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Hartford Seminary

Online Courses


Course Offerings

Online Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies


Neither time nor distance need hinder you from taking courses at Hartford Seminary.

Students can take Masters level courses for credit or audit just like the face-to-face classes at the Seminary. Recent changes in our accreditation policies mean that Hartford Seminary MA students can now have up half their courses toward their degree requirements as distance education courses.

The Seminary offers an online religious studies certificate program – essentially allowing a student to take all 18 credits of that certificate degree – approximately 6 courses – online. Then, after this graduate certificate, it is often possible to transfer all those credits into a MA program here, the rest of which would have to be done in face-to-face coursework.

We are committed to offering at least two online courses each semester in diverse subject areas. We also offer a variety of other non credit educational opportunities online.

If you have registered for an online course, please note that you will be contacted a few days before the course begins and then be given their information such as password, course site, instructions, etc. Prior to this, check the specific course’s page on the Seminary website for book lists and initial course instructions. This is the procedure for every online course, every semester. Thanks!

Students can take Masters level courses online for credit or audit just like the face-to-face classes at Hartford Seminary.

All our courses are “asynchronous,” which means that you can log on any time to participate.

Online courses have several benefits. If you live far away from the Seminary now you will be able to take our courses. Online courses allow you to fit your educational work into your busy schedule. And online education allows you to work independently and at your own pace.

Graduate Certificates at Hartford Seminary

Recognizing that flexibility is the key for today’s student, Hartford Seminary offers an alternative in graduate learning: the Graduate Certificate. This program provides students an opportunity for study without committing to a full degree program. Successful completion of 18 credits, or 6 courses, fulfills the requirements to earn a Graduate Certificate.


A Bachelor’s degree (or its educational equivalent at a satisfactory level of achievement from an accredited institution) is a prerequisite for admission. You can print the application on this web site. The application fee is $50. Full admission details are available in the graduate certificate section of this web site.

Further study:

All credits earned in the Graduate Certificate program will be transferable into a Master’s degree if you decide to continue studying at the Seminary and are admitted into the M.A. program.

Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies:

This certificate is intended for students who desire the greatest flexibility to meet their educational objectives. Students completing this graduate certificate will have constructed a coherent set of courses in collaboration with their faculty advisor.

Flexibility in course options:

In addition to online courses, you can obtain credits in other formats such as intensive one-week courses during January and June and travel seminars. These options make it easy for students to complete the requirements of the program at a distance from Hartford Seminary.

The Online Curriculum

Hartford Seminary offers at least two online courses each semester. One course will be in Islamic studies, dialogue or interfaith relations. The second will be in areas of study such as: Scripture, Ministry, Religion and Society, History, Spirituality, Theology and Ethics.

Students enrolled in the online graduate certificate in religious studies will:

  • Understand the challenge of religious diversity in today’s multifaith world
  • broaden their religious knowledge

Sample Online Courses

  • Introduction to Islamic Law
  • Islamic History
  • Understanding Islam: Rumor and Reality
  • Life of the Prophet Muhammad
  • Religious Minorities in the Middle East
  • Understanding Catholicism
  • Popular Religion and American Individualism
  • Women, Religion & the Future of USA Churches
  • Reading the New Testament Through the Eyes of the Oppressed

(Course offerings are subject to change; consult our current courses for availability.)

If you would like an application or more information, please contact us at or fill out a printable form for mailing.


Online Learning – Frequently Asked Questions


What is online learning?

Online distance learning means taking classes over the Internet. Courses (both for credit and non-credit) are offered online, using the Web and e-mail. Students register for courses, professors teach the material, classroom discussion takes place and assignments and term papers are completed and turned in – all just as in a face-to-face classroom. Many of the assignments and discussions take place through email or are posted to a web discussion board. All our courses are asynchronous, which means that you can log on any time to participate. Courses do have a start date and an end date, with assignments and requirements to be completed on time each week.

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What are the benefits of online courses?

Certain benefits are obvious. Some people who live far away from the Seminary are able to take our courses. Likewise, many of our students have difficulty fitting their educational efforts into busy professional schedules, juggling family obligations and other commitments. Online learning allows us to deliver educational opportunities in a creative, flexible way. Other benefits are less evident. Online education allows you to work somewhat independently and at your own pace. It is an excellent mode of education for students who shy away from anxiety producing social situations and for those who prefer to think out an answer to the professor’s question before “speaking”. There is a different kind of involvement and personal contact with other students and the professor in an online course. Many online students report a special kind of thought-provoking interaction that is different from, and in some ways better, than the kind of interaction that takes place in a face-to-face classroom.

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How does the quality of an online course compare to a face-to-face classroom course?

The professors and the syllabi of our online courses offer the same high quality as our face-to-face Seminary courses. Our distance program courses have met the same strict Association of Theological Schools measures of accreditation as the rest of our Seminary courses.

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Can I complete my Degree Online?

