Why are religious studies and philosophy classes required at NMH?

The importance of religious studies and philosophy at Northfield Mount Hermon hails from the progressive educational vision of NMH founder D.L. Moody, one of the most prominent Christian preachers of the late 19th century. We have a long tradition of asking students to examine their inner lives and to explore the role of religion in history, art, politics, and culture.

As the school evolved, we continued to value Moody’s legacy of social justice. This is encompassed in our school’s mission, which states “Northfield Mount Hermon engages the intellect, compassion, and talents of our students, empowering them to act with humanity and purpose.” We want our students to become effective contributors to their local and global communities. In order to accomplish this, they need both the nuts-and-bolts knowledge of religious traditions and the sophistication to understand complex ethical and moral dilemmas.

Will I be told what to believe?

We will not promote or ask you to take on any particular faith or belief. Our academic study of religion and philosophy differs from the kind of doctrinal or devotional approaches you might find in a religious school or through NMH’s chaplaincy office. We do ask that you take responsibility for your own worldview, and we’ll train you to articulate that perspective with confidence. At the same time, we will ask you to listen carefully and respectfully to the beliefs of others so that you may engage in dialogue with people of other perspectives.

What will I learn that I couldn't learn elsewhere?

In our classrooms, you will explore big questions—questions of meaning and purpose, worldview and personhood, faith and belief. You will come to understand how various religious and philosophical traditions evolved over time and have shaped and been shaped by the world. You will do this with teachers who have been carefully trained to lead open discussions of complex issues, allowing students of all backgrounds to learn from one another.

What is the teaching style in these classes?

Our students and teachers learn from each other. In our classrooms, you are likely to sit in a circle facing each other. You’re also likely to get up and move around the classroom. You will learn to read deeply and annotate well. You’ll watch films and view art with the eyes of an investigator. You’ll gain research skills that will help you in other classes and in college. You’ll be asked to create a dramatic skit and deliver public presentations. You’ll have time for reflection and contemplation. You’ll work on your own and in groups. In short, you’ll be asked to learn from all sides of yourself.

Gretel Schatz

I want dance students to engage their own memory and intellect.

Becca Malloy

Science isn't just talk, but it certainly helps.

Mary Hefner

I love teaching AP Bio. The kids are highly motivated.

Faculty Profiles

This past summer, I increased my awareness of my identity by reconnecting with my native country, Ethiopia.


“I don’t think I would be anywhere near the person I am today if it wasn’t for NMH. It’s enlightened me about so many different things, and I’ve met people from everywhere you can imagine.”


In my old school, I never saw myself as someone who could be a Division I player one day. Now I can.


"One of my biggest influences has been my math teacher. He built this love of math in me—specifically, the idea that math can be used to interpret the world." 


"The fact that everything is here at my fingertips has really helped me grow."


"Almost all of our classes are conversation-based, which means that you're totally engaged in classroom discussion."


"I enjoy helping my friends, and it's given me a new respect for teachers. I may even go into teaching myself one day."


"In VOTES, I learned how to prepare and present—skills I drew on in Washington."


 "This year, I'm field hockey captain. I enjoy giving advice and support."


“I like that you can start completely new things. You can reinvent yourself.”


Dance has taken this creative learner on an artistic journey. 

Xiaoxian (Lily)

 “My teachers told me to use my own voice, and they pushed me to think about what I really believed in.”


"The curriculum here is hard, but it’s the right amount of hard."


“The academics are extremely rigorous, but because of the way teachers present things, it’s like, ‘I have school today!’”


“The learning you can do in a study-abroad program can outweigh anything else you can do even at a school like this.” 


“NMH encouraged me to explore new things, try everything, and see what’s best for me.”


“You’ll always find a place here as long as you just be yourself.”


“There is a community here that cares about you.”

Student Profiles