Types of Nuns

Updated July 19, 2017

Nuns are elevated over a period of several years as their devotion and service grows within an order. So it's very important women choose an order that best fits their desired mission. Entrance into an order is carefully processed to make certain a candidate is committed and fits well as a member of that order. Several types of nuns represent the various stages into which nuns enter as members of an order, such as Aspirant Nun, Postulant Nun, Novitiate Nun, Sister and Nun of Complete Consecration.

Aspirant Nun

The candidate aspiring to join an order will live with the order for two to four weeks to gain first-hand experience to that order's way of life. During the aspirancy stage, the order gets to know the candidate to determine if she will be a good match for the community. If the candidate believes the order is a match, she can apply for admittance.

Postulant Nun

If the community votes in favour of the candidate, she will begin the next stage, called postulancy. At this stage the candidate will be known as a postulant. She will spend nine months to a year attending classes with members of the community, and learn prayers, scriptures and the community's life.

Novitiate Nun

Being received into the novitiate is the first real step toward becoming part of the community order. During the next two years, the woman's study and commitment must deepen while she performs tasks in the monastery. Although attire will differ depending on the order, most women at this stage wear a white veil and are given a new name.


Following two years, the novice will ask to "make profession as a Nun of the Order of Preachers," according to the Dominican Nuns. At the stage of First Profession, she professes obedience and continues at this level for three years. The sister now receives the black veil that represents death to the world. She will continue her studies and take on more responsibilities in the monastery. The third year, the sister leaves the novitiate to live with the professed nuns and become fully immersed in the life of the monastery.

Nun of Complete Consecration

The solemn profession is when a nun is completely consecrated to God in the Order until death. According to the Dominican Nuns, this profession means the nun will live an evangelical life in the Order, totally committed to God and following Christ. In essence, Christ is her spouse and her life is an ongoing sacrifice of praise.

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

Payton Pritchard is a writer, graphic designer and adjunct instructor. She got her start in journalism in 1996 writing and designing newsletters and writing for newspaper before switching to radio news for eight years. Pritchard has a Bachelor of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in journalism and graphic design from Truman State University and Sullivan College of Technology and Design, respectively.