About the Certificate

The Five College Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Certificate is available to undergraduate students at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students from all campuses as encouraged to join in RHRJ activities and courses.


Students pursuing the RHRJ certificate take courses across a wide variety of academic disciplines that address diverse issues such as:

  • the biology of reproduction
  • legal barriers to abortion and birth control
  • the hyper-medicalization of childbirth
  • reproductive health care access
  • reproductive technologies and kinship structures
  • welfare policy
  • childcare and childcare policies
  • reproduction and labor
  • gender justice
  • adoption

Students also learn to think critically about social institutions such as science, medicine, technology, schools, housing, law enforcement, labor and prisons that produce racial and class differentiation in childhood and beyond.

Through the required special project component, students are encouraged to take what they learn out of the classroom and into an appropriate community-engaged experience where they can connect their academic pursuits with policy and advocacy work. Students work with their certificate advisor to connect with campus-based centers, as well as local and national policy and advocacy organizations, to pursue internships and other opportunities and learn through hands-on experience.


Students who complete the interdisciplinary RHRJ program gain knowledge and experience that prepares them for graduate school and for careers in law, science, medicine, health, politics, social work and community organizing. They will be able to:

  • Understand the ways that race, class, sexuality and nation influence the reproduction of individuals and communities
  • Address questions about how people engage with having and raising children in different circumstances
  • Learn about the impact of reproductive policies on individuals and communities, with particular attention to diverse and marginalized ethnic groups, cultures and nations
  • Use human rights and reproductive justice analyses to frame social policy
  • Become effective practitioners, researchers, policy makers and advocates

Read more about how other students are using the certificate in our Student Profiles.

Certificate Requirements

There are two components to the RHRJ certificate: courses and a special project.

1. Complete at least 6 approved courses, including:

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

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. 

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

Students must also complete a special project that will help them gain an experiential understanding of reproductive health, rights and/or justice among community-based groups.  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. However, this special project will only receive academic credit at Amherst College if it is part of a regularly offered course or a special topics course of which the experiential component is only one part.  Students must consult with their RHRJ advisor about how to fulfill this requirement.

 For more information on how to fulfill the requirements, see the FAQ.