Mastery Course Program

The Haworth Academy believes in the Life of the Mind not as measured in grade point averages and percentiles, but in the rich pleasure of deep, creative inquiry. To cultivate this in each student, we have the following priorities in all our instruction:

  • Original, independent thought
  • Thorough academic investigation and research
  • Comprehensive factual mastery
  • Unbounded creativity
  • Breadth of intellectual and artistic acquaintance
  • World citizenship

The Haworth Academy/Mastery Course program curriculum is organized according to the two-part classical division:

  1. The Trivium: basic skills of learning, such as reading, arithmetic, writing, vocabulary, and computer literacy.
  2. The Quadrivium: actual subjects to be learned, such as algebra, U.S. history, and biology. Each Quadrivium subject is also divided into two stages:
    1. The essential framework of factual content necessary for understanding the subject, and
    2. A personalized course of in-depth reading, research, writing, and tutorial discussion based on a student’s own interests and culminating in a major research project.

In order to teach the varied skills of factual mastery, original inquiry, and academic research, Haworth’s Quadrivium courses are carefully constructed, making use of provocative discussion and debate; broad, deep, and diverse reading requirements; papers and reviews that are strictly evaluated for grammatical accuracy and style, but far more for the keenness and independence of their insights; and research projects that have nothing in common with traditional, formulaic school assignments. For example, for one interdisciplinary project the student invents her own inflected language, as a lesson in parts of speech, English grammar, phonetics, and scientific linguistics. In World Civilizations, the student applies principles of geography, climate, commerce, politics, and social evolution to create a new planet, thus learning and understanding the shaping of our own earth and civilizations. Even a project such as the final, full-length, college-level thesis paper (created carefully, step-by-step, over many months) is assessed most of all for the original excellence of its thesis and the logical integrity of its research, and must be defended like a PhD dissertation before a Haworth panel.

Haworth Academy courses are highly individualized programs of study specially designed for each student and based on the tutorial system. Because of this personalized style of instruction, a student may enter the Haworth Academy program at any point in the calendar year, and complete her/his chosen program upon mastery, however long this takes. Each student may enroll in as many courses as desired.

Without sacrificing principles of academic excellence and intellectual integrity, Haworth courses are designed to be accessible to every student, from the most challenged to the most gifted. Each student’s program is adapted to his/her learning styles, areas of interest, future goals, and personal preferences.

There are two types of Haworth mastery certificates:

  • Specific subject certificates, awarded upon mastery of any Quadrivium course of study.
  • A Haworth certificate of program completion, awarded upon mastery of a full program of Quadrivium courses, considered equivalent to the best college-preparatory high school curriculum. Note that a high school diploma is not necessary for admission to college, and therefore that any graduation criteria, such as state studies, health, and physical education are at the discretion of the parent. A Haworth certificate of program completion simply indicates that in the judgment of the Haworth Academy, a student is ready for a college or university education. We do not grant this lightly, believing that each such certificate is a reflection on our own standards of excellence and integrity.

Haworth instruction follows this general format:

  • Weekly tutorials in which the past week’s reading and writing assignments will be critically discussed, and the next week’s will be prepared. Weekly assignments will usually include a substantial written essay based on assigned reading. When possible, two or three students at a similar place in a course will be included in the same tutorial, providing better critical dialogue, more points of view, and a sense of intellectual collegiality. Tutorials will be one-on-one, however, unless a tutorial of more than one student would be of greater educational benefit to each student involved.
  • Personal study, following the guidelines of the weekly tutorial.

Academic progress in Haworth courses is evaluated on a mastery, not a traditional grading basis:

  • In order to progress from Trivium instruction to the appropriate Quadrivium course, the student must show mastery in a written and/or oral examination. Any areas of weakness indicated by the exam must be mastered before moving on to the Quadrivium subject. It is possible for a student to begin mastering one Quadrivium subject (such as Algebra) while still working on Trivium skills necessary for other subjects (such as English).
  • In order to progress from the preliminary to the reading stage of a Quadrivium course, the student must show mastery in a written and/or oral examination.
  • In order to receive a Haworth certificate in any Quadrivium course, the student must show mastery in several ways, usually according to the following pattern:
    1. A 2-3 hour written essay exam on topic(s) of the examiner’s choice.
    2.  An oral examination based on the student’s areas of study concentration.
    3. An oral defense of her/his final research project, usually in front of a Haworth committee of 2-3 instructors and/or guest experts.

In order to complete a Quadrivium course, a student must do the following:

  • Master the preliminary framework of factual material and vocabulary for the subject.
  • After mastering the preliminary factual stage of the course, attend at least 30 tutorial sessions, satisfactorily completing the assigned reading and writing for each session.
  • Complete at least 50 documented hours of personal, concentrated study.
  • Pass the required oral and/or written mastery exams for the subject.
  • Complete a major research project in the subject, defending it in front of a Haworth committee.

The complete Haworth Quadrivium program is an unparalleled preparatory program for any college or university. To receive a Haworth certificate of program completion, a student must fulfill the following minimum requirements:


1. Arithmetic (up to but not including Algebra)

2. Reading comprehension

3. Vocabulary

4. Writing

5. Computer (minimum: word processing and Internet skills)


1. Fine Arts (1.0)

2. Mathematics

  • Algebra (1.0)
  • Geometry (1.0)

3. U.S. History and Government (1.0)

4. English, Writing, Literature (4.0)

5. World Civilizations and Geography (1.0)

6. Science

  • Earth Science/Science Skills (1.0)
  • Biology (1.0)

7. Computer Skills (0.5)

8. Specialty Subjects/Electives (at least 4.0)

9. Foreign Language (2.0)

For fees and more information, contact us at 207-990-3500 or at

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