Students who enroll in The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea find a welcoming and supportive intellectual community, as well as a firm foundation in the humanities. Courses take place from August through April and are made up of units in literature, philosophy, U.S. history, critical thinking, and writing. A committed and creative group of professors from Chicago’s local universities guide Odyssey/Odisea courses, while students who complete the program earn college credits in the humanities from the University of Illinois Chicago.

The Odyssey Project /Proyecto Odisea also offers a second-year course in both English and Spanish for students who are interested in continuing their education in the humanities. Students who complete this course earn additional credits from the University of Illinois Chicago. All credits earned are fully transferrable to accredited colleges and universities.

In-person classes take place in the Chicago neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Little Village (in Spanish), and Uptown. The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea is part of the national network of Clemente Courses in the Humanities and is offered in conjunction with the University of Illinois Chicago and with support from The University of Chicago’s Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity, The Seabury Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

For more questions and more information, please email us at odyssey@ilhumanities.org.

Apply Now

If you are interested in applying to The Odyssey Project for the 2023-2024 academic year, please access the application here. Si se desea aplicar a nuestro programa en español, Proyecto Odisea, por favor visite este enlace: haga clic aquí.

If you prefer to print and mail your application, you may download a PDF of the application in English here or en español aqui and mail it to:

The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea
c/o Illinois Humanities
125 S. Clark St, Ste 650
Chicago, IL 60603

The application deadline is June 15, 2023.

Eligibility and Guidelines

To qualify for The Odyssey Project, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Read at an adult level. (We do a lot of reading in the program, so being able to read a newspaper in English — or in Spanish for the Spanish-language course — is a good measure of reading readiness for this course.)
  • Live at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. (See the application for income guidelines, or refer to this link: https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines.)

Please also keep in mind that:

  • You SHOULD NOT currently have a four-year college degree (B.A./B.S.).
  • You DO NOT need to complete Federal Financial Aid Forms to participate.
  • You CAN already have a two-year college degree (A.A./A.S.).
  • You CAN join The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea if you have outstanding student loans and student loans in default or owe money to a college.
  • You CAN join The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea if you have not completed your high school degree.
  • You CAN join The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea if you are undocumented.

We consider special circumstances if you do not qualify based on the above criteria, so please contact us at odyssey@ilhumanities.org and/or add a note to your application.

Courses Offered

The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea offers two courses. Upon successful completion of each course, students will earn college credits in the humanities from the University of Illinois Chicago. All credits earned are fully transferrable to accredited colleges and universities.

Faculty and Staff

Below are the faculty, staff, and teaching assistants involved in bringing The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea to students and alumni.

Awards and Graduates

Since 2018, The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea has given awards to graduates who embody the program’s mission and goals. Below is a list of the recipients of these awards and a list of the most recent cohort of graduates from the program.

graduates posing for a picture with their after the ceremony
2023 Odyssey Project Graduates posing for a picture with their certificates for proud friends and family after the ceremony. See more pictures from the graduation on our Facebook page. Photo by GlitterGuts

COVID-19 PARTICIPATION POLICY for Academic Year 2023-2024

For the health and safety of all members of the Odyssey community, Illinois Humanities encourages, but does not require, vaccination to participate in in-person courses. Students, faculty, site coordinators, teaching assistants, other Illinois Humanities staff, and any approved guests will be required to wear masks at all times in the classroom when not eating or drinking.

By accepting admission or employment with The Odyssey Project at Illinois Humanities, all Odyssey community members agree to comply with requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and acknowledge that Illinois Humanities cannot guarantee attendees will not become infected with COVID-19 as a result of attending classes. For any questions regarding this policy please email odyssey@ilhumanities.org.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below is a list frequently asked questions about The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea. If you have more questions, please contact us at odyssey@ilhumanities.org.