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Academic Overview for Frontiers Online Courses for College Credit

WPI's summer online courses for college credit are taught asynchronously. This means that the course curriculum is flexible to accommodate students from around the globe- in any time zone! All of the course materials are virtual including lectures, project work, and labs.

WPI summer pre-college courses for high school students are about 28-35 hours for class time over the 5 week. Homework ranges from 10-15 hours of homework per week. Each course runs differently depending on the professor and department.  All components of the course are virtual, including lectures, project work, and labs. 

Suggested Online Courses for College Credit in Summer Session II

There are many online courses for high school students offered through WPI Summer Session, however below is a list of suggested courses for high school students in the Frontiers for Credit program.  The suggested courses cover introductory material that does not require prior knowledge in a particular discipline. With consideration of a high school student academic background, they would be most successful in the suggested courses. Note: WPI online courses for college credit do not have pre-requisites. 

Courses: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • Calculus I (MA 1021)

    This course provides an introduction to differentiation and its applications. Topics covered include: functions and their graphs, limits, continuity, differentiation, linear approximation, chain rule, min/max problems, and applications of derivatives. Recommended background: Algebra, trigonometry and analytic geometry. Although the course will make use of computers, no programming experience is assumed. (CRN 30533)

  • Calculus II (MA 1022)

    This course provides an introduction to integration and its applications. Topics covered include: inverse trigonometric functions, Riemann sums, fundamental theorem of calculus, basic techniques of integration, volumes of revolution, arc length, exponential and logarithmic functions, and applications. (CRN 30534)

  • Fundamentals of Global Health (STS 1200)

    The focus of global health research and practice is improving the overall health and health equity of all people worldwide. In this course, we will use an interdisciplinary approach to explore the major biological, social, political, environmental and economic determinants of health. We will analyze the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable disease facing the world’s populations including study of current health systems, global health practices and priorities as well as major organization and institutional players. Class sessions will consist of lecture, intensive small group discussion, and global health case analyses. After successful completion of this course, students will be able to explain the basic principles of public health; discuss the determinants of health; describe how globalization has changed the patterns of the spread of disease and the methods needed to control disease; evaluate the complex, multi-faceted links between health, social and economic factors; and identify critical issues in the delivery of health care services, with a particular emphasis on challenges faced with regard to different cultural and economic settings. (CRN 32425)

  • General Physics - Mechanics (PH 1110)

    Introductory course in Newtonian mechanics. Topics include: kinematics of motion, vectors, Newton's laws, friction, work-energy, impulse-momentum, for both translational and rotational motion. Recommended background: prior knowledge of college-level physics.(CRN 32393)

  • Introduction to Biotechnology (BB 1035)

    This course will cover topics including genes-to-proteins, cell cycle, genomics, synthetic and systems biology, stem cells and regenerative medicine, cellular signaling, personalized medicine, and the production of therapeutic biologics. Through lectures, discussion and project work, students will gain an understanding of the function of biological systems at the molecular and cellular level and explore their application through genetic and cellular engineering to biotechnology. Projects will be designed to facilitate students’ understanding of the links between biological systems, biotechnology applications and their impact on society. This course is intended for BBT and other life science majors. Recommended background: a solid working knowledge of biological principles. (CRN 32612)

  • Introduction to Computer Aided Design - CAD (ES 1310) *FULL/CLOSED


    This introductory course in engineering graphical communications and design provides a solid background for all engineering disciplines. The ability to visualize, create, and apply proper design intent and industry standards for simple parts, assemblies and drawings is a necessity for anyone in a technology environment. Computer Aided Design software is used as a tool to create 2D & 3D sketches, 3D parts, 3D assemblies and 2D drawings per an industry standard. Multi view and pictorial graphics techniques are integrated with ANSI standards for dimensioning and tolerances, sectioning, and generating detailed engineering drawings. Emphasis is placed on relating drawings to the required manufacturing processes. The design process and aids to creativity are combined with graphical procedures to incorporate functional design requirements in the geometric model. No prior engineering graphics or software knowledge is assumed.

    *This courses uses Solidworks for the software.

  • Introduction to Material Science (ES 2001)

    This beginning course provides important background for all science and engineering disciplines regarding the capabilities and limitations of materials in our everyday lives. Students are introduced to the fundamental theme of materials science-- structure-property-processing relationships—in metals, ceramics, and plastics. Aspects of material structure range from the atomic to microstructural and macroscopic scales. In turn, these structural features determine the properties of materials. In particular, this course investigates connections between structure and mechanical properties, and how working and thermal treatments may transform structure and thus alter material properties. This knowledge is then applied to material selection decisions. Recommended background: prior knowledge of college-level chemistry and college-level physics. (CRN 31288)

  • Introduction to Robotics (RBE 1001) *FULL/CLOSED


    Multidisciplinary introduction to robotics, involving concepts from the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science. Topics covered include sensor performance and integration, electric and pneumatic actuators, power transmission, materials and static force analysis, controls and programmable embedded computer systems, system integration and robotic applications. Laboratory sessions consist of hands-on exercises and team projects where students design and build mobile robots.

