The Great Courses

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Some of the course materials produced by The Teaching Company
Content available through "The Great Courses Plus," a subscription service

The Great Courses (TGC) is a series of college-level audio and video courses produced and distributed by The Teaching Company (TTC), an American company based in Chantilly, Virginia. The courses are available in audio and video form in various formats and on mobile devices.

The courses differ from most online learning platforms in that they are produced for enrichment purposes only and offered without schedules, homework, exams, or certificates. Many of the courses deal with quite narrow topics such as The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era, and Dark Matter and Dark Energy.


The company was founded in 1990 by Thomas M. Rollins, former Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.[1] Rollins had been inspired by a 10-hour videotaped lecture series he watched while at Harvard Law School, and began recruiting top professors and experts based almost entirely on customer feedback.[2] On October 2, 2006, the company was acquired by Brentwood Associates, a private equity investment firm.[2][3]

In 2012, the company produced the first of several cooking courses in partnership with The Culinary Institute of America, and announced an expansion of that partnership in 2013.[4] In 2014, the company announced a partnership with The National Geographic Society to jointly produce courses on photography and expedition travel,[5] and a ten-year partnership with The Smithsonian to produce courses on history, science, travel and the arts.[6] In 2016, the company announced a partnership with Mayo Clinic to jointly produce courses about health and wellness.[7]

In 2015, the company began offering its video courses as part of an unlimited subscription streaming service called "The Great Courses Plus."[8][9] In 2016, the company introduced a subscription channel on Amazon Video.[10]

In January 2017, The Great Courses launched a content website, The Great Courses Daily,[11] – a free newsreader-style site that hosts articles, interviews, and videos that highlight course content.


As of 2016, the company offers over 600 courses ranging in length from six lectures to over ninety lectures in several subject categories: business, economics, fine arts, music, ancient and medieval history, modern history, literature and English language, philosophy and intellectual history, religion, science, mathematics, social sciences, professional development and better living (health, wellness, food, photography, etc.).[12]

Most series are developed for adult lifelong learners; there is also a series for high school students. Courses are not verbatim recordings of college lectures, but rather are developed by The Teaching Company in conjunction with the professor to fit the chosen medium. Professors must first pass auditions that are screened by The Great Courses' customers.[13] Video versions of courses include graphics and green screen effects. Courses also include supplemental "guidebooks" prepared by the professor with outlines of the individual lectures, recommended reading lists, general bibliographies, and questions to consider. Full printed transcripts are also available.[12]

Courses are available for online video and audio streaming or may be accessed in many formats including CD, DVD, audio and video downloads, digital streaming, and verbatim transcript books.[12] The company also offers audio versions of some courses to subscribers,[14] and has made video titles available to Netflix subscribers.[15]

Partial list of notable instructors[edit]


  1. ^ Bales, Kate (February 16, 1994). "Ivy League Courses for Price of a Video". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  2. ^ a b Max, Sarah (July 29, 2013). "If Its Customers Love a Business, This Equity Firm Does, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  3. ^ "Brentwood Associates Acquires The Teaching Company L.P." (Press release). Business Wire. 2006-10-02. Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  4. ^ "The Great Courses Launches Comprehensive Cooking Curriculum in Partnership with The Culinary Institute of America" (Press release). Business Wire. 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  5. ^ "National Geographic and The Great Courses Create Content and Distribution Partnership" (Press release). Business Wire. 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  6. ^ "The Smithsonian and The Great Courses Partner for New Series of Lectures Spanning History, Science, Travel and the Arts" (Press release). Smithsonian. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  7. ^ "National Geographic and The Great Courses Create Content and Distribution Partnership" (Press release). Business Wire. 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  8. ^ Martell, Nevin (September 3, 2015). "Before YouTube and online classes, there were the Great Courses". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  9. ^ The Great Courses Plus website, The Teaching Company, December 3, 2015, retrieved 2015-12-03 
  10. ^ "Ready, Set, STREAM: The Great Courses Streaming Subscription Now Available on Amazon Video" (Press release). Business Wire. 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  11. ^ "Online Education – Articles, Videos, and Lectures from The Great Courses". The Great Courses Daily. Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  12. ^ a b c The Great Courses website, The Teaching Company, January 16, 2016, retrieved 2016-01-16 
  13. ^ Przybysp, John (November 15, 2014). "UNLV professor finds new voice in Great Courses". The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  14. ^ "Audible Establishes Partnership with The Great Courses from The Teaching Company" (Press release). Business Wire. 2013-07-09. Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  15. ^ "The Great Courses Launches 'The Inexplicable Universe' with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Netflix" (Press release). Business Wire. 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 


External links[edit]