (included in this are the 65 credits from the Licentiate)


Introduction to Canon Law


General Decrees, Administrative Acts and Governance


Ecclesiastical Offices and Lawsuits


Sacraments, Sanctions &Process Issues


General Offenses, Penalties and Tort Law



Judicial Processes and Procedures


The Courts, Judging and Litigating Cases


Criminal Law


Legal Ethics


Criminal Evidence


Constitutional Law


Criminal Investigation


Marriage and Family Law


Criminal Investigation


Case Studies in Canon Law


Personal Elective A


Personal Elective B


Readings in Canon Law (Marriage Law)


Comprehensive Final for Licentiate


Dissertation for Doctorate


Directive Project for Licentiate

Dissertation Defense

Official Transcripts

Cross over credits  --  Master or above







Course Materials

You will need a computer, access to the internet, and a good workspace. Before the beginning of any class all textbooks are to be purchased. It is suggested that the student, to get a head start on each class, read the textbook before the class starts and as the class progresses read each section according to the syllabus.  All textbooks are to be purchased through the bookstore.  Here is a list of the texts.  If you look at the Completion requirements Excel Spread sheet above, that is the order of the textbooks.  Feel free to purchase them all at once or as we go along.  There is no advantage to purchasing the books all at once.  We will address each book according to the class being taught.  Please note, Amazon has the right to change the prices of the texts according to their standards.  These are the ONLY books used for the course unless the professor indicates otherwise.

How long will it take to complete the coursework?


It should take no less than two years and no more than 5 years to complete all coursework. Until we have new professors to teach the curriculum, once a class starts no other new classes will begin until that class graduates.  In other words, if a class starts today, the next freshman class will not start until the present class graduates.

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 (Inter- jurisdictional), your journey ends at the completion of this year.

The first 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 agree to accept to enter into their program. 

Upon completion of the final year, you will be taking a written comprehensive examination that will cover all the modules throughout your studies.  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 Inter- jurisdictional Canon Law (JCL-I) and graduate.  For those of you continuing onto the Doctorate, you will be given the JCL-I, so you can practice law,  and move onto the successful completion of all your work in the Doctoral program, you will then receive both the Licentiate and the Doctor of Inter- jurisdictional Canon Law (JCD-I) and then graduate.

If any extensions are needed for any coursework, 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.


Graduation will take place formally once a  year  or other times according to the policy of the school, at a time and place designated by Meister Eckhart Divinity School.  All graduation criteria are outlined in the school’s policies and procedures and will be followed accordingly. A student will formally graduate once tuition is paid in full.

How will the classes be taught?

All classes are online and recorded on YouTube or Zoom.  When the student receives the syllabus that student will be aware of the days and times the classes will be “Zoomed”.  The time for the lecture portion is in the Pacific Time Zone.  Please adjust your time zone in accordance with Pacific Time.

The professor can be reached via email, or upon request of an appointment after Zoom-class.  Office Hours are nine to five Pacific Time Monday through Friday.  If those times are not feasible drop the professor an email and request a different time or day.  Unless the professor allows it, there are no office hours Saturday, Sunday, Legal Holidays and other times that MEDS is closed from business.

The student will receive a lecture, if available the PowerPoints of the lecture if any are designed and any necessary literature the professor wishes to hand out.  There will be a series of tests, some written assignments and other projects according to the syllabus. Please note, work is due when it is due. This is a doctoral program (even at the licentiate level). As such, the highest quality of work will be demanded. There will be no extensions or exceptions without the expressed permission from the professor.  Requests are to be in writing and unless there is a dire emergency, they must be presented within 48 hours of the event. The professor retains the right to accept or not accept a request and no reason needs to be given.

All tests and examinations will be taken from the textbooks. The exams are not an open book and will be taken during the lecture period on Zoom. If an examination is not passed, the student will have the option of retaking the test or writing a paper. The professor will discuss the paper topic with the student and the criteria around submission of the paper. The retake exam will be a take-home and different from the original examination.

If a class is not passed, it must be repeated at the next cycle or by directive studies to be arranged with the professor.  If the student passes the non-passing grade will not show up on the grade report nor transcripts.

The teaching method is Socratic in nature. It is not the job of the professor to spoon feed material to the student but to have a brisk interaction with explanations for a better integration of the material. Integration is the key to success, not just a passing grade.

For any questions, please contact Prof. Scuderi                         

 To enroll, please contact the Registrar