Classical Liberal Education and Leadership Masters of Arts

"Not for ourselves alone are we born; our country, our friends have a share in us."

-Cicero,
De officiis

Apply now.

Welcome to a new kind of graduate program, the Master of Arts in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership. Our program looks to the past, with its rich heritage of classic texts and tradition of liberal education, as an indispensable resource to prepare leaders to grapple with the challenges of education, citizenship, and statesmanship in the future. Taught by nationally renowned scholars, SCETL's new Masters combines liberal education, civic education in American principles and institutions, and the study of the art of statesmanship, in order to develop a new kind of leader across the spectra of academic and civic life. Our graduates, entering the program from various walks of life, leave our doors trained to think rigorously, humble about human imperfection, and ready to take on the formidable challenges of our time. 

About the program

The Master of Arts in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership prepares teachers, scholars, civic leaders and citizens to think about the concerns of our time within the broader context of the abiding human questions.  

The Socratic Classroom Experience

The Master of Arts in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership is an integrated, interdisciplinary course of study that is student-centered, employing the Socratic method of classroom dialogue and fostering a learning community-oriented to the classical, holistic pursuit of knowledge.

The Curriculum

In the spirit of liberal education, the curriculum spans philosophy, politics, literature, ethics, economics and history. Students read classic texts from Aristotle to Jane Austen, Locke to Lincoln, Cicero to Churchill, all in pursuit of a genuine liberal and civic education that contributes to the flourishing of the person and of society. SCETL's MA combines theory and practice, incorporating inquiry about the good life with the practical challenge of leading others – individuals, nations, and societies – in the quest for justice and wisdom. 

As Aristotle taught, there is no substitute for doing the right thing in the right way, whether in educating our children, living with our neighbors, or governing our political community. The SCETL MA program equips the next generation’s teachers, scholars, civic leaders and statesmen to meet the challenges ahead with integrity and prudence.  

Graduate Handbook

Schedule an appointment with an advisor today. 

Fall 2021 Courses

We are pleased to offer the following courses for the fall 2021 semester: 

CEL 501 Literary Leaders | This seminar examines literary leaders, both in respect to depictions of leadership in works of classical and compelling literature, as well as literary authors who led the way and set the standards in their respective genres.
T 4:50 PM - 7:35 PM | Colleen Sheehan | Tempe Campus (Session C: Class #94141)

CEL 503 Political Philosophy & Justice | This course provides an overview of the history of political ideas by engaging students in a close reading of classic texts of political philosophy. 
Th 4:50 PM - 7:35 PM | Peter McNamara | Tempe Campus (Session C: Class #89685)

CEL 598 Greco-Roman Mythology and the Western Tradition 
W 4:50 PM - 7:35 PM | Kent Wright | Tempe Campus (Session C: Class #94140)

Degree Requirements

Core Courses (9 credit hours required)

CEL 501 Literary Leaders (3 credit hours)

This seminar examines literary leaders, both in respect to depictions of leadership in works of classical and compelling literature, as well as literary authors who led the way and set the standards in their respective genres.

CEL 503 Classic Texts in Political Philosophy and Justice (3 credit hours)

This course provides an overview of the four major periods of political thought: ancient, medieval, modern, and post-modern and engages students in close readings of classic texts from each of these periods. The concept of justice will serve as an organizing theme, complemented by analyses of other political concepts such as virtue, the common good, natural law, rights, liberty, and equality. Texts such as the following will form the bases of study for this course: Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay's The Federalist, and John Rawls' A Theory of Justice.

CEL 513 Classic Texts in Historical Leadership and Statesmanship (3 credit hours)

In this course students encounter classic texts featuring leading historical figures confronting critical circumstances requiring the art of statesmanship. Students will examine civic leaders within the historical context that shaped their challenges and choices, as well as consider the timeless principles of effective and prudential leadership. Reading may include texts such as Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Plutarch’s Lives, Cicero’s On Duties, Shakespeare’s histories, the life and actions of Sir Thomas More, the writings and speeches of George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill.

Restricted Elective (3 credit hours)

Courses must be chosen from among the following courses offered by the School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC).

SLC 598: Tragedy and Comedy in the Greek Polis 

In ancient Greek civic thought, poets wielded influence beyond that even of philosophers. Not merely entertainment, theater was the venue in which the body politic saw itself, and its values, both reflected and criticized. This course examines the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the comedies of Aristophanes, and the criticism of Plato and Aristotle, with a view to their impact on political ideas both ancient and modern. The course will be taught in English and texts will be read in English translation.

SLC 598: Greco-Roman Ideas of Leadership and Politics

This course is intended to include a number of rotating topics, in accordance with student interest and faculty availability. These include “Leadership in Epic,” “Theorizing the Ancient State,” “Education in Antiquity,” and “Christianity and Classical Culture.” In each of these, both Greek and Roman authors will be studied for their views of the proper function of the leader in the state. The course will be taught in English and texts will be read in English translation.

SLC 598: The Classical Tradition

The impact of the ancient Greeks and Romans on the construction of modernity is hard to underestimate, but often poorly understood. This course traces that influence through literature, philosophy, and the arts, and shows how it influences modern societies, including the way that its fundamental ideas are framed. The course will be taught in English and texts will be read in English translation.

