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Undergraduate Courses for High School Students

Students in front of Kent

Join us this summer to explore new subjects, delve into a current interest with intense focus, and broaden your powers of perception when you earn college credit with undergraduate courses at the University of Chicago. As a Summer Session student, you can enroll in undergraduate courses drawn from the regular curriculum of the College at the University of Chicago. 

You will have access to the same exceptional educational resources that are available to all students during the regular academic year. All of our classes are taught by distinguished professors and experienced lecturers. In these smaller class settings you will be able to receive personal attention from your professors and get to know other students in your class well.

Details

Courses can be three or five weeks long. Read each course listing carefully.

Each summer course, regardless of length, is the equivalent of a full quarter-long (10 week) course, and meets for a least 30 contact hours.

  • Once you choose the course(s) for which you would like to apply, make a note of the department code and course number (ex. ANTH 21501)
  • Make sure you don’t choose courses with conflicting schedules, or courses that take place during different sessions.
  • To qualify as a full-time student, you must take 2 courses in the same session. Students who want to live in the residence hall and/or obtain a student visa must be full-time.
  • See individual course descriptions for prerequisites, if any.
  • For language courses and admission information, please visit the Summer Language Institute website.

These undergraduate courses are open to current high school sophomores and juniors, 14 years and older (unless clearly stated otherwise).

20th Century American Short Fiction

This course presents America's major writers of short fiction in the 20th century.  We will begin with Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" in 1905 and proceed to the masters of High Modernism, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Porter, Welty, Ellison, Nabokov, on through the next generation, O'Connor, Pynchon, Roth, Mukherjee, Coover, Carver, and end with more recent work by Danticat, Tan and the microfictionists.  Our initial effort with each text will be close reading, from which we will move out to consider questions of ethnicity, gender and psychology.

Session(s)

Session II

A Brief History of Doom: Ragnarok & Other Apocalypses

This course examines the idea of the “end of the world” as conceived in Old Norse, biblical, and other traditions, ancient and modern. Topics to be discussed include visions of the apocalypse and afterlife in Norse Mythology (Snorri’s Edda, The Poetic Edda, The Saga of the Volsungs), the Book of Revelation, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Wagner’s Ring cycle, and Marvel’s Thor franchise. Students will consider how thinking about “the end” has shaped the present in varied historical and cultural contexts. 

Session(s)

Session II

Acting Fundamentals

This course introduces fundamental concepts of performance in the theater with emphasis on the development of creative faculties and techniques of observation, as well as vocal and physical interpretation.  Concepts are introduced through directed reading, improvisation, and scene study.

Session(s)

Session I

Acting Fundamentals

This course introduces fundamental concepts of performance in the theater with emphasis on the development of creative faculties and techniques of observation, as well as vocal and physical interpretation.  Concepts are introduced through directed reading, improvisation, and scene study.

Session(s)

Session I

Basic Mathematics and Statistics

This course covers selected topics in mathematics which are relevant for computing and it provides an introduction to statistics with emphasis on the analysis of linguistic, cultural, and historical data. Comprehension of these topics is reinforced by the Python programming exercises in DIGS 20001; thus it is recommended that students enroll in both DIGS 20001 and DIGS 20002, if possible. No prior background in mathematics beyond the high school level is required for this course.

Session(s)

Session I

Beginning Poetry Workshop

This course invites students to explore the most basic elements of writing poems.  We'll practice traditional poetic devices, such as rhythm, figurative language, diction, and syntax, at the same time that we explore basic practices for generating and revising creative work.  The class will consist of roughly 50% lecture / discussions and 50% workshop discussions of student writing.  Readings will include a mix of canonical and contemporary poetry and essays on elements of poetic craft.

Session(s)

Session II

Core Biology

What is life? How does it work and evolve? This course uses student-centered interactive learning in the lab, assigned readings from both the popular press and primary scientific literature, and directed writing exercises to explore the nature and functions of living organisms, their interactions with each other, and their environment. In other words, we will explore how to understand the complexities of biological phenomena at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and community level through scientific inquiry. 

Session(s)

Session II

Culture, Mental Health and Psychiatry

While mental illness has recently been framed in largely neurobiological terms as "brain disease", there has also been an increasing awareness of the contingency of psychiatric diagnoses.  In this course, we will draw upon readings from medical anthropology and other disciplines to examine this paradox and to examine mental health and illness as a set of subjective experiences, social processes and objects of knowledge and intervention.  This summer's session will focus on mental health and illness in higher education.

Session(s)

Session II

Culture, Mental Health and Psychiatry

While mental illness has recently been framed in largely neurobiological terms as "brain disease", there has also been an increasing awareness of the contingency of psychiatric diagnoses.  In this course, we will draw upon readings from medical anthropology and other disciplines to examine this paradox and to examine mental health and illness as a set of subjective experiences, social processes and objects of knowledge and intervention.  This summer's session will focus on mental health and illness in higher education.

Session(s)

Session II

Culture, Mental Health and Psychiatry

While mental illness has recently been framed in largely neurobiological terms as "brain disease", there has also been an increasing awareness of the contingency of psychiatric diagnoses.  In this course, we will draw upon readings from medical anthropology and other disciplines to examine this paradox and to examine mental health and illness as a set of subjective experiences, social processes and objects of knowledge and intervention.  This summer's session will focus on mental health and illness in higher education.

