Discover how the WPI Plan will set you apart in the world—first as a student, then as a sought-after young professional, and ultimately across your career and life. In 1970 the WPI Plan was a bold experiment. Today, it’s a proven and highly effective model for undergraduate learning that’s both adaptable and rigorous. Through the Plan, you learn how to learn by applying your classroom experiences in projects that challenge you from a proficiency, social, and global perspective.

Does it work? Our 97 percent first-year retention rate (cited by the New York Times) is among the highest in the nation. And, a comprehensive study of our graduates confirmed the professional and personal benefits of learning and living according to the Plan.

10 Things to Know About the WPI Plan

1. We have seven-week terms

Instead of semesters, which are well suited for traditional coursework, a WPI academic year is made up of seven-week terms: four in the traditional academic year and two during an optional summer term. Taking three courses a term creates space for the cooperative, open-ended project work at the core of the WPI Plan. At the same time, fewer courses allows for more intensive engagement.
WPI Students walking by sprinkler

2. We advise—you decide

At WPI, you have the freedom—and the responsibility-- to choose the courses and experiences that best suit your goals and interests while still meeting rigorous degree requirements. Throughout the process, faculty and staff mentors offer guidance on how different choices could impact your career and your life. We help you ask the questions that are essential to plotting the path that makes the most sense for you.
WPI Students sitting in a computer lab

3. There are no failing grades

When you’re accustomed to receiving consistently high marks, the notion of taking a course you might not ace can seem too risky. So WPI eliminated failing grades. We want the focus to be on learning, teamwork, and collaboration, not on competing. You earn A, B, C, or NR (No Record). This unique grading system encourages you to branch out, experiment, and cross disciplines—that’s where amazing things happen at WPI, and, ultimately, in your career.
WPI Students sitting on a desk collaborating.

4. It's Theory and Practice, not Theory then Practice.

Projects are the core of the WPI Plan. At any given time, almost everybody on campus—students and faculty—is working on at least one team project. A WPI project presents unstructured problems that require experience and imagination. Faculty advisors bring the experience. Students bring the imagination. And the whole team is immersed in exploring ways to solve a problem each member cares deeply about. Along the way you’ll expand your world view and gain career-launching professional experiences.
Two people in lab coats working with petri dishes

5. Jump starting your problem-solving skills

An optional two-term course for first-year students, the Great Problems Seminar (GPS) gives you the chance to explore the complexity of one of the world’s most pressing problems, such as public health, water, food security, energy, or education. Led by faculty members from different disciplines—a mechanical engineer and a philosopher, for example—you and your teammates will take a small piece of the problem and devise a potential solution. The skills you develop will help you to be successful both in your future project work at WPI, and in your future career.
WPI Students looking at 3D rendered images on a screen

6. Changing the world requires understanding it

WPI believes well-rounded students will become better scientists, engineers, and business leaders. And being well-rounded requires an appreciation for how the study of history, philosophy, art, language, music, and theatre enriches your life. That’s the role of the Humanities & Arts (HUA) Requirement. You’ll explore the humanities and arts broadly, and then dive into one area in depth. It all leads to a culminating project involving original research or creative work.
Two WPI Students drawing outdoors

7. One project, in particular, will be life-changing

Recognized as one of the most creative and effective innovations in technological higher education, the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) requires that you delve into a problem that matters to real people on a topic that lies on the boundaries of science, technology, and society. Thousands of these projects have been completed for hundreds of sponsors, the majority at one of our many project centers across the United States and the globe.
Students filling a bucket with water from a well

8. You will be an expert in your field

A significant portion of your senior year at WPI is devoted to the Major Qualifying Project (MQP). Often completed in partnership with corporate sponsors, this capstone work in your major field requires you to demonstrate real-world research, design, and problem-solving skills. Top employers and graduate programs expect no less, and the WPI Plan sets you up to achieve this mastery. In turn, you'll be able to prove to employers that you know how to get things done.
WPI Student working at the Panama Canal

9. You will become a globally aware citizen

Through WPI’s unique Global Projects Program more than 10,000 students have gained global experiences since 1970. At more than 40 off-campus project centers—located as close as our home city of Worcester to locations across the globe—our students bring ingenious approaches to an astounding array of societal and technological challenges. Students call the global projects “life-changing.” They come to recognize global and cultural complexities, learn to strategically manage projects, and to communicate clearly with peers, local residents, and sponsors as they become immersed in a problem that really matters to real people.
WPI Student showing photos on a camera to a child

10. These nine words are ones to live by

Go to class. Do the work. Ask for help. This is advice you’ll hear from every corner of WPI. And if you take it, you will make it. From small classes to one-on-one interactions with peers, staff, and faculty members—there’s always someone ready and willing to help. Our distinctive first-year experience integrates academic, residential, and peer support systems to smooth the transition to college and brings 97 percent of the class back to campus for their second year. In the following years, faculty, staff, and peer mentors help you navigate your way through the WPI Plan.
Student and professor looking at a monitor in a computer lab

The Elements of the WPI Plan

The pioneering elements of a WPI education set the footing for a personal journey—yours. Here you’ll be encouraged to chart your own path and do things you’ve only imagined.

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Every year at WPI is touched by the Plan.

It’s all before you. Where will the WPI Plan take you?

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