2021 Exploration Courses

Program Details


Exploration Courses are offered asynchronously and are designed for students looking for a flexible noncredit online experience. This means students will not have set required times to attend class each day. However students should not mistake this flexibility with a self-paced course. Each course will include discussions, lectures, readings and assignments that will need to be completed by specific deadlines. Students should plan to log in to their course every day to participate in activities and engage with the material. Students should set aside between 15-20 hours a week to work on course activities.


While a majority of the course activities will be asynchronous, students should expect at least two optional synchronous lecture sessions with their instructor per week. Additional opportunities for students to meet and collaborate on assignments with peers will also be organized.

College Readiness

Throughout the two-week course, we provide students a number of enrichment opportunities to support students with the college application process and to prepare them for success, both inside and outside of the classroom. These opportunities include seminars, panel discussions, and informal Q&As. In addition, students can build their resume by earning digital learning badges and a college readiness certificate. 


Academic Success

Exploration Course students gain invaluable experience collaborating with peers and developing critical thinking skills. 

Our instructors and program staff are committed to the academic success of our pre-college students. Some of the ways we provide academic support include tutoring, advising, group study sessions, specialized workshops and academic support groups.  


Community Building

We create a positive, collaborative community by implementing educational, cultural and social activities for all students. 

Social activities and weekly group meetings encourage social involvement and community building. Regular one-on-one meetings with a program assistant ensure students are receiving the support they need to succeed and provide time for self-reflection.

Learn more about our community


Exploration Courses are noncredit programs. Noncredit programs do not issue a traditional letter grade (A, B, C, D, F). Instead, students will receive an "L" for successful completion/audit or a "Z" for unsuccessful completion/audit. Students are evaluated based on attendance, completion of assignments, quality of work produced, participation in discussions, interaction with peers, engagement during activities as well as their ability to adhere to academic integrity standards and program policies. 

WashU does not mail out grades to students or parents. Grades are all accessed online through the WebSTAC system. Grades should be posted about two to threee weeks after the end of a course. As these are noncredit programs, no transferrable credit is earned.


Pre-College Community Course

All students participating in our Explorations Courses are registered for the Pre-College Community Course. This noncredit course is designed to introduce students to our pre-college community and college life as well as to support students as they make the transition to undergraduate course work. The course includes: orientation materials, academic support and advising, ways to connect with peers, and wellness resources. Students complete a series of required activities as part of the course.

Creative Writing

June 14-June 25, 2021

Orientation for students will open June 7.

We are all storytellers; we grow when we write and share our stories—and when we listen to others’ stories. In this online course, you will find a community of writers; as you read and write, you’ll also listen and design, reflect and respond. In the first week, you’ll create videos and photo essays, as well as personal narratives and “hermit crab” poems. In the second week, you’ll experience the power of workshop; you’ll share your writing with your classmates and respond to theirs. As you revise, you’ll collect your writing in an ePortfolio and reflect upon the storyteller you have become in two weeks—and the storyteller you’d like to become beyond our course. We’ll share literary resources, writing habits and favorite writing environments, as we discuss ways to make writing a part of your daily lives. If you’ve ever wondered how a story moves from a click of a keyboard to the smiles on readers’ faces, join us this summer! (Please note this is the same course as was offered in 2020 Summer)

Meet the Instructor Dr. Kate Bloomquist

Genetic Engineering

June 28-July 9, 2021

Orientation for students will open June 7.

Genetic Engineering is a fully online course that will investigate real-world applications of modern genetics. We will use case studies to learn about cutting-edge genetic engineering technologies, pulling from diverse examples from the fields of biomedical engineering, agriculture, evolution, ecology, and pharmacogenomics. Students will gain a better understanding of how biologists, engineers, and environmental scientists collaborate to address complicated problems with a multidisciplinary approach. This class will encourage the integration of technology to facilitate information transfer through web resources, video lectures, video discussions, and on-line presentations.   (Please note this is the same course as was offered in 2020 Summer)


Personal Narrative

July 12-July 23, 2021

Orientation for students will open June 7.

Objects. Photos. Scripts. These are some of the ingredients that we will include, as we write a collection of personal narratives in this two-week online course. As you focus your projects around that single object, a collection of photos, and a script in the first week, you’ll receive comments from other students on your writing. During the second week, you’ll expand one of these pieces with an eye to the Common App essay prompts. As you experiment with these genres of personal narrative writing, you’ll develop your ability to tell your stories and to share them with others. The course will culminate with your ePortfolio—a collection of your personal narrative writing and reflections on them. If you’ve ever wondered how to put a moving moment in your life into words, join us this this summer!

Meet the Instructor Dr. Kate Bloomquist

Global Health

July 12-July 23, 2021

Orientation for students will open June 7.

Global Health is a fully online course that will investigate key issues impacting global health. We will cover a wide range of topics, with a goal of looking at the role of the cultural, social, and physical environment plays of human health around the world. Participants will build on their knowledge of biology, biochemistry, and physiology to study global health from a wide variety of perspectives. This class will encourage the integration of technology to facilitate information transfer through web resources, video lectures, video discussions, and on-line presentations.  


Environmental Studies

July 26-August 6

Orientation for students will open June 7.

Environmental Studies is a fully online course.  Students will be introduced to the fields (biology, geography, sociology, economics, natural resource management, chemistry, and geology) used in understanding both the workings of the natural world and human interactions with our environment. Learning will take place through recorded lectures, synchronous discussions and activities, asynchronous exercises, and short videos. Topics include: human population growth, energy resources, land and food resources, water resources, air pollution, global climate change, and human health and toxicology, as well as a review of ecology and species diversity. Sustainability is a unifying theme throughout the course, as is an understanding of the linkages between ecosystems. This understanding will give students a greater appreciation for and better stewardship of the world in which they live.

Meet the instructor Dr. Kate Hanes

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