The Angelicum Great Books Program is designed to be the central, generalist part of a student’s whole education. The liberal/learning arts taught in the elementary grades are put to use here on the finest materials that exist –  the Great Books. After completing the Great Books courses and the Theology Online courses to go deeper into the Catholic faith, students may then complete their education and specialize in whatever majors they wish at any of the hundreds of colleges and universities that accept credits that have been recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education credits (including online ones such as Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Thomas Edison State College and Harrison Middleton University).  [Scroll down for FAQs.]

Students may earn their Bachelor’s degrees online from a top-notch, accredited Catholic college for under 1/4th the average, private, nonprofit college on-campus costs. Excellent, experienced moderators; lively class discussions; personalized student assistance and supportive faculty; rigorous, yet profoundly interesting, great readings – these all add up to the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, of which the Angelicum Great Books Program forms an integral part.

For example: students taking online courses with the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program may earn up to 60 college credits and then complete one of three fully accredited Bachelors’ degrees by earning their final 60 college credits (in two years), also online, from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Students may begin the online Liberal Studies Program Great Books courses at age 14 and up.


Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., S.T.D

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., Th.D

WHAT IS THE IGNATIUS-ANGELICUM LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM? It is 12 college-level courses coordinated jointly by Ignatius Press and the Angelicum Academy. Eight of the courses constitute the Angelicum Great Books Program; four of the courses constitute the Theology Online courses by Fr. Joseph Fessio. All 12 courses (60 total credits) have been recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (ACE CREDIT). The Great Books courses are each 6-credit hour courses (48 total credits, usually completed in eight semesters/four years), and the theology courses are each 3-credit hour courses (for 12 total credit hours).

WHAT IS THE GUIDING VISION OF THE LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM? The central idea behind the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program was to provide an online, generalist/liberal education using the Great Books as the primary texts – hence the Angelicum Great Books Program, combined with a deeper, more systematic concentration on the Catholic Faith using the four theology online courses developed by Fr. Joseph Fessio, himself a student of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who is generally regarded as the finest Pope-Theologian in the history of the Church.

The importance of the study of the Great Books is discussed in several articles on this website, and they are best studied using the dialectic or Socratic method, which is a live, focused, conversational approach, discussing the profound ideas raised by the greatest authors of all time, under the guidance of experienced moderators, many of whom are also professors at Catholic colleges and Fellows of the Adler-Aquinas Institute. The theology online courses are best taught didactically, using lectures by Fr. Fessio and selected readings, since they generally involve Revelation and Magisterial teachings, not the subject of debate (in fact, one of the courses is on Revelation). 80% of the credits (48 credits) are part of the online, live, Angelicum Great Books Program courses, and 20% (12 credits) are the Theology Online courses.  Combined, we believe this represents the very finest Catholic liberal education available, online or otherwise.

logo_aceThe 60 college credits just described represent ½ of the typical bachelor’s degree curriculum in the US. College students typically take 15 credits per semester on campus, for four years, earning a total of 120 credits. The vision of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program was to provide the first 60 credits towards a bachelor’s degree (BA) online, and to allow students then to transfer those credits into colleges and universities of their choice towards their chosen majors. More and more colleges and universities accept all of these credits, which have been formally recommended by the American Council on Education for college credit to its 1,600 affiliated colleges and universities.

Following the strong recommendation of our late, great, friend the Catholic philosopher convert, Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, we have been offering the Angelicum Great Books Program to students as young as 14 (9th grade) and up, since 2000 A.D., with great success (our oldest student was 87!).  Young students need a couple of years of the Great Books Program before taking the four Theology Online courses, so we do not recommend them for students younger than 16 (11th grade). In this way, by the time they graduate from high school or homeschool students will have earned 60 credits towards their BAs, in a top-notch, Catholic, online program designed to expose them to the broadest and deepest horizons of human intellectual activity, moderated by world-class Catholic Professors and Moderators who have conducted literally thousands of these classes over the last 15 years. Parents and students may wish to read some of the testimonials by our students posted online to get a sense of how effective and really life-changing these courses can be. This becomes especially evident around the first semester of the third year of the Great Books Program. To our surprise, we have found the younger students profit more from the Great Books than the older ones – with exceptions of course – as they are more open to the great truths contained therein and generally have been less harmed by the radical skepticism and relativism rampant in modern culture.

