MA IN THE HUMANITIES
An intensive one-year Master’s degree in the Humanities. Our select cohort will explore the concept of the whole – beginning in Greece and continuing in Savannah, Georgia. A number of full and partial scholarships are available.
The review of applications begins on February 3rd and will continue until the deadline of March 5th.
What does it mean to be whole, integrated, unified, and complete? What is the relationship between totality, finitude, and change? What does unity mean—for a human being, a community, or a work of art? And why is the Greek language fundamental to framing and exploring these questions?
Focusing, in 2023-24, on the theme of "the whole," our multidisciplinary curriculum will trace the origins and chronological development of this concept through philosophy, music, architecture, art, and literature. This degree will entail four terms of intense intellectual work, first in Greece, then in Savannah.
Graduate students in our program will face the challenge of discovering—and recovering—what the whole has meant, historically, across diverse times and cultures, and how this conception continues to inform the existential assumptions and convictions of our current moment.
Term I: Greece
The Greek language and the spirit of Hellenism are the threads which run through the humanities in all of their disparate forms in each epoch of their expression. For centuries, the ability to access the foundational texts of the Western tradition without translators, commentators, or other intermediaries has been a nearly universal prerequisite for the meaningful encounter with—and entry into—its cultural inheritance. For this reason, our program begins with an intensive language residency in Greece.
This innovative pedagogical module, which approaches every form of the Greek language simultaneously, will enable the study of Greek texts in subsequent terms and foster deep friendship as well. Undertaking this ambitious project in Greece itself will not only allow for complete linguistic immersion but also for excursions, as a cohort, to some of the major cultural centers of the Hellenic world.
Terms II, III, IV: Savannah
Three terms in Savannah will then follow: we will focus, first, on the Ancient world, then turn to the Middle Ages, and finally consider a range of achievements from the post-Medieval world to the contemporary one. We will explore how notions of wholeness develop and unfold across time as we consider works of philosophy, theology, and the imaginative arts from each period.
Intense scrutiny of single works will be paired with ambitious, wide-ranging surveys, and we will supplement all of our studies with concerts, symposia, guest lectures and other events that will enrich our main curricular program. Taken together, the academic itinerary of these terms and their chronological sequence will provide an integrated knowledge—and experience—of the West’s intellectual, spiritual, and historical trajectory.
"The teaching I have received so far at Ralston allows freedom of thought and expression to flourish, while it simultaneously pushes me to redefine my sense of self and belonging. This is an institution where ideas, as well as souls, find fertile ground to grow. "
"Ralston is a place where, above all else, with humility books are read, languages learned, and selves explored. Ralston stands true to what Aristotle said, that for the mind, unlike other senses, intense stimuli only sharpens it. At Ralston, no truth is avoided, and facing the truth, with humility and respect, is transformational."
"My application to Ralston was the result of a persistent feeling of isolation and cultural homelessness. The College has given me the opportunity to learn what I was missing. Ralston has given me a map and compass so that I might live the rest of my life as an explorer of our inheritance."
What is the whole?
Building on our inaugural MA in the Humanities which focused on the self, next year we will turn our attention to the whole, as we build out our vision of what an education in the humanities should be.
Why, for example, in Greek philosophy, is it important to make claims about everything that exists? What fundamental first principles can be discerned in Heraclitus’ fragments, Aristotle’s metaphysics, and Saint Augustine’s theology? What new notions of completeness and totality does one find in the Enlightenment, and on what basis do they emerge? And how do changing ideas about unity manifest themselves in polyphonic chant, centrally-planned cities, multi-volume novels, or abstract art?
Exploring these questions will allow us to develop a coherent understanding of the ideas of completeness that have transformed and endured for millennia. Our own contribution to this ancient and venerable tradition of thinking about the whole will inform and deepen the hope of Ralston College to live up to its own educational mission: to encourage and foster a culture that is more fully human.
