Study with Hartford Seminary’s interfaith, global community from anywhere in the world.
For years Hartford Seminary has provided quality online learning with knowledgeable faculty and an engaging, intellectual student body of diverse identities and faiths. Since 2017, our Master of Arts in Religious Studies* program has been offered online as well as on campus, or as a combination of those.
The Seminary also offers an online graduate certificate in religious studies. You can take all 18 credit hours (six courses) online, and credits from this certificate are often eligible for transfer into our Masters’ degrees.
The process is simple! When you have registered for an online course:
- Review the syllabus online for any pre-work or assignments
- Buy your books
- Await an email with your course site, password, and instructions (typically sent a few days before the course begins)
*Online program accredited by the Association for Theological Schools (ATS), and The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
Questions? Want to know more? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Students can take courses online for credit or audit just like the face-to-face classes at Hartford Seminary.
All our online 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, 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.
Master of Arts in Religious Studies
The Master of Arts in Religious Studies degree program at Hartford Seminary provides an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to deepen and broaden their faith understandings, to reflect on the challenge of diversity in a dialogical setting, and to meaningfully relate religious theory and spiritual practice to the context in which faith communities exist in daily life, community, and the world at large. Requirements for this degree online are the same as for on campus. Visit this section of the website for more information on requirements and how to apply.
Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies:
This 18-credit 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. For more information about applying for this graduate certificate, visit our admissions page.
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.
Online Learning – Frequently Asked Questions
- What is online learning?
- What are the benefits of online courses?
- How does the quality of an online course compare to a face-to-face classroom course?
- Can I complete my Degree Online?
- Are online courses right for me?
- How much time will my online course take?
- What is the coursework like?
- How will I get my textbooks?
- Will I have access to the Seminary Library?
- Is there someone who can answer my questions if I have technical difficulties?
- Is there an enrollment deadline?
- What kinds of courses do you offer?
Online distance learning means taking classes over the Internet. Courses (both for credit and non-credit) are offered online, using Canvas, our course-hosting system. Students log into their courses using a computer, tablet, or mobile device. 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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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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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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Starting in Fall 2017, candidates for our Master of Arts in Religious Studies will be able to study fully online in addition to our 18-credit graduate certificate in religious studies. Requirements for on-campus study vary for our other programs, but many can be completed with two-thirds of the courses taken online.
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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 well in writing. 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 strongly prefer face-to-face communication. Keep in mind that Canvas, our course hosting software, makes it easy for professors to create narrated presentations that let you hear them while you watch their slide presentations. Both professors and students can also share audio and video comments with each other, which opens up online communication and make it more personal.
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Online courses are organized into weekly modules. To complete each module, you will probably have to spend about 3 hours per week session on the course web site reviewing lectures, taking part in online discussions, and interacting with the professor and other students. You should plan to spend an additional 6-9 hours per session reading assigned materials and completing written assignments. 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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Most online courses follow a typical course format with online lectures and videos, 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. You can access your course work anytime. Once your course begins, you should log on every day or two, depending on the weekly schedule of your course. Many courses will require you to make an initial contribution to a discussion board, then return to the board a day or two later to write smaller posts that respond to the work of other students.
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Your instructor will share this information with you as part of the Course Syllabus. Many online courses are heavily based upon internet resources, but most of them still require books. Most students order their textbooks online.
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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 www.library.hartsem.edu 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? [ Top ]
Yes, every seminary student and professor has 24/7 access to the Canvas help desk, which is (877)-249-4494. There is also 24/7 chat help available when you click on the Help button at the bottom left corner of every Canvas page.
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 by meeting with their advisor and going through the normal registration procedure.
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We offer online courses in all the Seminary’s course areas. 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.
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