The Certificate Program

A college major, for high school students.

Our certificate program gives motivated, independent-minded students the opportunity to gain deep exposure to a specific area of study during their time at Pomfret. The result is a rare and powerful experience that encourages students to pursue a genuine interest with purpose and passion. Certificates are diploma distinctions that appear on a student’s transcript.

The Five Domains

Social Justice

Examine the historical roots of injustice and the contemporary strands of inequality impacting our world today.

Artistic Expression & Design

Give form to the innate urgings of the human spirit by creating something totally your own.

STEM Exploration

Harness the power of science, technology, engineering, and math to solve open-ended problems.

Global Citizenship & Awareness

Expand your definition of what it means to be a good neighbor through global civic engagement.


Explore all the different ways people are meeting the needs of today without exhausting the resources of tomorrow.

Students can begin work on their chosen certificate starting junior year.

The successful completion of a certificate requires foundational and concentration-level coursework, learning experiences outside of the classroom, a portfolio with reflections, meetings with a faculty mentor, and the successful defense of a capstone presentation. To qualify, each candidate must submit a proposal declaring his or her interest during the spring of sophomore year.

I. Courses

Students fulfill the curricular certificate requirement through domain-designated foundation classes, then reveal a passion for the domain through concentration-level classes and portfolio experiences. Concentration courses represent a series of classroom offerings aligned to the ambitions of each certificate.  Students select from these next-level courses as they pursue this field of study. Additionally, students are encouraged to harness major assignments in non-domain courses and use them to explore the certificate-related field of study in greater depth.  

As an example, a student pursuing the STEM Explorations certificate might use a major research paper in history to explore revolutions in microchips and the disruptions made to the global economy by advancing technology. The research paper, achieved outside of a domain-specific course, could be added to the student’s STEM certificate portfolio.

 II. Experiential Work

Students pursuing a certificate must commit to 80 hours of advanced study outside of the classroom. Students can fulfill these hours by leading and developing events at Pomfret and/or doing student-derived, experiential work through accredited independent studies and/or work during school breaks, on weekends, and over the summer months.

III. Portfolio

Students maintain electronic portfolios that showcase their unique learning journey. A strong portfolio includes all the elements connected to the certificate pursuit, both polished and revised, including proposals that outline the scope and ambition of the project, meeting notes with certificate advisors, interview notes, reflections, sketches, data sets, presentations, and other critical artifacts. For each assignment added to a student’s portfolio, a reflection of over 300+ words should be written discussing how the student has gained further understanding of a subject and what skills were used.

IV. Faculty Mentorship

Certificate students meet with their faculty mentor (in groups according to speciality) every month. These regular meetings foster a mentor-mentee relationship and allow for regular check-ins, guidance, and support. Meetings may take on multiple forms, including college visits, speakers, training, or other activities relating to the subject matter the student is studying.

V. Literature Review & Capstone Presentation

On Reunion Weekend (mid-May) of junior year, students engaged in certificate work present a comprehensive literature review and a poster that highlights current knowledge within the domain, an essential question that will guide the student’s inquiry, and a detailed proposal for the senior year capstone project.

On Reunion Weekend of senior year, students present capstone projects in a public forum. The project portfolio is juried and assessed. Successful capstone projects incorporate research, reflection, and exposure to the domain or field of study; include a small-scale thesis that describes the learning journey and addresses the student’s essential question and/or progress in an area of growth and discovery; and reveal how connections with experts deepened understanding and impacted the student’s learning journey.  

"The certificate program gives students the confidence to tackle messy, real-world problems, and it helps them articulate how their own personal journeys have shaped their worldview."

— Don Gibbs, Dean of Academics