Transform your understanding of religion and spirituality.


Innovate your approach to life’s biggest challenges.

Explore your beliefs and the beliefs of others.

Realize the truths that matter most to you.


Graduate Theological Education for Everyday People

Iliff School of Theology has offered graduate level education for more than 125 years through a range of degree programs. Now, through TIER, Iliff is bringing its unique approach to theological education to the public with a series of summer courses that offer our world-class teaching outside of a traditional degree program.

TIER is designed for people considering a graduate degree, people in ministry and community leadership who want to dive deeper into study, or anyone who is ready to transform their understanding of religion and spirituality. TIER allows you to innovate your approach to your life’s biggest challenges and to realize the truths that matter most to you.

The TIER Learning Experience

Fully online, 3-week intensives

Build your study into your weekly schedule


Summer 2024 Course Dates

June 10th – September 2nd

Value Incentives

All students who successfully complete a TIER course receive a microcredential badge through Credly which can be placed on your LinkedIn or other social profiles.

Clergy who complete a TIER course receive 3 CEU’s.

What to Expect:

  • Weekly engagement from the instructor
  • Graduate-level readings
  • Video and/or other media
  • Weekly discussions with classmates in an online discussion board
  • 1 culminating assignment to demonstrate what you have learned

Time Requirement:

Each course is designed to be a 30-hour course.

Students should set aside 10-hours per week for study, reflection, and engagement in discussion. The deeper you engage, the more you will get out of TIER classes.


Each TIER course costs $200.

TIER Courses

Engaging subjects that matter to you

Engaging Sacred Texts

Demystifying the Book of Revelation
June 10 – July 1

Image of multi-headed dragon emerging from a pit of fire.

Eric C Smith, PhD

The Book of Revelation is one of the most notoriously difficult and frightening books in the Bible. Its intense symbolism and extravagant visions have led to centuries of speculation, fear, creativity, and fantasy, both in popular culture and in apocalyptic forms of religion. Using art, literature, scholarship, and material culture, we will work to demystify Revelation, learning to read it in its late-first-century literary and cultural contexts as a document of struggle under imperial power.


Following the Lectionary Postcolonially
July 8 – 29

Picture of open bible with pages turning as if blown by the wind

Eric C Smith, PhD.

This course is for laypeople, pastors, or anyone else who is interested in learning how to read the Bible with a postcolonial lens. The class will focus on the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary for Advent of 2024 and Lent of 2025, but it will offer frameworks and tools that can apply to any biblical texts. In the course, you’ll have the option to create a postcolonially-informed worship plan for those two liturgical seasons, or focus your time in the class more generally on postcolonial biblical interpretation.



Engaging our Lives and Communities

Authentic Engagement
July 29 – August 19

The silhouetted outline of several people against a clear sky

Tom Barlow, PhD 

Iliff’s Authentic Engagement™ program provides tools for leaders to develop and nurture organizational cultures in which people of diverse backgrounds feel valued, are deeply connected to one other, and are aligned with a shared mission. This kind of engaged leader is able to recognize those who have the potential to be highly motivated and engaged individuals, and who can contribute significantly to the organization and the world.

In this course, we will examine the practical and psychosocial foundations of authentic leadership as they are grounded in self-reflection and the embodiment of core values. Awareness of our own Otherness and exploration of traditional approaches to diversity will help us develop interconnected, inclusive relationships of trust. Finally, we will explore ways to leverage differences and create cultures where people individually and collectively flourish.



Dismantling White Silence in Churches
August 12 – Sept 2

Photo of a person holding a sign that says

Nancy Niero, DMin

This TIER course provides opportunities to reflect on white silence in churches, how to dismantle it, and how to work toward racial justice. By engaging our personal histories, creating storytelling that emphasizes accountability and imagination, we can work toward a future of hope and healing.

Students will engage Dr. Niero’s doctoral scholarship on racial justice, supplemented by work of other contemporary scholars. Students will read and analyze Dr. James Cone’s 2004 essay, “Theology’s Great Sin: Silence in the Face of White Supremacy,” and the course will culminate in the construction of an anti-racism theology that students can bring back to their own communities.



Engaging the Natural World

Re-enchanting Ecological Praxis
 August 12 – Sept 2 

Image of protesters marching through a city carrying a sign that says we rise, people power.

George Schmidt

This course takes as its central concession the basic insight that “people organize to protect and fight for what they hold most dear.” In order to most effectively address the ecological crisis, we must begin to ask deeper questions: “What are we willing to fight for?” Such a question demands we explore our most sacred values and then enact them in a praxis of environmental justice. This interdisciplinary course seeks to move our understanding of ecological praxis from one of activism and mobilization to one of value-based organizing for real power.

In addition to developing basic organizing skills and personally engaging some of the experts from their weekly reading in an online forum, this course will call us to critically understand our most cherished ideals as they are expressed in the eco-stories we tell in our various communities. By doing so we can ask, and perhaps answer, the big question regarding our eco-justice work: how do we collectively meet the seeming hopelessness of the ecological crisis with integrity, decency, and effective strategy?



Summer 2024 Instructors

Dr. Eric Smith

Dr. Eric Smith

Eric C. Smith teaches in the fields of biblical studies and early Christianity, co-directs Iliff’s Doctor of Ministry in Prophetic Leadership program, and serves as liaison to the Disciples Seminary Foundation. Smith is the author of four books and several articles and chapters. Classes: Demystifying the Book of Revelation Following the Lectionary Postcolonially
Dr. Tom Barlow

Dr. Tom Barlow

Rev. Barlow joined the faculty as Term Assistant Professor in Methodist Studies beginning in 2023. He continues to explore the origins of the current splintering of United Methodism as he seeks to help others make sense of the historic changes that we are witnessing.


