Course Descriptions

*Please note that course offerings and course descriptions are subject to change.

Please see the University Catalog for the most up to date information.

general education


  • Christian Experience I (Fundamentals of Catholicism)

    This course examines foundational beliefs of the Catholic faith:  divine revelation and its sources, the role of faith, the Incarnation, Christ’s work of redemption, beliefs about Mary and the communion of saints, the nature and mission of the Church, and more. Focus is placed on connecting your faith to the study of theology and in developing a personal relationship with Christ.

  • Christian Experience II (Sacred Scripture and Sacraments)

    In this course students will examine Divine Revelation, concentrating specifically on God’s Revelation of His Love and Truth in Sacred Scripture.  Attention will be paid to the Covenants of the Old Testament and how these lead to the fulfillment of those Covenants in the person and mission and Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.

  • Christian Experience III (Mission and Morality)

    This course offers students an in-depth study of the sacraments, liturgy, spirituality and prayer. The course examines the challenges of developing an interior life, focusing on the nature and difficulties of prayer. In addition, students analyze the Church’s liturgical life, with a focus on the seven sacraments by studying the Catechism and spiritual masters.

  • Christian Experience IV (Theology of the Body)

    In this course, students will come to appreciate their own lived experience of God’s design for human life.  Students will examine the moral imperatives that result from their own bodily existence and how these honor the dignity of those around them and guide them in their own loving service to others in the pursuit of their vocations.


  • Philosophy of Man

    After providing an overview of the basic principles of the Philosophy of Nature, this course examines the nature of the human being, beginning from the Epic of Gilgamesh, continuing through the Classical period by means of Aristotle, the Middle Ages in St. Thomas Aquinas, the Renaissance via Blaise Pascal, and concluding in the modern period in Nietzsche, Freud and T. S. Eliot.

  • Philosophy of Nature

    This course is a detailed study in the various understandings of nature, beginning from the mythology of the Enuma Elish as a primitive attempt at grasping the world, to the classical understanding found in Aristotle’s Physics and 141 Parts of Animals and their Medieval development in Thomas Aquinas’s The Principles of Nature, to foundational texts in modern natural sciences such as those of Descartes, Galileo and Newton, to discussions of evolution found in Darwin, and finally to near contemporary physicists such as Heisenberg. The contrast between the classical stress on substantial form and formal causality and the modern method of material causality and mathematical law will be brought to the forefront, as will the emphasis on technology as a mastery of nature in modern science and the question of teleology, whether nature acts for a purpose.

  • Philosophy of God

    This is a course in the various understandings of metaphysics, or the nature of being as being, beginning from Plato’s Timaeus, continuing through the Classical period by means of Aristotle, and the Middle Ages in St. Thomas Aquinas. The course continues by covering several related questions, beginning with Natural Theology (discussing the traditional proofs for the existence of God, the Divine Attributes that can be understood using reason alone, the analogy of being, and the act of creation), continuing with the “problem of evil” and the question of free will

  • Logic

    Students learn about the basic structures of sound reasoning, focusing largely on classic Aristotelian logic. The course serves to help students think and argue with clarity as well as to effectively analyze arguments of others.  The course includes a careful analysis of the operations of the intellect, i.e., understanding, judgment, and reasoning, focusing on their products, i.e., term, proposition, and syllogism.


  • Foundations I

    This course will explain how developments in literature and the arts reflect and impact culture from ancient civilizations to Christendom’s unification (ancient civilizations through the 11th century A.D.). It will explore the historical backdrop and cultural contexts of ancient Near Eastern culture, the Greco-Roman period, the rise and fall of Rome, Constantine and the Christianization of the West through monasticism, Byzantium, the emergence of Islam, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Crusades.

  • Foundations II

    This course will explain how developments in literature and the arts reflect and impact culture from Christendom’s disintegration to the rise of modernization (12th through 18th centuries A.D.). It will explore the historical backdrop and cultural contexts of late Christendom, the Protestant Reformation and Counterreformation, the Renaissance, Humanism, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution.

  • Foundations III

    This course will explain how developments in literature and the arts reflect and impact culture from the French Revolution to the present day. It will explore the historical background and cultural contexts of modern literature, art, and music, from romantic revolutionaries to deconstructionist contemporaries.

  • World History and Culture

    At the highest level, the course looks at how nations and regions across the world are navigating the tumultuous currents of globalization.

  • College Writing I *

    This course will emphasize the use of correct grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. Students will be required to apply these skills to writing assignments.

