Collegiate Summer Program

Interested in the 2022 Collegiate Summer Program?

A Liberal Arts Education in Miniature for High School Students

Discover the joy of learning next summer at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts.

High school students are invited to experience, in miniature form, the academic community and life of Magdalen College. The Collegiate Summer Program introduces students to liberal education through classic texts from philosophy, literature, theology, and political thought. In each of these disciplines, students learn how reflective inquiry can provide answers to the most pressing concerns in life and lead them to encounter the joy and demands of truth.

The Collegiate Summer Program challenges students academically, encourages them in their faith, and leads them to personal excellence.

Collegiate Summer Program Brochure (2021)

Read about the 2021 Experience

For more information, please contact Marci Houle at [email protected] or 603-456-4113.

A Letter to Future Summer Students
Dear high school students or recent graduates, families, and friends,

Looking back on forty years of involvement in and twenty-four years of teaching in the Collegiate Summer Program for High School Students, which Dr. Peter Sampo invented in 1975 at Magdalen College, next conveyed to two other institutions in succession, and then returned to Magdalen in 2012, I witness ever more clearly each year what a treasure this two-week program is among educational offerings in our time.

There was good reason for our persistence in providing the program under various and not always convenient circumstances over the decades—and, if anything, more reason than ever to provide it during the difficult last year and now this coming summer too, given the tumult the world is experiencing. Part of the genius of it is that it is designed for virtually all students, enrolled or recently graduated from any secondary school (in-person or online) in institutions that serve hundreds or thousands of students, or in homeschools, whether the students are already avid readers or are no lovers of school at all. Virtually all will discover a place in this program.

That is because there are no gimmicks in The Collegiate Summer Program for High School Students. What makes the dances and canoe trips all the more enjoyable is that they are shared, most importantly, by friends who have been exploring or celebrating central human experiences in a genuine, communal, joyful search for wisdom. The shared learning gives them extra cause for celebration during meals, hikes, and other activities. How can such a brief encounter be leisurely and intense at the same time? How can deep, even abiding friendships be initiated in only two weeks among a group of students with various backgrounds and interests, who have never met before. Some of our students are gregarious and others a bit reclusive, but there should be no cliques. That is because there is no condescension in the approach of this education.

The program is based on a recognition that there are human experiences of concern to all of us (the significance of freedom and justice, of suffering, joy, mortality, vocation, sacrifice, friendship, family). These are the subjects of the great works we discuss in the classroom, in an experience of non-competitive learning, which, received with joy, can be transformative of us all.

I look forward to the variety of persons whom I will encounter this summer too. In all these decades, I have never met two students alike.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email so that we can discuss the program.

Sincerely yours,
Mary Mumbach
Professor of Humanities and Literature
Director of the Collegiate Summer Program for High School Students


The Literary Tradition

Study of the heroic. Works of the imagination allow us to see the paradoxical quality of our position in the universe: fallen, in need of redemption, yet already bearers of the divine image. The hero, in particular, finds that he cannot live a merely mediocre life. Readings include explorations of the life of charity embodied in codes of courtesy in medieval and modern poetry, along with short stories of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. 

American Political Thought

This course examines America’s founding principles and considers them through the broader political and philosophic traditions of Western Civilization. Students examine how the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers created institutions meant to safeguard liberty and challenge future generations to the wisdom required for self-governance. Readings include The Declaration of Independence, selected Federalist Papers, and the Gettysburg Address.


In our philosophy seminar we will take up fundamental philosophical questions and themes through an introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle, the one whom Dante called “the Master of those who know.”  Through concise readings from Aristotle’s key works we will consider questions about the nature of the human person, the basic structures of reality, and the ways that we come to know that reality.


Beginning with a consideration of sacramental and liturgical theology as presented in the magisterial documents of the Church, the discussions in this seminar will be wide-ranging, covering topics both ancient and contemporary.  

Liturgical and Spiritual Activities

During the Collegiate Summer Program, students participate in a rich liturgical life and have many opportunities to learn more about the Catholic faith. The chaplain will celebrate Mass daily, and students are expected to attend. He will explain the details of the liturgy and its role in the life of the Church. Students are encouraged to bring forward whatever questions they may have about the Catholic tradition and their personal faith.

Meanwhile, they will learn to engage the liturgy deeply through sacred music. During these two weeks, even students with no musical background will learn the fundamentals of sacred music, experience beauty in new ways, and discover how they can participate profoundly in the Mass every week.