How the Minerva Project Works

Academics at Minerva

One of the most basic requirements for any college -- especially a selective school whose primary selling point is an Ivy-League-worthy curriculum -- is accreditation. Colleges are accredited by independent regional review boards, and as a new institution, Minerva faced a potentially long process, with no guarantee of approval at the end. To speed up the process, the Minerva Project partnered with the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) a small but accredited college near Los Angeles, forming the Minerva Schools at KGI [sources: Kaminski, Minerva, Wood].

Students at Minerva can expect to do a fair amount of work outside of class, and even before the semester starts. While the university does not use any MOOC-style lectures, students may be expected to review MOOC offerings from other institutions on their own, essentially completing the freshman-level coursework independently before working with classmates and professors on more advanced material [source: Wood].

The university emphasizes liberal arts and sciences, teaching critical thinking across all disciplines rather than having students specialize in one narrow field. At least initially, Minerva will offer just five majors: arts and humanities, social sciences, computational sciences, natural sciences and business.

Minerva's inaugural students seem to be well aware that they are participating in an educational experiment of sorts. In a newspaper article, founding class member Kayla Human described herself and her new classmates as "committed to Minerva's potential, but unsure of its reality ... My enrolling at Minerva is my joining the movement for radical change in education."