  • Culture Making and Aesthetics *

    This course examines how media and business shape the attitudes, practices and beliefs of individuals and groups, and develops in students a rich understanding of the subtle and powerful cultural currents swirling around them, so that they can make valuable contributions to the development of future cultures. Students will consider critically how media and business shape them, learning to recognize the attitudes, assumptions, arguments and ideas promoted by media and business enterprises and products. They will develop a full, thoughtful and practical understanding of what cultures are and how they grow, and of the university’s mission to impact culture for Christ. They will gain an understanding of how Christians are perceived by the cultures around them, and appreciate how one gains the privilege of participation in the shaping of cultures. Finally, students will learn to articulate what of value they have to offer the cultures around them, and how they hope to make that contribution over the course of their lives and careers.

  • College Writing II

    This course will build on the skills learned in College Writing I.

* Must take one of these two courses

Science and Mathematics

  • Decisions Based on Data (Math)

    This course is a review of basic mathematical skills, with a focus on those needed to review and understand business statistics and information. The course focuses on real life application of the concepts learned.


    Students will also be introduced to basic financial literacy concepts such as budgeting and planning for large purchases that require a loan. The course is also designed to help students learn how to interpret quantitative information and other data in order to make decisions.

  • Natural Science

    This course explores the scientific method and reasoning. A special emphasis is placed on the design found in nature and environmental science.


  • Entrepreneurial Thinking

    In today’s world there is a need for strategic thinking and business vision based on a different paradigm. Competition is not only between products and services, but also between business models. Students will learn about innovation-driven business strategies and methodologies to develop business designs to successfully compete in the new economy.

  • Introduction to Marketing

    This course focuses on introducing the idea of “entrepreneurial marketing” and is aimed at students who plan to start a new venture or take a job as a marketing professional pursuing an innovative marketing approach. Students will study a full spectrum of marketing strategies and tactics that are especially suitable for entrepreneurial firms aiming for high growth and innovation yet faced by limited resources and uncertain industry dynamics.


    Students will work in teams on marketing plans for their own venture or for other high profile entrepreneurs or executives. The focus of this course is on hands-on experiences and practical application of marketing concepts.

  • Business Planning

    In this class students get a “big picture” look at the ingredients of a start-up firm and the process of creating one. The class details those ingredients, discusses the stories (good & bad) of people who have done it, and learn the process by going through it with a team. Students learn the business planning process, how to craft a compelling and clear business story, and acquire inquisitiveness as to how the world of business really works.


    The class deliverable is a complete Business Plan created by student teams along with a presentation of the plan.

  • Negotiation Skills

    This course teaches students to meet and resolve objections and conflicts that result from written and oral proposals and pitches. Emphasis is on resolving customer obstacles before addressing your own. Topics covered include: Wants vs. Needs; Win-Win Strategies; Best Alternatives to Agreement; Schedule vs. Quality vs. Cost; Progress vs. Perfection. The class progresses through carefully structured, progressively more complex negotiation exercises. Students learn how external and internal negotiation has become a way of life for effective managers in a constantly changing business environment.

  • Social Media Marketing

    This course will prepare you to act both strategically and tactically –utilizing social media tools like blogs, microblogs (Twitter), vodcasts, video, and networking sites to engage with your audience and sell your products and services. You will discover how to use analytic tools to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns and communicate meaningfully with your audience. In this class, we will divide into small groups. Each group will build their own blog, as well as two accompanying social media accounts (Twitter & Facebook) for their chosen “business,” and we will analyze their implementation & progress.

  • Leadership and Management

    This course gives an in-depth understanding of the differences between – and similarities of – leadership and management. The course focuses on the major traits of leaders and managers, and augments these with examples of great historic leaders, including George Custer and Jesus Christ.


    The course also studies the leadership traits of Abraham Lincoln, and looks at how these can be applied in business to improve management techniques.

  • Business Communications

    This course will teach students how to write and speak effectively in business and other communication.


  • Fundamentals in Art & Design

    Introduction to the elements and principles of design, composition design, color theory, color psychology, and basic typography. Practical guidance in color mixing and the visual impact of specific color combinations to support traditional and digital design work.

  • Drawing in Perspective

    Study of fundamental drawing techniques used to represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional plane and lay a strong foundation for all other drawing and design courses.

  • Observational Drawing

    This class is designed to help students develop drawing skills by translating what students observe about three-dimensional objects into lines and shapes on a two dimensional medium, while incorporating surface textures and varying line qualities into object and environment design concepts.

  • Materials and Techniques

    This course focuses on the traditional and materials techniques used to create hand-drawn illustrations and imagery. Graphite, charcoal, ink, watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and collage will be used to create projects rooted in originality. The assignments are intentionally experimental, allowing students to explore innovative solutions in image making. Form, structure, tone, light, shadow, texture and color, combined with different approaches to visual style, atmosphere and mood will be covered.

  • Life Drawing I

    An introduction to the study of the human form. Emphasis is on the accurate representation of the figure using the elements of anatomy, perception, gesture, contour, line, form, structure, and proportion. Media include pencil and charcoal. The course begins with various techniques for achieving correct proportion and convincing three-dimensional representation followed by study of the basic and important parts of human anatomy. Tonal description (light and shadow) will be introduced at the midterm, with fully- developed long pose drawings comprising the final weeks of class meetings. Homework projects include drawing from both life and master figure works.

  • Life Drawing II

    This course offers a continuation of the investigation into observing the human form from real life observation. Emphasis is on the accurate representation of the figure using the elements of anatomy, perception, gesture, contour, line, form, structure, and proportion. Media include pencil and charcoal. Homework projects include drawing from both life and master figure works.

  • Illustrative Storytelling

    This course will provide the foundational knowledge and skills related to the production of visual narrative art. Students will explore the relationship between story and character development and learn how to sequentially compose and arrange images to present a coherent and emotionally effective story.

  • Costume & Fashion Drawing

    Drawing from draped models with props and controlled lighting. Students examine the rendering of draped, multi-textured fabric; pattern repeats in textile art; structural fit and accessories as they apply to the human figure. Manipulation of composition, light, shadow, value, color, proportion, and scale are explored to achieve mood, gesture, drama, and attitudes related to human reactions, situations and character.

  • Drawing on Location

    This course focuses on the continued development of observational skills and drawing techniques, while working in an outdoor environment. Students in this course will develop both technical abilities and creative responses to material and subject matter primarily through practice during class, drawing at home, and lecture. Students will draw architectural structures, landscape, and people on location from direct observation.

  • Color Theory

    An introduction to digital illustration using computer tools. This course includes the study of illustration as visual interpretation of words, concepts, and ideas. Students learn basic software skills while developing drawing abilities in a digital environment.


  • Photoshop & Illustrator

    Introduction to digital image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. A comprehensive exploration into various components of Photoshop including: layers, channels, filters, brushes, pen and other image creation and manipulation tools for the purpose of designing meaningful digital artwork.

  • Digital Painting

    This course covers the tools and techniques of digital painting in Photoshop, emphasizing the fundamentals of color, light, perspective, and depth to create stylized and realistic pieces for illustration, matte painting, and/or concept art.

  • Typography *

    This course focuses on the anatomy and form, context, and motion of typography as a powerful communication tool across a variety of physical and digital media.

  • Branding *

    Students will learn how to effectively communicate visually through a brand to create several compelling and cohesive identities.

  • The Design Process *

    A thorough breakdown of the process of creating from initial concepts to final design taught by professionals at one of the top design studios in San Diego.

  • History of Graphic Design *

    This course explores the influences and effects of major graphic design trends through the 20th and 21st centuries and how they impact today’s design.

  • Storyboarding *

    This class focuses on applying industry-standard storyboarding and scripting techniques to Animation/Film production. Topics to be covered include the various purposes and formats of storyboards, the basic terminology and concepts used in storyboarding, and the application of storyboarding techniques to the creation of storyboards with or without a written script. Using Scripts, Sound Tracks, and Character Designs provided by the teacher, students create several Storyboards and presentation Animatics (movies of the Storyboard Panels that are timed to the Sound Tracks).

* Recommended Electives


  • Ancient Greek Drama

    By examining key texts from Ancient Greece, students will explore the roots of dramatic art even as they explore ways to apply these ancient masterworks to contemporary social concerns and to their own creative craft.

  • The Epic

    Through prolonged immersion in the epic poetry of authors such as Homer and Virgil, students will grow in their appreciation of the ancient cultures which gave birth to these texts, and of the importance of structure and character development in works of narrative art.

  • Shakespeare

    This course studies the plays and poems of the most significant and enduringly influential writer of the English language. The class will consider Shakespearean texts with special attention paid to their author's renaissance context and striking psychological realism.

  • Poetry

    This course brings students into close contact with poetry through analysis of its essential elements: language, music, form, and imagination.  Attention will be paid to key poets and trailblazing poems and to the historical circumstances that shaped them.

  • Fiction

    Through examination of masterful short stories and novels, students will consider how narrative fiction has developed over time while simultaneously growing in their understanding and appreciation of narrative structure, voice, and character development.

  • Foundations IV: The 20th Century

    Humanities majors will continue the Foundations sequence in the core curriculum by studying the 20th century’s fine arts and literature and assessing how these have responded to and in some cases foreshadowed major historical events of the not-too-distant past.

  • Music History

    This course offers an overview of basic musical trends throughout history, focusing particularly on the development of Western music since the Renaissance.

  • Art History

    This course builds an understanding of the patterns and visual shifts throughout art history in order to build an appreciation for the insights of the creative mind. The class offers a foundation in the mechanics of the visual arts, as well as a detailed look at the full sweep of artistic periods and movements.

© 2017 John Paul the Great Catholic University