University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Certificate


Why do a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies?

To watch the sun illuminate a stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral and understand what is depicted; to decipher the handwriting in a five-hundred-year-old manuscript and wonder what the person who wrote it was thinking; to ponder the philosophical questions raised by the Nominalists in the 14th century, questions that still provoke heated discussions amongst contemporary philosophers today; to read an account of a 16th-century mystic and see in her experience a challenge to our own notions of what constitutes the ideal body.

An intellectual interest in a historical time period far removed from our own brings many rewards: the pleasures of pursuing historical difference, of seeing how similar cultural questions received quite different answers, and, perhaps most importantly, of gaining the ability to project oneself imaginatively into another person’s way of life. The Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies is designed to give students the freedom to undertake interdisciplinary work in several departments, which in turn will provide the tools necessary for viewing clearly not only a distant society, but also, in its reflection, our own. The Certificate is an added credential (similar to a minor) that demonstrates a student’s substantive grasp of complex cultural formations as well as a specialized intellectual challenge pursued in addition to the major.

Self-Designed Majors

Students may also, with the help of the Director, choose to work beyond the Certificate to a Major in Medieval and/or Renaissance Studies, following the "Self-Designed Major" guidelines in the CAS Bulletin.