Certificate in Religion and Public Life

The Certificate in Religion and Public Life (CRPL) is designed to prepare HDS graduates with the tools, skills, and experience to explore professional pathways outside of traditional ministry or academic scholarship.

Through the CRPL, MTS and MDiv students engage in a structure of coursework, mentoring, experiential learning, and a final project. Students explore the challenges and opportunities that arise when a nuanced understanding of religion is employed within a particular professional or vocational arena of focus such as education, journalism, government, community organizing, humanitarian action, and entertainment and media.

Certificate Requirements

For HDS students, the certificate is awarded upon the completion of all MTS or MDiv degree requirements as well as two certificate-specific courses and internship:

Required Courses

  • HDS 3300: Religious Literacy and the Professions (Only offered fall semesters. Must be taken in the first fall semester for MTS students and the first or second fall semester by MDiv students. Students will focus on one profession and issue for the duration of the class.)
  • Certificate in Religion and Public Life Capstone Seminar (Register for spring semester before graduation. Includes completing a final project relevant to the student’s certificate focus and in consultation with a project advisor.)

A minimum grade of B is required in all Certificate in Religion and Public Life courses.

*See the CRPL Student Handbook (PDF) for timeline options to complete the courses and internships.

Internship in Area of Concentration

The CRPL internship requires 280 hours of work and can be fulfilled as follows:

  • Full-time summer placement (35 hours per week for 8 weeks)
  • Extended part-time placement (10 hours per week for 28 weeks)

The internship search should begin as early as possible. Students should:

  • Refer to the CRPL Student Handbook to learn more about the requirements of the internship.
  • Contact RPL staff about current, approved internship sites.
  • Consult with RPL Professional Fellows who can advise and mentor, and in some cases help broker internship opportunities relevant to a student’s interests and skill.
  • Work closely with RPL Associate Director of Religious Literacy and the Professions to identify other possible options arising out of internship postings made available by other Harvard professional schools (Harvard Kennedy School, Chan School, GSE, School of Design) or as a result of the student’s own connections.
  • Contact site supervisors and begin process of securing a placement contract.
  • Internships must be funded. Apply to RPL for a stipend if the site does not provide funding.
  • Submit placement proposal to RPL Faculty Director for review. (Proposals must be approved prior to application for funding.)

Note: There may be instances in which a Field Education placement or other internship can meet the CRPL internship requirement. Consult with RPL Associate Director of Religious Literacy and the Professions, for further information about which internships qualify for the CRPL and how you will fulfill the requirements of both.

*See CRPL Student Handbook for further information on internship structure and requirements and compensation.

Requesting the Certificate

Students will be required to apply for the CRPL to the RPL Faculty Director and the Registrar in the spring semester of their final year upon successful completion of all requirements for either the MTS or MDiv degree as well as for the CRPL in the spring semester of their final year. The responsibility for applying for the CRPL rests with the student and must be made no later than the end of the final examination period of the spring semester. The Faculty Director of the RPL and the Registrar will verify that requirements have been fulfilled. The Registrar will post receipt of the Certificate on the student’s transcript.

Upon completion of all requirements, students will earn a Certificate in Religion and Public Life in one of the following areas of concentration: Education, Government, Media and Entertainment, Journalism, Humanitarian Action, or Community Organizing.

Meet the CRPL Faculty, Staff, and Fellows


Diane Moore: Faculty Director, Religion and Public Life; and Lecturer on Religion, Conflict, and Peace


Susie Hayward: Associate Director of the Religious Literacy and the Professions Initiative

Reem Atassi: Coordinator in Religion and Public Life Program


Maytha Alhassen: RPL Media and Entertainment Fellow

Teresa Cavazos Cohn: RPL Climate Change Fellow

Karilyn Crockett: RPL Government Fellow

Mike Delaney: RPL Humanitarian Action Fellow

Álvaro Huerta: RPL Organizing Fellow

Deborah Jian Lee: RPL Journalism Fellow

Sarabinh Levy-Brightman: RPL Education Fellow

Rhon Manigault-Bryant: RPL Racial Justice Fellow

Phil Torrey: RPL Immigration and Refugee Fellow

Cynthia Wilson: RPL Native and Indigenous Rights Fellow


Refer to the CRPL Student Handbook for further information on the Certificate of Religion and Public Life and how to navigate the process. You can also visit the RPL website for further information about the Religion and Public Life program.

For further information, contact Coordinator in Religion and Public Life program Reem Atassi at ratassi@hds.harvard.edu.