The Odyssey Project

The Odyssey Project offers free University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign courses in the humanities to low-income adults in our East Central Illinois community.

Whether you’re looking to complete a college degree or continue your quest to be a lifelong learner, the Odyssey Project can help you rediscover your passion for learning and give you the skills you need to advance your educational and professional goals.


Apply for fall 2024

Applications for fall 2024 are due by July 31, 2024.

Interested in the summer creative writing workshop? Learn more about the summer Odyssey program.

Free Evening Courses in the Humanities

As an Odyssey student, you will take a two-part series of core humanities courses introducing you to Literature, Philosophy, Art History, and U.S. History—all taught by University of Illinois instructors. These face-to-face, discussion-focused courses offer you the chance to learn in a supportive, interactive classroom environment with instructors whose expertise and teaching interests are rooted in humanities values and practices.

The Support You Need to Succeed

Student in gray sweatshirt and student in pink sweatshirt standing in supportive embrace

You can earn up to eight transferable college credits in an environment designed to support non-traditional students. The courses are taught by University of Illinois instructors and are designed with students like you—who may have been out of school for a while—in mind. The program provides integrated support, including:

  • Free textbooks and course materials
  • Access to computers
  • Dinner on class nights
  • Bus fare to and from class
  • Academic and career advising
  • Extra tutoring outside class
  • Help accessing community resources
  • A safe community for learning and discussion

Program Benefits

Art instructor and student pointing at and discussing a large scale art work

The Odyssey Project can make a difference in your life, whether you decide to seek additional educational opportunities or want to improve your skills and job opportunities. In a survey of recent Odyssey students, 88% have continued their education beyond the program and 75% have pursued new career development opportunities. Additionally, students say that participating in Odyssey...

  • helped them improve their financial stability
  • improved their writing skills
  • increased their civic engagement
  • positively impacted their family’s perception of learning
  • improved feelings of empowerment and hope

Learn More

We are eager to hear from you! You can email us at, or call the Associate Director of Odyssey Project, Michelle Awad, at (217) 333-8122 with your questions on eligibility or the application.

Informational Materials

Eligibility and Application Information

Odyssey Project brochure (PDF)

Odyssey Project fact sheets in multiple languages (all files open in PDF): English | Spanish | French | Simplified Chinese