Certificate Program

In 2011, Rare Book School inaugurated its Certificate of Proficiency Program, which allows students to create a specialized focus for their coursework at RBS and to earn formal recognition for their concentrated studies at the School. The program enables students to plan for and to attend a series of related classes that reflect their bibliographical interests.

Enrolled students will select and/or propose and complete a series of five classes within eight years (i.e., a student completing a certificate in 2015 can apply courses to the certificate from 2008 and on; a student completing a certificate in 2014 can apply courses going back to 2007, &c.). Prospective students should complete a proposal for a course of study, available online. Certificates are awarded every April and October.

Certificate of Proficiency Proposal

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1. Frequently Asked Questions

When and how can I join the RBS Certificate of Proficiency Program?
Students can enroll in the program at any time. Students should submit a proposal, available online, for a particular certificate.

Can my former RBS classes count toward my certificate?
Yes, so long as all of the courses counted toward the certificate are attended within the required eight-year period. This means that a student completing a certificate in 2015 can apply courses to the certificate from 2008 and on (but not before 2008), a student completing a certificate in 2014 can apply courses going back to 2007, and so on.

If I’ve already taken the five courses within the last eight years, can I get a certificate?
Yes, so long as the courses fulfill the requirements for one of the programs outlined below.

Can the same course count towards two certificates?
No; you cannot “recycle” courses for multiple certificates. Students who have concerns about meeting specific requirements should contact and consult with the Director of Programs & Education.

2. Certificate of Proficiency Programs

A. The Certificate of General Proficiency

To obtain a certificate of general proficiency, students must attend any four courses, plus any one historical survey, such as The Printed Book in the West to 1800, The History of the Book in America: A Survey from Colonial to Modern, or Printed Books since 1800: Description and Analysis. History of the Book, 200–2000 also counts toward this certificate.

B. The Certificate of Proficiency with Area Concentrations

Students must attend five courses, including one survey course (see table above and note that follows), plus an area requirement for three courses in one concentration.  Please note, History of the Book, 200–2000 does not fulfill the survey requirement for a concentration.

Survey requirement: one historical survey, such as The Printed Book in the West to 1800, The History of the Book in America: A Survey from Colonial to Modern, or Printed Books since 1800: Description and Analysis.

Area requirement: three courses of a designated area (e.g., history of bookbinding, history of illustration; history of manuscripts; &c.) See list of areas below.

Example 1: Certificate of Proficiency with an Area Concentration in the History of Bookbinding

Example 2: Certificate of Proficiency with an Area Concentration in the History of Manuscripts

C. The Certificate of Proficiency in a Specialized Area

Students must attend five courses, including four courses within an area. The certificate in Book Design & Production requires that the four courses be from at least three different topic areas; the certificate in The Global Book requires that the four courses be from at least three different regions.

Example 1: Certificate of Proficiency with a Specialization in Illustration

Example 2: Certificate of Proficiency with a Specialization in Medieval and Early Modern Books and MSS

3. Areas

N.B.: Courses marked with * are not currently offered.


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