Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship of Stoicism to Mindfulness?

Stoic practice and mindfulness share certain similarities, but they also have distinct origins and emphases. Both involve cultivating a certain mindset and approach to life that can lead to greater well-being and improved mental resilience. Let’s explore how Stoic practice relates to mindfulness:

Present Moment Awareness: Mindfulness is often associated with being fully present in the current moment, observing one’s thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment. Stoic practice also emphasizes being present and fully engaged in the present moment. Stoics encourage individuals to focus on what is within their control at the present moment and to not be overly concerned with external events beyond their control.

Acceptance and Non-Attachment: Mindfulness encourages acceptance of thoughts and emotions as they arise, without clinging to them or trying to suppress them. Stoic philosophy promotes a similar idea of accepting things that are beyond one’s control and focusing on cultivating inner virtues and values. Stoics aim to develop a mindset of equanimity and non-attachment to external circumstances.

Emotional Regulation: Both Stoicism and mindfulness provide tools for regulating emotions. Mindfulness involves observing emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them, while Stoicism encourages examining one’s emotional responses, understanding their underlying causes, and responding rationally rather than reactively.

Cultivating Virtues: Stoic philosophy places a strong emphasis on cultivating virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. These virtues are seen as essential for leading a good and meaningful life. While mindfulness doesn’t specifically focus on virtues, it can indirectly contribute to their development by promoting self-awareness and self-reflection.

Adversity and Resilience: Stoicism is known for its teachings on dealing with adversity and challenges. Stoics believe that challenges and difficulties are opportunities for personal growth and character development. Mindfulness, through its focus on non-judgmental awareness and equanimity, can help individuals navigate challenging situations with greater resilience.

Focus on Rationality: Stoicism places a strong emphasis on rationality and reason as the guiding principles for making decisions and interpreting events. Mindfulness, while not centered on reason, can enhance one’s capacity to observe thoughts and emotions objectively, leading to more thoughtful responses rather than impulsive reactions.

Ethical Considerations: Stoic philosophy includes ethical considerations as a central component. It encourages individuals to live in accordance with nature and to treat others justly and with kindness. Mindfulness, while not inherently ethical, can create a foundation for increased empathy and compassion toward oneself and others.

Philosophical Reflection: Stoicism involves regular philosophical reflection, journaling, and self-examination to improve one’s character and mindset. While mindfulness doesn’t necessarily require philosophical reflection, the introspective nature of mindfulness practice can naturally lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth.

In essence, both Stoic practice and mindfulness share common ground in their focus on present moment awareness, emotional regulation, and cultivating a more thoughtful and intentional way of living. However, Stoicism is a broader philosophical framework that encompasses ethical considerations and virtues, while mindfulness is a mental practice rooted in awareness and non-judgmental observation.

What is required for the Stoic Essential Studies application essay, “Know Thyself”?

KNOW THYSELF” was the inscription at the Delphic Oracle, and was a guiding principle of life in ancient Greece. In that spirit, then, to become a student at the College of Stoic philosophers you will be required to submit an autobiographical essay of approximately 1000 words as part of your application.

In addition to the usual information about your birth and significant or guiding events in your life, you should include the following in the body of your essay:

  • How long you have been interested in Stoicism?
  • Books you have already read on Stoic philosophy, if any.
  • Would you call yourself an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, deist, theist, pantheist, or something else?
  • Have you studied philosophies other than Stoicism? If so, which?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a Stoic?
  • What specifically do you want to get from this course?

Your Know Thyself essay will become a part of your College record and will be used by the faculty in getting to know you better. For these, and all other reasons, you are encouraged to do your best and use your spell-checker.

When do the courses start?

We operate on a rolling admission basis. Because you will be working largely independently, you may start shortly after your application is accepted.

How much do your courses cost?

Prep Course (ages 14-19) $90

Stoic Essential Studies (I) $100

“Marcus Aurelius Program” – Advanced Stoic Studies (II) $120 per term

What is the Scholarch?

The Scholarch is the head of the Stoic School. Zeno of Citium was the first Stoic Scholarch. Erik Wiegardt founded the College of Stoic Philosophers, and was our first Scholarch. Erik has recently retired and is now Scholarch Emeritus. Chris Fisher was appointed as our new Scholarch in August 2021.