This Online Program is helpful to students in three ways at least: 1.) it assures them of fixed, certain paths to degrees from accredited colleges which have agreed to accept all or part of their studies in the Liberal Studies Program courses for college credit, some of which are clearly set forth in formal agreements without the ambiguity often attendant upon transfers or changing institutions of higher learning; 2.) it allows students to begin college-level and college-credit-earning studies while homeschooling or in school, as early as age 14 (or 9th grade), and up; 3.) it dramatically reduces college costs in two ways: a) by spreading the costs of college out over a longer period, beginning as early as the student’s 14th year (or 9th grade); b) because the costs of online, distance education do not have to include unnecessary costs of maintaining extensive buildings and maintenance staff nor does it include expensive room and board for students away from home it is much less expensive (by nearly 77% on average as compared to private, four-year, nonprofit colleges), yet numerous studies confirm the equal or superior quality of distance education.

The Seven Liberal Arts – from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad von Landsberg (12th century)The Seven Liberal Arts – from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad von Landsberg (12th century)

liberalWHAT DOES “LIBERAL” MEAN?  A few people have, rather understandably, wondered at the meaning of “liberal” as used above.  It has nothing – or very little – to do with contemporary politics, nor with the conservative vs. liberal political meaning. Rather, the root word is from the Latin “lyber” meaning “free.” Related is the Latin word for book: liber. Books, or what they contain – knowledge –  free us from the darkness of ignorance. Any learning art that aids us in gaining that liberty we call a liberal art.

Liberal Studies is merely another term for liberal education. The liberal studies or liberal arts denote a curriculum that imparts general knowledge and develops the student’s rational thought and intellectual capabilities, unlike professional, vocational, or technical curricula emphasizing specialization. In classical antiquity, the liberal arts denoted the education proper to a free man (Latin: liberus, “free man”), unlike the education proper to a slave. In the 5th century AD, Martianus Capella academically defined the seven liberal arts as: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. In the medieval Western university, the seven liberal arts were divided into the trivium (the three): grammar, rhetoric, logic; and the quadrivium (the four): arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy.  Contemporary liberal studies retains the notion of “general studies” or “humanities” resulting in a well-rounded, well-educated, humane individual – the best grounding for the specifically Christian virtues.

WHAT DO I NEED TO START? The ability to read well, a PC, a $10-20 microphone or headset with microphone, a phone line, and tuition (Great Books and Theology Online courses courses available in monthly payments). If you have high speed internet that’s great, but only dial-up is necessary. Yes, Macs are fine. The software is provided via free download. Our online classroom software works on Android phones or any wireless PC or laptop.

MAY I START FROM HOME? Yes. Most of our students start from their homes.

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO START? We accept motivated students from age fourteen (9th grade) and up. As with AP, dual enrollment and the other early college credit programs, it is primarily intellect, interest and motivation that limit success in studies, not age.

WHY THE EARLY EMPHASIS ON THE “GREAT BOOKS” OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND THEOLOGY? Because the list or canon of what are generally (almost universally) considered the greatest masterpieces of our civilization contain brilliant insights, profound truths and wisdom. Wisdom is generally acknowledged to be the highest good of the human mind, whether this be recognized as knowledge of first principles and causes or as a contemplative gaze at Wisdom itself. How does one obtain wisdom? The means is primarily conversation with great and wise persons who have already advanced far along the paths of knowledge and understanding to wisdom. As the philosopher Dr. Peter Redpath succinctly puts it when addressing audiences of young people interested in understanding why they ought to read great books: “If you wish to become wise, learn from wise people.”

“Contact with writers of genius procures us the immediate advantage of lifting us to a higher plane; by their superiority alone they confer a benefit on us even before teaching us anything….they accustom us to the air of the mountaintops….In that world of lofty thought the face of truth seems to be unveiled; beauty shines forth…” -A.G. Sertillanges, O.P., The Intellectual Life

Because persons of great wisdom are rare and generally unavailable to us due to distance or death, we enter into conversation with them through their books, which record their thought. In doing so we soon discover how all the authors of great books used this same method of study themselves—conversing with or reading the great books of the sages of earlier generations as their starting point. In so doing they avoid having to re-invent the wheel each generation; they avoid mistakes already dealt with and build on existing foundations. Indeed, what would be the point in studying mediocre works by lesser luminaries or beginning all thought over from square one every few years, when great books by the wisest people – the great sages of civilization – are now readily available? No education worthy of the name can neglect the greatest works of literature.

“The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.” – Descartes, Discourse on Method, I

Several articles on this subject link on the banner above. Similarly, theology is the queen of the sciences, leading to wisdom. Because it is studied only here and there in the Great Books courses, we thought it important to add the systematic study of theology due to its importance and profundity. Fr. Fessio has recorded approximately 100 excellent lectures in total for the four theology online courses.


