U.S. News & World Report's 2010 "America’s Best Colleges" edition praised Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) revolutionary project-based curriculum and study abroad opportunities, calling them "outstanding examples of academic programs that are commonly linked to student success."
In an article titled "Programs to Look For," WPI's senior-year Major Qualifying Project (MQP) program won recognition in the "Senior Capstone Project" category, as did WPI's Global Projects Program (GPP) in the "Study Abroad" category. WPI's small class sizes were also lauded.
All WPI undergraduates are required to complete two research-driven projects. Through the senior-year capstone project, students gain real-world design or research experience within their major field. Meanwhile, the junior-year project brings together students from various disciplines to research and address challenges that affect people and communities across the world, spanning from downtown Worcester, Mass., to Cape Town, South Africa. The projects are conducted around the world at WPI's 26 Project Centers. WPI boasts a 60 percent participation rate in its study abroad program, and, since its launch in the 1970s, WPI has sent more engineering and science students abroad than any other American university.
Over the years, thousands of WPI students have gained hands-on experience in tackling important global problems that blend science, technology, social issues, and human needs. To that end, students develop an understanding of other cultures, and also see how their lives and work can make an impact on their host communities. The projects program is the essence of the WPI Plan, which is the university's groundbreaking approach to undergraduate education that combines theoretical study with project-based problem solving around the world.
First-year students are now getting a head start on their future WPI projects, since the university began offering the Great Problems Seminars (GPS) three years ago. Part of WPI's First Year Experience program, the GPS prepare first-year students for the university's project-driven curriculum and serve as an introduction to university-level research. The seminars take problem solving out of the textbook and into the real world by focusing students on themes of global importance, including societal problems and human needs.