Discussion in 'Introductions' started by cutedeedle, May 29, 2009.

  1. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    I mean that literally -- I'm on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, northwest of Seattle, WA, USA. Finished my AS, Liberal Arts, in 1992 via Regents College (now Excelsior), Bachelor of Liberal Studies from U of Oklahoma's College of Liberal Studies in 1994, then various Master's programs from which I dropped out. Currently enjoying Harrison Middleton University's MA in Philosophy/Religion and their curriculum based entirely on the Great Books. This really suits me but it definitely isn't to everyone's taste or interests. Y'all have a great forum and thanks for being here.
  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Hi, Carole! I resided in Woodinville, King County, Washington for 15 years (1986-2001) and so I can attest that Western Washington is a beautiful area! Fine schools you've attended! I love Harrison Middleton University's Great Books format! :)
  3. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    Ha, "Theo the educated derelict"!

    Yep, it's beautiful here. We're refugees from Kalifornia but I grew up in Bellevue when it was just a cow town, then spent two years in Seattle, graduated from Garfield H.S. As a white kid I was a minority there. Loved Garfield!
    My self-designed courses at Harrison Middleton require that I read quite a bit of the Bible, OT and NT. Quite inspiring to say the least.

  4. tracylainlu

    tracylainlu New Member

    Hi Carole-on-the-island,

    I would really like to know what you think about your HMU program and what it involves. I will finish my online BS soon and am considering what if any MA program I will pursue. thanks
  5. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    All about the Harrison Middleton University master's process

    Well, good for you! You should be very proud to accomplish what you did. HMU is not to everyone's liking, I would be the first to tell you. The Masters' programs, all in Humanities (you may choose any of several tracks within the Humanities) are based *entirely* on the Great Books of the Western World, 2nd edition (check out Amazon for description). You may use only the KJV of the Bible and the Great Books for your course material. After the first required Cornerstone course, you design the remaining courses yourself. I found that self-design thing to be the toughest part. After you submit your courses you've designed, they evaluate it and you have a discussion with the Dean, and eventually come to an agreement and get approval for your courses.

    Note, this is not an online degree, it is entirely self-study. If you decide to go for it you can probably pick up a deeply discounted 2nd edition set of books from eBay or I wanted new so I bought from Amazon and got free shipping. 60 books = very heavy!

    The university's web site isn't terribly specific on how the program works or much about the process, but the people there, including all the tutors I've had discussions with, are outstanding. Without exception they are personable, kind, helpful, witty, brilliant, and want you to succeed. One of my tutors was the Dean of Graduate Students and she too is always available to answer questions.

    This program would work for you only if you enjoy reading the classics of western civilization and can read quickly. I chose the most difficult of the ways to do my program, which is "topical" in nature. Most students concentrate on one or two authors, maybe adding a topic or two from those. That makes it somewhat easier to concentrate on your subject.

    Within the first course's notebook material they have examples of how students can design their program. Mine, on the other hand, has involved a shocking amount of reading -- I'm having a hard time sticking to my own time deadlines. The Dean said if it looks like it's too much, they are definitely willing to be flexible and we can adjust the quantity of material.

    You can also change the entire direction of your study but it does involve a fee to do so. For example, if you decided to switch part way through the program from Philosophy/Religion to Science, you would have to redesign your courses and they charge you for the re-evaluation.

    The college seems to be quite flexible in their approach, which I like. They say each course should last four months but if you need more time, you just ask and they'll grant extra time. There are no exams. Each course requires four one-hour discussions with a tutor (this is based on the Socratic method of inquiry) in your subject matter for the course. You read your material (I divided my topic for each course into four sub-topics) and when ready, you submit questions or issues you wish to discuss with your tutor. It's really something that you direct and control, not the profs, not the college! Here's the funny part -- when you submit your questions for each discussion, your tutor is required to read exactly what you've read for that topic and discussion. I feel really sorry for my tutors because of how much they must read, but they are assigned to you based on their expertise. All of them are PhDs and profs at various universities around the country.

    At the end of each course (other than the first Cornerstone) you write a five to seven page "reflective essay" on what you've read/discussed/learned. So the writing requirements aren't terribly odious but the reading can be, but that's for the student to pick and choose.

    When you are ready for your thesis you have to submit the usual proposal, abstract, bibliography, etc. but you may then use any outside resources you deem appropriate. Whew!

    That's about all I can think of right now. I've been in so many master's programs in various fields, mainly Liberal Studies and Humanities, and this one suits me so far. It's really a personal thing. What's nice is you apply, and you can take/pay for just one course at a time. You may make interest free payments over each four-month course period. That's a big help.

    Any other questions, please ask.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2009
  6. mbaonline

    mbaonline New Member

    I too grew up in Bellevue. Whidbey is great. Is the weather there better than Seattle? I'm getting quite fed up with grey skies...
  7. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.


    Whidbey is in the "rainshadow" betw. the Cascades and Olympics. However, "better" is relative. Still cloudy more often than not, just less rainfall than Seattle. If you're fed up with grey skies then I would guess you'd not be a happy chappy here! But nothing beats the beauty of Whidbey. Inconvenient to live here but we're both retired. The south island is quite rural but closer to the ferry to the mainland and I-5. North island has the NAS Whidbey, Navy jets flying overhead, and a real city with real amenities -- Oak Harbor.