DOES LSP ACCEPT INSTALLMENTS FOR TUITION?  Yes. Great Books tuition may be made in as many as ten installments of 1/10th each. Students may take longer to complete the asynchronous theology courses, but the maximum payment plan length for them is 5 months/payments.

WHEN WILL THE INSTALLMENT PAYMENT BEGIN? The first installment payment of 1/10th the tuition selected for the Angelicum Great Books Program or 1/5th for the Theology Online courses is charged at the time (on the date) the order is placed, then monthly until paid in full. Once made, entered or processed, payments are nonrefundable.  Installment payments for the Great Books Program ordered after August 31st will be calculated based on the number of months remaining in the semester (or remaining in the year if the enrollment was for the entire year) (please feel free to email us for further clarification if needed). “Year” as used above refers to one academic year (i.e., two semesters, September-December, January-May, 15 weeks of class per semester plus subsequent oral exam online. Any tuition balances outstanding after the May payments will be charged the last week of May.

MAY I DISCONTINUE INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS? Yes, you may discontinue Installment Payments. If you wish to discontinue installment payments we need to be notified of this in writing (email is fine) at least three days (72 hours) prior to the next charge date. This gives us time to make that change in the payment system for the remaining installments. Notice less than 72 hours prior to the next charge date will not be effective until the next following payment (i.e., a full month later).

Debt-free-gradIF I DISCONTINUE INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS WILL I BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY BALANCE OR REMAINING PAYMENTS? No. Students may attend class or view recorded material until the last day for which they have paid tuition, they will not be responsible or obligated to pay for any tuition not yet due. However, if they are in arrears (i.e., if they owe money for classes already taken), the amount due (“in arrears”) will of course be due and the student/parent will be obligated to pay any such sum.

IF MY STUDENT FINDS THE GREAT BOOKS COLLEGE-TRACK TOO DIFFICULT, MAY HE OR SHE SWITCH TO THE HIGH-SCHOOL-TRACK? Yes. The College track requires completion of weekly answers to question in the Great Books Study Guides and longer essays. This is not required in the high school track. A student who desired to switch tracks would need to do so by notifying us in writing (email is fine) at least 72 hours prior to the next installment payment date in order to obtain a tuition reduction for that payment. But there is no difficulty in changing tracks.

HOW AND WHERE DO I BUY THE BOOKS FOR THE LSP? If you wish to purchase any books, please visit the bookstore and do so. Allow sufficient delivery time for weekends and shipping. Most of the Great Books are available for free online or at libraries.

HOW MANY HOURS DO COLLEGES REQUIRE FOR BACHELOR’S DEGREES? In the 1920′s the Carnegie Foundation offered to fund college teachers’ retirement plans in the US if their institutions adopted a four-year, 120 hour minimum for bachelor’s degrees. This strategy worked and that is the norm in the US, though there are exceptions. In Europe, Australia and other countries three-year bachelor’s degrees (90 US credit hours) are still common.

Cover for web 2HOW MANY HOURS OF COLLEGE-LEVEL CREDIT DID THE AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EDUCATION RECOMMEND FOR THE ANGELICUM GREAT BOOKS PROGRAM AND THE THEOLOGY ONLINE? 60. The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) evaluated and recommended college credit for 8 courses (6 per semester; 12 per year, totaling 48 hours) of our Great Books Program, which may be begun as early as age 14 (9th grade), and 3 credits for each of the four Theology Online courses (a total of 12 credits), for a grand total of 60 credit hours – the equivalent of two years of college.

MUST A STUDENT COMPLETE ALL OF THE GREAT BOOKS OR THEOLOGY ONLINE COURSES? No. Students may take any or all of the courses offered.

BESIDES THE HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE CREDIT, WHAT SERVICES ARE INCLUDED IN TUITION? Included: Access to our weekly two-hour Great Books online classes and/or the Theology Online lectures for each course enrolled in; generally two online moderators per Great Books class; Two semester Great Books essays graded by our tutors; Semester oral exam online; transcript maintenance by the Angelicum staff; and in addition, for the College-track: Great Books Study Guides (no s/h fee); Weekly grading service for our Great Books Study Guides; Recommended college credits for successful completion of each semester of the Great Books courses or the Theology Online courses.

