If you’re weighing the benefits of a liberal arts college against those of a larger university, you’ve got a variety of over 250 institutions to sift through. So, what makes St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico stand out?
A Pillar of American Academia
Sharing its roots with esteemed schools like Harvard and the College of William & Mary, St. John’s College has been an enduring element in American education since its founding in 1696. Initially established in Maryland as King William’s School, it ranks as America’s third-oldest higher education institution.
Accolades for Santa Fe Campus
Launching its Santa Fe campus in 1964 with a first-year class of 81 students, St. John’s has caught the eye of media outlets. Inside Higher Ed has described it as a “gem in American higher education,” while the Los Angeles Times says it “hovers like a high-achieving angel above the landscape of American higher education.”
Your Educational Experience at St. John’s
The academic focus at St. John’s is squarely on you. Class sizes never exceed 21 students and often feature dual faculty facilitators. Each academic session becomes an interactive dialogue about seminal texts and groundbreaking concepts, guided by experts in their fields. However, faculty here prefer the term “tutors” over “professors,” emphasizing their collaborative approach to teaching.
At St. John’s, students delve into over 200 original texts, spanning 3,000 years of human wisdom and a broad array of disciplines—everything from philosophy and literature to mathematics, natural sciences, and even music. These smaller, dialogue-driven classes foster active debate, encouraging students to question, analyze, and refine their own and others’ viewpoints. This facilitates both intellectual and personal development. Here, the pursuit is not about grades; it’s about genuine understanding and intellectual exploration.
If you’re considering a liberal arts education, St. John’s College has several specialized summer programs to consider. The Summer Academy caters to high school students between 15 and 18, curious about whether St. John’s would be a fit. Adults can opt for the Summer Classics, and educators might find the Teachers Institute appealing. These short, one or two-week sessions provide a glimpse of life and learning on the Santa Fe campus, featuring their hallmark seminar-style discussions.
The college also presents the Pritzker Promise Bridge Program, an initiative designed to equip incoming students with essential academic skills and effective study routines. It also facilitates early connections with faculty and classmates before the term begins.
St. John’s is known for an interdisciplinary curriculum in which students explore 200 revolutionary great books across 3,000 years of human thought in discussion-based classes. Learn more at sjc.edu.
A Buzzing Campus Life
St. John’s College maintains an animated campus environment. A plethora of clubs, special-interest groups, and events are on offer, making it a fertile ground for building lifelong connections. The campus boasts unique amenities like an Outdoor Program, an active intramural sports scene, a pottery studio, and even an archery team. Don’t forget the iconic bookstore and coffee shop either. For more information, see this video.
The Santa Fe Edge
Situated in Santa Fe, the artsy heart of the Southwest, the campus enjoys the rich tapestry of Spanish colonial and Native American history, a bustling arts market, and a diverse culinary landscape. Elevated at 7,000 feet, the city offers abundant outdoor recreational opportunities like skiing, mountain biking, and water sports. A short walk from the campus leads to 400 miles of scenic backcountry trails.
If you’re an Albuquerque resident wondering where you might attend college, you might want to consider St. John’s College in Santa Fe. You have a world-class liberal arts private college right at your doorstep.
St. John’s is committed to making education accessible. New Mexican residents receive a flat $13,000 grant, while all Pell grants are 100% matched, adding up to nearly $10,000 in extra financial aid for those who need it most. Merit scholarships and funded internships also form part of the college’s financial support package.
Current students and alumni alike benefit from a burgeoning network of accomplished graduates who actively mentor the next generation. The goal is to perpetuate the college’s centuries-old tradition of excellence.
After earning your BA in liberal arts, you have the option to further specialize with a Master of Arts in liberal arts or a Master of Arts in Eastern Classics.
St. John’s emphasizes discourse and critical thinking, so it’s no surprise that their admission process involves a discussion-based application. Applicants initially speak with an admissions counselor followed by a faculty member. For those inclined toward a more conventional application process, that avenue is also open. Campus visits are strongly encouraged to gauge if St. John’s is indeed the right fit for you.