Certificate in Spirituality Studies

The Certificate in Spirituality Studies signifies a student’s concentrated development of research and/or practical competencies in spirituality as an area of academic reflection, an avenue of lived religious expression and engagement, and a locus of formation and practice. The goal of the certificate program is to prepare students to meaningfully and effectively engage and strengthen the spiritualities of individuals and communities across a wide range of contexts and to explore the rich depth of religious, contextual, and personal resources for such work.

To that end, the Certificate in Spirituality Studies invites students into academic engagement with the historical, theological, anthropological, and practical dimensions of spirituality as both an area of academic study and persons’ and communities’ practical expressions of relationship to the sacred within history. The courses also introduce students to a variety of spiritual practices engaged by people across history, culture, and religious traditions and foster sustained reflection on the relationship of spirituality to various theological, ethical, and practical concerns, as well as historical-cultural contexts and vocation-specific questions. One of the program’s strengths is that it allows students to tailor their academic study of spirituality to their specific interests and vocational paths by providing opportunities for: 1) deep and sustained reflection on the religious resources and historical-contextual expressions of spirituality; 2) understanding of and competence in the facilitation and guidance of spiritual practices; and 3) personal spiritual growth and vocational discernment.

In addition to the Certificate in Spirituality Studies, BU also offers the required coursework for the United Methodist Certificate in Spiritual Formation. Students wanting more information about getting the certification from their board of ordained ministry may contact Dr. Wanda Stahl, codirector of the Contextual Education office.

Students wanting more information about the Certificate in Spirituality Studies or the value of such certification may contact Dr. Claire Wolfteich, professor of practical theology and spirituality studies.

Learning Outcomes

  • Become familiar with diverse expressions of spirituality within and across religious traditions and cultures, both historically and in contemporary contexts.
  • Develop a nuanced, historically attentive understanding of specific spiritual movements, spiritual practices, and approaches to spiritual formation, as well as the theological, philosophical, and cultural influences that shape such expressions.
  • Explore contributions of various disciplines (e.g., theology, neuroscience, sociology, psychology, history, literary studies, etc.) to the study and practice of spirituality and identify methodological issues and critical areas of study in the field.
  • Articulate one’s own theological and/or philosophical conception of spirituality, identifying key elements that inform your study, leadership, or personal practice of spirituality.
  • Gain skills in facilitating and guiding communities in spiritual practices and spiritual growth, with attentiveness to contextual issues facing specific contemporary communities.
  • Explore the relevance of specific spiritual practices for one’s own spirituality, with a view toward personal spiritual growth and vocational discernment.

Requirements

The certificate can be earned in conjunction with degree program requirements or as a stand-alone certificate. It is broadly designed for students across traditions and several degree programs. If a student wants to substitute other courses, including those from one of the other schools in the Boston Theological Institute, they may consult with Dr. Wolfteich and request approval by petition to the Academic Dean.

PhD students who want to complete this certificate should contact their advisor for requirements.

In addition to the requirements below, STH holds an informal colloquium once per semester to build community, reflect together, and share resources among students pursuing the Certificate in Spirituality Studies.

Students must complete five of the following courses:

  • STH TA 811 Book of Common Prayer
  • STH TC 819/919 The Sacraments: Rites and Theologies
  • STH TC 823 Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition
  • STH TC 825 Prayer and Social Engagement
  • STH TC 829/909 Spiritual Autobiographies
  • STH TC 837/937 Vocation, Work, and Faith
  • STH TC 844/912 Classics in Christian Spirituality
  • STH TC 852 Spirituality and Leadership
  • STH TC 871 Spiritual Foundations for Peace Building
  • STH TC 878 Sabbath: Theology and Practice
  • STH TC 893 Practicum in Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction
  • STH TC 978 Sabbath: Theology and Practice (DMin)
  • STH TF 703 Practicing Faith
  • STH TF 808 R1 Travel Seminar: Camino de Santiago—Pilgrimage in the History of Spirituality
  • STH TH 820 Spirituality in Historical Perspective
  • STH TH 915 Radical Christian Spiritualities (DMin)
  • STH TH 927 Early Modern Piety
  • STH TO 821 The Book of Psalms
  • STH TS 808 Spirit and Ethic
  • STH TS 857 Ethics, Spirituality & Technology
  • STH TT 811 Mysticism and Philosophy: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives
  • STH TT 818 Development of Christian Thought: The Holy Spirit
  • STH TY 704 A1 Spiritual Care
  • STH TY 806/906 Theories of Human Development

In addition to these course offerings at STH, students may include (with approval) one or more BTI courses in spirituality studies to fulfill certificate requirements. Examples of eligible BTI courses include: 

  • Boston College
    • TMHC7027 History of Western Christianity II, 850–1650
    • TMHC7218 Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality
    • TMPS8034 Introduction to the Practice of Spiritual Direction
    • TMST8041 Theological Anthropology and the Body
    • TMST8043 Historical Spiritual Classics in Theological Perspective
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    • CH/SF 616 Spiritual Autobiographies of Women
    • CH/SF 618 Medieval Spirituality
    • CH/SF 667 HA C.S. Lewis’ Life, Works, and Spirituality
    • SF/CH 591 Dynamics of Spiritual Life
    • SF/CH 623 Spiritual Awakenings: Great Revivals from Edwards to Graham
    • SF/CH/TH 619 Reformation Era Spirituality
    • SF/TH 962 Reading and Research: The History of Christian Spirituality
  • Harvard Divinity School
    • HDS 3019 Buddhist Chaplaincy: Spiritual Foundations in Caregiving Practice
    • HDS 3171 Spiritual Cultivation in Islam Part I: The Classical Era
    • HDS 3172 Spiritual Cultivation in Islam Part II: The Modern Era
    • HDS 2003 Mystical Theology
    • HDS 2083 Neurospirituality
    • HDS 2220 Teresa of Avila
    • HDS 2603 Seeking God: A History of Christian Spirituality in Twelve Lives
    • HDS 2610 Contemplative Prayer in Christianity
  • Hellenic College Holy Cross Orthodox School of Theology
    • CHST 6252 Lives of the Saints
    • DOGM 7121 Experiential Theology of the Elders   
    • PATR 7312 Orthodox Monasticism
    • PATR 7755 The Philokalia