The Graduate Institute at St. John’s College, Santa Fe
As a student in the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, you will engage questions fundamental to the human experience in a setting unparalleled for its high-desert beauty, known for fostering clarity of mind and spirit.
At the Santa Fe campus, we offer graduate degrees in Liberal Arts and Eastern Classics.
What can an encounter with the world’s great thinkers teach us about our place in the world? At the St. John’s College Graduate Institute we read the works of thinkers like Plato, Lucretius, Euclid, Descartes, Shakespeare, and Nietzsche in our Western Liberal Arts Program, and works like the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching and Kalidasa in our Eastern Classics Program. We read these works together, in small seminars and tutorials, not to learn about the books and their authors, but to learn from them.
There are no lectures at St. John’s. All classes are conversations and we rely on primary sources rather than textbooks. Though you will write copiously at St. John’s, conferences, called “orals,” take the place of written examinations. You meet one-on-one with your tutor—the designation given to faculty members at St. John’s—to talk more deeply about ideas of particular interest that have come up in relation to the readings and the larger class discussions.
Graduate classes meet during 16-week semesters in the fall and spring and during an eight-week summer semester. The heart of the curriculum is the seminar, in which 17–21 students engage in a discussion initiated by a tutor’s question about the assigned reading. In the tutorial, 12–16 students focus more intensively on smaller assignments—mathematical proofs, short literary texts, or dense arguments of philosophy or political theory. The preceptorial, with 6–12 students, engages in the study of a single book or topic and requires that students write a substantial paper.
During fall and spring terms, classes meet twice a week, in late afternoons and evenings. Classes meet twice as often during the summer. 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.
Why Faculty are Called Tutors
St. John’s faculty members are referred to as “tutors” rather than “professors” to signify that it is not their chief role to profess or lecture—but to guide students through the program of study. Most hold doctorates in particular fields but all teach across the curriculum. In seminars, tutorials, laboratories, and preceptorials, tutors shape discussion by asking questions, supplying helpful examples, and encouraging students to explore the implications of their own statements. During class, tutors actively listen as students work through the difficulties of a text or scientific proposition, raising questions along the way but allowing students to arrive at answers for themselves.