  • Matrices and Linear Algebra I (MA 2071)

    This course provides an introduction to the theory and techniques of matrix algebra and linear algebra. Topics covered include: operations on matrices, systems of linear equations, linear transformations, determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, least squares, vector spaces, inner products, introduction to numerical techniques, and applications of linear algebra. (CRN 32192)

  • Mindfulness and Positive Psychology (PSY 1800)

    Positive psychology is the scientific study of positive experiences, character strengths and the practices that enable individuals and communities alike to thrive. This course explores the question, “what is happiness?” and will examine how meaning, compassion, fulfillment, well-being and resilience relate to happiness. Special attention will be given to experiential learning, including mindfulness practice and other evidence-based strategies that elicit positive emotion and increase stress coping, optimism, and resilience. Course content and discussion will be based on research findings from positive psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and applied practice.  (CRN 32424)

  • Organic Chemistry I (CH 2310)

    A systematic survey of the major reaction types and functional groups in organic chemistry. The course will provide a representative collection of characteristic reactions and transformations of a variety of types of organic molecules. Most of the examples will be drawn from aliphatic chemistry. Some theoretical models will be introduced with a view toward establishing a general overview of the material. The course is intended for chemists, chemical engineers, pre-medical students and all those interested in the biosciences. A familiarity with the material presented in the general chemistry courses is assumed. (CRN 32341)

Courses: Humanities and Arts

  • American Drama (EN 2221)

    An investigation into the development of American drama from its beginnings to the present. The history of the emergence of the legitimate theatre in this country will be followed by reading important plays, including the works of O'Neill, Williams, Mamet, Norman, Henley, and others. Discussion of the growth of regional theatres and their importance to the continuation of theatre as a serious and non-profit art form will be included in the course. The student will investigate the importance of theatre practice in the evolution of the dramatic literature of the country. (CRN 32434)

  • Elementary German I (GN 1511)

    An intensive language course designed to teach concise expression of ideas in writing and speaking. Basic grammar and significant cultural aspects are introduced through the aid of readings, audio-recordings, video, and oral group interaction. (CRN 32418)

  • Introduction to Rhetoric (WR 1020)

    This course will apply classical and modern rhetorical concepts to analyze various texts and speeches in order to identify the means of persuasion to a particular end. Students will write short analytical papers that critically assess various rhetorical and communicative approaches. The goal of this course is to enable students to see rhetoric in action in order to both engage with the material critically as well as produce effective discourse to meet various situations. (CRN 32443)

  • Introduction to the History of Science and Technology (HI 1330) *FULL/CLOSED


    An introduction to the questions, methods and source materials that shape historical studies of science and technology. Sections vary in content and emphases; some may explore the interplay of science and technology across time, while other sections might exclusively develop themes within either the history of science or the history of technology.

  • Introductory Macroeconomics (ECON 1120)

    This course is designed to acquaint students with the ways in which macroeconomic variables such as national income, employment and the general level of prices are determined in an economic system. It also includes a study of how the techniques of monetary policy and fiscal policy attempt to achieve stability in the general price level and growth in national income and employment. The problems of achieving these national goals (simultaneously) are also analyzed. The course stresses economic issues in public policy and international trade. (CRN 32594)

  • The Shaping of Post 1920 America (HI 2315)

    This course surveys the major political, social, and economic changes of American history from 1920 to the present. Emphasis will be placed on the Great Depression, the New Deal, suburbanization, McCarthyism, the persistence of poverty, the domestic effects of the Vietnam war, and recent demographic trends. (CRN 32440)

  • Topics in Global Studies: COVID-19 In our Global System (INTL 2910)

    This seminar course takes an interdisciplinary approach to historical and contemporary topics in global studies. Topics vary each year and may include international development, global inequality and justice, global public health, war and terrorism, international organizations and governance, humanitarianism and human rights, travel and tourism, the Anthropocene, climate change. No prior background is required. (CRN 32441)

  • Writing about Science and Technology (WR 1011) *FULL/CLOSED


    This course will examine the appropriate dissemination of scientific information in common science writing genres such as science journalism, consulting reports and white papers, and policy and procedure documents. In a workshop setting, students will write and revise documents that promote broad understanding of scientific research and analysis of specialized knowledge. Course lectures and discussions investigate ethics of scientific reporting and teach students how to recognize deceptive texts and arguments (both quantitative and qualitative). The course is reading and writing intensive and is intended for students with backgrounds in a scientific discipline who are interested in applying their disciplinary knowledge. 

Option to Select Pass/NC or No Credit

WPI faculty approved a special policy to allow students to choose a Pass/NC or no credit grading option instead of traditional letter grading for summer 2020 semester courses. Please read the information here to find information about this option and how to select it.