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Certificate Program

The certificate in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ca. 500 to 1800 AD) is designed to help Ph.D. students acquire an interdisciplinary grounding in their area of expertise as well as develop disciplinary, geographical, and chronological range, in order to build community among students from different departments, and to foster interaction with faculty from different fields. We feel strongly that one’s own discipline is more clearly understood when its practices are located among those of other fields.

MEMS is a 15-credit program.  One course is required for all students—the 3-credit MEMS graduate proseminar. This class is typically team-taught by faculty from different departments who model in the classroom the kinds of interdisciplinary enquiry the certificate program encourages. Addressing such topics as urbanization, courts, the roles of women, the impact of religion, colonialism, encounters between east and west, nation-building, and material culture, each proseminar will in its own way focus on the distinctive character of premodern cultures and the special research problems and disciplinary challenges they present.

The remaining 12 credits required for the certificate can be fulfilled with graduate-level courses in the premodern periods. Nine of the total 15 credit hours may include coursework required for the student’s graduate or professional degree. Up to 3 credits may be accepted from non-credit experiential activity equivalent to at least a 3-credit hour course (such as an internship, practicum, research, professional project or similar experiences in areas such as codicology, paleography, or curating).

Along with the yearly MEMS proseminar, we offer a continuing dissertation-writing seminar (MEMS 898) to give graduate students a clear sense of an interdisciplinary community. This seminar will provide its participants an opportunity to share their works-in-progress with peers from a variety of backgrounds and address issues of common interest in research, method, and writing across the disciplines.

The MEMS program is committed to supporting certificate students in the additional training and archival work necessary to the fields it represents (see Funding).


Any student with a bachelor’s degree who has been admitted to, or is currently enrolled in, a graduate program at the University is eligible to apply for a Graduate Certificate in MEMS. Applicants should have at least an A- average in their graduate course work or (for entering students) in their undergraduate course work and are expected to have reading knowledge of two foreign languages.

Admissions take place throughout the year, and applications are reviewed by the MEMS Executive Committee on an ongoing basis. The application process has two parts.

First, students apply to the MEMS program; this entails submitting the following:

  1. A letter outlining his or her reasons for wanting to receive MEMS certification and explaining the rationale of the proposed course of study. The letter should also explain the student’s background in Medieval and/or Early Modern Studies.
  2. A current transcript demonstrating at least an A- average and language facility.
  3. A letter of approval from the Director of Graduate Studies in the student's home department.
  4. The MEMS Program Application Form (above), listing planned or completed coursework and specifying which edition of the proseminar they have taken or plan to attend. 

Second, once applicants have received a letter of acceptance from the program, they should go to the Rackham website and complete the Add a Degree application. (This will entail getting signatures from the chair of their home department and from the MEMS director.) **Submit all materials to Kimberly Smith, the Graduate Student Services coordinator in the History Department.**

Certificate students are advised by the MEMS director, in consultation with a MEMS faculty associate in the student’s home unit. Students are encouraged to meet with the director at least once per term to assess progress towards the certificate.