per term for undergraduate studies
The Global Leader in Project-based Learning
Projects are at the heart of a WPI education, and our signature project-based approach to undergraduate education, known as the WPI Plan, is instrumental in preparing students for the future.
Through project-based learning, students take the hypothetical and make it real, using skills and concepts learned in the classroom and applying them to real problems, leading to real experience and impact. Each journey is distinctive, but they all help students build confidence, leadership, collaborative, and critical thinking skills, and more—invaluable in both their careers and life.
In 1970 WPI's technological education was radically reengineered with a student-centered, project-based approach to learning. Seven-week terms create space for team-based immersive experiences, and a unique grading system with a focus on learning, teamwork, and experimentation allows for individualized experiences based on faculty guidance. Our students have the flexibility and support they need to tackle tangible, open-ended problems in a curriculum centered around project work. And since we believe well-rounded students will become better scientists, engineers, and business leaders, all students are required to complete the equivalent of a minor in the humanities and arts.
It's not theory then practice. It's theory AND practice.
Projects are at the core of the WPI curriculum: classroom projects across disciplines, projects in the first year, major capstone projects, community-based projects—all requiring students to delve into authentic, real-world problems. From day one of the Great Problems Seminar, early exposure to the culture and practice of project-based learning is motivational (97% of first years return for their sophomore year). It lays the foundation for classroom work and the three team-based major projects they will eventually undertake. Along the way, students expand their world views and gain career-launching professional experiences.
We believe a global consciousness leads to a broader perspective, which is why global projects are at the heart of a WPI education. What’s learned in the classroom is put into practice to effect real change around the world. Our 50+ diverse project centers—strategically positioned in locations ranging from large international cities to small mountainside villages—are hosts to interdisciplinary and major capstone projects and humanities and arts projects. Fully immersed in projects and cultures around the globe, the experience is often transformative for students, having a profound and lasting impact.
most popular study abroad programs
of students receive a Global Scholarship to complete life-changing project work
undergraduate students with off-campus project experience
students completed an off-campus project (2018–19)
School for a Scientist to Study Abroad
global project centers on six continents
countries with project centers
years of undergraduate project experiences through the Global Projects Program
Life-changing. Those are the words students and alumni use most often to describe WPI's distinctive approach to project-based learning, citing its lifelong professional and personal benefits. Tackling authentic problems that matter to others helps students develop perseverance, empathy, and self-efficacy while also gaining valuable skills in critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, communication, and leadership. As a result, students leave WPI more sophisticated, well-rounded, globally aware, and prepared for whatever the world throws at them. WPI extends that impact to higher education as our Center for Project-Based Learning helps other colleges and universities advance project-based learning on their own campuses.
Project Work Pays Off
WPI’s distinctive project-based educational model has been lauded in the academic world for years, but one of the most compelling acknowledgements is by those who know the benefits of a WPI education firsthand—WPI alumni. A survey of 2,500+ WPI alumni across a span of 38 years revealed the powerful professional and personal impact of project work.
Center for Project-Based Learning
The impact extends beyond the benefits to students and alumni. Through the Center for Project-Based Learning, WPI is changing the face of higher education by helping other institutions implement facets of project-based learning on their campuses through workshops, seminars, and the flagship Institute on Project-Based Learning. In just four years, the Center has served more than 130 institutions, representing a combined student population of approximately 1.75 million.
Under Emerging Tech, Digital Trends interviewed Craig Putnam, associate director of robotics engineering, about the student-led project that is developing the autonomous rover and payload-deploying drone. The goal is to find and safely destroy hidden munitions that kill or maim as many as 20,000 people around the world each year. Putnam told Digital Trends, “the goal was to come up with a system that was as low cost as reasonably possible so that it could be afforded by some remote village that has a problem with land mines in the area.”