While this MA year will of course enable further advanced study and careers in a wide range of fields, it aims at something more fundamental still: to provide its participants with the depth of knowledge, analytical acuity, and enriched imagination that are the basis for both individual flourishing and the renewal of our culture at large. Indeed, the intellectual effort that this demanding program of study entails—extensive reading, intense discussion, and deep thinking—will prepare its graduates to meet the great challenges of our time.
Every civilization needs sympathetic interpreters who are capable of prizing the cultural treasures that form its foundations; a world in need of renewal requires vital visions of synthesis in which materials from different moments combine in new and unexpected ways. By fostering friendships with mentors and peers in the present and with the writers, thinkers, and artists of the past, the Ralston College MA in the Humanities will help to recreate the conditions of human flourishing—precisely by incorporating its graduates into the very tradition which they themselves will transmit.
Who should apply?
This program is intended for postgraduate students with broad intellectual interests who already hold a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) and who have a strong academic record of achievement. Even with such a record in hand, applicants will need to demonstrate evidence of and a capacity for sustained, focused, first-rate intellectual work in other ways as well. More important than even this minimum requirement, however, is the desire to seek the truth with courage, and to orient oneself to the beautiful and perplexing products of culture with admitted ignorance, measured humility, and an appropriate appetite for wonder.
The most essential qualities of an applicant for this program are, therefore, an ambition to reflect deeply on fundamental questions; a readiness to read and think for long hours; and a willingness to question one’s own assumptions and to engage with the thoughts of others in a spirit of intellectual charity and good faith. Admission is based on merit. A number of full and partial fellowships are available to defray the cost of tuition. We very much regret that, because of certain regulatory requirements, admission to our program will be limited to students who are already legally permitted to reside in the United States. We hope to admit international students to the program in subsequent years.
What will I learn?
Our MA program will explore the humanities in the fullest sense. Students will undertake a multi-disciplinary curriculum that will encompass works of philosophy, politics, history, and literature, as well as the study of music, art, architecture, and cinema. The wide scope of the program’s purview finds balance in the specific points of focus that will organise and unify the approach of each term. Students will come to see both the broad strokes of an historical panorama in the context of carefully selected objects, texts, and case studies that will illustrate the primary concerns of a given term in fine detail.
When does the program begin? Where will I learn?
The MA program of study commences with an intensive language residency in Greece in August and September of 2023. Students will be based in Savannah for the following three terms.
What assignments will I complete?
Throughout the year, students will enter into a rhythm of writing short, informal papers and revising this work under the supervision of their teachers. The skill of essay writing will, through this practice, become a natural mode of exploration, analysis, and eloquent expression.
By whom will I be taught?
Profiles which feature the first members of our core faculty are available on our website. The MA program will also include seminars, guest lectures, and extended visits from scholars from around the world, including many of our Visitors and Fellows.
How will I be evaluated?
The primary forms of assessment in the MA in the Humanities are as follows: weekly writing assignments which encourage deep and careful engagement with primary texts; end-of-term take-home examinations encompassing all of the works studied in a given term, as well as assessment in Greek; and a series of culminating written and oral examinations, administered at the end of the year, in which candidates for the degree will be tested on all aspects of the curriculum.
Where will I live?
Housing in Greece will be provided and is included in the cost of tuition; while students will find a range of options for accommodation in Savannah.
What if I have prior knowledge of Greek? Is this an asset?
Applicants who have facility with any form of the Greek language will receive full consideration but no prior knowledge of Greek is required.
How much will it cost?
The full cost of this degree program is $60,000. However, in the first years of its operation, generous philanthropists have made available a number of full and partial scholarships. We will consider each admitted student's financial cirucmstances on a case-by-case basis in the hope that cost will not be a barrier to a student's enrollment in the program.
Begin your application by submitting your information below.
Thank you for your interest in Ralston College's MA in the Humanities. Please begin your application by completing the Registration Form below.
Once you have registered, you will be able to access the full Application Form. Using this form, you will be able to provide the Admissions Committee with an overview of your academic history and to upload the materials—including a CV and Personal Essay —which a completed application will require.
The review of applications begins on February 3rd and will continue until the deadline of March 5th.