Franciscan School of Theology


We are excited to welcome new degree students (part-time or full-time) who seek a Masters of Theological Studies or the Masters of Divinity.  We also enroll non-degree students for sabbaticals, continuing education, or certificate programs.  On this page you will find basic information about FST and suggested “Next Steps”.

Studying at the Franciscan School of the Theology is an academic experience of the head and heart. The basis of learning in this Franciscan environment is rigorous theology intentionally immersed in dialogue, liturgy, community, faith, practicum, and the world. Please take your time as you discern the possibility of studying with us.  More detailed information about the application process can be found on our Apply to FST page.


It is wonderful that you are here seeking information about our school. Many have gone before you, and they too started where you are now; looking for information about our tradition, programs and degrees. Let’s start here:

The mission of the school is to prepare candidates for professional ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, for careers in theological education, and to provide opportunities for enhancing knowledge of Christian faith and the practice of ministry.

You will find this mission integrated into every course, liturgy, conversation, assignment, and degree program at FST. You will also discover the school’s structure and pedagogy deeply rooted in the tradition of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. Our staff, administration, Board of Regents and Trustees, Academic Dean and President share this vision. When you study here, you also become part of this Franciscan fabric.


Our theological vision is based on the Incarnation. We believe that God became human for us out of love. Following the example of St. Francis in his “Canticle of the Creatures,” we believe that all creation speaks to us of God because it was formed to reflect the face of Christ.

Our vision of Christ includes all creation in an embrace of mutuality, equality, and respect. We seek to foster a relationship of brother and sister to each other. Our theological tradition encourages us to emphasize the unique revelation of God in each person, in every culture and in all creatures, and fosters special concern for those on the margins of society and the Church.

The Franciscan School of Theology is committed to embodying Franciscan theology in a religiously and culturally diverse world. In our living, our learning, our relationships, and our community, we address both the head and the heart by integrating the pastoral and academic dimensions of theological study. We offer a multicultural Christian community in which to prepare for ministry.


The Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans)

The Franciscan School of Theology is part of the worldwide Catholic religious Order of Friars Minor, founded in 1209, commonly known as the Franciscans.  It operates under the Order’s Rule, approved in 1223, and in obedience to its Supreme Moderator, Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, Minister General.  The Franciscan Minister General resides in Rome, and is directly subject to the Holy Father, belonging by tradition to the Papal Household.  He also serves as a member of the Holy See’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, whose direction and assistance are a great benefit to the Order itself.

The school is owned and operated by the Order’s St. Barbara Province, and thus immediately subject to its major superior, called the Minister Provincial,  as its religious ordinary and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, and who grants the permission to teach theology at the Franciscan School of Theology as one of the duties of his office as the school’s ordinary.

The school’s programs follow the Order’s Ratio studiorum or plan of studies, “In notitia veritatis proficere,” approved by decree of the Minister General, March 25, 2001 (Prot. 090596 [77]).  In addition, for students who are candidates for Holy Orders, the school also follows the Program for Priestly Formation issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and adopted by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men for members of their religious communities.

Following the wishes of St. Francis, the school functions with the blessing of the local ordinary, the Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland (until June 30, 2014) and the Bishop of San Diego; and in fidelity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as required by the Order’s Rule and its Ratio studiorum.  The Franciscan School of Theology is listed in the Official Catholic Directory of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States (the Kenedy Directory).


FST has created a curricular and academic affiliation with the University of San Diego.

Degree students of FST now have access to a wide variety of graduate courses offered by USD. This includes but is not limited to certificates in Peace Studies, Education Science, and Leadership. USD graduate students are able eligible to take courses at FST depending on their program.

Both USD and FST are committed to the success of this affiliation and the mutual benefits of the academic opportunities each school has to offer. Many new doors have opened for students of the Franciscan School of Theology and the University of San Diego.


The Franciscan School of Theology brings together three important words: Mission, Franciscan, and California. The Franciscans have provided theological training in California since the beginning of the state’s history and have worked with California’s diverse population since then.

In 1854 Mission Santa Barbara was chartered as an apostolic college and continued in that capacity until 1885. From 1869 to 1877, it also functioned as a college for lay men. In 1896, it began a four-year high school seminary program. The high school became a separate institution in 1901, and the college department became a separate institution at San Luis Rey, California in 1929. Over the course of the years, the college department expanded into a four-year accredited liberal arts college.

Mission Santa Barbara remained the center for theological studies and continued to operate as a seminary until 1968 when the theological school moved to Berkeley, California as the Franciscan School of Theology, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union, an ecumenical consortium of nine theology schools.

In academic year 2013-2014 the Franciscan School of Theology moved to Old Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, California, and entered into a service and curricular affiliation with the University of San Diego, San Diego, California, a private Catholic institution of higher learning. FST’s ministerial degree students, both professional and academic,  benefit from exposure to USD’s graduate programs in peace and justice, non-profit management, counseling, secondary education, global education, leadership studies, and allied fields. Situated contiguous to one of the largest and most diverse parishes in the Diocese of San Diego, the Franciscan School of Theology provides a unique location and experience for those who are called to serve in diverse and creative ecclesial communities.  The Franciscan School of Theology maintains its autonomous corporate and canonical structure, as well as its accreditation.

As our history indicates, once we were a seminary preparing men for service as priests; now we are a seminary and a theology school preparing lay women and men, religious and clergy for shared ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. Once we were one of a number of Franciscan seminaries in the United States; now we are the only Franciscan seminary/theology school whose mission it is to prepare professional ministers for work in the Church and the society.

From its earliest history, the Franciscan School of Theology has responded to the changing cultural, social, and religious realities of California and the West.  We find inspiration in the missionary zeal and educational heritage of Junípero Serra, who founded the first Franciscan mission in Upper California at San Diego in 1769. Like the students who journey with us in their preparation for ministry, the history of the Franciscan School of Theology is a story in process.

Guided and governed in its educational mission, community life, and degree programs by the Order of Friars Minor’s Ratio Studiorum, “In notitia veritatis proficere” (Rome, GSFS, 2001), the Franciscan School continues to bring the questions of contemporary culture, society, and Church into dialog with the ever-ancient and ever-new Word of the Gospel.


You may be wondering what to do with all this information. We encourage you to use it as you determine if FST is the environment in which you want to learn, be challenged, and will succeed.

Here are four suggestions

1) Go to our APPLY TO FST  page for specific information about the admissions process at the Franciscan School of Theology.

2) Contact the Director of Recruitment, Jeanette Gonzalez, M.A., in the Office of Admissions at 760-547-1800 Ext. 204 or by  email . She is always happy to answer questions about FST. Information can also be mailed to you.

2) Visit the school. A formal visit can be arranged. You can join us for Liturgy, attend a class and meet faculty & students. Informally, you can also walk-in. The school is open during the business week from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (School is closed for lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 daily). If you live out-of-state, please give Jeanette Gonzalez at least two weeks to prepare your visit. Temporary lodging is available and free for prospective students.

3) Ask yourself some important questions:

What do I need to know? And, how will I find it out?
Is this the place where I will thrive?
Does this theology sound like the right fit?
Is the Tradition of St. Francis and St. Clare one in which I want to be immersed?
Will the programs and/or degrees offered by FST lead to work in my area of interest?