Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT DOES BISLA HAVE TO OFFER TO STUDENTS TODAY?
BISLA students take a series of core courses designed to guide them through major thinkers and aspects of politics and philosophy. In addition to the core courses, students also attend:
limited electives: a set of courses from which the student must choose a select few
free electives: a wide range of courses from which students can freely complement their studies according to their interests
directed studies: special, in-depth classes of usually three students intended to allow students to learn about topic(s) and/or thinker(s) of especial interest to them that are not covered by other course offerings. Directed studies are not compulsory, but are made available based on the agreement of students and teachers
All additional courses are primarily in the areas of international relations, economics, sociology, history and art history. At least half of the courses are taught in English, which increases the chances of students to continue their studies at the graduate level (MA) both at home and abroad.
WHY DOES BISLA CARRY THE TERM “LIBERAL ARTS” IN ITS NAME? WHAT ARE “LIBERAL ARTS” OR “LIBERAL STUDIES”?
In Slovakia, the expression “liberal studies” oftentimes evokes associations with the political ideology of classical liberalism. However, this association is mistaken. The expression “liberal studies” comes from the Latin artes liberales, which used to denote a compendium of introductory courses at medieval universities. The purpose of the artes liberales was to help students to expand their intellectual competencies, to orient themselves in the world of academia, and to get ready for the study of their one, chief discipline to which they would devote themselves. In the Middle Ages that one chief discipline was, naturally, theology. Liberal studies continue this tradition, except there is no longer a predetermined chief discipline. Rather, the goal of liberal arts today is to give students numerous possibilities to fully expand and develop their intellectual competencies according to their own judgments and interests.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING IN A LIBERAL ARTS CURRICULUM?
The shortest way to answer this question is to say: “At our place, at BISLA, we discuss a lot!” The foundation is the study of the Great Books of the Western tradition. Students, together with their teachers, read and discuss the works of such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine Hobbes, Marx, Weber and Rawls, to name only a few. We place great emphasis on essay writing. This way, students develop analytic skills and the ability to present their thoughts in both spoken and written form. Learning takes place in small groups, which enables every student to express themselves.
WHERE CAN ONE EXPERIENCE LIBERAL STUDIES?
Until recently, liberal studies were cultivated almost exclusively in the U.S. Liberal arts colleges constitute a strong branch of American higher education and contribute to its quality. Almost all significant and influential individuals in the areas of American philosophy, sociology, economy, as well as law, natural science and medicine, are graduates of liberal arts colleges. In the past few years, liberal studies began to reassert themselves in European countries: the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland and even Germany, a country which resists the “Americanization” of its higher education. We wish to enable every student to spend one semester at a liberal-arts university abroad. At the present moment, BISLA has student exchange agreements with six universities. Four of them are part of the Erasmus program: University College Maastricht, the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University, Tilburg University, and the University of Greenwich. Two of them are established outside of Erasmus: Marlboro College (Vermont, U.S.A.) and the Smolny Institute of Saint Petersburg State University (Russia).
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES, FOR BISLA GRADUATES, IN TERMS OF FURTHER STUDY?
BISLA offers studies at the bachelor’s level of higher education. Our graduates usually proceed with studies at the master’s level of higher education, at both Slovak and foreign universities in more than ten disciplines. BISLA graduates major in such areas as International Relations, European Studies, Journalism, Media Studies, and more.
IS IT COSTLY TO STUDY AT THIS COLLEGE?
Because BISLA is a private institution that is not financially supported by the state in any way, it must charge tuition. However, we endeavor to keep the costs at a minimum compared to what other Slovak private colleges charge. A President’s scholarship, which covers up to the entire cost of tuition, is awarded to the best students. And of course our students also qualify for social stipends, student loans and student discounts like other students in Slovakia.