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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. Four fundamental course cover major works of religion, literature, philosophy, ethics, and American constitutional thought, supplemented by two electives that may be drawn from such topics as Eastern classics, the history of science, Shakespeare, and art history. 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.

Declare This Certificate

Students intending to complete the Certificate Program in Core Texts and Ideas 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 Certificate Program requires six courses, one from each of the four areas listed below, plus two electives from a list of qualifying courses. Each of the four areas has several acceptable courses that will satisfy that requirement.

The areas are:

1. A course on the philosophy and literature of the ancient world, primarily from ancient Greece, that explores the fundamental questions about human nature, justice, ethics, and humanity's place in the cosmos.

2. A course on the major texts of world religions, including both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, examined from various perspectives, with an emphasis on the fundamental questions and ideas raised in those texts.

3. A course on the history of political philosophy which introduces students to rival conceptions of the moral basis and goals of political life, as elaborated by revolutionary thinkers in the history of political philosophy.

4. A course on America's constitutional principles that exam ines the primary texts that have shaped or that reflect deeply on American democracy.

View the CTI certificate plan for a list of the specific courses that meet each of these requirements. Students also choose two electives from a list of qualifying courses.


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.