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The Program in Core Texts and Ideas is an introduction to the liberal arts through the study of the great books. Through this integrated sequence of six courses, students explore an ongoing series of debates about human nature, ethics, and the meaning of life that have unfolded over centuries and that have profoundly shaped the modern world. The program easily complements any major at the University, as the courses needed for the certificate can also fulfill up to six University core requirements.

The program includes courses in four areas:

  • Philosophy and Literature of the Ancient World
  • History of Political Philosophy
  • Major Texts of World Religions
  • America's Constitutional Principles
In addition, two electives may be chosen from topics ranging from ancient Indian thought to Shakespeare to Nietzsche to Darwin.

Declare This Certificate

Students in all majors at the University are eligible to pursue the Certificate Program in Core Texts and Ideas. Interested students should contact the CTI Advisor to schedule an advising appointment. Once the requirements for the certificate have been met, the advisor will certify completion of the program and it will appear on the student's transcript after graduation.

Required Courses

The program consists of four required courses and two electives, all based on great books and other primary texts. A minimum of 18 hours is required for the certificate. View the CTI certificate plan for a list of the specific requirements.


Students interested in a chronological survey of great books of the Western tradition may wish to take the following Core Texts of Western Civilization sequence:

  • CTI 304 The Bible and its Interpreters

  • CTI 301 Ancient Philosophy and Literature

  • PHL 349 History of Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • CTI 350 Masterworks of World Drama


GOV 351D Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics

  • GOV 312P America's Constitutional Principles: Core Texts


Participants in the Program in Core Texts and Ideas come from a wide range of majors at UT Austin. CTI students are inquisitive students who enjoy reading and discussing ideas that cross disciplinary boundaries. Many of them share an interest in the study of literature, philosophy, ethics, classics, and government.


The program provides a broad interdisciplinary context for the ideas students will encounter in many fields of study. It trains them in careful reading, cogent writing, and critical reasoning. It teaches them to ask probing questions that others may not be asking. It encourages them to examine their own presuppositions and to listen sympathetically but critically to the ideas of others. By putting contemporary controversies into historical and intellectual perspective, it thus enables students to respond more thoughtfully to the urgent challenges and conflicts of our own time.