Basic Program classroom

Basic Program of Liberal Education

Core Curriculum Courses

Basic Program Core Curriculum: The Certificate Program

The core of the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a four-year certificate program offering a rigorous, liberal arts curriculum that draws on the strong Socratic tradition at the University of Chicago and covers the foundations of modern Western political and social thought and literature through reading and discussion of Great Books.

The Certificate consists of a four-year curriculum with one course every quarter of the Academic year (Autumn, Winter, Spring). Courses meet for three hours, once a week, for ten weeks. Each course consists of a 1.5 hour Seminar, covering three or four texts, and a 1.5 hour Tutorial, which involves in-depth analysis of one or two texts. Both the Seminar and Tutorial focus on close critical reading and discussion of primary texts. Students take the curriculum in order, starting with Autumn of Year 1 and progressing with their classmates in the same section from quarter to quarter and year to year.

Participants earn a certificate upon completion of the entire four-year curriculum, as well as some of the privileges of University of Chicago alumni.


Discounts on tuition are available to new students. Now until July 14, those who register for a Basic Program Year One Autumn course will receive $100 off by using the code: BPYR1100. Those who register from July 15 through August 15 will receive $50 off by using the code: BPYR150.



Autumn Winter Spring Tutorial


Year 1 Antigone Sophocles Apology Plato Crito Plato Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky Meno Plato The History Herodotus Oresteia Aeschylus Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle The Prince Machiavelli Leviathan Hobbes Grounding for the  Metaphysics of Morals Kant Heart of Darkness Conrad  Bible


Year 2 Oedipus the King Sophocles Poetics Aristotle The Bacchae Euripides Antony and Cleopatra Shakespeare The Iliad Homer The Odyssey Homer A Portrait of the  Artist as a Young Man  Joyce A Room of One’s Own Woolf The Republic Plato Treatise on Law Aquinas Second Treatise  on Government  Locke Discourse on the Origin  and Foundations of  Inequality Among Men Rousseau The Tempest Shakespeare Lyric poetry


Year 3 Physics Aristotle The Nature of Things Lucretius Principia Newton On the Origin of Species Darwin Novel† The Aeneid Virgil Confessions Augustine The Canterbury Tales Chaucer Elements Euclid Meditations Descartes Essays Montaigne Pensées Pascal On the Genealogy  of Morals Nietzsche The Interpretation  of Dreams Freud Inferno Dante


Year 4 Symposium Plato Lives of the Noble  Greeks and Romans Plutarch Gulliver’s Travels by Swift Pride and Prejudice by Austen The Peloponnesian War Thucydides Politics Aristotle Wealth of Nations Smith Economic and Philosophic  Manuscripts of 1844 Marx The Communist Manifesto  Marx Tragedy‡ Shakespeare The Federalist Papers  Declaration of  Independence Gettysburg Address Lincoln Second Inaugural Address Lincoln Democracy in America Tocqueville Phaedo  Plato