Who are the instructors?

The College of Stoic Philosophers is unique in that we ‘grow our own’. All of our faculty members are graduates of the Marcus Aurelius Program and are Fellows of the College. Faculty members serve as one-to-one mentors for students throughout their journey with the College. The College has no employees, and the faculty are all volunteers.

Does the College have a campus?

We have a virtual campus in our Moodle learning management system, which was implemented in 2021. The campus include links to classics and other important writings, but also to more recent philosophical writings of our own students and faculty. Moodle also has an open discussion area, our virtual Stoa, where enrolled students and faculty may engage in free exchange.

How is the course actually conducted?

All of our courses involve one-on-one interaction with faculty members, generally through Zoom at times agreed between both parties. In addition, we utilize the Moodle learning management system, where all of your assignments and written activities will occur. You will receive your Moodle login and faculty assignment after being accepted to the College.

Is the College accredited and recognized?

The College is recognized worldwide as the leading advocate of traditional Stoic philosophy, and as the oldest modern school of Stoicism (established 2008). Accreditation is not currently relevant to our mission.

Can I transfer these courses to another university?

Our courses are not credit-based. Any credit awarded by another institution would be strictly at its sole discretion.

Since Cognitive Behavior Therapy is rooted in Stoic philosophy, are there therapeutic benefits to being a student?

It is very important to understand that the College does not provide any psychotherapeutic services. The College is not a substitute for trained medical and psychotherapeutic professionals. If you are in the midst of an ongoing crisis, then this is not the time to enroll in the College. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or are thinking of harming others, contact your local suicide prevention hotline, medical professionals, or local emergency services to get the immediate help you need.

What type of people enroll in your courses?

Our students come from all walks of life and from around the world. We have computer scientists, truck drivers, physicians, bricklayers, teachers, salesmen, artists, musicians, and even an aerial acrobat. But they all have more in common than appearances might suggest.

Is it possible to fail your courses?

Our courses are not graded. You fail the course if you quit or do not meet the expectations you set for yourself. Students who neglect their studies will not be invited to pursue more advanced course work.

The statute of limitations for each course is 45 days. Students who are inactive for 45 days, without a reasonable excuse, will be discontinued from the program.

How long can I take to complete the course?

The statute of limitations for each course is 45 days. Students who are inactive for 45 days, without a reasonable excuse, will be discontinued from the program.

What is your refund policy?

No refunds are possible after you have commenced your course.

Does the College conduct research?

In a sense, every one of our student conducts research into the theory and practice of Stoicism. However, many of our faculty have written on the topic, and some are extremely prominent in the Stoic community. Highly notable are Chris Fischer, FCSP whose Stoicism on Fire podcast has inspired thousands, and Leah Guenther, FCSP, who has recently published on Stoicism in the Harvard Education Review.

Are you a ‘real’ college?

We do consider ourselves a real college, and more. The word ‘college’ derives from the Latin words ‘collegium’ and ‘collega’, which mean ‘society’ and ‘colleague’, respectively. The College of Stoic Philosophers is a society of colleagues who are engaged in the ongoing study and practice of Stoicism through participation in advanced educational activities.

How large is the College?

Since its founding in 2008 through late 2022, the College has enrolled 555 students. Of these, 263 successfully completed their program (Prep, SES or MAP). The College’s graduates reside in 37 countries around the globe.

Are women active in the College?

Yes, and we have women on our faculty. We would like to have more. Under 15% of our current students are women. Until her recent retirement, artist Marije van Wieringen, FCSP was an active member of our faculty for many years. Leah Guenther, FCSP has recently published on Stoicism in the Harvard Education Review.

How old are your students?

As of July 2021, of students who have completed the Stoic Essential Studies (SES) course, 13% are 30 years old or younger, 53% are 31-50, and 34% are 51 or older. Eight graduates (5%) were over 70 years old when they completed the course.

What is a Fellow of the College of Stoic Philosophers?

Students who successfully complete the Marcus Aurelius Program sequence become Fellows of the College of Stoic Philosophers (FCSP). Many of our fellows continue on as our faculty.

Is the College a for-profit business?

No. The college is owned by New Stoa, Inc., which is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.