The St. Stephen’s Certificate in Orthodox Theology is a non-degree program for those seeking an education in Orthodox theology at the graduate level, but who do not wish to obtain a degree. Open to students with a high school diploma, the St. Stephen’s Certificate may be completed in 2-1/2 years (5 semesters). Courses are identical to those offered in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program, but the Certificate does not require the research and writing of a Master’s Thesis.
The program is designed for those interested in a rigorous graduate-level education in theology across a range of topics: Scripture, Doctrine, Fundamentals of Orthodox Christianity, Liturgical Theology, Pastoral Theology, Church History, Patristics, and Canon Law. The hybrid educational model includes online courses, intensive reading and writing, directed ministry/projects, and an annual Residency week held at the Antiochian Village in western Pennsylvania. This multi-faceted educational approach enables students to acquire a firm theological foundation, and helps them to absorb the practical relevance of the Orthodox Christian ethos.
Certificate and MTS students choose either the General Track or an area of Concentration, as follows:
Some students elect to follow two tracks, known as a double concentration, which involves completing extra courses and may extend the time it takes to complete the program.
The program is a demanding graduate-level course of study with a three-pronged approach:
1) Online courses: All course requirements and information (including syllabus) are uploaded into each course by the individual faculty members. Requirements may include readings, discussion threads, weekly assignments or quizzes, papers to write, and online lectures to attend. Some faculty ask that students attend “live” online sessions; some record their sessions to allow asynchronous participation. Students will need to be prepared to connect regularly and consistently with their courses and faculty throughout the semester, using a reliable internet connection.
2) Projects (or Praxis): Students will complete two Projects courses, which involve working within their parish community, under the supervision of the Projects Director and the student’s parish priest. Students submit a proposal at the start of the term, pursue their project, and then submit a report at the end documenting the project.
3) Residency: The Residency is an essential part of the theological education at AHOS and is therefore required of all students. It is a time for students and faculty to meet in person and build community as they come together for lectures, discussions, advisory meetings, church services, meals, and social time. Each degree program has its specific Residency requirements. Certificate and MTS students are required to attend two Residencies, one week at the start of their first academic year, and a second week at the start of their second academic year.