OAC® Overview

Now accepting applications! Watch our info session to learn more.

The Objectivist Academic Center (OAC®) is ARI’s premier intellectual training program. Its three-year curriculum features live classes with Objectivist experts conducted via videoconference, and personalized feedback on students’ writing, speaking, and understanding of Objectivism. Watch our OAC playlist to sample the OAC experience:

The OAC can be taken as a graded student or audited. Those applying to be students should be in or aspiring to careers as professional intellectuals (e.g., educators, lawyers, writers) or intellectual professionals (e.g., businessmen, doctors, financiers). Auditors receive the same education as graded students but don’t submit assignments or receive grades. OAC students can receive tuition scholarships.

OAC® Experience

The foundation of the OAC is a three-year intensive program in which you develop skills in abstract reasoning and philosophical thinking. You deepen your knowledge of Objectivism and learn how to apply it to philosophic and cultural issues. And you improve your communication skills and explore what it means to be a professional intellectual or an intellectual professional.

Each year of the 3-Year Program has a distinct focus and curriculum, and builds upon what was taught in prior years. OAC courses are taught by ARI’s experienced instructors and include a mix of live videoconference classes, recorded lectures, assigned readings and written materials on the class website.

Workload and Schedule

The 3-Year Program fits into the workload of full-time college students and working professionals, and is comparable to adding an undergraduate course to one’s schedule. Live classes typically occur once per week and run two to three hours. Most students spend 6-10 hours per week on the OAC including classes, readings and assignments. The OAC school year runs mid-September to mid-April, with holiday and winter breaks.

OAC assignments include short and long papers, oral presentations, analysis of texts, and evaluations of other students’ work. Graded students receive personalized feedback on their assignments and all participants benefit from direct interaction with faculty.

Prerequisites

A basic familiarity with Objectivism is required to join the OAC as a graded student, and is recommended for auditors. Applicants are expected to have read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. All OAC participants are encouraged to read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand before starting classes, as this is a core OAC textbook.

Advanced Training Network

Select participants and graduates are invited to advanced-training opportunities, including career mentorship and exclusive courses and seminars. The emphasis is on developing the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as an Objectivist in intellectual and professional contexts.

The structure and content of OAC offerings may vary from year to year, as we make curriculum and calendar changes in an ongoing effort to improve the program. 

Year 1: SEMINAR IN OBJECTIVISM

This seminar course explores in depth some of the key principles of Objectivism, especially in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. It also considers what Objectivism teaches about proper philosophical methodology, and how Objectivism is distinctive and radical within the history of philosophy. The main readings for the course are by Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. By the end of Year 1, you will have a far better grasp of Objectivism and be able to better assess your own understanding of it, and you will be better-equipped to use the philosophy to more fully aid your own life, thinking and happiness.

Year 2: PHILOSOPHY: FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS AND WRITING

The second year focuses on understanding core principles of Objectivism in the context of philosophy and philosophical arguments more widely. Students are also trained in the essentials of writing and communicating philosophical arguments. By the end of Year 2, you will have studied Rand alongside other thinkers and acquired a more first-handed understanding of the central questions and issues of philosophy and of Objectivism’s unique perspective on these questions and issues. Additionally, you will have improved your own thinking methodology and your ability to be an effective, objective communicator.

Year 3: PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS AND COMMUNICATION

The third year concentrates on philosophical detection and analysis, and continues the oral and written communication training begun in Year 2. Students read, write and analyze intellectual work—from academic philosophical writing to more popular applied intellectual writing—with the goal of learning what it really means to think through an issue or an argument from an Objectivist perspective. By the end of Year 3, you will have improved your ability to identify the assumptions, premises and implications of philosophical arguments, and you will be able to better apply Objectivism in the analysis of such arguments in your field and others.

