“St. John’s is a school for the intellectual explorer … if you’re game for an adventure that equips you to think and communicate about complex ideas with a collegial community of scholars, St. John’s might be your nirvana.“
– Colleges That Change Lives
St. John’s College
60 College Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21404
410.626.2522 / 800.727.9238
⋅ 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio
⋅ Average class size is 16 with no class larger than 21
⋅ Approximately 90% students come from out of state.
⋅ Undergraduate students come from 49 states and 27 countries.
⋅ Room and Board: $12,860-$12,986
⋅ 72% of students receive grant aid.
⋅ Merit scholarships and regional scholarships available
- St. John’s College is centered on reading and discussing the greatest books in history. With teachers such as Plato, Shakespeare, Euclid, Nietzsche, Einstein, Austen, and Du Bois, students at St. John’s are original and unconventional, love big questions and discussion, and are excited to join an intellectual community of thinkers and seekers.
- The college is a single institution on two campuses — one in Annapolis, Maryland, and the other in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Students are free to transfer between the two campuses from year to year, and about 25% of them take advantage of this opportunity.
- The college has a single academic program—the “great books curriculum”—which all undergraduate students follow in its entirety. For graduate students, the college also offers a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and a Master of Arts in Eastern Classics.
- Despite its name, St. John’s has no religious affiliation or nature. It was founded in Annapolis in 1696, making it the third oldest college in the United States. The Santa Fe campus opened in 1964.
- Students at St. John’s — “Johnnies” — are curious, thoughtful, imaginative, intense, dedicated to learning, and lovers of good talk. The latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives notes, “You won’t find a college cafeteria anywhere where eavesdropping is more fun.”
- “Books, books, and more books is what you’ll get at St. John’s,” notes The Fiske Guide, which also observes that the college “attracts smart, intellectual, and nonconformist students who like to talk (and argue) about books.”
- A study by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, adjusting for institutional size and number of degrees granted, found that St. John’s is among the most productive sources of future Ph.D.s. About 70% of St. John’s alumni pursue their formal education beyond the baccalaureate degree at some point in their careers.
- The New York Times calls St. John’s “the most contrarian college in America” and Forbes says it may be “the most rigorous college in America.”
- The Princeton Review reports that “St. John’s has one of the most personal admissions processes in the country.”
- St. John’s regularly ranks among top colleges by US News and The Princeton Review for best undergraduate teaching, best classroom experience, and most accessible professors.
- The college was recently featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other news outlets for the distinctiveness of the curriculum and the radical approach to college affordability. In 2018, St. John’s announced the college would lower tuition to $35,000 and continue to provide substantial financial aid funded by alumni contributions to the $300 million capital campaign.
- All students at St. John’s explore the great books curriculum in interdisciplinary classes focused on philosophy, classics, literature, politics, religion, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, music, history, language, and more.
- The all-required curriculum is curiously liberating. There are no majors; every year students take classes in mathematics, language (Ancient Greek and French), music, and science, and the hallmark of the program is the interdisciplinary seminar, where students discuss the great books. While most of the curriculum is a shared academic experience among the students, juniors and seniors take electives called preceptorials, where they examine a book, topic, or idea in greater detail.
- All faculty members are called “tutors” — there are no professorial ranks, and the title “professor” is not used, even though most faculty are experts in their fields. All classes are taught by the tutors, and there are no graduate teaching assistants; 100% of the faculty teaches undergraduate classes.
- All classrooms have a large wooden table around which the students and tutors sit, and all classes are conducted as conversations, whether the work at hand is mathematics or philosophy, music or political theory, literature or science.
- The student/faculty ratio is 7:1, and the largest classes have no more than 21 students. Students have conversations with tutors before class, after class, over coffee, at lunch or dinner — the tutors do not hold “hours” because they meet with their students all the time without making formal arrangements to do so.
- The hallmark of the St. John’s classroom is the collaborative style of learning. Instead of lecturing, the tutors ask questions, provoke thinking, guide conversations, and support the students as they wrestle with ideas.
- At the end of each semester students meet with their tutors for an oral evaluation called the Don Rag, during which they are evaluated based upon their classroom participation and essay writing. Grades are not part of the culture at St. John’s, nor are they part of the formal evaluation process. While students are graded, they don’t receive the grades unless they ask for them (typically when applying to graduate school).
