Classroom of students in the basic program sitting at tables

Basic Program of Liberal Education

The Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults centers on a four-year Certificate program with a rigorous, liberal arts curriculum that draws on the strong Socratic tradition at the University of Chicago.

Important Dates

Registration closes for Winter 2021 courses (Basic Program, Open Courses, Writer's Studio, Visual Arts)

The Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a rigorous, noncredit liberal arts program that draws on the strong Socratic tradition at the University of Chicago and covers the foundations of Western political and social thought.

Kendall Sharp, Cyril O. Houle Basic Program Chair, invites you to learn more about our rigorous, noncredit liberal arts program that draws on the strong Socratic tradition and covers the foundations of Western political and social thought.

The Certificate Program

The starting point for the Basic Program is the Four-Year Core Curriculum. Each year is made up of three 10-week Quarters. New Students begin in Year 1 Autumn. They choose from morning, afternoon, or evening sections held online and earn a certificate upon completion of the entire curriculum.

view the Core Curriculum

Who is in the Basic Program?

The Basic Program is a community of adults who seek a rigorous liberal arts education, and a staff of committed instructors who are both scholars and experienced discussion leaders. Students have a variety of backgrounds as well as different academic and life experiences, which adds to the value of the discussions. Students progress with their cohort from quarter to quarter and year to year. They build on their conversations with each other as well as with the texts, deepening the discussion. There are no prerequisites, everyone is welcome.

Basic Program Class Structure

Each section meets for three hours once a week. Class sections consist of: a 90-minute seminar (discussing several texts) with one instructor, a 90-minute tutorial (discussing a single text) with a different instructor, with a 15-minute break in between. View upcoming classes 

Join your weekly class a few minutes early for time to visit with fellow students. 

The Readings

Students read the assignment of the week before each class to prepare for the discussion. There are no tests, papers, or grades.

Students can purchase books at the Gleacher Center Bookstore online using the Textbook order form , or by using the ISBN number to order the correct edition elsewhere.