MA IN THE HUMANITIES
Applications are now open for our 2024-25 intensive one-year program in Greece and Savannah. Admission is on a rolling basis; merit scholarships are available.
Ralston College’s MA in the Humanities charts their course through Western civilization, from the Greek world of Homer, to Ancient Rome and Medieval Europe, into the Renaissance and up to our modern era. The setting of our four terms parallels this arc by beginning in Greece and then moving to Savannah, Georgia. The curriculum unites the most profound and provocative works of literature, philosophy, and art, inspiring and challenging students to approach the human condition with fresh eyes. Yet to cover this ground in a single year of intense intellectual study requires careful steering and selection. For 2024–25, that focus will be provided by the theme of “Nature”: our multidisciplinary curriculum will trace the origins and development of this concept through philosophy, music, architecture, art, and literature.
What is nature? Is it just a simple shorthand for the totality of organic life, along with the laws that govern it? Or is there some innate underlying order—of patterns and principles—which informs the disparate phenomena of the physical world? And where does “human nature” fit into this whole? There is a similarly immense range covered by two ancient terms for nature, Greek physis and Latin natura; how, then, can a deep knowledge of these classical languages help us to frame, explore, and answer these questions?
Graduate students in our program will face the challenge and joy of discovering—and recovering—what nature has meant historically, across diverse times and cultures, and how this conception continues to inform the assumptions and convictions of our current moment.
Term I: Greece
The Greek language and the spirit of Hellenism are the very threads that run through the Humanities, in all of their forms, as expressed across every epoch of the Western tradition. For centuries, the ability to access the foundational texts of this inheritance directly—without translators, commentators, or other intermediaries—was a nearly universal prerequisite for the meaningful encounter with, and entry into, its cultural inheritance. It is for this reason that our program begins with an intensive language residency in Greece.
This innovative pedagogical module, which approaches every form of the Greek language simultaneously, enables the study of Greek texts over the three subsequent terms. Undertaking this ambitious project in Greece itself not only allows for complete linguistic immersion but also helps forge deep friendships through communal life as a cohort and through group excursions 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 post-medieval Europe through to our modern world. We will explore how conceptions of Nature develop and unfold across time as we consider works of philosophy, theology, and the creative and imaginative arts from each period.
Intense scrutiny of specific works will be paired with ambitious, wide-ranging surveys. We will supplement 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 integrated knowledge—and experience—of the West’s intellectual, spiritual, and historical trajectory.
Our MA Students' Own Words
Explore the intellectual journeys of four recent graduates of our MA in the Humanities program. In the following videos, students reflect on why they enrolled, what they learned, and those they met along the way, revealing how Ralston’s curriculum spoke uniquely to their circumstances and interests.
What is nature?
Questions about Nature—the natural world, the nature of things, and our own human nature—have preoccupied the greatest minds of the West for millennia; today, the stakes of such questions could hardly be more urgent. By taking Nature as our theme for the 2024–25 academic year, every student and teacher on the course will take up for themselves the most pressing questions.
Why, for example, do Pre-Socratic philosophers fuse physics and metaphysics in their search for a unifying “prime matter”? Is there a single force or power, as many Greeks and Romans believed, that inheres in all of the material world? How, from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, does Nature come to be conceived of as a “book”? And how could Nature retain authority long after its connection to any “author” disappeared? Why should Nature be both an inspiration for Renaissance humanists and Romantic poets as well as the solid ground of philosophers and scientists?
Exploring these questions will bring a wide array of works into view—such as the poetry of Lucretius, Dante, and Wordsworth; the treatises of Aristotle, Bacon, and Rousseau; and the artistic visions of Botticelli, Bach, and Monet. The close and careful study of these achievements will offer a coherent understanding of the conceptions of nature that have transformed and endured for millennia.
While this MA year of course enables 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 necessarily 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 a vital and synthetic vision, combining materials from different moments 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, Ralston’s MA in the Humanities will help recreate the conditions of human flourishing—precisely by incorporating its graduates into the very tradition which they themselves will go on to transmit.
Thank you for your interest in Ralston College. To receive information about the 2024–25 MA in the Humanities degree program and application, please complete the form below.
Applications are now open.