Five College Consortium

Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Program

RHRJ Certificate FAQs


How do I sign up to get the RHRJ certificate?
We strongly suggest you declare your interest as early as you can and get an advisor for the program.

  • Fill out the Student Interest Form as soon as possible.
  • Contact an RHRJ advisor to arrange an initial consultation.
  • Download the Certificate Checklist to keep track of your progress as you consult with your RHRJ certificate advisor and complete the requirements.

What do I have to do to fulfill the RHRJ certificate requirements?
There are two components to the RHRJ certificate: courses and a special project.

1. Complete at least six approved courses, including:

  • One foundational course
  • One transnational course
  • One upper-level (300 or above) course

A foundational course has 90–100% reproductive health, rights, and justice content, as reflected in the course title and description. Foundational courses introduce students to reproductive politics, including the reproductive health, rights and justice frameworks; introduce students to thinking intersectionally about reproductive issues, for example, how gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, disability and nationality intersect to shape women’s experiences of reproductive oppression, and their resistance strategies; and teach students to think systemically about reproductive issues, rather than just individually, that is, about the impact of reproductive politics not only on individuals, but also on communities, and how social, economic, legal and political conditions impact reproduction. The material may be covered through any disciplinary or interdisciplinary lens, including history, sociology, legal studies, public policy, women, gender and sexuality studies, political science, journalism, religious studies, American studies, transnational studies, etc. 

A transnational/global course has 25% reproductive health, rights, and justice content, as defined above, with a transnational/global (i.e. non-U.S.) focus. 

An additional course has 25% reproductive health, rights, and justice content, as defined above.

All courses used to fulfill the certificate requirements must be selected from the courses currently approved to count toward this certificate by the RHRJ steering committee. See the approved course list.

2. Complete a special project

Certificate students must complete a special project. This requirement may be completed through an independent study project, thesis or other course work that engages the student with issues of reproductive health, rights or justice and meaningfully incorporates the perspectives of community-based groups. Students are encouraged to fulfill the requirement through participation in an appropriate community-engaged experience selected in consultation with their RHRJ advisor.

What if I want to use a course to fulfill the certificate requirements that is not on the RHRJ list of approved courses?
If you have identified a course that does not appear on the list of approved courses but that you think might be used to satisfy a certificate requirement, talk to your RHRJ advisor to gain special permission. (Courses not on the course list may be approved for inclusion by campus program advisors in consultation with the RHRJ steering committee.)

How can I get into a course on one of the other campuses in the Five College system?
Use the cross-registration procedures set up by the registrar at your home campus to enroll in a course at another campus. Learn about procedures, helpful tips and links at the Five College Guide to Cross Registration.

Some instructors of courses approved for the RHRJ certificate may hold spots in their classes for qualified Five College students. Check to make sure you have fulfilled the prerequisites for the class. It's also a good idea to contact the instructor early to say that you hope to use the course to satisfy an RHRJ requirement.

Do I have to take courses on all five campuses to fulfill the requirements for the certificate?
Not necessarily. It is recommended, but not required, for students to study beyond their home campus. One of the greatest benefits to students pursuing the certificate is their access to interdisciplinary courses at five highly regarded institutions, as well as the networking opportunities with professors and peers. For that reason, we encourage students to take advantage of the wide variety of reproductive health and rights courses available in the consortium.

What do I need to do to fulfill the requirement for a special project?
This requirement may be completed through an independent study project, thesis, Division III project or other activity outside the classroom that engages the student with issues of reproductive health, rights or justice, and meaningfully incorporates the perspectives of community-based groups. Students are encouraged to fulfill the requirement through participation in an appropriate community-engaged experience or internship selected in consultation with their RHRJ advisor. Students completing the requirement in this way will be required to document their experience through supervisor evaluation and a short essay reflecting on the experience.

How do I know whether my special project fits the RHRJ requirement?
On this site you can find resources to help you find internships and other community-engaged activities. If you want to do a research project, the content should be at least 25% related to reproductive health, rights, and justice, although we would hope that it would be more fully focused on reproductive health, rights, and justice. Consult with an RHRJ advisor for help in choosing your special project and confirming that it meets the certificate requirements.

Do I need to take a foreign language for the certificate?
No, but if you are looking to study or work internationally or in a community health setting, it’s highly recommended. Many community outreach–oriented positions require second language skills.

Once I’ve completed the requirements, how do I notify the RHRJ committee to get my certificate?
Submit a transcript along with your completed Certificate Completion Form to your RHRJ advisor. Your advisor will submit the paperwork to the RHRJ steering committee for final approval. The RHRJ director will notify Five Colleges that you have completed the requirements and have been approved to receive the certificate. This happens once a year in late April/early May. A hard copy of the certificate will be mailed to you from the Five College central office, normally in July.

How will the certificate award show up on my transcript?
We coordinate with the registrar's office at each campus to make sure the certificate appears on the transcript of each graduating student receiving the RHRJ certificate, as long as there is space (some schools only include two to three qualifications on the transcript). We send out paper certificates each July for all graduates receiving the certificate that year.

Can I count online courses toward the certificate?
Online courses can be counted toward the certificate if they are three credits or more, if the policy of your home institution allows you to count online courses toward your degree and with the approval of your RHRJ advisor.

Can I get RHRJ certificate credit for courses taken at other colleges and universities, including those outside the U.S.?
If you want to use a course you have taken (or plan to take) at another college or university toward the certificate requirements, consult with your RHRJ advisor. Your advisor may want to see a copy of the course description, syllabus and any work you completed for the course. The advisor may use his or her discretion, in consultation with the RHRJ Steering Committee, to decide whether the course will qualify for your RHRJ certificate requirements.

Can I complete more than one Five College certificate?
You will need to follow your own campus’s rules about this, but in most cases you can. Contact your home campus registrar's office for more information.

How will the Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice certificate benefit me?
Whatever you choose to pursue after graduation, the interdisciplinary nature of the certificate will give you a solid background in the social, economic, legal and political conditions that influence human reproduction in both U.S. and transnational contexts. In addition, the RHRJ certificate represents a breadth and depth of knowledge beyond your individual major, as well as a commitment to social justice and change.

I’m interested in being a clinician. Is this certificate right for me?
Yes. More and more medical programs are realizing the value of a liberal arts education that can move beyond a solely disease-based model to one that is both effective and culturally competent. Understanding the socio-cultural forces that impact patients’ lives is crucial to providing good care.

What if I am an upper level student? Will I still have time to complete the requirements?
Likely yes. If you have done work in women’s and gender studies, Afro-American studies, international studies, sociology or public health, some of the classes on your transcript may already fulfill the certificate requirements. It’s ideal to go into the certificate with intention, but the requirements are doable. Your campus advisor can work through this with you.

Is the RHRJ certificate available to students at any Five College campus?
The RHRJ certificate is available to undergraduate students enrolled at Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The certificate may become available to undergraduates at Amherst College in the future. Students from all campuses are encouraged to join in RHRJ activities and courses.

What if I have a question that isn't answered on this page?
Please contact an RHRJ certificate advisor at your campus, or email Janna White at Five College Academic Programs.