The Courses

Both houses offer a sequence of mandatory courses and a series of standard elective courses.

Most of your units are mandatory; standard electives are upper division courses. There are also non-standard electives, which include Meta-Torreys and Abroad programs. While these elective courses are alternative modes of unit-delivery, they maintain departmental standards.

Torrey is divided into two houses, Johnson House and Morgan House. Both houses were founded when the Johnson House began as an improvisation on the traditional deployment of the curriculum, the Morgan House. Each house has its own four-year unit distribution plan. Students and faculty, both, are placed in one of the two houses.

Many students would benefit equally from either house. Particular majors, however, fit better in one house than the other. Since Morgan House students complete 44 units by the end of their sophomore year, majors in which the bulk of required units are upper division (such as nursing, business, and many of the humanities) will benefit most from the Morgan House. On the other hand, majors with many lower division skill-building courses (such as the hard sciences, art, and music) benefit from the more even distribution of the Johnson House, which offers eight-unit courses straight through senior fall.

In addition to the difference in unit distribution, the Morgan House and Johnson House organize their curricula differently.

Mandatory Courses

The mandatory course sequence in Morgan House follows the history of ideas chronologically, starting with the ancients in the freshman fall and ending with the early moderns in the sophomore spring (44 units). While chronology is the major brushstroke, there are thematic contours to each semester’s curricular selections. Morgan House mandatory curriculum begins with the freshman fall courses “Greek Thought” and “Old Testament Beginnings” and finishes with the sophomore spring courses “Early Modern Thought” and “Wisdom Literature” (44 units).

The mandatory course sequence in Johnson House pursues the history of ideas thematically; still, each semester’s curriculum is ordered chronologically, often moving from the ancients to the moderns in the span of fifteen weeks. Johnson House mandatory curriculum begins with the freshman fall course “On Origins” and finishes with the junior fall course “On the Cosmos” (40 units).


Both houses require a four-unit thesis course to graduate from Torrey. The Torrey thesis advisor oversees this capstone academic experience. The Torrey thesis is your independent opportunity to bring your area of expertise and your Torrey education to a culmination of thought and scholarship by writing an academic paper or completing a project. A written thesis must be at least 12,000 words. A project thesis must account for at least 100 hours.

You should start planning for your thesis at least a semester in advance of your registration for the 4-unit course. You must find a thesis advisor within your major who agrees to read and evaluate your work. The Torrey Thesis Advisor works with you and your major thesis advisor to ensure that your thesis is satisfactory

For students in majors that already require a senior thesis, project, or equivalent, the Torrey thesis is waived. Additionally, a Torrey Abroad course may be substituted for the thesis. Please consult with your Torrey mentor to learn whether or not you are required to complete the Torrey thesis requirement.

Please note that if you are taking a Torrey class in addition to your thesis you are still responsible to write your normal Torrey paper. The two writing assignments may be combined only with the approval of your Torrey mentor. Your word count requirement for the combined thesis is the thesis requirement (12,000 words) plus the semester paper requirement (4500-5400 words for seniors).


Morgan House offers four standard elective courses, which students normally take as a series from junior fall through senior spring. These four-unit upper division elective courses study thematically-organized curricula of texts from the 18th to 20th century.

Johnson House offers three standard elective courses, which students normally take as a series from junior spring through senior spring. Johnson House electives are thematically-organized 8-unit and 4-unit courses, ranging chronologically from the ancient to the modern world.


Meta-Torreys are four-unit alternative elective courses. Enrollment is limited to qualified juniors and seniors from both houses. Enrollment is limited to qualified juniors and seniors from both houses. These classes are offered when a Torrey faculty member chooses to lead a semester-long exploration of a core author or text from the Torrey curriculum, a core idea or set of ideas within the curriculum, or extra-curricular texts or subjects that supplement the curriculum. Enrollment is by application only.

When you take a Meta-Torrey, you agree to fulfill all the syllabus requirements that the Meta-Torrey tutor provides. Additionally, you attend one lecture per unit enrolled. You still fulfill department policies concerning required mentor meetings. And you still attend Mid Rags and Don Rags with your mentor even though the Meta-Torrey tutor assigns your final grade and communicates with your mentor about your performance. Mentoring remains a constant during the school year, whatever the mode of unit delivery.


Torrey also offers abroad programs as alternative elective courses for students from both houses. During Biola’s summer sessions, Torrey faculty bring you to other cities, countries, and continents, to deepen your practice of core learning skills in a cross-cultural, community-intensive setting.

A Torrey Abroad course counts either as an upper division elective course or as a capstone experience that replaces the Thesis requirement.

Learn more about Torrey Abroad opportunities →

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