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Benedictine Leadership Studies

  • Special Program

Award-Winning Program

Benedictine Leadership Studies was recently named the best program in the country for Mission Integration by the Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU).

The Rule of St. Benedict serves as the cornerstone leadership model for the program, offering a deeper understanding of leadership in your personal and professional life and in service to local, national and global communities. Benedictine Leadership Studies is a virtue-based, ethical structure for the study of leadership. The program is grounded in the Benedictine Wisdom Tradition, which has been developing since The Rule of St. Benedict was published 1,500 years ago. Its 10 core principles, or hallmarks, are derived from The Rule and form the core of BLS.

What is the Benedictine Leadership Studies Program?

The Benedictine Leadership Studies (BLS) program will allow you to analyze who you are as an individual called to serve and promote the common good of your community, and to develop a meaningful understanding of God’s purpose for your life, using the teachings of the Catholic Church and Benedictine spirituality as guides.

Dr. Jerome Foss teaching students in the Benedictine Leadership Studies program A student sitting on a rock ledge looking out into a gorge. Saint Vincent students in standing on the north shore of Pittsburgh with the city of Pittsburgh in the background.

The 10 hallmarks distilled from the Rule of Saint Benedict are:

  1. Love of God and Neighbor as Self – A Benedictine education aims at imparting “perfect love of God which casts out fear.”
  2. Prayer – As St. Benedict reminds us, “every time you begin a good work, you must pray to God most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”
  3. Stability – “A school for the Lord’s service” requires us to be committed members of the community.
  4. Conversatio (Growth as a Disciple of Jesus Christ) – Latin for “way of life,” conversatio demands an openness to our education’s transformative power so that we might be equipped with the “tools for the cultivation of virtue.”
  5. Obedience – To the Benedictine, obedience begins in listening carefully “with the ear of the heart” to God speaking to us in Sacred Scripture, Tradition, prayer, and worship.
  6. Discipline – The Benedictine motto, Ora et Labora (pray and work), calls us to be “clothed with faith and the performance of good works.”
  7. Humility – Contrary to the prideful ways of the world, we must remind ourselves daily that “we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility.”
  8. Stewardship – The goods of the Earth are entrusted to us so that we may build up the community, and we should see those as wealthy who do not seek for more material possessions but instead can “thank God” for needing less than others.
  9. Hospitality – Central to Benedictine spirituality is structuring the community so that “all guests who present themselves” can be “welcomed as Christ.”
  10. Community – A Benedictine community is one in which we “prefer nothing whatever to Christ” and give to one another “the good zeal which leads to God and everlasting life.”

The 10 Hallmarks shape the character of the BLS program. As a BLS fellow, you will be educated in the virtues associated with the Hallmarks, and encouraged to develop them in ways appropriate to your future profession and vocation. Love of God and neighbor as self, purposeful reflection, commitment to one's obligations, openness to truth, steady work habits, humble regard for others, and a respect for creation are all attributes encouraged by the program. Recognizing that all leadership takes place in the context of communities, whether they be civic, natural or supernatural, the BLS program seeks to cultivate the complete human person: body, soul and spirit.

For more information, please contact the BLS Director, Michael Krom, Ph.D. at

To learn more about Benedictine Leadership Studies, follow us on Facebook or on Instagram: @StvincentBLS, @benedictinels

Program Highlights

  • BLS Program Content

    BLS program content includes:

    Academic courses each semester with your fellow BLS students focused on the Catholic intellectual tradition and on Benedictine spirituality

    Annual Weekend retreat led by Campus Ministry
    Annual trips focused on specific aspects of Benedictine leadership
    All-expenses-paid spring break trip to Rome in the senior year
    Experiential activities to enhance leadership skills and work collaboratively with peers
    Spiritual formation under the guidance of Benedictine monks and trained lay faculty
    Professional development and career services provided by the Career and Professional Development Center
    Unique internships for academic credit
    Service project opportunities
    $1,500/year Fellowship (automatically renewed up to four years for BLS Fellows)
  • Academic Coursework

    A central component of the Benedictine Leadership Studies program is the sequence of courseyou will take focused on the Catholic intellectual and Benedictine wisdom traditions. Many of your BLS courses will also count toward fulfillment of the college's core curriculum. The curriculum, with examples of texts you will read, is as follows:

    Freshman Fall Semester

    Learning Seminar

    • The Rule of St. Benedict
    • The Life of St. Benedict
    • Holy Bible (Exodus, Psalms, and Gospel of Mark)
    • Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”
    • WEB Dubois’s “On the Wings of Atalanta
    • G.K. Chesterton’s “The Blue Cross”

    Freshman Spring Semester


    • Plato’s Apology
    • Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
    • St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae (selections)
    • Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue (selections)

    Sophomore Fall Semester

    BLS Elective (varies each year; examples include Ancient Greek and Roman History, Outdoor Leadership, Catholic Literature)

    Sophomore Spring Semester

    BLS Elective (varies each year; examples include Medieval European History, Statesmanship in Shakespeare) 

    Junior Fall or Spring Semester

    BLS Internship

    Senior Fall Semester

    Loving Seminar

    • Holy Bible (Gospel of John)
    • Plato’s Symposium
    • St. Augustine’s Confessions
    • Mother Theresa’s Harvard Commencement Address
    • C.S. Lewis’s “Learning in War Time”
    • Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
    • John Paul II’s Salvifici Doloris
    • Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate

    BLS 200 Leadership and the Eternal City (1 credit)

