Program Details





  Santa Fe


Master of Arts in Liberal Arts

“Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! 'Have courage to use your own understanding!'—that is the motto of enlightenment.” 
— Immanuel Kant

Program Requirements

The aim of the program is to help students formulate and respond to fundamental questions about themselves and their world by reading and discussing with others the great books of the Western tradition. The readings are organized into five segments: Literature, Politics & Society, Philosophy & Theology, Mathematics & Natural Science, and History. Students must complete four of these five segments to earn the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts degree (36 semester credit hours).

All classes are small and based on discussion of classic texts, but the types of classes differ in significant ways. The heart of the curriculum is the seminar in which 17–21 students engage in a discussion initiated by a tutor's opening question about the assigned reading. In the tutorial, a slightly smaller group of students (12–16) focus more intensively on smaller assignments, either mathematical proofs, short literary texts, or dense arguments of philosophy or political theory. The preceptorial, with an even smaller number of students (6–12), engages in the study of a single book or topic and requires students to write a substantial paper.

At least two segments are offered in the 16-week fall and spring terms, and usually four are offered in the 8-week summer term. During the fall and spring term, classes meet only two days a week, in the late afternoons and evenings, making it possible for students who work to participate. During the summer, classes meet twice as often. Schedules vary somewhat between the two campuses. Students may matriculate in any of the three sessions, and take segments in any order compatible with the sequence of offerings. An optional master's essay may be written by students who have completed at least two terms. In recent years, approximately 60-80 students have been enrolled on each campus during each session.

Reading List


Master of Arts in Liberal Arts

Master of Arts in Eastern Classics

Accreditation Information

The program leading to the Masters of Arts in Liberal Arts is accredited by the Middle States and North Central Associations of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

Dual Degree Program with the University of Maryland School of Law (Annapolis Only)

Students can choose to simultaneously obtain the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts degree in the Graduate Institute at Annapolis and a J.D. degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. Independent application must be made to both institutions. The University of Maryland School of Law will accept nine credits awarded by St. John's College for satisfactory completion of the Politics & Society segment of the Liberal Arts program. The Graduate Institute associate dean will review nine law school credits for transfer to the MALA degree prior to the beginning of the third semester. Details about this dual degree program are available from the Annapolis Graduate Institute office and the University of Maryland School of Law, which can be reached c/o Dean of Admissions, The University of Maryland School of Law, 500 West Baltimore Street, Office of Admissions, Ste. 130, Baltimore, Maryland 21201-1786, 410-706-3492,

Request Information

We welcome your interest and questions regarding the Graduate Institute in Liberal Education, and we would gladly answer any questions you may have. Please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions in Santa Fe or Annapolis.