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Academics

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts offers a liberal education for greatness.  This may be a public greatness that human history will mark within its records or the quiet, hidden greatness that sustains families, societies, and the world, just beyond the vision of others.   This greatness gives form to a life transformed, one in which students find true freedom, joy, and the wisdom that transcends our age.

Through its deep integration of liberal education and the Catholic faith within a joyful community, Magdalen College offers students the opportunity to pursue wisdom in a spirit of friendship, animated by a communion of faith, bringing the intellect and imagination to their full realization.  Our community is unlike any other.

At Magdalen College we educate our students not only for the lives they will live immediately following graduation, but also for the lives they will live two decades later.  When our graduates step into the leadership of public, private, and ecclesial institutions, or lead quietly in the private spheres of life, they will be taking up the reins that will shape and sustain society and the Church through the next generations.

It is for these high and heroic callings that we educate. 

The Program of Studies

Magdalen College offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Liberal Studies with majors in Literature, Philosophy, History, and Theology. In addition to their major, students may choose to concentrate in the fine arts. The college also awards its Apostolic Catechetical Diploma to students who complete the six-semester sequence of theological studies with at least a grade of C or better in each course and who pledge to teach Catholic doctrine in communion with the Holy See.

All students complete a core set of courses in the classical liberal arts called the Program of Studies. The comprehensive, substantive nature of the curriculum was recently acknowledged by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. ACTA awarded Magdalen’s curriculum a perfect score for requiring courses in all selected subject areas across the broad sweep of arts and sciences. Magdalen was one of only seven colleges in the country to receive this distinction.

Our Program of Studies is grounded in four key commitments:

  • the belief that truth, goodness, and beauty are realities that can be discovered,
  • the primacy of enquiry embodied in the perennial questions,
  • the conversation engaged by the greatest books and culture artifacts,
  • the traditional liberal arts education as a pathway to true freedom and human flourishing.

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Program at a Glance

For a visual overview of how our courses fit together, view our program-at-a-glance.

Comprehensive Assessment Program

To discover the learning outcomes that constitute our program of studies, learn about our Comprehensive Assessment Program.

Program of Studies

The Classic Books

There is nothing quite like the joy we experience in our direct encounter with the greatest books that have been written, each one serving as a door to another world, a ladder by which we can ascend, or a window to a hidden reality.

Philosophy & Humanities

Philosophy & Humanities

Through the Philosophy and Humanities sequence, the collegiate community reads together the greatest works of the imagination and the intellect in a spirit animated by joy that flows from the classroom to animate all that we do as a college.

Majors

Majors

As a complement to our generous core of great books, students choose a classic disciplines in the junior and senior year, reading books from within that discipline and developing a vision of reality shaped by it.

Junior Project and Senior Thesis

Junior Project and Senior Thesis

At the beginning of the junior year, when a major discipline has been chosen, each student selects a single author as the subject of an extended exploration of reading and then, as a senior, selects a classic book and related question that become the basis of a senior thesis or portfolio.

Arts of the Beautiful

Music and Art

Through our unique “Arts of the Beautiful” Program, students can integrate the practices of music, visual art—including iconography—and drama with sustained reflections on aesthetics, all while experiencing these arts in the museums and concert halls of New England.

Honors

Honors

In the college’s Honors Program, students and faculty explore—in a seminar setting—classic texts and themes chosen by a senior tutor of the college, while also completing an Honors Thesis during their senior year.

Visiting Lectures

Visiting Lectures and Seminars

As part of its Friday-night lecture series, the college invites scholars, poets, priests, philosophers, artists, musicians, and cultural leaders to join the conversation that animates our collegiate culture, events that combine lively dialogue and good food.

Faculty

Faculty

Our faculty joyfully devote themselves to the pursuit of wisdom through the classic books and the central disciplines, mentoring students who wish to join them in the exploration of the highest and most permanent things. 

Library

Library

The St. Augustine library holdings include 25,000 print volumes, 60 periodical titles, and a variety of digital resources, all managed by a professional librarian with extensive academic experience.

Writing the Light:
Studying Iconography in Greece

The Orthodox tradition speaks of “writing” rather than “painting” icons. Several Magdalen students and graduates recently enjoyed a fascinating opportunity to “Write the Light” in Greece. The occasion was the Summer Iconography School taught by renowned master iconographer Dr. George Kordis. Mrs. Keri Weidersphan, who teaches iconography at Magdalen, helped organize and run the event....

Cardinal Newman Society Features Prof. Anthony Esolen & President Ryan Messmore

“Magdalen is for those who have an inkling that the world is enchanted with beauty and meaning and want an education that will help them explore it at a deeper level.” So argue Prof. Anthony Esolen and Pres. Ryan Messmore in a recent interview with the Cardinal Newman Society. When asked about the special value...

Anthony Esolen Featured in Podcast:
Poetry and the Music of Language

Magdalen Professor Anthony Esolen argues that we need to tune our ears to what he calls “the music of language.” Such music enables poetry to do things that other forms of written communication cannot do. Listen to Dr. Esolen explain what has gone wrong with poetry in the modern age, and hear him discuss some...

Collegiate Summer Program Session II Concludes on a High Note

Magdalen College recently wrapped up an engaging two weeks of our Collegiate Summer Program: Session II. Arriving on campus just days in the wake of Session I, an energetic group of high schoolers ascended our mountain campus to experience all aspects of Magdalen collegiate life. Between the two sessions, participants hailed from all over the...

National Catholic Register Interviews President Ryan Messmore

National Catholic Register, a leading news source for faithful Catholics, recently interviewed Magdalen College’s new president, Dr. Ryan Messmore. Since Dr. Messmore began his tenure as the college’s fifth president in July, his zeal for Magdalen’s intentional, Christ-centered approach to liberal education has rippled through the community. The full interview explores his background, highlights what...

“Freedom, on a Mountain” – Anthony Esolen Highlights Magdalen College in The Catholic Thing

Anthony Esolen, Professor and Writer-in-residence at Magdalen, recently highlighted the college in The Catholic Thing. He explains how Magdalen provides an education in true freedom that liberates students from the “social manacles” of secular orthodoxy. This approach to education, punctuated by our vantage point atop the slopes of Mount Kearsarge, ripples through every classroom, every liturgy,...