Shimer College


Academics at a Small Liberal Arts College


Say (And Write) What You Think.

What can a liberal arts education do for you? At its core, it can teach you to think more critically and to express yourself, in speech and writing, more skillfully. At Shimer, we have made that our mission for over 160 years.

At Shimer, you won’t touch a textbook. Our curriculum is built entirely on primary sources, both classics like Aristotle and masters in thinking about modern and contemporary culture. You take a sequence of courses in the classic disciplines (Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences) and electives like Films of Stanley Kubrick, Feminist Theories, and Abnormal Psychology.

There are no lectures, only student-driven dialogue in small classes. Dialogue is not just a conversation or even a debate, but a productive exchange of ideas. In our courses, students and professors explore a text in depth, asking questions, offering interpretations, disagreeing with each other. This kind of dialogue-based education enables you to discern new ideas and expand your thinking.

If you want to learn to better say what you think, and if you’re curious and interested in ideas, a liberal arts education at Shimer might be just the thing for you. Here, we’ll teach you not what to think, but how to think.

Over the course of your time at Shimer, you will learn:

  • The best of the liberal arts: A firm base of knowledge informed by foundational texts in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
  • How to communicate: Read attentively, listen carefully, and express yourself accurately, persuasively, and imaginatively in speech and writing.
  • How to think critically: Demonstrate the habit of thoroughly assessing relevant evidence, concepts, and arguments before accepting or formulating an intellectual position.
  • How to apply what you’ve learned: Apply the skills and knowledge you’ve attained in ways that are at once rigorous, disciplined, creative, and flexible.
  • How to collaborate: Work effectively with others in coming to a greater understanding of complex intellectual problems.
  • How to make good decisions: Demonstrate qualities—such as integrity, courage, empathy, and respect—necessary for living principled lives and making a positive impact on their communities and the wider world.
  • How to continue to learn for a lifetime: Possess the abilities and dispositions essential for a lifetime of learning, including intellectual curiosity, dialogical thinking, and critical open-mindedness.

Our Programs

A Shimer education will benefit anyone who wants to pursue a general course of study, acquire breadth and depth of knowledge, and become a skilled communicator, critical thinker, and problem solver.

Our 4-year program welcomes first-time students, transfers, early entrance students, home-schoolers, and non-traditional students of every stripe.

We offer a 2-year program for qualifying transfer students.

All Shimer students can apply to spend a semester abroad at Oxford with our Shimer-in-Oxford program.

Are you planning on going to law school? Find out about our 6-year B.A. to J.D. program.