Licentiate in Safeguarding A new interdisciplinary program

  • The Centre for Child Protection (CCP) is part of the Institute of Psychology, which belongs to the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. The overall objective of the CCP is the academic and professional promotion of safeguarding through education, formation programs, conferences, communication, and research. The Licentiate in Safeguarding is one of the educational programmes offered by the CCP. It is a two year, on-site course geared towards training safeguarding professionals who reach Level 7 of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF)[1].

    At the CCP safeguarding is understood as the theoretical reflection and practical measures taken to promote the welfare of children, adolescents, and all who need special protection from harm.

    The following guiding principles are at the basis of all the work and courses at the CCP:

    1. Victims first
      We base our reflection, commitment, and actions on listening to victims and survivors and learning from them.
    2. Christian view of the human person
      We value every human being as created in God’s image and act correspondingly.
    3. Spirituality
      We envisage safeguarding as a spiritual matter that directs us in our theological reflection and a faith-based response.
    4. Cultural sensitivity
      We honour the variety of cultures, engage in a critical dialogue, and facilitate the culturally sound adaptation and implementation of safeguarding measures.
    5. Multidisciplinarity
      We look at safeguarding simultaneously from the perspective of various disciplines such as psychology, sociology, canon and civil law, theology, etc.

    [1]    European Commission (ed.), Learning Opportunities and Qualifications Europe. For information about courses, work-based learning and qualifications, see: 4/23/18).

  • 2.1. The Licentiate Students

    Students accepted for the licentiate hold at least a bachelor’s (1stcycle university) degree or a specialisation (master’s degree, 2ndcycle university degree) in theology, canon law, education, or psychology/psychotherapy. Recommended by an ecclesiastical or civil authority, they are – during the course – trained for highly specialised and professional future work in the field of safeguarding.

    The students come from countries all over the world. Some are native speakers of English; others have acquired at least an intermediate level of proficiency. Some are religious or priests, others lay people. They also differ with regard to their relation to the Catholic Church as an institution and their personal theological and spiritual background. Some have just finished their bachelor’s; others hold doctoral degrees or have had ample work experiences inside or outside the field of safeguarding. They come from the abovementioned fields of expertise. These vastly different learning histories lead to different resources the students can draw on, and as well as different motivations, aims and expectations with regard to the Licentiate in Safeguarding. After the completion of the course they will take responsibility for and promote safeguarding in their home countries in various ways, usually linked to their previous education or professional experience and the specialization chosen for the licentiate program.

    2.2. The Structure of the Licentiate in Safeguarding

    The Licentiate of Safeguarding is a comprehensive two-year course that leads to an interdisciplinary licentiate/master’s degree in safeguarding. Licentiate students acquire the Diploma in Safeguarding of Minors during their first semester. Semesters 2-4 build on that foundation.  Students must accumulate 120 European Credit Transfer System credits (ECTS) through their coursework.

    Schematic Structure of the Course:

    Semester 1 Theoretical semester with workshop weeks
    • Multidisciplinary foundation with regard to all major aspects of safeguarding
    • Diploma
    30 ECTS
    Semester 2 Theoretical semester
    • 50% common elements for all the licentiate students
    • 50% contents specific to the four areas of specialization
    • Elements geared towards personal development and human formation
    26 ECTS
    Semester 3 Practical semester
    • 650 hours of supervised internship in a field of safeguarding related to the student’s specialization (in any country in whose language the student is proficient)
    • 150 hours of literature study, reflection on experiences, written internship reports, televideo contacts with CCP supervisors
    26 ECTS
    Semester 4 Theoretical semester
    • 50% contents specific to the four areas of specialization
    • 50% master’s thesis
    • Elements geared towards personal development and human formation
    • The licentiate finishes with the presentation/defence of the master’s thesis and the final exams
    38 ECTS:
    14 for the semester
    14 for master’s thesis + presentation
    10 for final exams


    2.3. Areas of Specialization

    During the application process the students apply for one of the following four specializations offered for the Licentiate in Safeguarding:

    • Theology/ formation for religious or priestly life with a focus on issues related to safeguarding
    • Canon law with regard to cases of (alleged) sexual abuse (by clergy/religious)
    • Education for safeguarding
    • Psychology/Therapy for (secondary) victims/perpetrators of sexual abuse and safeguarding personnel

    2.4. The Graduates’ Competences

    The licentiate students begin their studies with the Diploma in Safeguarding of Minors. During that time they acquire comprehensive, specialized, factual and theoretical knowledge within the field of safeguarding in all its dimensions. The aim of the diploma or their first semester is thus a thorough basic introduction to the many issues at stake as well as to their interrelatedness. (For further information on the first semester of the licentiate and its contents please got to the diploma website at In addition, students gain the necessary awareness of the limitations of their knowledge and determine what further studies they may need both in their own field of expertise and in other disciplines related to the protection of minors.In semesters 2 to 4, licentiate students build on their pre-existing degrees and professional experiences. The students keep acquiring essential safeguarding skills and develop expert knowledge in their area of specialization (see above). As specified by the European Qualification Framework, the students gain highly specialised knowledge that forms the basis for further research on safeguarding in their field of expertise. They develop the specialised problem-solving skills and the managerial competences in their areas necessary to take responsibility for professional safeguarding practice and its development in culturally sensitive ways in their future work.[1]All successful graduates of the licentiate develop a comprehensive and thorough range of cognitive and practical skills needed in the field of safeguarding, which allows them to manage and transform safeguarding situations that require new strategic approaches because of their novelty and complexity. They can guide and manage safeguarding teams. Within their area of specialization they acquire highly specialized knowledge, problem-solving skills and the capacity for further research. They also show critical awareness with regard to the multidisciplinary necessities in safeguarding and know of the importance of networking with colleagues from within and without their own field of expertise. They are capable of applying knowledge and skills to their own social environment in culturally sensitive ways.


