The Academy Curriculum

The Academy approach is straightforward, yet challenging. Each class is designed to immerse students in an essential era or theme in western history, literature, philosophy and culture through reading original texts that shaped the world. Our students are trained to learn directly from the text at hand, using class time to engage with their professor and classmates towards increased understanding of the subject.

The Academy curriculum is written entirely by Academy faculty and consists of five essential teaching elements:

1.Reading: We read a robust, interdisciplinary selection of great works chronologically, in their entirety, and from a diverse set of cultures and disciplines. This approach is echoed throughout the subjects our students take.

2.Discussion: We devote the entirety of our class time in The Academy to discussing what we have read and taking seriously the ideas that we have encountered. It is particularly through discussion that our students become active, contributing members of their classrooms, earning their education and refining their beliefs. This is opposed to the passive  approach to education wherein students are meant merely to receive information and try their best to remember it. In accordance with the Oxbridge model of education, professors or students may offer brief contextual lectures as an aid to discussion.

3.Writing: Students turn in regular reading reflections and prepare a single essay for each course each semester. Their work must argue for a strong position on a book or topic they have read or discussed. Whenever possible, professors return unsatisfactory work to students as incomplete, expecting the students to rework or rewrite the assignments until both professors and students are satisfied. Students receive extensive feedback on all written work.

4.Presentation and Defense: In each course, students create presentations, defend papers, conduct experiments, demonstrate proofs, and/or develop and display creative work in order to show their academic progress to the broader university community. Preparing and delivering presentations assists students in developing their public speaking skills and academic confidence.

5.Evaluation and Feedback: Students in humanities courses end each semester by participating in oral examinations with an Academy faculty panel. Oral examinations provide students the opportunity to express and defend the ideas that have caught hold of their minds and imaginations during the course of the semester.


Although high school students of all ages and grade levels are eligible to enroll in any Academy course, we suggest that students enroll in Academy courses in this order:

Great Books I – English 1313: Composition and Literature I (Greeks, Romans, and Early Christianity)

Great Books II – History 2311: Western Civilization (Western Civilization and the Foundations of Europe)

Great Books III – Philosophy 1313: Introduction to Philosophy (Politics, Skepticism, and the Novel)

Great Books IV – English 1323: Composition and Literature II (The Moderns)

For a detailed overview of current courses offered, see here.

For current reading lists, including ISBNs, see here.