Message from the Director

Dear Prospective Integral Student,

Thank you for your interest in the Integral Program of Liberal Arts. I’m happy to have this opportunity to tell you a little about the Integral Program

The Integral Program is a coherent curriculum based on two principles: first, that undergraduate education should focus on learning to think for oneself; and second, that students learn to think best in conversation with some of the greatest thinkers in the disciplines traditionally called the liberal arts.

In the Integral Program we read original texts and all of our classes are discussion-based: we question, converse, and demonstrate for one another. The professors in the Integral Program -- called tutors following the traditions at Oxford and Cambridge -- guide students in developing their own questions, arguments, and counter-arguments. A student’s capacity for critical judgment and reasoning is sharpened with every reading and every discussion. The curriculum is challenging, but the learning environment is supportive and student-driven.

All of this amounts to a different way to approach a college education. In the Integral Program we do not teach students what to think, but instead we focus on teaching students how to think, developing their capacity for original and independent thought.

If you are wondering what our graduates go on to do with this kind of education, the answer is, frankly, anything they want. Integral graduates go into law, education, and business. They also become principals, entrepreneurs, lobbyists, engineers and actors. If you would like to learn more about your distinguished alumni, please take a look at our website, where you can find testimonials and alumni biographies. 

The Integral Program is not an honors program and joining it is easy. If you decide to attend SMC, then when the time comes to sign-up for classes (usually early in the summer) you will be given a Pre-Enrollment Questionnaire (PEQ). On that questionnaire you should indicate your interest in the Integral Program, and the Advising Office will then enroll you in Integral courses for the fall semester.

I would like to point out that since the Integral Program curriculum is designed so that courses build on each other, it is not possible to transfer into the Integral Program and first-year students must start as Integral students. It is, however, possible to switch out of the Integral Program and into another major, having already met several of the core curriculum requirements through Integral courses.

The beginning of a college career is a unique moment. You have the ability to chose the kind of education you want, and I invite you to begin your educational journey with us in the Integral Program.

Please feel free to contact me with questions.

With all good wishes,

Elizabeth Hamm, Ph.D.
Director and Tutor, Integral Program of Liberal Arts
Saint Mary’s College of California