Religious educators help elucidate religious belief systems, doctrines, rituals, and customs. Those teaching religion benefit from possessing a well-rounded foundation in religious history and practices as well as an interdisciplinary approach to lesson plan design.
Through this certificate—jointly sponsored by Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Extension School— you gain both.
What will I learn?
You will gain understanding, knowledge, and fluency in:
- A historical review of the relationship between religion and public education in the United States, and a contemporary analysis of differing views regarding the nature and purpose of public education and the role of religion.
- The study of religion from a nonsectarian perspective by applying an interdisciplinary, multigenerational cultural studies methodology.
- Lesson and unit plan development complementing various educational settings.
- The historical origins, central teachings, and devotional practices of discrete religious traditions.
Is this right for me?
This professional graduate certificate is for individuals currently working in or working toward deepening their skills and expertise for these types of roles:
- Religious educator
- Religious youth advisor
- Advisor at a place of worship (e.g., church, synagogue, mosque)
- Advisor at a religious organization
You take five courses to obtain a professional graduate certificate in religious studies and education.
Elective courses (choose three):
- CLAS E-206 Mysteries of Initiation in Ancient Greece
- ENGL E-114 Classics in Christian Literature
- GOVT E-1968 Islam and Democracy: Religion, Modernity, and the State | online
- HIST E-1572 The Holocaust in History, Literature, and Film
- HSCI E-200 Crusades, Plagues, and Hospitals: Medicine, Religion, and Society in the Medieval Mediterranean
- HSCI E-205 Bodies and Sexualities in the Medieval Middle East: Medical, Cultural, and Religious Views | online
- RELI E-1010/W World Religions | online
- RELI E-1047/W Religion, the Arts, and Social Change | online
- RELI E-1069 Seeking God: The History and Literature of Christian Spirituality
- RELI E-1325 Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels
- RELI E-1520/W Religion, Conflict, and Peace in Contemporary Global Affairs | online
- RELI E-1550 Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies | online
- RELI E-1700/W Buddhism and Social Change
Earning the certificate
No application is required. Simply choose the courses you’d like to take first and register for graduate credit. Most students take one or two courses a term.
Will all the courses listed be offered every year?
The required courses are offered, but the elective offerings do change slightly from year to year due to instructor availability and new offerings.
- Take all courses for graduate credit.
- Earn at least a B in all courses.
- Complete all courses within three years.
Monitor your progress
You may monitor your progress by logging in to online services and choosing the Certificate Course Tracker and Request Form. This form will confirm the courses that count toward the certificate, the courses for which you are currently registered, and the courses that you’ve completed.
Requesting the certificate
When you have completed the final certificate course with the required grade, you may request your certificate by logging in to online services and completing the Certificate Course Tracker and Request Form. Be sure to request the certificate within 30 days of when grades are posted online (see calendar for dates).
After your request is reviewed and approved, you will receive an e-mail with a link to your electronic certificate, which you may print. Also, certificates, printed on parchment paper and suitable for framing, are mailed out at the end of the fall, spring, and summer terms.
The certificate will state:
Harvard University, Harvard Extension School awarded [Your Name] a five course professional graduate-level certificate in religious studies and education.
The certificate, along with the courses and the grades, are noted on your official Harvard Extension School transcript.
Considering a master's degree?
This is a standalone credential, but you may be able to count some or all the certificate courses toward the Master of Liberal Arts depending on the concentration or track you choose. Visit the degree course search to find out how certificate courses apply toward the degree.
If you want to earn the master’s degree, apply to the degree program first, and earn the certificate along the way. If you prefer to leave your options open, keep degree program requirements in mind as you begin to take courses. For either the certificate or degree, you can start out with one course, then decide.