The Seminary is committed to offering at least two online courses each fall and spring semester. Due to the nature of theological education however, there is a limit on the number of courses that may be taken online. Please check with the Registrar for more details about the online course limit. The one exception to this rule is our Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies which is earned exclusively through the online format.

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Are online courses right for me?

Online education is a great option for people who are self-motivated learners. Online students also need to be able to follow written instructions and communicate in writing. You need to feel comfortable with the technologies of e-mail, the Web, and downloading different file types and you must have regular access to a computer with sufficient memory and a reliable Internet connection (see more technological details below). Online learning provides a lot of written interaction with students and instructors, but no (or very little) face-to-face interaction. Many students enjoy the focused intensive written communication that the online format facilitates, but online learning is probably not right for you if you prefer face-to-face communication. Our partner, The CT Distance Learning Consortium, has created an excellent question and answer section about “whether distance learning is right for you.” We recommend prospective students take a look at this page at

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How much time will my online course take?

On average, you should expect to spend 3 hours per class session on the course web site reviewing text-based lectures, posting assignments electronically and reading the postings of your fellow students. You should plan to spend an additional 6-9 hours per session reading assigned materials and completing written assignments. Realize, however, these sessions may be stretched out throughout the week or over several weeks. In many ways online courses can be more demanding and time consuming than face-to-face courses, especially if you are a slow typist or reader.

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What is the coursework like?

Most online courses follow a typical course format with readings, reflection papers, feedback from the professor and dialogue with your fellow students. You receive a similar amount of class/instructor contact time as students in our face-to-face courses. Online classes have limited enrollment, allowing you to get to know your professor and fellow students personally. You can access your course work anytime. Once your course begins, you should log on every few days (depending on what your professor requests) to access new email notes or discussion postings. A course might include PowerPoint, audio files, or videos. It almost always includes web resources as well as written texts. A typical online course has a weekly flow like: the professor’s lecture and set of readings.

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How will I get my textbooks?

Your instructor will share this information with you as part of the Course Syllabus.

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Will I have access to the Seminary Library?

As a registered student of Hartford Seminary, you will be given a student ID number that will allow you to access all the online library resources we have. Visit the library site at to see what is available and to take full advantage of the resources of the library. Additionally many of the readings, discussion themes and research topics will have lists of web-based online resources to supplement the course and library resources.

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Is there someone who can answer my questions if I have technical difficulties?

You won’t be alone in cyberspace! You will be able to contact the director of Web and Distance Education or his assistant with any questions you might have. They will be able to answer your questions and walk you through the entire process of online learning. The distance education office employees are available by phone, fax, or email. We are also creating “how to” guides that address basic issues such as downloading and installing Adobe reader or opening word files from the web to assist online students. Likewise, your course professor may be able to help with basic technological questions.

Additionally, our partner, the CT Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC), has Technical Support material available online such as a Frequently Asked Questions section under Technical Support that provides answers to common questions and problems.

NOTE: Not all of the CTDLC answers apply to students taking courses through Hartford Seminary. The CTDLC supports a host of different kinds of schools and online programs. If you have a question about the program and course requirements please contact Brian Clark, Director of Online Learning.

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Can I experiment with an online course before taking a course at Hartford Seminary?

Yes, we highly recommend that both the novice and expert visit one of two model tutorial courses and play around with the technology and the idea of learning online. Our partner, the CT Distance Learning Consortium, offers an online tutorial and numerous other supportive pages of instruction for the online learner. We encourage everyone to visit the Student Resource section of this site at

We use Blackboard software to provide our online courses. Blackboard ( has an orientation to help you get comfortable with their format, and once you register for class, we will direct you to the online orientation site.

The CTDLC also has a Blackboard FAQ is helpful at or

We strongly recommend that all students in our online classes complete this orientation before their classes begin. This will help you complete your online courses with greater ease and confidence.

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What kind of equipment do I need?

Students should have a PC or Macintosh computer with reliable access to the Internet, and use Internet Explorer 5.0 (or higher) or Firefox 1.0 (or higher) as their browser. Our partner, the CT Distance Learning Consortium, offers a page that will test your system to see if it meets the basic requirements for online education at

You may also need to upgrade your browser or get additional plug-ins (software to do special things like read .pdf files or listen to a recording over the web). The CTDLC has created a page of links to many of these tools at

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Is there a registration deadline?

Yes, the registration deadline is the first day of class. We recommend, however, that you enroll and pay for the course at least two business days before the start of your course so you can became familiar with the technology and course format. Matriculated students should follow Seminary policy and meet with their advisor and go through the normal registration procedure.

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What kinds of courses do you offer?

We offer online courses in all the Seminary’s course areas over several years timeframe. Any online Masters-level three-credit course is exactly comparable to our face-to-face courses at the Seminary. These courses can be taken for credit or audited for no credit. The cost of online MA courses is the same as our face-to-face courses.

We also offer a variety of educational non-credit courses online that are advertised on our website and through our Communications Office. The cost of these courses will vary, but are typically around $50/course. For more information on these courses you may contact our Communications Assistant at 860-509-9555.

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