Ratio Studiorum

Last updated
The Ratio Studiorum, dated 1598, formally issued in 1599 Ratiostudiorum.jpg
The Ratio Studiorum, dated 1598, formally issued in 1599

The Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Iesu (The Official Plan for Jesuit Education), often abbreviated as Ratio Studiorum (Latin: Plan of Studies), was a document that standardized the globally influential system of Jesuit education in 1599. It was a collection of regulations for school officials and teachers. The Ratio Studiorum relied on the classical subjects (theology, philosophy, Latin and Greek) and did not contain any provisions for elementary education. The document was revised in 1832, still built upon the classical subjects but giving more attention to the study of native languages of the students, history, geography, mathematics, and the natural sciences.


The work was the product of many hands and wide experience, but it most directly derives from the efforts of an international team of academics at the Collegio Romano, the Jesuit school in Rome. The Ratio had a major impact on later humanist education. In his Renaissance Literary Theory and Practice, Charles Sears Baldwin writes, "The sixteenth century closed with the full [classical] doctrine operative in the Ratio Studiorum and in the rhetoric of Soarez" (64). [1]

Historical background

The Society of Jesus had not originally envisaged running a network of schools when it was founded, but it soon became progressively involved in and then largely associated with educational work. One hundred years after the order's founding, the Jesuits were running 444 schools. By 1739, they were running 669 schools. [2] The many schools taken over or started by the Society in its first decades all needed plans (rationes). In addition, an increasing number of young men were entering the Society in need of the educational background that was required for priestly service, and the Society began to assume a greater and greater role in the direction of its own formational program. For these two reasons, there grew a great desire for a standard plan for all of the Society's educational institutions.

Under the generalate of Claudio Aquaviva, in 1581, a committee of twelve Jesuit priests was appointed without clear results. A new committee of six was soon formed in 1584: Juan Azor (Spain), Gaspar González (Portugal), James Tyrie (Scotland), Peter Busée (the Netherlands), Anthony Ghuse (Flanders), and Stephen Tucci (Sicily). This committee produced a trial document, the Ratio of 1586, which was sent to various provinces for comments from the teachers. This plan was not intended for actual use in the classrooms. Reflection on the reactions led to the issuance of another document in 1591, which was to be employed in all Jesuit schools for three years. The reflection on these experiments was then used by the committee in Rome to create the final official document of 1599.


The Ratio Studiorum was divided into the following sections: [3]

I. Rules for the provincial superior; for the rector of the college; for the prefect of studies, who supervises classes and instruction, and the prefect of discipline, who maintains order and discipline;

II. Rules for the professors of theology: Scripture, Hebrew language, dogmatic theology, ecclesiastical history, canon law, and moral theology. St. Thomas Aquinas was the main author for theological texts.

III. Rules for the professors of philosophy, physics, and mathematics. Aristotle was prescribed as the standard author.

IV. Rules for the teachers of the studia inferiora (the lower department): Latin and Greek, grammar and syntax, humanities and rhetoric. Other subjects were taught from the beginning under the name of "accessories"—especially history, geography, and antiquities.

See also

Related Research Articles

Society of Jesus male religious congregation of the Catholic Church

The Society of Jesus is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.

Quintilian ancient Roman rhetor

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman educator and rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing. In English translation, he is usually referred to as Quintilian, although the alternate spellings of Quintillian and Quinctilian are occasionally seen, the latter in older texts.

<i>Regimini militantis Ecclesiae</i> papal bull

Regimini militantis Ecclesiae was the papal bull promulgated by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540, which gave a first approval to the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, but limited the number of its members to sixty.

Claudio Acquaviva Superior General of the Society of Jesus

Claudio Acquaviva, S.J. was an Italian Jesuit priest elected in 1581 the fifth Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He is often referred to as the second founder of the Jesuit order. Some older texts, including those illustrated in this article, spell his name Aquaviva.

Jan Roothaan Superior General of the Society of Christ

Very Rev. Jan Philipp Roothaan, S.J. was a Dutch Jesuit, elected twenty-first Superior-General of the Society of Jesus.

Luis Martín Spanish author

Very Rev. Luis Martín García, S.J. was a Spanish Jesuit, elected the twenty-fourth Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

The Congregation for Catholic Education is the pontifical congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for: (1) universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or non-ecclesiastical dependent on ecclesial persons; and (2) schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities.

