Who We Are
The Great Courses brings engaging professors into your home or car through courses on DVD, audio CD, and other formats. Since 1990, great teachers from the Ivy League, Stanford, Georgetown, and other leading colleges and universities have crafted over 390 courses for lifelong learners. We provide the adventure of learning, without the homework or exams.
- To ignite the passion for lifelong learning by offering great courses taught by great professors.
What we've done:
- Excellence. Start with the best, then make it better.
- Cultivate every resource. Confront, accept, and improve hard facts.
- Hard work for solid results.
- Fair and lasting relationships with our customers and our employees. And expect the same in return.
- Integrity. Period.
With input and feedback from our customers since 1990, we've found the top 100 teaching professors in the country.
With those great professors, we have produced 390 great courses—over 5,600 hours of material in literature, philosophy, history, fine arts, the sciences, economics, and religion.
We have delivered millions of lectures to hundreds of thousands of people we are proud to call our customers.
How The Great Courses Began
The Great Courses was founded as The Teaching Company in 1990 by Thomas M. Rollins, former Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.
Years earlier, as a Harvard Law School student, Rollins had an unforgettable experience that opened his eyes to the extraordinary power of a great lecturer captured on tape.
Rollins was facing an important exam in the Federal Rules of Evidence but was not well prepared. He managed to obtain videotapes of 10 one-hour lectures by a noted authority on the subject, Professor Irving Younger.
"I dreaded what seemed certain to be boring," Rollins says. "I thought that few subjects could be as dull as the Federal Rules of Evidence. But I had no other way out."
Rollins planted himself in front of the TV and played all 10 hours nearly non-stop. The lectures, he says, "were outrageously insightful, funny, and thorough." Watching Professor Younger's lectures was one of Rollins's best experiences as a student.
Rollins made an "A" in the course. And he never forgot the unique power of recorded lectures by a great teacher.
After many years of government service, Rollins founded The Great Courses in 1990 to ignite people's passion for lifelong learning by offering great courses taught by great professors.
How Do You Choose Your Professors?
There are hundreds of thousands of college professors and subject matter experts around the world. But only a very select few are chosen to be a part of The Great Courses' faculty.
Each year, our professional recruiters identify the top 1% of professors based on teaching awards, published evaluations, newspaper write-ups, and other sources. Then, our team travels to universities and academic institutions-from Harvard to Stanford to UCLA to UNC-and listens to these professors deliver lectures to their students.
Of these few professors, only 1 in 20 is selected to give an audition lecture for The Great Courses. Each audition is then thoroughly reviewed by hundreds of our customers. Those professors who receive a high score are invited to craft a Great Course. In the end, we and our customers choose about 1 in 5,000 professors to create courses for us.
How Do You Make Your Courses?
We work closely with our customers and professors to create every single Great Course. Here's how we do it:
- Customers Choose the Professor: We begin with the top 1% of professors in America. In the end, only 1 in 5,000 professors meets the standards set by our customers, who vote on all our professors.
- Customers Choose the Course: We interview thousands of customers to find out what courses they want and how they want them made.
- Professors Carefully Craft the Course: Months of preparation ensure that a course will satisfy our customers. Long before a word is spoken on stage, our professor outlines and prepares each lecture and writes the extensive Course Guidebook.
- We Record the Course: Working in our in-house recording studios in Chantilly, Virginia, we record the video of each lecture on high-definition-quality equipment and media, or record the audio of each lecture on the latest CD-quality equipment and media. We then devote weeks to include dynamic visual elements into the video lectures and to professionally master the sound for the audio lectures.