    If you have to commute to work for a living I wouldn't especially recommend Whidbey unless you can take the bus or vanpool off the ferry. Retirement, that's a different story ......
  8. Mark A. Sykes

    Mark A. Sykes Member


    Thank you for your interesting description of the HMU Master's process. If you would be so indulgent, could you ask your advisors if the Doctor of Arts is different than the Master's in a matter of degree or of kind? Also, is participation in a Great Books Foundation reading group essentially necessary for admittance into the doctorate program?

    Thank you.


    P.S. Yeah, I'm kickin' tires.
  9. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    Some info for you
    Mark, from what I have read and what I'm currently experiencing, the Doctor of Arts seems to be a matter of degree, not of kind, other than the dissertation. You would take the same Cornerstone course and read the same Great Books that are required in the Master's program (all based on your academic interests), but there are more course units and depth required in the Doctoral program. According to the web site there is no mention of a requirement to participate in a Great Books Foundation group, although that might kick some more tires for you, plus it might help in devising your written essay on a Great Idea for the application.

    I think if you love western civ classics you would love this program. If not, then eh, not so much .....

    If this info doesn't help you enough I'd be glad to ask them if you wish, just let me know. You could call too, they're very helpful and accessible to potential students and they'll answer a zillion questions very patiently. Just in case:
    1 (877) 248-6724
  10. Mark A. Sykes

    Mark A. Sykes Member



  11. tracylainlu

    tracylainlu New Member


    thanks so much for expounding on your experience. That was a great ... Would you elaborate on what you mean by "a shocking amount of reading"? I am a voracious reader so that sounds fine to me, but I am curious. Also,

    what might comprise a 4 month course for example?

    Thanks so much from Kalifornia
  12. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    Okay dokey, maybe way too much info here!

    Well, you asked for it, you got it.

    So, remember that there are a couple, well several actually, ways of devising your own courses. Most students arrange their studies around one or two favorite Great Books authors and one or a few select topics the author(s) write about. On the other hand, one may choose to go the "syntopical" route, as I did, which means you pick a general topic or sub-topic from the Great Books Syntopicon (two very dense volumes) and narrow it down from there. The university's graduate dean said if I choose a topic or sub-topic, I must include *all* the listed readings from that topic/sub-topic in the Syntopicon. In addition, when a listed reading says, for example, Aquinas, Vol. 1, page 340-342, we are instructed to read the entire chapter so we have the appropriate context. I do this but I skim a lot. I had to scan all of my sub-topics, then import the scanned docs into my word processor, correct the zillions of mistakes from the scanning, format everything ..... for seven courses. That process took me two weeks. Gaaaa. However, once it's done and your courses are approved, then before the beginning of every course you cut-n-paste that one course description you've already created, get it approved again, and that's it.

    It is very confusing unless you have a copy of the Syntopicon volumes and can see what the topics (the 102 Great Ideas) and sub-topics are. They do a fine job of cross-referencing everything and anything: authors, ideas, topics, etc. That's how I was able to pick and choose my designated topics. So, I have chosen for my courses the theme of "God vs. Satan, the conflict between them, the final battle, Armageddon." I looked up all the references to God, Satan, good, evil, etc. and found many. I can't send a PDF file here larger than 24K so if you want an example of my current course, PM me with your e-mail addy and I'll send it to you.

    When I said a shocking amount of reading, I was thinking about all of the Bible passages I have to plow through. In my current section, for example, among other parts of the KJV, I had to read *all* of the Book of Psalms. When it says "passim" in the Syntopicon that means you read the whole chapter or book because your topic is discussed throughout the entire selection. Psalms -- kind of repetitive, as I discovered!

    Hope this helps, let me know if you want to see what a course outline looks like based on topical reading.
  13. tracylainlu

    tracylainlu New Member

    thanks for the info

    thanks, that gives me a better idea of what I would be dealing with. I am still trying to decide what I will do as well as finish the courses that I have set before me right now!
  14. amberal

    amberal New Member

    Hi Carole!

    I received my Bachelors in Liberal Arts at Excelsior College just last year.

    I'm looking for a school that offers a Master of Arts with a focus on the Great Books.

    I just discovered Harrison Middleton University after reading your post!

    Is there a minimum and maximum time limit for course completion?

    How many months do students usually need to finish a graduate course?

  15. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    Hey there Amber,

    I hope you've looked at HMU's web site and checked out their Master's info. HMU's program is entirely self-study, not online, and all courses except the first one are self-designed. That's the hardest part! Generally your courses are four months each but if you need longer you can let them know. Each course is four semester hours and you take eight courses plus your thesis, practicum or creative project, totaling 36 semester hours. You can transfer graduate credits if they relate to your designated subject.

    There's no minimum time to complete a course but keep in mind that graduate study is at least 3x the amount of work than you did for your bachelor's degree. I can say that because I had to write a thesis for my Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree and I've been in several master's programs at various universities. So even though there's no minimum time you'll probably find that four months will be pretty close, maybe even longer. I'm behind on my 2nd course right now so I won't finish this one in four months. My own fault, too much drama in my life right now!

    You have six years to complete the entire program. I figure that will let us take a summer break every year, or take a month off between each course. If you want more information, PM me with your real e-mail addy and I'll send you some stuff I scanned and sent to another prospective student. I also sent her my current course (again: my own interests, my own subject, self-designed) and the reading I'm doing.

    Just a reminder, the courses themselves require the entire set of the Great Books. The eight courses are based only on those (and possibly the KJV of the Bible, depending on your concentration), no other outside sources are used in your courses. However, when you do your thesis or project you may use other outside sources.

    Hope this helps, let me know if you have more questions.

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