WPI Difference

What makes WPI different from other universities?

The WPI Difference is an interconnected set of values, traditions, and learning practices that add up to one of the nation's most effective approaches to higher education. It is an education that offers significant flexibility, but with a clear purpose…to develop technological and scientific leaders and innovators with a deep appreciation of our complex, global society.

The seeds of the WPI Difference - an education that combines rigorous theory with practical experience - were planted more than 140 years ago. Yet the WPI education has never been more relevant than it is today, because the demand for innovative thinkers who can solve problems on a global scale has never been greater.

The WPI Difference can be appreciated most keenly in the men and women who earn WPI degrees. Having experienced and benefitted from this unique experience, they emerge as well-rounded, confident, socially aware, globally focused leaders. They are ready and able to take on the world and address its needs. Right now.

The WPI Difference is…


It is not enough to know things. WPI graduates need to be able to use their knowledge to solve difficult and important problems. Doing is the most potent form of learning. This tradition of balancing theory with practice is embodied in our project-based undergraduate curriculum. Learn more.


Tackling big problems is a way of life at WPI. So is doing things that address the issues and needs that matter most in the world. WPI students immerse themselves in solving large-scale social and technical problems from day one through the university's first-year Great Problems Seminars. Learn more.


WPI students are free to build a curriculum that matches their curiosity and aspirations. Our academic advisors guide students in making flexible course selections to meet their overall goals. With seven-week terms, students can travel off campus to complete projects and still graduate on time. And a grading system without a failing mark encourages students to explore their interests without worrying about ruining their transcripts. Learn more.


The Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) has been called the most innovative element of WPI's undergraduate curriculum. It requires students to work in teams to find relevant solutions to societal problems using science and technology. Often, those problems lie well outside of their major areas. It's difficult, rewarding--and life changing. Learn more.


Today's problems and opportunities are global. Students need to think globally, too. That's why WPI's Global Projects Program is much more than a study abroad program. Immersed in another culture, students have seven weeks to solve a real, meaningful problem and produce results. For many, it’s the highlight of their academic career. Learn more.


The humanities and arts are integral to the WPI curriculum and experience. Academically, the humanities enrich, broaden and engage as they prepare students for rewarding lives. The humanities also build understanding of the complex nature of social issues, problems, and solutions. On campus, diverse and acclaimed music and theatre programs create a vibrant campus culture and a valued creative outlet for students. Learn more.


Every WPI student has the chance to experience the kind of real-world problem solving that will soon characterize their professional careers. It's called the Major Qualifying Project (MQP), an engrossing, high-level design or research experience in the major field. With an MQP on their resume, WPI students have a leg up on the competition when it comes to launching careers or gaining admission to the best graduate schools. Learn more.

WPI (We Prefer Initials)

IQP? MQP? PQP? While it may not be a key element of the WPI Difference, the tendency of students and faculty to speak in acronyms is something most visitors notice right away. Here is a guide to help you speak like a native.

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