Women’s Leadership Institute

The Women's Leadership Institute (WLI) is an experience based certificate program that enables participants to develop and strengthen leadership skills while exploring a feminist perspective in religion and society. WLI invites women of all ages and from diverse cultures to come together to create a community committed to liberation and transformation.

The strength of this experience-based program lies in its capacity to speak honestly to the deepest of needs, to listen to and affirm women wherever they are on their journey, and to offer a rich mix of theory and theology, prayer and practical application as basis for facilitating leadership and as substance for transformative change.

Program Components

Essential components of the WLI program include:

Core to the program are a guided analysis of content, group reflection on experience, and integrating rituals and prayer. 

A certificate is awarded on completion of the program.

Program Curriculum

The curriculum of the monthly seminars focuses on the fundamentals of a feminist perspective and methods for understanding and transmitting this perspective. Core seminars examine feminist history, psychology, theology, ecclesiology, biblical interpretation, spirituality, ritual, pedagogy, and leadership though an integrative process, and whenever possible, from a cross-cultural perspective.

Program Schedule

The Women's Leadership Institute meets monthly, Friday evening and all day Saturday, September through May. Ordinarily, seminars meet from 6:00-9:00 pm on Friday, and from 9:00 am through 4:00 pm on Saturday. The Saturday time frame may be extended into early evening on occasion. View the current and future schedule.

Enrollment Options

The basic enrollment option is an audit status in which students participate in a Seminary course and the Institute monthly seminars without receiving academic credit.

Qualified students (those with a B.A. degree or its educational equivalent) can elect to receive three, six, or nine graduate credits for participation in the seminars and/or course. Students can apply for these credits by complying with normal Seminary procedures and paying additional fees. Receipt of these credits is contingent upon the successful completion of course requirements and additional seminar assignments.

Program Cost

The basic program cost is $1500.  An additional hospitality fee of $100 covers supper at the opening seminar, Saturday lunch, beverages and snacks at all seminars and a pizza supper in the fall semester.  There is also a $30 application fee (not applicable if you are already enrolled in a Hartford Seminary certificate or degree program).

Graduate Credit Option

Enrollment for graduate credit requires a baccalaureate degree or its educational equivalent.  The fee to receive 6 graduate credits in this program is $2300.  The audited course, a program component, may also be taken for three more credits by paying an additional $1150.  

Undergraduate Credit Option

Undergraduate students may earn up to 9 upper level credits toward a baccalaureate degree through Charter Oak State College for the basic $1500 tuition.  Charter Oak requires a small additional fee to transfer credits.


Limited financial aid is available for the basic program cost for those who would otherwise be unable to participate.

Program Prerequisites and Admission

There are no academic prerequisites to admission to the program (with audit status). Required of all candidates is an openness to the feminist perspective in religion and society and a willingness to honor diverse points of view. The admission process requires each prospective student to complete an application form and includes an interview with a member of the Institute's leadership team.

For more information, contact the Women's Leadership Institute at  wli@hartsem.edu

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