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Shimer Great Books School

Shimer Great Books School, Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies combines the examination of the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, and prepares us to live a fully examined life.

Through the bachelor of arts in liberal studies, you will gain an understanding of the connections between ideas that form the core of the Shimer Great Books School’s unique curriculum. Examine primary sources written by groundbreaking, original thinkers and use the wisdom of these vastly different minds to refine your own pursuit of understanding.

About Shimer Great Books School

The Shimer Great Books School provides and preserves education centered on discussion of enduring questions and issues. Here, you will immerse yourself in reading, writing and discussion alongside other voracious readers who use what they read to engage with the world and understand their roles in it.

Learning is a constant dialogue where every opinion and every position is questioned and analyzed. You’ll discuss your ideas in a class with people who will push you to think more deeply about fundamental questions than you ever have before. Simply put, the Shimer Great Books School challenges you to delve deeply into the diverse and endlessly fascinating areas of thought and creativity in the company of similarly inclined students and teachers.


“It’s the knowledge you get from the classes—the knowledge of how to ask questions and come to an understanding of people who are very different from you in so many ways."

- Jack, Shimer student

Learn more on the Shimer Great Books School blog

Liberal Studies, B.A.

The Shimer School Liberal Studies Major comprises the entirety of the School's core curriculum. Liberal Studies majors take the full complement of courses in all three major areas of the curriculum: humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Studying the breadth of human knowledge and creation, largely (but not entirely) in traditions from Europe and North America, allows Liberal Studies majors to integrate knowledge and methods from disparate fields and develop insights that transcend any given discipline of study. Like all Shimer School majors, those in Liberal Studies develop their insights through a combination of individual reflection; small-class discussions; intensive writing, peer-editing and revision of essays; and the variety of practical exercises that reflect our readings in each area sequence of courses.

Breadth and depth of knowledge and skills characterize graduates of the Shimer School. Through the core curriculum of the Shimer School they immerse themselves in major classic and contemporary works of human expression, social thought and scientific knowledge and practice. Their broad familiarity with fundamental ideas and methods across the Liberal Arts provides the foundation on which they build increasingly refined understanding and skills in more specialized courses in chosen disciplines taught across North Central College. Shimer School graduates thus find meaningful employment in an unusually broad array of fields, including teaching, social work, law, small business and entrepreneurial enterprise and non-profit administration among the most common.

For additional programs and courses in this school, see Shimer Great Books School.

Shimer School Liberal Studies Core Courses


  • Four credits from SGBH, SGBN or SGBS at the 300-level or above

Comprehensive Examination

  • Pass the Shimer Great Books Basic Studies Comprehensive Exam (following successful completion of at least six of the required courses at the 100-level).

Students must demonstrate elementary competence in a foreign language. For more information, see the B.A. Degree Requirements within the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

Faculty and Staff

The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College provides the tools, contexts, and habits of mind that make lifelong learning possible.  At the same time you will have immediate avenues to complement your studies with experiences that will prepare you for a host of professional opportunities designed to match your long-term interests, among them undergraduate research, co-curricular initiatives and internships.


North Central’s internship program helps you apply what you’ve learned in the classroom in a workplace setting. Our location provides you with access to both a world-class city and a booming local high-tech corridor. From Fortune 500 companies to dynamic start-ups on the cutting edge, there’s bound to be a workplace well suited to your graduate school interests and career goals.

A Shimer School of Great Books education teaches students the critical thinking necessary to handle extraordinary intellectual challenges. Shimer graduates have had successful careers in a wide range of professions, including:

  • Educators
  • Attorneys
  • Physicians
  • Wall Street analysts
  • Financial advisors
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Designers
  • Engineers
  • Artists
  • Writers
  • Marketers
  • And more.

Shimer also ranks among the top colleges and universities in the percentage of graduates who earn PhDs.

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Merit scholarships, grants, loans, campus employment - these are just some of the resources available to you. Over 95 percent of students and 100 percent of all eligible students receive aid. Let our team partner with you in finding the best value for your education.

Learn more about financial aid and costs for North Central College

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