June 1, 2020

Basic & Advanced Religious Education Courses

“Although all members of the community of believers in Jesus Christ participate in the Church’s catechetical mission, some are called to more specific catechetical roles.” (National Directory for Catechesis #53)

Please consult our up-to-date online listing of courses programs:

What is the Religious Studies Program?


The Religious Studies Program offers formation and certification—including Basic and Advanced Certificates—for Catholic lay adults who will serve in catechetical ministry. The program includes professional and pastoral formation opportunities at those parishes, which participate in the program. It is also open to all those interested in enriching their knowledge of the faith.

All catechists serving in parishes and schools must be “adequately prepared for their task, being well-instructed in the doctrine of the Church and possessing both a practical and theoretical knowledge of the of the laws of psychology and the educational method.” (National Directory for Catechesis. #54) The Religious Studies Program offers such preparation and training, helping catechetical leaders and catechists to deepen their communion with Jesus Christ and his Church, increase their understanding of the faith, and hone their communication skills. It also assists lay people to become more effective signs of Christ’s presence in the Church and the world.

The Religious Studies Program formation and certification is a joint effort of the local parish, and the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation.


Who teaches in the Religious Studies Program?


Priests, deacons, or members of the parish staff usually serve as instructors. The Diocese can also provide instructors upon request.

For both the Basic Courses and Advanced Courses, the instructor must have a graduate degree in theology, religious studies, or in the course subject matter. For the Basic Theology Course the instructor must follow the outlines issued by the Office of Faith Formation.

For the Advanced Courses, the instructor must submit an outline of the Advanced Course to the Office of Faith Formation for approval.

What does it cost?


Each parish, based upon its own resources and needs, sets its own policy regarding stipends for instructors and participant fees. (Participant fees are based primarily on the cost of offering the course. Every effort is made to keep the fees as low as possible to encourage participation.)


What are the necessary requirements to receive a Religious Studies Certificate?


Basic Certificate:

A Basic Theology Certificate will be awarded upon completion of the Basic Theology Course, which provides a survey of the Old Testament, New Testament, Christology, Ecclesiology, Liturgy and Sacraments, and Moral Theology. Each of the six units consists of ten hours, usually given in five two-hour sessions, with a minimum attendance requirement of eight hours. All six units of study must be completed in order to qualify for the Basic certificate. Basic courses through the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), University of Dayton, will be considered for credit.

Advanced Certificate:

The Advanced Religious Studies Certificates may be earned upon the completion of six advanced courses (60 hours). An Advanced course should further develop one of the six Basic courses.


Do my college credits in theology count towards certification?


College courses in theology may be credited toward a Basic certificate based upon course content.

If a completed certificate or degree program in theology or religious studies covers the content of the Basic course, a note of equivalency will be made in the participant’s Program record and a copy of the transcript or certificate will be included in the file. A separate Basic certificate will not be awarded.

No equivalency towards an Advanced certificate will be granted. Only college courses completed outside a degree or certificate program will be considered, but for no more than ten hours of credit each toward an Advanced certificate.

Application for all certificates is made each spring through the local Parish Religious Education Office or through a Catholic school principal. The deadline for certificate application is April 1 of the year in which the certificate is to be awarded. Courses completed between April 1 and the Awards Ceremony will be credited towards certificates being awarded that spring. Note should be made on an application if not all courses have been completed by the submission date.


How long do I have to complete the course requirements in order to receive a Religious Studies Certificate?


Course credits to be used for a Religious Studies Program certificate must be applied to the certificate within ten years of course completion.

Does a certificate for completion of Religious Studies Program ever expire?


For further information regarding the Religious Studies Program, please contact your local parish Religious Education Office to see if they are offering it, or if they can offer it in the future, or contact the Office of Faith Formation and we will be happy to answer your questions and help you discern if this Religious Studies Program is for you! Religious Studies Program certificates never “expire,” but an Advanced certificate will not be granted more than ten years after the awarding of a Basic certificate unless there is evidence of continued study within those ten years. Continued study is defined as the equivalent of at least 20 hours of Program courses.

The Diocese will post course offerings as the information becomes available.