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PUGS: The Basics

frequently asked questions about an underground grad school

What is PUGS all about?

PUGS is based on the idea that you can't stop learning at any point of your life. Our goal is to create a lifelong learning community that works for everyone's real lives. That means education that fits in work schedules and are priced to be accessible to all. We are here to provide Portlanders with grad-school level education that everyone can afford. 

Local experts with real-life experience in their field are your teachers. We believe that knowledge isn't locked up in the ivory tower; it's everywhere and in everyone. We provide a platform for local experts to share their knowledge and insight with others without the high cost or bureaucracy of the university system.  We are fundamentally about lifelong education for social justice, personal empowerment, and Portland civics. 

Who's the audience?

PUGGERS are the type of people who read books, listen to podcasts, and go down the internet rabbit hole to learn everything under the sun. They are future-oriented, sociable, open-minded polymaths. They are self-aware, care about justice and fairness in society, and motivated to do something about it.

We attract people who value learning and discovering new knowledge for their entire lives. We offer them a place to get into deep conversations, conversations about ideas with people just as interested in learning as they are. Here's one PUGGER: "I love learning new knowledge. Being surrounded by brilliant minds and ideas gives me the feeling the top of my head is coming off. The presence of ideas is what I want. Being in an atmosphere of deep thought, and the juiciness of learning itself is the reward in itself.

How are courses structured?

Courses typically meet once a week for 4 weeks, and classes are between 90 minutes and 120 hours long. Class size is around 15 students. We offer one-day workshops, too! 

I haven't been in a classroom for years. What's the vibe?

The feeling we most hear from students is "deep satisfaction." Some people come because they want to become better at something. They want to grow, they're eager to move forward. Other people come simply because they love the experience of learning. They love the exploration and discovering the same thing with others at the same time.  

We believe that everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher. Our courses are in-person, dialogue-based, and interactive. That way everyone benefits from the experiences and perspectives of everyone else in the classroom. After their first and last sessions of each course, classes go out to socialize and get to know each other deeper, because learning is socially embedded. PUGS hosts free monthly happy hours so the whole community can meet and form deeper connections.

You say that PUGS is affordable to all. How does your pricing work?

Affordability means different things to different people. Our tuitions are calculated based on the basic living wage in Portland: $15 an hour. We offer scholarships to those who need them + ask those who can afford it to pay a little more. This way, people from all income levels can participate. Take a look at our radical pricing policy for more info.

Is there homework?

Yep. It's school! Reading and writing at home prepares us to be more engaged with the material and with our fellow students. Instructors usually assign 30 to 45 minutes of reading per week.

What is your refund and cancellation policy?

We do not offer full or partial refunds or discounts due to missed or dropped classes.

Interested in finding our more?

Come visit a class session and see what we're about! Email coordinator<at> to arrange your visit.