Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts calls students in their whole person to a transformative, Catholic, liberal arts education.
This education is ordered to human flourishing and communion, animated by the perennial questions, given shape by the classic books, and nourished by a vibrant liturgical and sacramental culture.
Joyfully Catholic in this ascent toward true freedom and a vision of the Good, Magdalen College calls all within her community to enter the great conversation of authors seeking wisdom that has unfolded across the ages, cultivating a life of virtue, poetic imagination, service, and life-giving fidelity.
Going Deeper into Our Mission
First, Magdalen issues a call—not a demand but instead an invitation. We issue that call to students who are interested in learning from the greatest books that have ever been written, wrestling with the perennial questions of life, and cultivating the intellectual virtues. We do not require that students adhere to the Catholic tradition; we are open to those of any faith—or those who identify with no particular religious tradition—as long as they are willing to participate in a fruitful conversation about big ideas with respect.
Second, Magdalen calls students in their whole person to an education that is transformative. We believe that every person has inherent dignity that derives from the imago dei, the image of God imprinted within them. In light of that, we aim to form students in all aspects of their person, not only the academic but also the physical, social, moral, and spiritual dimensions of who they are as human beings. Toward this end, we offer choir as a core course all four years, daily Mass in our chapel, a broad range of student clubs and activities to participate in, and an indoor gym and free lift passes at a local ski resort. Perhaps most importantly, Magdalen College is intentionally small—small enough for all faculty and staff to know every single student and to share meals together with them. Small means we have the opportunity to be personal, which is a hallmark of the transformative experience we seek to offer.
Third, Magdalen calls students to an education from a Catholic perspective. Magdalen itself was founded in response to a call—the call by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) for the laity to play a more prominent role in the Church and the world. Magdalen also answers the call that Pope John Paul II issued in his apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. There he urged Catholic universities to serve the larger mission of the Church by offering something very important to the world: a vision of a fully integrated life in which the Christian story is relevant to all of it (not just a private corner of it).
We do not believe that the Christian faith is opposed to reason. Rather, we aim to help demonstrate that, in the words of John Paul II, “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” This is possible because we view all of creation as infused with order and meaning and beauty, the kind of reality that calls forth our curiosity and beckons our delight. Being open to that sort of world—and investigating the Creator who endowed each aspect of it with a purpose (telos)—enables students to argue for goodness, truth, and beauty as solid realities. And it enables them to do more than just know and argue about certain religious doctrines; it enables them to form a coherent relationship between faith and all of life.
Finally, Magdalen calls students to an education in the liberal arts. We offer one—and only one—degree: a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. We don’t offer engineering, or nursing, or business, or computer science; instead, we focus on providing a foundational education that sets students up well to specialize in a broad range of fields in graduate school, if they so desire.
And the purpose of education, as we see it, is not simply to help students find gainful employment immediately after graduation. We view a diploma as more than a hunting license for a job. Rather, we aim to teach students how to think creatively, write effectively, ask insightful questions, analyze and construct good arguments, appreciate beauty, work well with a team, make connections across different fields of knowledge, and understand what it means to be human. If they can do that, they will also have a leg up not only landing their first job, but of entering and succeeding in a number of career options over the course of their lives.
A small, personal learning community that is guided by authors who have stood the test of time, that appreciates the classic ars liberalis, and that is committed to the treasures of the Catholic intellectual tradition—this is who Magdalen College is.