Classical Liberal Education and Leadership Masters of Arts

Educating in Principles. Leading with Courage and Purpose.

In the Master of Arts in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership, we look to the past, with its rich heritage of texts and tradition of liberal education, to inform the future of education, citizenship and statesmanship. We prepare civic leaders, educators, scholars and citizens to think about contemporary issues within the broader context of the abiding human questions.

Taught by nationally renowned scholars, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Master of Arts combines liberal education, civic education in American principles and institutions, and the study of the art of statesmanship.

By entering this program, you will be asked to think rigorously about our contemporary issues, to remain humble about human imperfection, and to be prepared to take on the formidable challenges of our time.

About the program

Flexible course offerings

  • Synchronous online seminars and in-person taught in Arizona during fall, spring, and summer semesters, and in Philadelphia in the summer of 2023

  • Live online courses taught in fall, spring, and summer semesters

  • Scholarships available

The Socratic Classroom Experience

This MA program 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 and civic education, the curriculum invites students to engage with works of classical political philosophy and ethics, foundational texts and documents in American political thought and constitutionalism, significant tracts in economics and history, and seminal works in literature.

You will enter the great debates of the human spirit and the American regime by studying the likes of Aristotle and Jane Austen, Montesquieu and Madison, Locke and Lincoln, Cicero and Churchill, all in pursuit of a genuine liberal and civic education that contributes to the flourishing of the person and of the citizen, and so of America's constitutional democracy at large.

Graduate Handbook

Schedule an appointment with an advisor today. 

“SCETL is rapidly emerging as a national hub for the study and
transmission of the foundational ideas of American citizenship.”

 - Jonathan Rauch

Senior fellow of the Brookings Institution and
author of The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth

As a program devoted to the deep study of American civics, history, and constitutionalism, SCETL invites James Madison Memorial Fellowship awardees to join us.

President of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, Lewis F. Larsen, explains what a James Madison Fellow is, how the Fellowship works, and how The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University offers an excellent master’s degree program in American history and government that fulfills the course requirements for the Fellowship.

On the news

Grad student blends career, education into all-encompassing life experience

May 6, 2022 | ASU News | By Marcia Paterman Brookey

Jonathon Hofer shares his takeaways from studying classical education in the 21st century.

Read more>>

ASU master's program teaches students to 'live well and lead well'

February 9, 2022 | ASU News | By Marcia Paterman Brookey

Classical liberal education and leadership program impacts students professionally, academically and personally

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Fall 2022 Courses

CEL 501 "Literary Leaders" (Class #89293) | Colleen Sheehan | Tuesday, 4:50 - 7:35 p.m.

CEL 598 "Ethics, Character and Leadership" (Class #89292) | John Doody | Thursday, 4:50 - 7:35 p.m.

CEL 598 "Faith and Reason" (Class #95093) | Karen Taliaferro | Monday, 4:50 - 7:35 p.m.

CEL 598 "The American Founding" (ASU Sync) | Colleen Sheehan | Wednesday, 1:50 - 4:35 p.m.

CEL 598 "The Political Thought and Leadership of Abraham Lincoln: A Refounding?" (ASU Sync) | Michael Zuckert

Degree Requirements

Core Courses (9 credit hours required)

Core Courses

Literary Leaders
Classic Texts in Political Philosophy and Justice
Classic Texts in Historical Leadership and Statesmanship

Sample Restricted Electives

Tragedy and Comedy in the Greek Polis
Greco-Roman Ideas of Leadership and Politics
The Classical Tradition

Sample Electives 

Classical Political Philosophy
The American Founding
Modern Political Philosophy
American Political Thought, Rhetoric and Statesmanship
American Progressivism, Liberalism and Conservatism
Liberal and Civic Education
Faith and Reason
Economics, Politics and Freedom
Strategies of Political Leadership

Capstone Course

The capstone course is the culminating experience of the program, which entails preparing, executing, and defending a final project under committee supervision and approval.

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.

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

Our program offers scholarships and funding opportunities to help you reduce out-of-pocket costs. Some of the available robust financial aid options, ranging from $1,000 and up to $40,000, include:

Lyceum Fellowships in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership.

Harry V. Jaffa Graduate Fellowships for students interested in political thought and American civic leadership.

Cook Family Graduate Scholarships are available to classical teachers working at Great Hearts.

Student Success Awards for students achieving high standards of academic excellence.

There are a number of resources available to you through ASU’s financial aid office, as well as the school. 

Learn more

Featured Fellowships

The Lyceum Fellowship - Amounts vary

Apply for this new scholarship in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership for the 2022-2023 academic year. Amount: Awards may range from $5,000 up to $20,000 for in-state Arizona resident students, and from $5,000 up to $40,000 for out-of-state non-Arizona resident students. Multiple awards are available. For more information and to apply, click below.

Deadline: April 1, 2022.

Learn more and apply.

The Cook Family Scholarship - Up to $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

Acton Institute Grants and Awards

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.

Upcoming SCETL events

As an important component 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.