WHAT IS THE LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM? It is a number of college-level courses coordinated jointly by Ignatius Press and the Angelicum Academy. This coordination is necessary and 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 for college credit, 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 homeschooling and 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 67% on average as compared to private four-year 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)
WHAT 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.
HOW DO I START? Go the enrollment page and complete the enrollment form. You will then be taken to the bookstore to pay for your enrollment. Angelicum Great Books Program classes start the first week of September each year (start dates vary for foreign students), but classes are limited and may fill up early so do not delay too long or you risk not finding class space. Fr. Fessio’s Theology Online courses are asynchronous and so may be started any time of year and may be finished as quickly as the student has time to complete the work/readings and tests.
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 (available in one-ten 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 (or 9th grade) and up. As with AP, dual enrollment and the other early college credit programs, it is 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 “Reading the Great Books had done more for my mind than all the rest of the academic pursuits…it is the best education for the faculty as well as for the students; the use of original texts is an antidote for survey courses and fifth-rate textbooks; and it constitutes by itself, if properly conducted, the backbone of a liberal education.” – Dr. Mortimer J. Adler
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 courses.
WHAT ABOUT COSTS? (Tuition Chart below)– Private four-year college tuition and fees have increased on average from $172 to $1,096 more in the last year, bringing the average cost to $ 26,273 per year – that’s over $100,000 for a four year degree – bringing the average cost per credit hour to nearly $700 per credit hour (over $2,000 per typical 3-hour course). The Liberal Studies Program is about 1/3th that cost per credit hour ($250