    [1]    European Commission (ed.), Learning Opportunities and Qualifications Europe. For information about courses, work-based learning and qualifications, see: 4/23/18).

  • As the pedagogical framework of the first semester and thus of the Diploma in Safeguarding of Minors has been explained in detail for the Diploma curriculum (cf., the details will not be repeated here. The instructional design of the semesters 2 to 4 of the Licentiate in Safeguarding build on the methodology and the study-skills acquired during the diploma course.

    In the theoretical semesters 2 and 4, once again a student-centred approach aimed at the lasting acquisition of knowledge, skills and necessary attitudes is employed. The students’ responsibility for their own learning and development as well as the culturally sensitive application of the competences gained is further strengthened. Each week is divided into two parts. From Monday through Thursday, students work individually and in groups on the topic, tasks, contents of the week. Varying experts from around the world assign the tasks and the materials to prepare for the classes, which clarify questions or deepen students’ understanding of the issues in through lectures, workshops, and discussions. Students assist each other in their learning and problem-solving by discussions and peer feedback. These experts also correct and grade the assignments (papers, presentations, workshop outlines, reflections, etc.) and offer feedback on quality and suggest possible improvements. In their learning portfolios, the students reflect on their learning processes and results and strive for personal and cultural integration. In weekly meetings, the course facilitators from the CCP accompany the students in their personal learning process and the integration of the various topics and experiences.   

    Fridays are oriented toward a holistic human formation program that addresses various aspects of safeguarding. We provide workshops, interactive classes, time for silence, prayer, reflection and supervision, as well as a communal celebration of the eucharist and faith-sharing in the group.

    During their internship students put what they have learned into practice and test the applicability of the skills they have gained. They are invited to observe safeguarding professionals, question what they see, engage themselves in the various fields, receive constructive feedback from on-site supervisors and CCP teachers, and reflect on their experiences both academically and personally.

  • Download the full curriculum to view this section.

  • Download the full curriculum to view this section.

  • For their third semester the students do an internship geared towards safeguarding in their field of specialization and within a culture, the language of which they speak. Supervised on site by an experienced safe-guarding professionals, our students observe professional practice and increasingly take on tasks and responsibilities themselves. The 650 hours spent working under supervision are enriched with at least 150 hours of literature study, personal reflection, the writing of practicum reports, and feedback meetings with the on-site supervisor as well as televideo contacts with members of the CCP team.

    • Practice and reflection, observation and study, trials and errors help the students gain both skills and confidence, while striving towards applying the theoretical knowledge and the competencies acquired to real-life situations and challenges. New questions will also surface that will enrich students theoretical studies during their final semester at home. Students are encouraged to choose an issue of special importance to them as the topic of their master’s thesis.
  • The official PUG grading scheme is used.

    Grading in detail:

    • 1st semester: see grading for Diploma = 30 % of final grade
    • 2nd semester: average of papers/presentations = 30 % of final grade
    • 3rd semester/practicum: pass/fail
    • 4th semester: average of papers/presentations = 10% of final grade
    • Master’s thesis+ presentation = 15% of final grade (12 % thesis, 3% presentation)
    • Oral exam + written exam = 15% of final grade (7,5 % oral exam, 7,5% written exam)

    Forms of exams:

    • Master’s thesis of 25-35 pages
    • 30 minute oral exam testing the knowledge gained in all semesters
    • 2 hours written exam in the form of an interdisciplinary case study
    • Presentation of master’s thesis in front of the entire group (of both years), during which any of the participants may ask questions

Full Curriculum

Download the full curriculum for the Licentiate in Safeguarding

Application Form

Due by 28 February 2019, along with required documents

Applying for the Program

Before you apply for the program, please read the information about the requirements, the selection process, and the required documents carefully. This will make the application process much easier for you and will help you avoid mistakes and delays.

Please be aware that the deadline for applications for the upcoming academic year 2019-2020 is 28 February 2019!

If you have any questions or doubts about the program, application, or the selection process, please feel free to contact us! We look forward to receiving your application!

  • In order to take part in our application procedure, you must meet the following criteria:

    1) Entrance qualification

    You should hold either a Bachelor’s (1st cycle university) degree or Master’s degree (2nd cycle university degree) related to one of the following disciplines:

    • Theology
    • Canon Law
    • Education
    • Psychology/Psychotherapy

    2) Proof of English language skills

    As the whole course will be in English, you must provide proof of your English language proficiency of an intermediate level (e.g. B1 according to the European framework of reference for languages).

    Applicants who do not meet these requirements cannot be considered for admission.

  • For a complete application, please send the following documents before the application deadline (February 28, 2019) to the following email address (preferably in one package):

    Required documents:

    • Bachelor’s Degree Certificate / 1st cycle degree certificate OR Master’s degree certificate / 2nd cycle degree certificate
    • Proof of English language proficiency (if possible)
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Completed application form
    • Letter of recommendation (from your bishop, superior, employer)

    Please do not forget to indicate on your application form the discipline (Theology, Canon Law, Education, Psychology/Psychotherapy) in which you would like to do your specialization. Please choose the one that fits best with your previous education and your professional work experience.

  • The selection process will be carried out by an interdisciplinary selection committee and will take place from mid-March to the end of April 2019.

    At the end of March, you will receive an answer from us. If we think you might be a good fit for the program, you will be invited for a short interview. This can be done in person or online (e.g. Skype).

    Please note that we will not give any feedback before the end of April 2019.

    If you have any questions or doubts about the program, the application or selection process selection, please feel free to contact us! We are looking forward to receiving your application!