2024 High School Summer Scholars Program Courses

Program Schedule

High School Summer Scholars start their day with breakfast and independent study. Credit courses meet from 9:00-10:45am, 11:00am-12:45pm, or 1:00-2:45pm. Courses meet Monday-Friday.  

When not in class, students have time to grab lunch, participate in independent or group study, and work on noncredit course work.

Late afternoon and evenings are spent in optional enrichment activities and dinner. After dinner, community events provide students the opportunity to reflect and relax at the end of a busy day. 

Weekends are spent socializing with peers, studying, and exploring St. Louis.


Course Materials

Students can visit the Campus Bookstore (High School Summer Scholars Program courses are Section 21) to view and purchase books online. Textbook information is typically posted 2 weeks before the class start date. Don’t be alarmed if a textbook isn’t listed for a course. Some instructors don’t use textbooks or will wait to share textbook information with students until the first day of classes. Instructors will also share course materials via Canvas, WashU's learning management system. 

Students should plan to bring a laptop or tablet for use during class sessions and to complete assignments. The program will provide students with a small notebook, pens, and folder. 

Credit Courses

Credit courses are taught by WashU instructors which may include faculty, graduate students, post docs, and adjuncts from across campus disciplines and research fields including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics. These courses are undergraduate courses offered by the College of Arts & Sciences and are open to pre-college, undergraduate, and visiting students. Introductory-level curriculum provides an opportunity for students to create a strong foundation for future undergraduate studies.

When offered during the regular school year, these courses are given over 16 weeks, so the pace during the summer is quite accelerated. Courses may include lectures, discussions, and group work. Students should expect any combination of daily assignments, readings, exams, quizzes, papers, and presentations. For every hour spent in class, students should expect at least two hours of work outside of class.

About Course Listings

These course listings are subject to change and cancellation without notice. A student must meet any prerequisites listed for the course to be approved to enroll. Once admitted to the program, students should submit their registration materials as soon as possible to ensure a spot in their first choice course selection. Registration is processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If a course is full, it will be indicated below. We do not hold spots in courses for pre-college students.

When available, a previous summer's syllabus is included in each individual description. Instructors do not remain the same every summer. You should expect similar content, but readings and assignments can vary. 

Biology of the Brain (L41 120)

This course is for students who wish to learn about the biology of the nervous system, and the scientific process of understanding how it works. Biology of the Brain will include lecture, discussion, and analysis of cutting edge research, so active participation will be important. We will discuss the gross anatomy and cellular composition of the brain. We will analyze how the brain develops, changes with experience to create memories, and recovers from injury. Along the way, we will discuss nervous system dysfunction a range of contexts such as Addiction, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Prerequisites: biology. Copy of 2023 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Biomedical Ethics (L30 233F)

A critical examination, in light of contemporary moral disagreements and traditional ethical theories, of some of the moral issues arising out of medical practice and experimentation in our society. May include euthanasia, genetic engineering, abortion, medical malpractice, the allocation of medical resources, and the rights of the patient. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Data Science for Politics (L32 263)

We are on the doorstep of a new era of social science. Never before have political scientists had access to so much data about the attitudes and actions of individuals, institutions, and nations. Data on everything from the votes of members of the U.S. Senate in 1855 to terrorist attacks from around the globe are only a few clicks away. This class is designed to make you an active participant in this new data-rich world. The goal is to introduce you to the methods and practices by which you can use this data to answer questions that are important to us as political scientists and citizens. How many citizens currently approve of the president, and how do we know? What policies are most effective at reducing poverty? Which campaign ads are most effective at persuading voters? Can we affect the behavior of our Facebook friends just by sharing our opinions? Prerequisites: None. 

Times: MTuWThF, 9:00-10:45am

Elementary Probability and Statistics (L24 2200)

An elementary introduction to statistical concepts, reasoning and data analysis. Topics include statistical summaries and graphical presentations of data, discrete and continuous random variables, the logic of statistical inference, design of research studies, point and interval estimation, hypothesis testing, and linear regression. Students will learn a critical approach to reading statistical analyses reported in the media, and how to correctly interpret the outputs of common statistical routines for fitting models to data and testing hypotheses. A major objective of the course is to gain familiarity with basic R commands to implement common data analysis procedures. Prerequisite: Calculus I. Copy of 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Finite Mathematics (L24 220)

Topics from discrete mathematics will be explored with an emphasis on problem-solving and methods of proofs. Modules on counting; combinatorial tools; binomial coefficients and Pascal's triangle; Fibonacci numbers; combinatorial probability; integers, divisors and primes; and graphs will be covered as well as additional topics as time permits. Addressed mainly to college freshmen and sophomores; it would also be suitable to advanced high school students with an interest in mathematics. Prerequisites: A good understanding of high school mathematics. Copy of 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Intro to Asian Art (L01 111)

