The undergraduate Program here at St. John’s is in many ways just the beginning. It provides the forum for your first few encounters with so many texts, so many questions, and so many ways of looking at the world, and so it’s inevitable that things aren’t tied up with a neat little bow by the time you graduate. It’s true that upon graduating I felt an immense sent of accomplishment, and the sense that I was equipped to tackle just about anything, but more than anything I felt like I’d been launched on a journey that had just barely started.
There are an infinite number of ways to continue this journey, but I would argue that there is none better than the MA in Eastern Classics. After four years of being immersed in the Western Canon, the Eastern Classics program (often called the EC for short) gave me a glimpse into an entirely different set of conversations, by turns familiar and completely different to the ones I was used to. The chance to explore some of the great literary, philosophical, and theological works of India, China, and Japan in the same wide-ranging class discussions I’d loved as an undergraduate was amazing, and some texts that I might not have read on my own initiative quickly shot up to the top of my all-time favorites. It was also bracing to read authors that in some cases rejected the reasoning or even premises of many of the authors that we read in the undergraduate program entirely.
When taken full time, the EC takes only one calendar year to complete, and with all classes in the late afternoon or evening you can work part time while attending (I myself worked throughout the EC program). And since I’d attended the undergraduate program, the application was also streamlined; I was able to skip the essay about why I was interested in St. John’s, submit one of my class papers in place of the second essay, and St. John’s already had my transcripts. There’s also an automatic 25% discount for St. John’s graduates, which can be stacked with need based aid. If you’re interested you can find out more about doing the EC as part of a 4+1. You can also read more about the structure of the degree and peruse the reading list.
If you’re currently attending St. John’s, or even thinking about attending, I’d definitely encourage you to consider adding the Eastern Classics program. It’s been an invaluable help to my own journey, while also allowing me to produce further writing at the graduate level; several of my classmates even presented at conferences held jointly with other graduate school programs in the humanities. If you have any questions about it, I’d also be happy to chat; you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy reading!