OAC® Alumni

  • The OAC has been an invaluable source of intellectual and moral support for me throughout my academic development, and continues to be as I embark on a career in academia.
    DALE STEVENS
    Associate Professor at York University
  • Participating in the OAC allowed me to deepen my understanding of Objectivism and to improve my communication skills.
    ELIZABETH A. LAUGHTON
    Attorney (CA, VA and DC)
  • My OAC classes were an excellent supplement to my college education. They improved my ability to think and write with precision, and to engage in honest, critical philosophic inquiry.
    RAY GIRN
    Founder and CEO, Higher Ground Education

OAC® Details

You may apply to participate in the OAC as a graded student or you may register as an auditor.

Student Application     Auditor Registration

Those accepted into the OAC as graded students are usually aspiring to or pursuing careers in academia, public policy or business where the philosophy of Objectivism can heavily influence their way of thinking, and where they will be in a position to be ambassadors for Rand’s works and ideas. Graded students are held to a high academic standard and must keep up with their assignments; failure to do so may result in removal from the program.

Those outside the demographic for the graded student program are encouraged to audit the OAC. Auditors attend live classes and have full access to the course website and assignments, but do not receive grades or other instructor feedback and are ineligible for benefits.

Graded Students: $4590/year (Tuition scholarships available)

  • Application required
  • May receive a tuition scholarship (request during application)
  • Participate in live classes
  • Have access to class forum and class recordings
  • Have access to instructor office hours
  • Receive grades and personalized feedback on assignments and exams
  • Begin in Year 1. Eligible to be invited to advance to next program year based on previous performance
  • OAC diploma upon graduation
  • Receive special consideration for OCON and AynRandCon scholarships
  • Consideration for professional mentoring for those pursuing academic careers
  • May apply for grants to support intellectual work and careers (e.g., dissertation grants, graduate school application fees)

Student Application

Auditors: $3990/year – $3192 until June 7! (20% off)

  • Application not required
  • May enroll in any OAC course in any year
  • Participate in live classes
  • Have access to class forum and recordings
  • Assignments are optional and not graded
  • OAC auditor certificate upon completion of all 3 years

Auditor Registration

Questions?

Write to us at [email protected].

The OAC is ARI’s most resource-intensive educational offering, and the training it provides is among the most valuable that ARI offers. Consequently, the OAC is a tuition-based program. OAC tuition in 2021-22 is:

Graded Students: $4590/year (Tuition scholarships available)

Auditors: $3990/year

Student Application     Auditor Registration

Those applying to the graded student program are eligible to receive a tuition scholarship (issued in the form of a waiver) to defray some or all of the cost of tuition. The tuition scholarship application is an optional component of the graded student application, and must be completed when you apply to the OAC. Tuition scholarships are not available for auditors and auditor tuition is due at registration.

Tuition scholarship applications are evaluated on the basis of merit. A scholarship and is not guaranteed if one is accepted into the graded student program, and scholarships may be awarded at a lower level than what has been requested.

This said, do not let financial concerns prevent you from applying to the OAC. If you have limited funds but are ready to make the commitment to the OAC, then you should apply to the program and request a tuition scholarship. We cannot project in advance the likelihood that you will be awarded a scholarship, but we make every effort to support qualified candidates. Tuition scholarship applications do not influence admission decisions.

Tuition scholarship decisions are provided following one’s acceptance into the OAC. Any tuition due may be paid in installments throughout the OAC school year.

Tuition Refund Policy

Those who exit the OAC before the end of the second week of classes will be fully refunded any tuition paid minus any fees ARI has incurred as a result of accepting payment (typically a 2.9% credit card transaction fee). Those who exit after the second week will be refunded according to the following schedule:

  • During third week: 75%
  • During fourth week: 50%
  • During fifth week: 25%
  • After fifth week: no refund

Those who register to audit the OAC after classes have begun should refer to the tuition refund scale on the registration form for late auditors.

Student Application     Auditor Registration

Questions?

Write to us at [email protected].

Graded-Student Application Deadline: Midnight Pacific time, July 12, 2021

Auditor Registration Deadline: Midnight Pacific Time, September 10, 2021

OAC Program Dates: mid September 2021 – mid April 2022

Student Application     Auditor Registration

Graded Students – $4590/year (Tuition scholarships available)

The graded student application comprises an application form, personal statements, transcripts, and a timed 1-hour exam that must be completed by the application deadline. Instructions for taking the exam are sent after submission of the application form.

If you are applying for a tuition scholarship, complete the optional tuition scholarship application form that is a part of the OAC application.

Auditors – $3990/year

Student Application     Auditor Registration

Questions?

Write to us at [email protected].

Key Dates

  • July 12, 2021

    Graded-Student application deadline; applicants notified by the end of August
  • September 10, 2021

    Auditor registration deadline to be enrolled by the start of classes
  • Sept 2021 - Apr 2022

    Duration of OAC Program, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and winter breaks

FAQ

I CAN'T AFFORD THE STUDENT TUITION. SHOULD I STILL APPLY?

Yes! The OAC graded-student program is aimed at individuals in or aspiring to careers as professional intellectuals (e.g., educators, lawyers, writers) or intellectual professionals (e.g., businessmen, doctors, financiers). If you meet this criterion then you should apply for the OAC and to complete the tuition scholarship application. We make every effort to support qualified candidates with tuition waivers.

WHAT KIND OF WORKLOAD CAN STUDENTS EXPECT IN THE OAC PROGRAM?

Live classes generally occur once or twice a week and run for two to three hours; many of these live classes have pre-assigned readings and writing assignments. Overall, the workload is roughly similar to that of an undergraduate college course. Graded students typically spend 6-10 hours per week on the OAC.

I DON'T KNOW IF I'LL HAVE TIME FOR THE OAC. SHOULD I STILL APPLY?

Most likely. It's difficult to know how the OAC fits into your schedule until you are in the program, so we generally recommend applying and enrolling if accepted. Participants often find the OAC so valuable that they make it a priority and rearrange their schedules to accommodate it. If you are accepted and do not enroll or leave the OAC, that is not held against you if you later reapply. That said, if you think it's highly likely you'll be too busy for the OAC, then it is better to wait.

IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT FOR APPLYING TO THE OAC?

No. There is no age limit for applying to the OAC. While most OAC students are college age, every application we receive will be considered in terms of the candidate’s fit with the program. Applicants under the age of eighteen require parental consent to enroll.

I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE MANY YEARS AGO. CAN I STILL APPLY?

Yes. Applicants need not be currently enrolled in or recently graduated from a university program in order apply to the OAC. We will consider every application we receive.

CAN NON-US RESIDENTS APPLY TO THE OAC?

Yes. OAC classes are offered via internet videoconference, with students participating remotely. As such, applications are welcomed from citizens of any country, and we regularly have students joining us from around the world.

IS THE OAC AN ACCREDITED PROGRAM?

No. The OAC does not currently offer university accreditation. The OAC is intended to supplement, not replace, a standard college education.

HOW DO LIVE CLASSES TAKE PLACE?

Courses within the OAC are conducted by videoconference via Zoom. Since there is no physical campus, participants may join live sessions from anywhere in the world.

WHEN DO LIVE CLASSES TAKE PLACE?

Classes have most often been held once a week in the late afternoon Pacific time, but with students located across the world we try to find a time for live classes that will allow for the greatest number of students to participate.

HOW ARE ASSIGNMENTS COMPLETED AND GRADED?

The OAC conducts its daily business within an online course platform hosted by Open LMS, which is used by thousands of educational institutions. Each student is granted access to an account wherein he or she is able to view the syllabi, submit assignments, participate in forum discussions, submit questions or chat with fellow students in the student lounge.

WHAT HAPPENS IF A STUDENT CANNOT ATTEND A LIVE CLASS?

Students are encouraged to attend every class in order to get the maximum benefit from the course. However, OAC participants are sometimes unable to attend classes due to their work or school commitments. In these cases they are able to listen to recordings of the live classes, which are typically made available the day after a given session takes place. This makes it convenient for students with complex schedules to actively participate in the course.

HOW OFTEN DO STUDENTS COMPLETE ASSIGNMENTS?

There is typically one short assignment due per week along with corresponding readings. Several papers are also assigned throughout the year.