The New College Liberal Arts program is for those who wish to learn how to think, not what to think. The great ideas covered in this program have been the foundation of dynamic, independent thinking for millennia. Come join us in learning the wisdom of the ages.

New College of Florida is debuting a version of its liberal arts degree in Spring 2024 that will feature classes offered through distance learning, supported by live video-conferencing seminars and discussion groups so that it will be accessible to students everywhere. The liberal arts curriculum spans the period from Ancient Greece to the modern age, and planned program outcomes include a four-year bachelor’s degree, a two-year associate degree, and a one-year certificate.

After completing their A.A. degree, students will have the option of continuing as distance education students to a B.A. degree or finishing their studies as New College’s beautiful Sarasota Bay campus to combine their Great Books studies with other academic programs offered by the college. All students earning a degree will be invited to attend New College’s traditional May graduation ceremony.  

Liberal Arts

New College was established on the foundation of great western traditions in the liberal arts. This program empowers students with a classical liberal arts education based on essential teachings from the greatest thinkers in history. Learn more below!

The program is designed for everyone from recent high school graduates to advanced lifelong learners. An Associate in Arts degree can be earned with 64-credits and a B.A. in Liberal Arts can be earned in four years. After completing their A.A. degree students will have the option of continuing as distance education students to a B.A. degree or finishing their studies as New College’s beautiful Sarasota Bay campus to combine their Great Books studies with other academic programs offered by the college. All students earning a degree will be invited to attend New College’s traditional May graduation ceremony.

To be admitted to the program, prospective students must apply to New College through the normal admissions process. All New College academic standards apply to these programs.

All classes are designated as “online” or “on-campus,” and a sufficient number of classes will be offered online each semester.


History of Ideas – Part 1 (Ancient Greece)

Mon/Thur. 2:30-3:50pm ET (4 credits). Online. Begins January 29.

The flourishing of ancient Greece saw the beginnings of the western tradition in literature, history, drama, philosophy, and science. These contributions remain central to our thinking and culture because they have shaped an ongoing conversation we are still part of, and because in many cases they engage and speak directly to questions we still care about. The course starts by developing an understanding of the techniques and themes of drama through the defiant characters of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. In Homer, Herodotus, and Thucydides, we look at the role of myth and the emergence of historical thinking. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, meanwhile, set an agenda and advance methods for investigating questions about ethics, politics, metaphysics, and the natural world.

This course is the first in a sequence that will give students a comprehensive grounding in the western tradition.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.


Euclid’s Elements

Mon/Thur. 1-2:20pm ET (4 credits). Online. Begins January 29.

Among the Greeks’ most significant contributions to mathematics, philosophy, and science was their focus on deductive reasoning and proof. Over time the Greeks developed their rudimentary and fragmentary efforts at rigorous proof into a high art. This development culminated in one of the greatest and most influential books of Western thought: The Elements of Geometry by Euclid of Alexandria.

Written around 300 BC, Euclid’s Elements is a masterful synthesis that perfected and codified the method of proof into a unified, axiomatic system. Although most of the results Euclid proved in the Elements were discovered by his predecessors, his approach to proving and systematizing mathematical knowledge was so profound, beautiful, and pedagogically useful, his book replaced what had gone before it. It became the standard textbook in geometry for well over 2000 years, and served as the foundation for the subsequent development of mathematics.

This class explores Book 1 of Euclid’s Elements firsthand as a model of mathematical thinking. To experience the axiomatic, deductive method, we will set aside what we think we know and examine the extent to which we can build apodictically certain knowledge from a handful of simple premises. We will also read short, supplemental readings on the significance and application of deductive reasoning, on the Pythagoreans, and on the great mathematician-scientist Archimedes.

This class is appropriate for those with no prior knowledge of mathematics who wish to have a genuine experience of logic and mathematical thinking, as well as students in mathematics who wish to explore and reflect on the roots and foundations of their subject. Everyone taking the class will have a profound encounter with one of the greatest works of all time and come away with enhanced powers of logical thought.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.


Tues/Fri. 1-2:30pm ET (4 credits). Online. Begins January 30.

Through his depiction of Socrates, Plato develops a model of questioning, definition, and critique that has deeply shaped approaches to education and inquiry and continues to serve as a powerful model for careful thinking about a wide range of topics. This course begins by exploring the Socratic “method” as developed in Plato’s early dialogues on ethical questions and the life of Socrates. In subsequent, more elaborate dialogues including the Meno, Symposium, and Republic, Plato uses these and additional literary tools including myth and allegory to inquire about the nature of perennial values ranging from love to knowledge and the ideal state. In reading and discussing the texts, we will consider the questions and views Socrates and Plato confront in these dialogues, while also practicing the methods used to navigate them. In the process, we will develop skills and strategies for interpretation, identification of argumentative claims and inferences, and evaluation of arguments.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

In addition to existing financial aid opportunities provided at New College, Mr. Joe Ricketts has generously pledged scholarship funding to the program. After the scholarship, each 4-credit course will cost a student less than $160. The scholarship rewards students for investing in themselves, working hard and seeing the program through to completion. The Ricketts Scholarship will be administered through the New College Foundation.  Contact Alex Muller ([email protected] or 941-487-4476) in admissions for more information.

The program launches with three classes with New College’s Spring 2024 Semester, beginning Monday January 29. 

No. Courses are offered on a set schedule, and students are grouped in small class cohorts led by New College professors. All courses will be taught live through a combination of real-time video seminars, guest lectures from experts, peer-to-peer discussions and your own reading and study. Regular attendance per the class schedule is required.

Liberal arts degrees are a path to the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing society. Grappling with timeless questions has allowed many great men and women to adapt and thrive, leading to successful careers and fulfilling lives.

New College President Richard Corcoran describes the liberal arts below:

“The term “liberal arts” has become increasingly broad over the years as this track in most colleges is just a chaotic hodgepodge of courses. As a result of this, “classical” works as a stand-in because it points back to when the idea of a “liberal arts” education originated – around 400 BC when the Greeks were working to create a successful paradigm for self-governance and understood education to be an important part of that effort. The term “classical” also points to the idea that a component of learning how to think is being exposed to the conversation of the centuries, not just the thoughts from our own moment in time. We are born into a conversation that has been happening for thousands of years. In it, there have been certain people – artists, authors, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians – whose works speak across cultures and times and social status to the biggest questions of existence. It is not a perfect conversation, but there are certain contributors to the conversation that have helped humanity “stitch together the patches of the universe.” This conversation addresses questions that are common to all humanity such as: what is my purpose in this world? Who is my neighbor? What is the good life? These are just a few. The time to contemplate these is at the beginning of life. The answers will lay the groundwork for how students will meet the challenges and adventures ahead of them.”

Apply today!

Complete the New College application online. The online program launches with three classes with New College’s Spring Semester, beginning January 29, 2024. Admissions is rolling. Enrollment is limited. Apply Online