Peer Learning and Teaching

The cornerstone of HILR is our peer-created, peer-led curriculum. Here, our community participants develop the courses and lead in-depth discussions in seminar-style classes we call study groups.

The depth and breadth of our curriculum reflect the vocations and avocations of our community members, as well as Harvard’s rich tradition of the liberal arts. HILR participants find that exploring new areas of interest and sharing their knowledge with others is both stimulating and deeply rewarding.

Course Topics

We offer over 120 courses a year, each meeting in person at our building in Cambridge, Mass. The average class size is 20.

The following topics are typically represented every year:

  • Art and architecture

  • Biology

  • Economics

  • Geopolitics

  • History

  • Literature

  • Music

  • Philosophy

  • Technology

Download a sample course catalog

At HILR, there are weekly reading assignments but no exams, papers, or grades. Our participants, possessing an innate intellectual curiosity, are here for the sheer joy of learning. They find immense pleasure in exploring topics that satisfy their quest for knowledge and discovery.

How It Works


Your annual program fee covers registration in up to three courses each semester, and most participants enroll every term. January intersession courses taught by external faculty are also available for a small additional fee.


Courses run for either 6 or 12 weeks, and they meet once a week Monday through Thursday.

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

September to December

February to May

6- and 12-week course options

6- and 12-week course options

Classes meet:

Once a week, Monday–Thursday

10 am–noon or 1–3 pm

Classes meet:

Once a week, Monday–Thursday

10 am–noon or 1–3 pm