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Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, announced that it will offer two new master’s degrees in Classical Education, accepting applications now for enrollment in summer 2024:
Benedictine College President Stephen Minnis said, “We are extremely excited to move the college into a leading position in the growing and exciting classical education movement in America. These new master’s degrees come on the heels of Benedictine College establishing a classical Architecture program, the Sheridan Center for Classical Studies, a Classics Department, and an endowed Chair of Classics.”
The new master’s degree programs are designed to be completed in two years and will be offered in a blended format. Cohorts begin each summer with a two-week intensive experience at Benedictine’s campus and continue their education during the fall and spring semesters via online instruction. The degrees are intended for teachers and administrators to complete while remaining on the job. The degrees are accredited through the Higher Learning Commission and the college has made a special effort to keep them affordable at $300 per credit hour. The programs join the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Arts in School Leadership as post-graduate offerings from Benedictine College.
“Students will receive the what, the why and the how of classical liberal arts education” in these programs, said Krystyn Schmerbeck, Director of Master’s Programs in Classical Education at Benedictine College. “Students will work together to explore, discover, and practice how to implement classical liberal arts instruction and leadership in the context of their current classroom or leadership position.”
Preparing Teachers for the Classroom
The Master of Arts in Classical Education is particularly intended for educators.
“We designed our program with a special emphasis on teaching,” said Dr. Andrew Salzmann, Director of the Sheridan Center for Classical Studies. “We wanted to provide a degree that prepares teachers for the classical classroom.”
“Teachers who enroll in our program don’t just participate in seminars about the Great Books, but also engage in reflective dialogue about how to lead seminar discussions in their own classrooms,” he said. “They take courses that discuss specific classical teaching methods and curriculum for math, for science, for history, for reading.”
“It’s very important that teachers can do the coursework while still teaching,” Schmerbeck added. “During my time as a teacher and administrator in Catholic schools, the question was always, ‘What does classical, liberal arts education look like in my classroom or my school today?’ Teachers who enroll in these programs will receive a strong formation in the philosophy and theology of Catholic classical education, but they will also have the opportunity to implement what they learn immediately in their own classrooms.”
The Sheridan Center at Benedictine College also sponsors teaching fellows in classical education. Teaching fellows are generally recent college graduates who apply for a placement at a partner school. Teaching fellows receive formation on how to begin a career in teaching, as well as free tuition for master’s classes and a living stipend.
Preparing for School Leadership
The Master of Arts in Classical Leadership was developed to help those involved in running classical schools. Leaders who enroll in the Classical Leadership program take courses in educational law, institutional leadership, finance, and supervision — in addition to foundational courses in the history, theory, and practice of classical education.
“I spoke with leaders across the field of classical education as we developed these degrees,” says Salzmann. “A theme that kept coming up was that school leaders would also benefit from more opportunities for formation. So we partnered with Benedictine’s School of Education for offerings in those areas.”
“Other universities offer courses in school leadership,” said program director Krystyn Schmerbeck. “But only this program also gives school leaders a strong foundation in the philosophical and practical components of what classical, liberal arts education is.”
Transforming Culture in America
President Minnis said that the new degrees are part of the college’s Transforming Culture in America plan.
“Our Transforming Culture in America plan stresses forming students in the Catholic intellectual tradition and extending our mission beyond our campus. This program does both by bringing classical education to our students and forming leaders who can take classical education nationwide,” he said.
Although the curriculum is classical, it is also specifically Catholic.
“Our slogan is that ‘anthropology should determine pedagogy,’” explains Salzmann. “That means that the way we teach our students should be built on a Catholic understanding of what it means to be a human person, made in God’s image with memory, intellect, and will.”
“A liberal arts education is for everyone,” explains Schmerbeck. “Classical education honors the dignity of each child and forms each child in the intellectual and moral virtues that will help him to understand the world and his unique place within it.”
Dean of the College Dr. Kimberly Shankman saw the effort as part and parcel of the transformation of culture by the Benedictines in Europe. “For more than 1,000 years, the Benedictine order kept the flame of Western civilization alive, by preserving and transmitting the manuscripts and teachings of classical and early Christian scholars. In our day, the classical education movement seeks to ensure that the timeless truths that this heritage encapsulates are transmitted to future generations. We believe that our Master of Arts in Classical Education degree helps us to ensure that the time-tested methods and the timeless truths of classical education are available to all who desire them.”
For more information or to apply: