The St. Stephen’s Certificate in Orthodox Theology is a three-year, non-degree, distance-learning program for those interested in a formal introduction to the Orthodox faith. Open to students with a high school diploma, the St. Stephen’s Certificate courses are identical to those offered in the first three years of our M.Th. in Applied Orthodox Theology program. Concentrations are offered for those who would like to specialize in Youth Ministry, Musicology, Byzantine Iconology, and Oriental Orthodox Studies.
This three year program immerses students in Orthodox Christian theology, history, and spirituality through intensive reading, writing, directed ministry, and an annual Residency period. These graduate level courses enable students to acquire a firm theological foundation, and help them to absorb the practical relevance of the Orthodox Christian ethos.
Many St. Stephen’s Certificate students are full-time professionals, teachers, students, or parents, and they are able to gain this graduate-level education in Orthodox Theology during their evenings, weekends, and blocks of free time. The program is ideal for music directors, youth ministers, and artists. The concentrations in Youth Ministry, Musicology and Byzantine Iconology provide specific preparation for ministry in camps, youth groups, and classrooms; for service as a choir director or chanter; or for the study or practice of iconography.
How does the Certificate Program work?
The St. Stephen’s Certificate of Orthodox Theology consists of four components:
a) Intensive reading
b) Substantive writing
c) Active directed ministry project
d) Annual Residency
Each year of study includes all four of these components in varying degrees. Accepted students will receive the syllabus, course goals and requirements, bibliography, and reading lists for all three years.
In detail, the four components consist of :
1. Guided Reading: The coursework covers six semesters (or “units”) of material over the course of three years. Each unit of coursework covers 2-3 sections on topics such as the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy, Liturgical Theology, Pastoral Theology, Church History, Patristics, and Canon Law.
2. Written Examinations: Examinations take the form of research papers which are time-intensive and demanding, as they demonstrate students’ engagement with the course material and ability to synthesize this knowledge in their own words.
3. Directed Project: Students must complete three ministerial projects, one per year. These are coordinated by the local pastor or director and are aimed at practical leadership within a parish church school, youth group, choir, adult education, senior citizens, retreats, etc.
4. Residency: For one week each summer, students travel to the Antiochian Village Conference & Retreat Center in western Pennsylvania to attend the Residency program, which consists of an intensive series of lectures, workshops, and discussions, and must be completed to fulfill the requirements of the Certificate.
After a successful three years of course work, the student receives the St. Stephen’s Certificate in Orthodox Theology from the Antiochian House of Studies.