The Global Leader in Project-based Learning

Projects are at the core of the WPI curriculum, requiring students to apply the knowledge learned in classes and labs to real-world situations, developing solutions to problems that matter to real people. Project work helps students become better collaborators, critical thinkers, public speakers, and communicators— vital to success at WPI and the skills that distinguish WPI graduates throughout their careers.

Our signature project-based approach to undergraduate education, known as the WPI Plan, prepares students for success. These great young minds bring ingenious approaches to an astounding array of challenges–and the projects fundamentally change the students, building leaders who possess passion, proficiency, and a certainty that their life's work can change the world. 


Theory

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.​

7 weeks per term for undergraduate students (The WPI Plan)

13:1 student to faculty ratio

0% failing grades (The WPI Plan)

100% of undergraduates complete the equivalent of a minor in Humanities and Arts

 


Practice

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.

WPI Great Problems Seminar

Overall, my collective experiences with projects at WPI have revealed and prepared me for the challenges and rewards of real-life work in a powerful, firsthand way.
Daniel W.
Robotics Engineering
Through project work, I have learned to look critically at problems I don’t necessarily have the answer to. I’ve also gotten better at communicating my ideas through both writing and speaking.
Elizabeth Q.
Biomedical Engineering
WPI’s project-based curriculum has impacted my education by allowing me to gain more experience working in an unstructured environment where my group and I must set our own due dates and goals.
Hannah J.
Interactive Media & Game Development
The project-based curriculum has given me the opportunity to gain valuable experience solving real life problems. Overall, I feel like I am part of a supportive community of people here at WPI who all have the same goal of changing the world.
Jacob S.
Management Engineering
Working on a project that has the potential to create a significant change has shown me how an engineering mind can have profound social and cultural impact if applied in the right way.
Jason B.
Chemical Engineering
Through project work, I learned how to work efficiently in a team of vastly different personalities and to manage my time to stay on task, produce high-quality work, and meet critical deadlines.
Sara L.
Biology/Biotechnology
Project work has empowered me to believe in my ability to succeed and see the values of my own skills and talents, as well as learning how to work as a team to create powerful outcomes.
Shaye J.
Chemical Engineering

Global

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.

Top 10 Most Popular Study Abroad Programs
The Princeton Review (2017-2018)

100% of students receive a global project scholarship (as of class of 2022)

13,500 undergraduate students with off-campus project experience

940+ students completed an off-campus project (2017-2018)

#1 School for a Scientist to Study Abroad Popular Mechanics (2017)

50+ global project centers on six continents

31 countries with project centers 45 years of undergraduate project experiences through the Global Projects Program

Impact 

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. 

Greece Project Center-2016-500x300.png

WPI Greece Project Center
WPI Greece Project Center

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.

UMBC talks about the impact of WPI’s Institute on Project-Based Learning

UMBC shares impact from the Institute on Project-Based Learning
[Our] teams have returned to campus with focused plans for advancing project work in our curriculum. I’d recommend the experience to any college or university that wants to make its curriculum more engaging and powerful for students and faculty.
Michele Gillespie
Dean of the College, Presidential Endowed Chair of Southern History
Wake Forest University
The way it changed my view of the world translates to multiple, different areas of my life. I look at my community as a much smaller piece of a larger world than I used to. I see diversity in a different way.
Nicholas Pelletier '09
I am pleased to recognize the 2016 Gordon Prize recipients and Worcester Polytechnic Institute for their transformational program to develop engineering leaders prepared to tackle society's greatest challenges.
C.D. Mote, Jr., President, National Academy of Engineering
Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education
It was very beneficial to have a coach that was dedicated to us—she pushed us to think bigger picture, and it helped us conceptualize something that will work across our campus, not just in our own individual departments.
Laura Wheeler Poms
Assistant Professor, George Mason University
The biggest impact that project work had on me was the confidence level that it gave me to go out and take challenges head-on and have the confidence that I have a good chance of succeeding.
John Kopchik '77
WPI's project-based education model provides multiple opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and gain
Princeton Review
Colleges that Create Futures

In the News

A case study: The effects of project based learning almost 50 years after Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) re-engineered its technological education.

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