The liberal education we offer at the college is not for the faint of heart: the journey to freedom— intellectual and spiritual freedom—is a high calling. But no one at the college undertakes this journey alone. We support one another within and beyond the classroom as we seek to become fully human and fully free.
Dialogue is a key animating principle of community life at Magdalen College. Together, students and teachers are engaged in a common search for wisdom. Students enter into a dialogue with the books they read and with each other within a curriculum oriented toward the fundamental questions of life. As a community we seek wisdom in solidarity.
At the beginning of the junior year, each student declares a major – theology, philosophy, literature, political science or great books. While continuing the humanities sequence of courses, students focus on a particular discipline, extending their enquiry through dialogue and the close reading of primary sources within their majors.
Through the Junior Project students have the opportunity to spend one academic year reading the works of a single author of their choosing from within their major discipline. As Juniors consider key critical works about these authors and their writings, they share this deeper knowledge with their peers.
During their final year at the college, seniors have the opportunity to write a thesis and introduce the fruit of their labor to their peers and members of the faculty through a sustained presentation and discussion of their work.
Beauty is experienced in and out of the classroom at Magdalen College. The “Arts of the Beautiful” program encourages students to visit museums, attend plays and concerts, and enjoy the arts as a community. Trips are planned throughout each semester with free or reduced ticket prices.
Students at Magdalen College also have the opportunity to grow in their personal ability to sing while participating in the beauty of sacred music. The all-college choir unifies students across years while bringing glory to God. Studio art and iconography are also available to students.
Within the Philosophy and Humanities sequence, students take up the philosophy of art as it is expressed through Josef Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture and Etienne Gilson’s The Arts of the Beautiful. In turn, they bring this understanding to bear on musical and visual works from the early medieval period through the twentieth century, integrating this knowledge with their studies of literature, philosophy, theology, and politics. Students who wish to pursue these studies further may adopt the Fine Arts Concentration and take a course devoted to the Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics.