“The desert has a deep personality; it has a voice. Great leaders in all ages have sought the desert and heard its voice. You can hear it if you listen, but you cannot hear it while in the midst of uproar and strife for material things. ‘Gentlemen, for what came ye into the wilderness?’ Not for conventional scholastic training; not for ranch life; not to become proficient in commercial or professional pursuits for personal gain. You came to prepare for a life of service, with the understanding that superior ability and generous purpose would be expected of you.”

Deep Springs Founder L.L. Nunn, 1923

Since its founding in 1917, Deep Springs has been singularly motivated by its mission to “prepare young people for a life of service to humanity,” which can be seen throughout the day-to-day operation of the College.

By exposing students to an array of challenging responsibilities, the College offers them the opportunity for very real success and failure. In the classroom, at work in the labor program, or in committee and SB meetings, student responsibilities are concrete and have a direct impact on the everyday life of the College community. The ground rules are intended to keep students focused on the educational work at hand, not escaping it through outside distractions. In keeping with the spirit of self-governance, these limitations are enforced by the Student Body itself.

However, the most precise description of Deep Springs’ purpose comes directly from the mission statement itself, provided below in full.

The mission of Deep Springs College is to prepare young people for a life of service to humanity. Leadership and enlightened service are the aims of Deep Springs, which fulfills its educational mission by bringing students into intense contact with nature, work, and ideas.

Deep Springs’ challenging and comprehensive educational program is designed for a few of the most promising students entering college each year. No tuition or fees are levied, but strenuous effort, self-governance, and selfless service to the community are expected of everyone.

The college takes sound principles of teaching and learning to their practical limits. Based on a cattle ranch in an isolated desert-mountain valley, the college enables its students to experience and take year-round responsibility for a largely self-sustaining community, ranch, and farm, while requiring them to engage in a two-year liberal arts honors program. 

The program provides the curriculum necessary to obtain an Associate of Arts degree. Learning is pursued to solve real problems, both practical and social, for the joy of intellectual understanding and humane action.

Those who are educated at Deep Springs incur a lifelong obligation to improve the human condition.

Adopted 1998, revised 2016