Beginning with the birth of the Buddha and continuing through the present, this course introduces the most influential art and architecture from all across Asia. Prerequisite: None. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Intro to Cultural Anthropology (L48 160B)

This course covers the basic concepts and theoretical principles of sociocultural anthropology. Course material is presented from Asia, Africa, Melanesia, Latin America, and North America. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Intro to Macroeconomics (L11 1021)

Business fluctuations: inflation, recession; monetary and fiscal policy; economic development. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Intro to Psychology (L33 100B)

Survey and analysis of concepts, research, and theory covering the areas of learning, memory, motivation, personality, social, abnormal, clinical, and biological psychology. Introduces the diversity of questions, areas, approaches, research, and theories that compose the study of mind and behavior. Prerequisites: None. Copy of 2024 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Intro to Statistics (L24 1011)

Data collection: sampling and designing experiments. Data organization: data, tables, graphs, frequency distributions, numerical summarization of data, and consumer price index. Inference: elementary probability and hypothesis testing. Prerequisites: None. Copy of 2023 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Logic and Critical Analysis (L30 100G)

This course is an introduction to first-order logic. Logic is the study of the formal properties of arguments. In this course, we learn how to make arguments precise by formalizing sentences and applying methods of deductive reasoning to prove conclusions. We also discuss the relations between logical reasoning and informal reasoning, and logic and rationality. Why study logic? Logic gives you principles and techniques to distinguish good forms of reasoning, helps you to construct correct arguments, and (to some extent) think orderly. Additionally, logic is essential in other fields that you might also be interested in studying (e.g., mathematics, computer science, linguistics, and analytic philosophy). And of course, logic is a fun and interesting subject in its own right. The course presumes no background in philosophy or logic. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Matrix Algebra (L24 309)

An introductory course in linear algebra that focuses on Euclidean n-space, matrices and related computations.  Topics include: systems of linear equations, row reduction, matrix operations, determinants, linear independence, dimension, rank, change of basis, diagonalization, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, orthogonality, symmetric matrices, least square approximation, quadratic forms.  Introduction to abstract vector spaces. Prerequisite: Calculus II (AP Calculus BC). Copy of 2023 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTuWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Thinking About Religion (L23 102)

Nearly everyone has had some experience with something they would call "religion," from at least a passing familiarity through the media to a lifetime of active participation in religious communities. But what do we actually mean when we use the word? What is a religion? What does it mean to call something a religion, or "religious"? And what does it mean to study religion, given the slipperiness of the concept itself? This course offers an introduction to the academic study of religion through a consideration of these questions: What is religion, and how can we study it? Do we need an answer to the first question to pursue the second? Why, and toward what ends, might we undertake such study? We will also consider what is at stake in our investigation and inquiry into religion-for the inquirers, for the subjects of inquiry, and for society more broadly-and what kind of lens the study of religion offers us on ourselves, our neighbors, and society, in turn. To these ends, we will discuss major theoretical approaches to the study of religion and significant work on religions and religious phenomena, toward a better understanding of what "religion" might be and how it might be studied today. No prior knowledge or experience of religion, religions, or anything religious is expected or required. Prerequisites: None. 

Times: MTuWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Topics in Banned Books From the Giver to the Lord of the Flies (L14 245)

In this course we will read a number of Young Adult novels that have been banned and examine what leads to the banning of a book. Why are YA novels particular targets of censorship, and why does society attempt to sanitize narratives about adolescence? The novels we will cover, by Toni Morrison, Stephen Chbosky, William Golding, and Lois Lowry, among others, have been banned in the United States on political, religious, sexual, or social grounds. We will gain insight into the controversies these novels started and also consider the themes and questions raised by the texts and their moral implications. In written assignments and class discussion, we will explore what, if anything, these novels have in common and what they may contribute to the study of literature. Students will be asked to engage critically with the texts they encounter and to hone their close reading skills while also considering historical and cultural contexts of the novels. Readings: "The Lord of the Flies," William Golding; "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Stephen Chbosky; "The Bluest Eye," Toni Morrison; "The Giver," Lois Lowry; "The House on Mango Street," Sandra Cisneros. Prerequisites: None. Copy of 2023 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTuWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Noncredit Exploration Courses

In addition to for credit course selections, students in the High School Summer Scholars Program have the option to enroll in one of the following noncredit, online Exploration Courses:

  • Biological Basis for Human Disease
  • Case Studies in Biology: Climate and Health
  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Metacognating Mario: Learning and Video Games 
  • Personal Narrative
  • Set in Stone? Monuments, Memory, and Public History
  • Spandex, Spangles, and Stripes: Race, Gender, and the American Superhero

Exploration Courses are offered asynchronously. This means students will not have set required times to attend "live" class sessions. 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. Full course descriptions, dates, and additional information about these courses is available here

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