The Certificate in Theology and the Arts (CTA) offers M.Div., M.T.S., and Th.M. students firm grounding in the key theological loci and practices relevant to a lifetime’s engagement with the arts in the church, the university, and beyond.

To complete this certificate, students must complete the core course and two other courses from an approved list (normally one of these will be a course offered outside the Divinity School). In addition, all students must complete a research or service learning project. Finally, participants are required to participate in events sponsored by Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, as well as bimonthly CTA colloquies.


“DITA has been an incredible space for me to reflect upon both my academic work as well as my own creative practices. I’ve found interesting connections between the fields of theology, art history, visual studies, classics, and New Testament studies that apart from DITA faculty and coursework I’m not sure I would have wrestled with as thoughtfully or creatively.”

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DITA coursework has shaped me in the classroom and beyond. As Dr. Colón-Emeric said at my orientation, the coursework has led me from the mountain of contemplation to the valley of action. Through my arts coursework, I have integrated action and contemplation, academic study and Christian practice, both personally in my own artwork and for the community.”

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“From the first day of class, I knew that DITA was going to play a central role in my educational and vocational development. Coming into the program as an established writer, I had a lot of experiential knowledge, but I lacked the categories I needed to understand and interpret my experience. Very quickly, things began to click into place. Whereas before I’d felt pulled between ministry and craft, DITA gave me vision for my own flourishing as a writer as well as how I might love my neighbor through it.”

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The primary objectives of the certificate program are:

  • to help students recognize and put into practice the constructive possibilities of the mutual enrichment of theology and arts
  • to provide students with a firm grounding in the key theological loci and practices relevant to a lifetime’s engagement with the arts in the church, the university, and beyond
  • to offer students an appreciation of the current shape of the arts-theology conversation
  • to foster and support research and community-service projects which responsibly integrate the arts and theology
  • to increase the opportunities for field-education placements in the arts with community and church organizations
  • to encourage and facilitate a community of students with a particular interest in engaging the arts as they discern their particular vocations
  • to encourage disciplinary education and cross-departmental collaboration within Duke Divinity School and the university

Completion of three courses in theology and the arts:

  • Required core course: XTIANTHE 773, Introduction to Theology and the Arts
  • Two approved courses in theology and the arts (normally, one of these will be a course offered outside of the Divinity School)

Completion of a research or service-learning project in theology and the arts. The project may be conducted in one of the following ways:

  • within a course (but not within any of the three courses that fulfill the previous requirement)
  • within a directed study
  • as an internship with a director of music or arts pastor at a church
  • as an independent community-building project
  • within the context of a field education placement

Regular participation in bimonthly CTA colloquies and DITA-sponsored events

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The 2023 cohort of twelve MDiv and MTS students represents the largest class to matriculate with a Certificate in Theology and the Arts since DITA’s founding in 2009, and their research projects, listed below, represent a wide variety of academic engagement with the arts.

  • Seeing Mary: Late-Medieval Marian Iconography and the Innovations of Mary Corita Kent
  • Naming Scripture: Toward a Hermeneutic of Relationship
  • Adam and Cain: A Literary Engagement with the Scriptures
  • Created Creative: Discerning a Theology of Creativity
  • Learning the Craft of Love: Participatory Theology in Piers Plowman and the Old Order Amish for the Contemporary Christian
  • Communion of Saints: A Reflection on Woodblock Printmaking and Prayer
  • Indigeneity, Idols, and Biblical Imagery in Jean Charlot’s Picture Book (1933)
  • Theology and Visual Art through Experimental Film: “The Eucharist”
  • Comparative Visual Theology: Comparing Gond and Christian Theology of Creation through a Visual Commentary on the Artworks The Potter and Created to Bloom
  • The Preacher Prepares and Pours: The Minister as Master of Wine—An Annotated Haiku Series Exploring Christian Preaching
  • Visions of Moral Order: Paul and the Forum Temples at Corinth
  • Baptismal Narrative in Dura-Europos

Baker, writer, and food critic Kendall Vanderslice completed her M.T.S. with a Certificate in Theology in the Arts in 2019. After years of working as a professional pastry chef in a high-powered environment, Vanderslice found the Certificate provided healing, respite, and a vision for the future. “DITA coursework,” she says, “helped me see … my writing and my baking … as symbiotic processes.”