English / Literature
Religion / Theology
Astronomy / Astrophysics
- The life of the classroom permeates the life of the campus. Johnnies are wholeheartedly invested in community, and although they pursue non-academic interests with gusto, you can still hear them having conversations about what they’re reading, everywhere from the gym during basketball games to the dorms in the middle of the night.
- Both campuses are small tightly-knit communities, with the majority of students living on campus and centering their lives on their studies and their campus lives.
- On the Annapolis campus, 500 students experience an idyllic college town along the Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis is close to Washington, DC, with dozens of nearby museums and cultural offerings. The college was founded here in 1696, and students embrace long-held traditions such as waltz parties, intramural sports, and the annual croquet match against the Naval Academy. Popular student groups include musical ensembles, community service organizations, and the college’s theatrical troupe, King Williams Players.
- The Santa Fe campus, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, is a one-minute walk to the best hiking, biking, and skiing in the southwest. Santa Fe is also home to more than 250 art galleries, great food, and live music. Nearly 400 Johnnies embrace the stunning natural environment and rich cultural heritage of New Mexico while reading great books on the placita, hiking 12,000-foot mountains, sculpting in the pottery studio, or socializing in the student-run coffee shop.
- The two campuses offer a wide variety of on-campus activities (athletics, music, arts, dance, publications, theater, etc.) and each has an array of opportunities specific to its location.
- Over 50% of students participate in the intramural program. Regardless of skill level, students are able to discover (or re-discover) the joy of amateur athletics in a welcoming setting, such as soccer, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, flag football and more.
- In Santa Fe, which is located in the Rocky Mountains, students are a one-minute walk to the best hiking, biking, and skiing in the southwest.
- In Annapolis, which is located on the Chesapeake Bay, students compete on the intercollegiate sailing and crew teams. The college is famous for the annual croquet match against the U.S. Naval Academy, which regularly draws over 7,000 spectators.
What makes for a successful college graduate? According to most conventional measures, St. John’s alumni excel in their careers, from law to medicine, from academia to Wall Street, from politics to the military, from information technology to fashion design, from manufacture to farming, from nuclear physics to film making. Having all followed the same curriculum at the college, they fan out after graduation into virtually all fields, attending top graduate and professional schools, racking up achievements, pursuing their goals. 70% go to graduate school. St. John’s is in the top two percent of all colleges and universities in the nation for percent of alumni who go on to earn PhDs; in the top one percent for degrees in the humanities and the top four percent for those in science and engineering. Since 1990, St. John’s has graduated 13 Fulbright Scholars, 6 Rhodes Scholars, 6 Goldwater Scholars, and 5 Truman Scholars.
In addition to their graduate school and career success, St. John’s alumni talk about a college experience that was personally and professionally transformative:
“St. John’s prepared me to become a quick learner, to think on my feet, and, most importantly, to know when I didn’t know something. Every day, I rely on the foundation in philosophical inquiry that I found at St. John’s.” —Senior Manager of Strategic Planning and Research, American Honda Motor Company (class of 1980).
“There are days when having been to St. John’s almost seems like an unfair advantage compared to my colleagues. I mean, if I can figure out the Maxwell Equations, or muddle through the Principia Mathematica, how hard can it be to have the confidence that I can figure out some policy issue?” —Diplomat, US Department of State, Iraq (class of 1988)
“It’s extraordinary that ideas I encountered over 40 years ago at St. John’s are still so vital to my life and work. Perhaps that’s the promise of Great Books and a Great Books education: that its value to you will increase, rather than decrease, over time.” —Screenwriter and Director (class of 1964)
Career Services helps students apply for jobs, prepare for interviews, choose graduate programs, and get internships. Over half of students do internships in the summers, many of which are funded by the college.
Some notable Johnnies includes Francis Scott Key (writer of the national anthem), Ahmet Ertegun (founder of Atlantic Records), Lucy Tamlin (U.S. Ambassador), Salvatore Scibona (novelist), and Warren Winiarski (founder of Stag’s Leap Vineyards).
- Middle 50% of SAT scores: Evidence Based Reading ad Writing 630-730; Math 590-710
- Middle 50% of ACT scores: 26-32
- St. John’s does not require standardized test scores from most applicants, nor does the college have a minimum GPA requirement. The application essays are the primary focus for the admission decision, supported by the secondary school record and recommendations.
- 238 students, of whom 14% are international, 13% first generation to college, 23% Pell recipients, 28% students of color.
- Students from 43 states and 14 countries.