WHAT IS FATHER FESSIO’S ROLE IN THE LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM? Renowned Catholic educator, Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Th.D., is the founding Chancellor the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program and the instructor in each of the four Theology Online courses and the 100 or so total lectures for those four courses.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM? The origin of the program was rooted in the educational insights of Dr. Mortimer J. Adler (1902-2001), educational philosopher, author of over 50 books in philosophy, Catholic convert and Editor-in-Chief of both Encyclopaedia Britannica and Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World. For most of the twentieth century, Dr. Adler was the leading voice in education advocating the importance of not wasting the high school years in mediocrity and trivialities, but rather of elevating them to accomplish the critically important general or liberal education of young people before they missed the opportunity due to the pressures of earning a living, supporting a family or paying student debt. Dr. Adler wrote:

“If I had any hope that in the foreseeable future, the educational system of this country could be so radically transformed that the basic liberal training would be adequately accomplished in the secondary [i.e., high] schools and that the Bachelor of Arts degree would then be awarded at the termination of such schooling, I would gladly recommend that the college be relieved of any further responsibility for training in the liberal arts… if we are going to have general human schooling in this country, it has to be accomplished in the first twelve years of compulsory schooling…it would be appropriate to award a bachelor of arts degree at the completion of such basic schooling. Doing so would return that degree to its original educational significance as certifying competence in the liberal arts, which are the arts or skills of learning in all fields of subject matter.”

WHEN MAY I BEGIN? Students may enroll now and begin the Ignatius-Angelicum live, Great Books courses the first week of September. The Ignatius-Angelicum Theology Online courses may be begun any time as they are asynchronous. Simply enroll online – there is no application fee.

Students may also take advantage of Holy Apostles’ tri-semester calendar for the HACS courses, studying in any or all of the three annual 15-week semesters for accelerated program completion. Work on your studies at any time, day or night. Access the online portions of your classes at any time to complete your assignments, participate in class discussions, and communicate with your professors. Take up to six years. You may choose to complete your M.A. within two years or stretch it out over six years. Such flexibility lets life’s priorities stay priorities.

IS THE PROGRAM COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING ITS CATHOLIC IDENTITY? Approved by the Cardinal Newman Society: The Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program and H2014oly Apostle’s commitments to fostering a strong sense of Catholic identity are recognized in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College as a Recommended Catholic College Program and Catholic College, respectively.

CatholicOnlineBannerIS THE PROGRAM ACCREDITED? All HACS degree programs are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Holy Apostles College and Seminary has been accredited for over three decades. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges is the oldest regional accrediting agency in the United States, evaluating more than 250 degree-granting colleges, universities and other institutions in the six-state region. In 2006 Holy Apostles was re-accredited by NEASC for the maximum of 10 years.

Accreditation means that our programs, operations, finances and objectives have undergone a thorough peer review and been found to meet or exceed the minimum standards set for academic institutions. All degrees offered by the school, from the on-campus A.A. in Religious Studies to the online learning graduate degrees are accredited.

All Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies courses are recommended for college credit by the American Council for Education (ACE CREDIT) and are accepted by Holy Apostles College and Seminary and by numerous other colleges and universities.

And: avoid the college loan huge debt trap; private, non-profit college costs on-campus now average over $42,000 per year (avg. $169,676 for a bachelor’s degree). The entire cost of any of the three BA’s offered online by Ignatius-Angelicum & Holy Apostles is only $34,515, which is 1/5th of the average on-campus private, nonprofit college cost and less then even the average residential community college costs (which now exceed $11,000 per year; figures per College Board).

Charted below is how students can earn their accredited bachelor’s degrees (BA’s) entirely online from established Catholic institutions, for a total of $34,515 (not per year, that’s the total cost). [Prices are subject to possible future changes.]

Online Courses Cost Per Credit Hour Subtotals Notes
Ignatius-Angelicum Great Books Program 48 credit hours x $250 = $12,000 These 8 courses are 6 credits each, 48 total.
Theology Online w/Fr. Fessio
12 hours x $250 = $3,000 These four courses are three credits each, 12 total.
Holy Apostles College and Seminary (“HACS”) for the final 60 hours (120 credits required for a BA) 60 credit hours X $320 per credit hour = $19,200 Students may take individual 3-credit online courses of their choice from Holy Apostles for $960 per course.
HACS Application Fee $50 One-time fee
HACS Registration Fee $140 $35 per semester x 4 semesters
HACS Graduation Fee $125 One-time fee
Totals $34,515 120 Credits = BA*

*The foregoing applies to four accredited HACS’s bachelor’s degrees in: English in the Humanities, Philosophy, Theology, and History in the Social Sciences. Students may begin the Ignatius-Angelicum live Great Books courses the first week of September. The Ignatius-Angelicum Theology Online courses may be begun any time as they are asynchronous/recorded.