Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Program FAQs

FAQs about RHRJ Program

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 Completion Form to keep track of your progress as you consult with your RHRJ certificate advisor and complete the requirements.


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.)

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.

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.

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.

On this page, 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.  Amherst College students 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.  

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.

You should submit the following documents to your RHRJ advisor by November 1st for Fall graduates and April 1st for Spring graduates:

  1. The Certificate Completion Form (below)
  2. An unofficial copy of your transcript
  3. Special Project reflection essay (3-5 pgs.)
  4. Special Project Supervisor Evaluation, either the completed Special Project Supervisor Evaluation Form OR a letter, email, or other type of evaluation from the supervisor stating what work the student completed and that it was completed satisfactorily.

Note: Students who complete a thesis or other major piece of writing for their Special Project do not have to complete the reflection essay or the supervisor evaluation. However, these students should submit the final thesis or writing to their RHRJ Advisor for review. Please only submit your materials to your advisor during the semester you expect to graduate (even if you complete the requirement prior to this time), as Five Colleges cannot process Completion Forms prior to the semester of your graduation. Your advisor will review your materials, and approve your certificate completion. Once approved, the RHRJ program 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. 

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). 

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.

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 their discretion, in consultation with the RHRJ Steering Committee, to decide whether the course will qualify for your RHRJ certificate requirements.

You will need to follow your home campus’s rules about this, but in most cases you can. Contact your home campus registrar's office for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Yes, the RHRJ certificate is available to undergraduate students enrolled at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

Please contact an RHRJ certificate advisor at your campus.