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Certificate in Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture



The Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture Program assists future religious leaders to understand and harness the creativity of the arts for theological reflection and contemporary worship. Equally, it assists practicing artists within the popular culture industry in their exploration of the theological context and religious dimensions of their work.

The certificate in Religion and the Arts requires fifteen credit hours, taken as part of the regular load for a student enrolled in any of Vanderbilt Divinity School's degree programs (M.Div, MTS). The courses used to fulfill these hours should be selected with advice and approval of the Program Director and may be comprised of electives that can fulfill other degree requirements or electives, as well as a maximum of three hours for a final project. Students are encouraged to choose courses from the list of RACC approved courses (see 'Courses' on this site). There is one required course, "Writing Creatively About Religion," or another course by approval. With permission of the Director and the professor in question, up to two non-approved courses in which the student can direct their individual work toward religion and the arts can count toward the certificate. In addition, up to two courses may be taken in other Vanderbilt departments or schools (e.g., the Blair School of Music or the Fine Arts Department).  In sum, the student will complete 15 hours of course work and with the approval of the program Director, complete a final project.


Persons pursuing the certificate in Religion in the Arts must:

1. Be registered for academic credit as a degree-seeking student of the Divinity School or GDR. Non-degree seeking (special) students may enroll for Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

2. Complete fifteen hours of approved coursework for the program.

3. Present a final project in the student's area of interest (this may overlap with the M.Div. Senior Project or MTS thesis). The project need not be a written thesis paper, but could be a performance, exhibition, or other creative work. Students presenting such creative work as a final project are expected to submit a short paper, which connects the art or performance to the student's scholarly work and other significant experiences at VDS.  Students are advised that creative projects, whether done for academic credit or not, take time to put together. As the design of the final project is subject to the Director's approval, planning should begin before one's final year in the program

4. Receive approval for that final project from a first and second evaluator, chosen from the VU faculty in consultation with the Director of the Religion in the Arts Program. For M.Div Senior Projects, both evaluators must come from VDS faculty. A third evaluator from outside the VDS faculty may be added if deemed necessary by the director.


A statement of purpose. A proposal for study developed with the director of the program and the academic advisor (this can include work the student has already completed that would be a fit with the goals of the certificate program).Proof of a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Application can be made at any point during the student's time at VDS, and may be a part of the initial application to admission to Vanderbilt. Final approval for the awarding of the certificate rests jointly with the program director and the faculty of the Divinity School.