Authentic Engagement

Nancy Niero, DMin

Nancy Niero, DMin

Dr. Niero received her MDiv from Iliff in 2009 and her DMin from Philipps Theological Seminary in 2023. Her commitment to racial justice in faith communities has been inspired, in part, by those independent studies at Iliff and her work in grief.


Dismantling White Silence in Church

George Schmidt

George Schmidt

George Schmidt is currently a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University under Joerg Rieger, and he is a graduate research fellow with the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice where he works on the intersections of ecology and class.


Re-enchanting Ecological Praxis

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know that the TIER program is right for me?

If you’re ready to engage deeply, think analytically, listen carefully, and practice curiosity, the TIER program is right for you. The program is graduate level, but you don’t need to have taken college courses to participate.

To be eligible for the program, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have access to a reliable internet connection

In a TIER course, you can expect to:

  • Engage in online discussions with the instructor and other participants
  • Spend 10 hours per week on readings, discussions and assignments
  • Receive instructor feedback on your performance in the class
  • Earn a digital badge upon successful course completion, which you can post on your social media and resume and share with prospective employers and contacts.

Do I need any background in a religion or topic to take the courses?


Who do I contact with questions?

For questions about TIER course content or program, please contact:

For technical questions and course login, please contact: 

For registration and payment questions, please contact:

TIER staff’s normal operating hours are 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time, Monday through Friday.

How do I register/sign-up for a course?

Go to Click the “Register” button for the course you want to take and follow the prompts to pay for the course. You will need to enter your name, phone number and email address. Once your payment has been accepted, you are registered for the course. You will receive a confirmation email and a course invitation email with a link to access your course online.

How do I pay for a course?

Go to Click the “Register” button for the course you want to take and follow the prompts to pay for the course. You can use a credit card or the Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Cash App Pay applications. All transactions are secure and encrypted.

What are TIER’s payment, refund and course cancellation policies?

Participants must pay the course fee of $200 per course at the time of registration. Payments must be made on the Iliff School of Theology’s Square site: 

If you decide you no longer wish to take the course, you must email to request a refund before the start date of the course. Refunds will not be issued once the course has started.

What if I have never taken an online course before?

Online learning is new to many of our course participants. Immediately once you are registered, we will add you to an orientation in our online learning platform, Canvas, to ensure you are adequately familiar with the software in order to enjoy the course.

How do I access the course?

You will receive an email with an invitation to accept your TIER course invitation in Canvas, our online learning platform. This will be sent to your personal email address, which you will provide on the course registration page. Click the link in the email, which will guide you to a page to complete your account creation, including creating a password. In addition to being added to your TIER course, you will also be registered for an orientation course, which will show you how to use the Canvas platform and introduce you to the TIER learning experience. 

What kind of computer and software do I need? 

You will need a computer (PC or Mac) or a mobile device, Internet access and an internet browser. The recommended minimum internet speed is 512kbps. For internet browsers, use the latest, updated version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. JavaScript must be enabled. The Canvas mobile apps require Android 8.0 or later and iOS 15.0 or later. 

Check this link for more information about the computer, mobile devices and internet browsers that can be used: 

Can I use a tablet or phone to take a course?

Yes, Canvas has an application (app) for mobile devices. The Canvas mobile apps require Android 8.0 or later and iOS 15.0 or later. Check this link about how to download and access it on your device: 

*Note: you’ll use your personal email address and the password you create, rather than clicking “Login with Google”.

What books do I need to buy?

Some courses might come with book suggestions that are not required but are highly recommended for students’ learning in the course.

Why can’t I log into my course? 

There might be a few different reasons why you cannot log into your course. Try these steps first:

  1. What URL/website address are you using? 

Login at 

  1. Have you created a Canvas account?
    1. Check your email for a course invitation from Canvas. 
    2. Click on the link in the email to complete your account creation, including creating a password.
  2. Click the “Forgot Password” link on the Canvas login page if you need to reset your password.

Need more help? Email the Iliff IT Helpdesk at 

What to do if I forget my log-in information?

Go to 

Click the “Forgot Password” link.

In case you need further assistance, email the Iliff IT Helpdesk at  

How long will I have access to my course?

You will have access to your TIER course on Canvas until one week after the course has ended.


What are badges and why are they important?

A badge is a credential you’ll earn by successfully completing a TIER course. It’s digital, so you can easily take it with you everywhere – put it on your resume, post it on your LinkedIn profile or other social media, share it with prospective employers, professional contacts, friends, etc. Digital badges have many benefits over a paper transcript or certificate. They provide employers and peers concrete evidence of what you had to do to earn your credential and what you’re capable of, now that you’ve completed a TIER course through the Iliff School of Theology. They can be verified in real-time, online, so employers don’t have to call references or ask for transcripts to verify that you have completed the course.

When will my course badge arrive?

At the end of the course, Iliff will issue your badge through the Credly digital badging platform. You will receive an email email notification from Credly ( with instructions for claiming your badge and setting up your Credly account.

Can I get academic credit for these courses?

For the summer 2024 session, courses are non-credit and there is currently not a pathway to receive academic credit for them. Clergy can elect to receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and must notify the Registrar of this at

What books do I have to buy?

You will not have to buy any books. All course materials will be provided electronically in Canvas.

Can minors (anyone under 18 years old) take a TIER course?

At this time, learners must be 18 years or older. Individuals under 18 years old are not eligible.