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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jul 25, 2024
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Certificate

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In spite of change through the centuries and variations of a regional and national character, the millennium preceding the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes in 1616 is marked by a coherence sufficient to justify considering it as a cultural entity, worthy of study for its humanistic qualities and for its importance in preparing the modern world. Some of the principal aims of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program are:

  • to identify and explore aspects of medieval and Renaissance cultures that are an important part of our own cultural heritage;
  • to promote an understanding of our medieval and Renaissance ancestors through the investigation of the ways they faced the issues of their day, asked questions of their institutions, and were conscious of themselves and the world around them;
  • to help students understand historical relativity by showing them how different periods and individuals have understood the Middle Ages and Renaissance in very different ways; and
  • to provide the basis for an open-minded attitude toward any culture that is different from our own.

In consultation with a program advisor (who may be a member of the Executive Committee, one of the departmental representatives, or another faculty member specializing in the area), the candidate will define an area of interest and organize a program of courses in relation to it. In designing a certificate program, students are urged to keep in mind the aims of the program as described above. For more information, see


The certificate requires 15 credits. At least nine credits will be earned in 1000-level courses.

The student must take at least two courses from each category. Courses should not be chosen at random but should follow a pattern of interrelated studies worked out with a Program Advisor from one of the cooperating Departments or with the Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The categories are:

  • language and literature, the visual arts, and music; and
  • social, intellectual, economic, and ideological history (including philosophy, religious studies, the history of science and the study of institutions).

A strong recommendation, beyond these requirements, is that certificate candidates acquire a reading knowledge of a modern European language as early as possible. In addition, Latin is suggested for those who plan to do graduate work in the field.

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