LAT 421: Advanced Latin

Readings in the Latin masterpieces. Authors read change each year in accordance with needs of the class. May be repeated for credit. Texts read in the Latin language; LAT 202 or equivalent proficiency in Latin is a pre-requisite.

GRK 598: Advanced Greek

Readings in the ancient Greek masterpieces. Authors read change each year in accordance with needs of the class. May be repeated for credit. Texts read in the Latin language; GRK 301/302 or equivalent proficiency in ancient Greek is a pre-requisite.

Electives (18 credit hours)

  • Modern Political Philosophy - Reading selections from Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War, Cicero’s De Officiis, Plutarch’s Lives, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Henry V, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony, we will seek answers to the following questions: what distinguishes a statesman or great leader from more ordinary politicians? To what extent do individuals who seek to hold prominent positions do so in order to promote the common good? To what extent do they act from personal ambition? To what extent are or can great leaders be educators? To what extent do they have to deceive their followers about their true intentions, strategies, and expectations even when they seek to act in the public and not merely their own interest? To what extent are leaders prevented from acting on the basis of the principles they endorse by public attitudes or prejudices, if they want to be effective?
  • Virtues for Leadership - This course will provide an overview of the four major periods of political thought--ancient, medieval, modern, and post-modern--and engage in close readings of classic texts from each of these periods. The concept of justice will serve as an organizing theme, complemented by analyses of other political concepts such as virtue, the common good, natural law, rights, liberty, and equality. Texts include Plato's Republic, St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Machiavelli's Prince, John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, and John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, among others. 
  • Faith and Reason - The presumed conflict between Faith and Reason has been a perennial philosophical concern. This course will investigate the substantive issues raised by these concerns. Readings will include historical figures beginning with Plato and Augustine and leading up to more contemporary authors such as Kierkegaard.
  • Locke and Rousseau on Civic Education - With the new notions of politics inaugurated by the Enlightenment came new conceptions of civic education. This course will examine the theories of education developed by John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau.
  • Tocqueville: Problems & Prospects of Am. Democracy - This course will examine Democracy in America, the classic examination of the subject by a friend but not a flatterer of American democracy. Themes to be explored include religion, local self-government, the art of association, race and slavery, and the threat of soft despotism.

CEL 599: Thesis (6 credit hours, including successful passage of oral defense)

The capstone course is the culminating experience for the masters in classical liberal education and leadership. The capstone course entails supervised research focused on preparation of a thesis, including literature review, research, data collection and analysis, and writing.

Application Requirements

Application Requirements

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in an applicable master's degree program.

Applicants are required to submit:

  • graduate admission application and application fee
  • official transcripts
  • written statement
  • proof of English proficiency
  • Three letters of recommendation from educational or professional references 

An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in liberal arts, political science, history, philosophy, theology, literature, economics, the natural sciences or a related field from a regionally accredited institution. Other fields of concentration will be considered on an individual basis.

For more information on the master’s program, please email SCETLGradAdvising@asu.edu.  

“Not only does it shape my career, it shapes my life. It shapes what I like to call the ‘domestic university’. I’ve got two boys and this is going to impact their experience because of the way in which it enriches my life individually,”

 - Jonathon H.

Read more of Jonathon's story.

Financial Aid

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and Arizona State University offer robust financial aid options for in-state and out-of-state students to help reduce the out-of-pocket cost for the program. There are a number of resources available to you through ASU’s financial aid office, as well as the school. 

Arizona State University offers many scholarship opportunities specifically for graduate students.  

Learn more

Featured Scholarship

The Cook Family Scholarship - $10,000

The Cook Family Graduate Scholarships provide financial support to students in the MA Classical Liberal Education and Leadership in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. The Donor's first preference is for the recipient(s) to be currently employed by one of the Great Hearts Academy's Arizona schools.

Learn more and apply.

Additional Opportunities

Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The ISI provides fellowships of up to $15,000 to outstanding graduate students who intend to teach.

Hundreds of alumni of ISI’s graduate-fellowship program now teach in colleges and universities across the country. Former ISI graduate fellows serve as professors, provosts, and even presidents.

The application deadline for the 2021–22 academic year is February 26, 2021.

Learn more.

Acton Institute Grants and Awards

Many cultures are exhibiting growing distrust and suspicion of economics, profit, limited government, rule of law, and free markets. Given this, there is a significant need to redeem these concepts by relating them to theology, human dignity, and the principles of a free and virtuous society. To encourage such developments, the Acton Institute's academic grants and awards programs support future religious, intellectual, and moral leaders who show potential in advancing understanding of this relationship.

Apply now.

James Madison Graduate Fellowships

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. As funding permits, the Foundation plans to offer one fellowship per state per year.

Applications for 2022 Fellowships will open on Constitution Day, September 17, 2021. The deadline to submit the 2022 application is March 1, 2022.

Learn more.

Upcoming SCETL events

As an important facet of our intellectual community, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership hosts a variety of public events to supplement the academic experience for its students. Visit the school's events page for more information.