Founded in 1946, the University of Chicago Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a part-time, non-credit “Great Books” adult education program that attracts adults from all walks of life interested in expanding their intellectual horizons and capabilities through the close reading and rigorous analysis of classic Western texts under the guidance of skilled instructors employing the Socratic Method.
The core curriculum of the Basic Program is modelled on the old “Hutchins College” at the University of Chicago and consists of a four-year Reading List organized as a series of 12 ten-week courses. Each course includes both “seminars” (that cover a breadth of material) and “tutorials” (that emphasize depth, usually focusing on a single, short work). Courses are offered in daytime, evening, and Saturday sections. There are no writing assignments or examinations, and a certificate is granted upon completion of the program. The University of Chicago considers graduates of the Basic Program to be alumni of the university.
In addition to the four-year certificate program, the Basic Program currently offers a range of Alumni Courses and Summer Courses, as well as weekend Study Retreats, daylong symposia, and two series of free monthly lectures. With the exception of the Alumni Courses, all supplementary courses and events are open to the public.