    • Selections of Primary Texts on the history of Rome (Livy, Plutarch, Virgil, St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, Boethius, Marcus Aurelius, Petrarch, Shakespeare, St. John Paul II)

    Senior Spring Semester

    BLS 300 Rome Capstone Seminar

    • Continuation of texts read in BLS 200

    In addition, take one course in each of the following three categories:

    1. Political Thought

    • American Regime (offered every semester)
      • U.S. Founding Documents
      • The Federalist Papers
      • Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America
    2. Philosophy
    • Thomistic Philosophy (offered every fall)
      • Selections from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae on Moral, Economic, and Political Thought


    • Philosophical Anthropology (offered every fall)
      • Selections from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae on the nature of the human person and faculties of the soul
    3. Theology
    • Psalms and Wisdom Literature (offered every spring)
      • Holy Bible (selected Psalms and Proverbs)
    • Theology of Thomas Aquinas (offered every other spring)
      • Selections from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae


    • Gospel of Life, Gospel of Creation (offered every other spring)
      • Josef Pieper’s Leisure: the Basis of Culture
      • St. John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae
      • Benedict XVI’s In the Beginning
      • Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’
      • Remi Brague’s Curing Mad Truths
  • Internships

    As part of the Benedictine Leadership Studies Program, you will complete an internship that will help you put leadership into action, discern your vocation, and gain professional experience.

    Here are some examples of institutions where our students have interned:

    • Attivo ERP (Santa Ana, CA)

    • Camp Wojtyla (Erie, CO)

    • Canonsburg Hospital (Canonsburg, PA)

    • Christ the Divine Teacher School (Latrobe, PA)

    • District Attorney's Office (Greensburg, PA)

    • Eulalia Books (Latrobe, PA)

    • Fort Pitt Capital Group (Pittsburgh, PA)

    • Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)

    • Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic (Pittsburgh, PA)

    • National Sports Medicine Institute (Lansdowne, VA)

    • PNC Bank (Pittsburgh, PA)

    • St. John the Evangelist Parish Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium (Latrobe, PA)

    • Sapphire Systems (London, England)

    • Stanley Black & Decker (New Britain, CT)

    • Stellar One Consulting (Flower Mound, TX)

    • The Summit School (Edgewater, MD)

    • Type3 Solutions (Virginia Beach, VA)

    • Our Lady of the Rock Benedictine Monastery (Shaw Island, WA)

    • UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

    • U.S. District Court for the Western District of PA (Johnstown, PA)

    • U.S. Representative Guy Reschenthaler (Greensburg, PA)

    • Walgreens (Purcellville, VA)

    • Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA)

  • Outdoor Leadership

    One of the unique electives BLS students can choose from is Outdoor Leadership: Traveling Monastery. This course is structured around a 35-40 mile backpacking trip on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. Students who take up this challenge get to put love of God and neighbor into practice in a community that lives off of what they can carry on their backs.

    See the website created by the 2023 class for more information and to get a small taste of what your fall break would be like in a “traveling monastery”:

  • Other Aspects of the BLS Program

    BLS Portfolio – You will maintain an online portfolio throughout your four years as a BLS fellow. The portfolio will contain examples of your work, reflection on the skills you have gained and thoughts on how you are growing in understanding and implementing the hallmarks in your life. In addition to serving as an assessment tool for BLS faculty, this portfolio may be shared with family, friends and prospective employers.

    Retreats – Each year you will participate in a weekend retreat run by Campus Ministry. The retreats will help you grow as a member of the Saint Vincent College community, and also help you to discern God’s unique calling for you. After the retreat, you will write a reflection on what you learned about yourself based on the Benedictine Hallmarks.

    Experiential Learning – To pursue the BLS Certificate you must participate in experiential learning activities each semester of your four years, and complete a reflection on what hallmark(s) you put into practice, to be included in your portfolio. Examples of experiential learning activities are a team-building ropes course, career planning activities and service learning projects.

    Self-Leadership Exercises – You will be asked throughout your four years to reflect on how you are integrating the 10 hallmarks into your self-understanding and daily life. It is central to the program that you reflect on how your future profession and vocation will be shaped by your commitment to being a Benedictine leader. To facilitate this process, you will participate each semester in reflective exercises. Working with a faculty, staff or Benedictine mentor, you will write a personal narrative based on these reflective exercises each academic year.

    Rome Capstone Seminar – In the spring semester of your senior year, you will enroll in BLS 300: Rome Capstone Seminar. The core component of the course is an all-expenses-paid spring break trip to Rome. A member of the Saint Vincent College faculty will coordinate and teach the material presented in the course. The academic essay that you will write after the trip, reflecting on the models of leadership presented by the leaders of Roman history studied throughout the week, will be included in your portfolio.

Admissions Information

  • How to Apply

    Click HERE to open the Honors Community application. Be sure to indicate that you are applying for the Benedictine Leadership Studies Program, and complete the required BLS sections of the application.

    Please note: Students must apply for admission to Saint Vincent College and be accepted prior to applying for an Honors Community program.

    The early application deadline is December 1st and the spring application deadline is February 28th. All early applicants will receive priority consideration for the program.

    Admission to BLS is competitive. Interested students apply for acceptance in the winter before their freshman year, and only 20 students are selected each year. Selection criteria include items such as GPA, leadership activities, community service, student essays, a video describing why you want to be in the program and professional recommendations.

    For more information, contact Dr. Michael Krom, professor of philosophy and director of Benedictine Leadership Studies, at or 724-805-2844.