Antonio Possevino Italian diplomat

Antonio Possevino was a Jesuit protagonist of Counter Reformation as a papal diplomat and a Jesuit controversialist, encyclopedist and bibliographer. He acted as papal legate and the first Jesuit to visit Moscow, vicar general of Sweden, Denmark and northern islands, Muscovy, Livonia, Rus, Hungary, Pomerania, Saxony between 1578 and 1586.

<i>Bibliotheca selecta</i> book by Antonio Possevino

Bibliotheca selecta is a bibliographical encyclopedia by the Jesuit Antonio Possevino, printed in two folio volumes at the Typographia Apostolica Vaticana by Domenico Basa in 1593. It represents an authoritative and up-to-date Jesuit compendium of Counter-Reformation knowledge.

Classical Gymnasium in Zagreb Public school in Zagreb, Croatia

The Classical Gymnasium is a gymnasium high school situated in Zagreb, Croatia. It was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1607. In its first year it had 260 students and it operated on the basis of the Jesuit programme "Ratio atque institutio studiorum societatis Jesu".

Manuel Álvares Jesuit educator in Portugal

Manuel Álvares was a Jesuit educator in Portugal.

The Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (MHSI) is a collection of scholarly volumes on critically edited documents on the origin and early years of the Society of Jesus, including the life and writings of St Ignatius of Loyola.

Pierre Busée was a Dutch Jesuit theologian. He assisted in producing the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum and the catechism of Peter Canisius.

The Jesuit Historical gallery Institute is an international group of Jesuit historians committed since the end of the 19th century to bring out scientifically critical editions of the foundational texts of the Society of Jesus, and to promote research on the history of the Jesuits. Originally based in Madrid the Institute is now quartered in Rome.

Georg Michael Pachtler was a German Jesuit controversial and educational writer.

Miguel Bernad Filipino writer, priest, academic and journalist

Miguel Anselmo Azcona Bernad, S.J. was a Filipino Jesuit priest, educator, linguist, critic, academic, historian, author, journalist and editor. Son of Misamis Mayor and Misamis Occidental Governor Don Anselmo Bernad, he entered the Society of Jesus on June 7, 1932 and was ordained March 24, 1946 in the Fordham University Church. He was editor-in-chief of Philippine Studies from 1956 to 1959 and founder of Kinaadman Journal Research Office in 1979.

Eloquentia Perfecta, a tradition of the Society of Jesus, is a value of Jesuit rhetoric that revolves around cultivating a person as a whole, as one learns to speak and write for the common good. Eloquentia Perfecta is a Latin phrase which means perfect eloquence. The meaning behind the phrase includes values of eloquent expression and action for the common good. For Jesuits, the term Eloquentia Perfecta was understood as the joining of knowledge and wisdom with virtue and morality.

Juan Alfonso de Polanco was a Spanish Jesuit priest. From 1547 to 1556, he was the secretary of Ignatius of Loyola and one of his closest advisers. Later, he was the secretary of the first two superior generals of the Society of Jesus after Loyola, Diego Laynez, and Francis Borgia. He also chronicled the early history of the Jesuits.

Samuel Mulledy 19th-century American Jesuit priest

Samuel A. Mulledy was an American Catholic priest and Jesuit who served as president of Georgetown College in 1845. Born in Virginia, he was the brother of Thomas F. Mulledy, who was a prominent 19th-century Jesuit in the United States and a president of Georgetown. As a student at Georgetown, Samuel was one of the founding members of the Philodemic Society, and proved to be a distinguished student, which resulted in his being sent to Rome to complete his higher education and be ordained to the priesthood. Upon his return to the United States, he became the master of novices at the Jesuit novitiate in Maryland, before being named president of Georgetown. He sought to be relieved of the position after only a few months, and returned to teaching and ministry.

John B. Creeden 20th-century American Jesuit educator

John B. Creeden was an American Catholic priest and Jesuit, who served in many senior positions at Jesuit universities in the United States. Born in Massachusetts, he attended Boston College, and studied for the priesthood in Maryland and Austria. He taught at Fordham University and then at Georgetown University, where he was made Dean of Georgetown College in 1909, and simultaneously served as principal of Georgetown Preparatory School.


  1. Baldwin, Charles Sears. Renaissance Literary Theory and Practice. New York: Columbia UP, 1939.
  2. Moss, Jean Dietz; Wallace, William A. (2003). Rhetoric & Dialectic in the Time of Galileo. Washington, D.C.: Catholic UP. p. 118. ISBN   9780813213316.
  3. Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Ratio Studiorum

Further reading