Session(s)

Session II

Culture, Mental Health and Psychiatry

While mental illness has recently been framed in largely neurobiological terms as "brain disease", there has also been an increasing awareness of the contingency of psychiatric diagnoses.  In this course, we will draw upon readings from medical anthropology and other disciplines to examine this paradox and to examine mental health and illness as a set of subjective experiences, social processes and objects of knowledge and intervention.  This summer's session will focus on mental health and illness in higher education.

Session(s)

Session II

Culture, Mental Health and Psychiatry

While mental illness has recently been framed in largely neurobiological terms as "brain disease", there has also been an increasing awareness of the contingency of psychiatric diagnoses.  In this course, we will draw upon readings from medical anthropology and other disciplines to examine this paradox and to examine mental health and illness as a set of subjective experiences, social processes and objects of knowledge and intervention.  This summer's session will focus on mental health and illness in higher education.

Session(s)

Session II

Elementary Logic

This course is an intensive introduction to the techniques of modern logic.  These include the representation of arguments in symbolic notation, and the systematic manipulation of these representations to show the validity of arguments.  Topics include truth tables, the sentential calculus, and monadic and relational predicate logic.  No prior familiarity with symbolic logic is required.
 

Session(s)

Session I

Fundamentals of Computer Programming I: Swift and iOS Application Development

This course introduces computer programming using the Swift programming language. The emphasis is on fundamental concepts, including logic, functions, data structures and program design. The course will also include some light iOS application development, though that is not its focus.

Session(s)

Session I

History of Philosophy 1 (Introduction to Ancient Philosophy)

An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle.  Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good.

Session(s)

Session II

Introduction to Black and White Film Photography

Photography's omnipresence makes it familiar, transparent, seemingly akin to sight. Yet sight itself is rife with complexities and complications, much more than just a physical act or passive reception. This course will introduce black and white photographic techniques so as to interrogate photography in its materiality as much as its philosophical, political, and social rubrics. You will learn the basic tools of camera operations, film exposure, black and white film processing and print development so as to interrogate the vast and varied range of possibilities this medium portends.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Computer Programming

In this course, students learn computer programming and computational concepts using the Python programming language. The Python programming exercises involve topics in mathematics and statistics covered in DIGS 20002 and are designed to reinforce comprehension of those topics; thus it is recommended that students enroll in both DIGS 20001 and DIGS 20002, if possible. No prior background in computing is required for this course. 

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Computer Science 1

Computers are extremely helpful at solving computational problems: problems involving numbers, counting, logic, arranging things, ordering things, manipulating images, solving puzzles, developing game strategies, and so on. This course examines a rich assortment of interesting and increasingly challenging topics, and explores what computer science has discovered about them, and what is yet to be discovered. Our main activity will be programming, and no prior experience in programming will be assumed.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Computer Science 2

This course provides an introduction to computer programming and  computer science in the C programming language.  Topics include control structures, function definition, iteration and recursion, pointers, memory layout and management, and data structure design.  CMSC 15200 is a suitable second course for students who have just taken CMSC 15100 in the summer.  However, and only in the summer, CMSC 15200 can be taken as a standalone introduction to computer science, for students in any area who require related skills for their own work (projects, theses, etc.).

Session(s)

Session III

Introduction to Genres: Writing the Visual Arts

Writers have long been fascinated, inspired, and puzzled by the visual arts. In this course, we will study two genres of writing—poetry and the creative essay—that have enjoyed long and productive relationships with painting, photography, and sculpture. What attracts writers to art? How might language render (or fail to render) visual experience? How might writing help us see art in new ways? How might art objects inspire new ways of writing?

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Genres: Writing the Visual Arts

Writers have long been fascinated, inspired, and puzzled by the visual arts. In this course, we will study two genres of writing—poetry and the creative essay—that have enjoyed long and productive relationships with painting, photography, and sculpture. What attracts writers to art? How might language render (or fail to render) visual experience? How might writing help us see art in new ways? How might art objects inspire new ways of writing?

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Macroeconomics

The course will cover - via theory and basic economic reasoning, as well as contemporary applications and public policy debates - current major U.S. domestic and international macroeconomics issues, including: the determination of income and output, inflation, and unemployment; the money supply, banking system, and the Federal Reserve; federal spending, taxation and deficits; and international trade, exchange rates, the balance of payments and globalization, and long-run population and economic growth.
 

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Microeconomics

The course treats by way of economic theory, applications, and contemporary issues: (a) behavior and decision making on the part of individuals, business firms, and government; and (b) the role of choices, trade-offs, costs, prices, incentives and markets in the American economy.  Topics include the distribution of income, health care, the environment, and power in product and labor markets. 

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Philosophy of Religion

This course explores the Western philosophical tradition of reasoned reflection on religious belief.  Our questions will include: what are the most important arguments for, and against, belief in God?  How does religious belief relate to the deliverances of the sciences, in particular to evolutionary theory?  How can we reconcile religious belief with the existence of evil?  What is the relationship between religion and morality?  In attempting to answer these questions we will read work by Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Nietzsche, and Freud, as well as some recent texts.

Session(s)

Session II

Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology

Although mathematics and biology have traditionally not gotten along, recent advances in molecular biology and medicine have made biological experiments essentially quantitative.  This course introduces mathematical ideas that are useful for understanding and analyzing biological data, including data description and fitting, basic Bayesian analysis, Markov models, and differential equations.  Students acquire hands-on experience working with data and implementing mathematical models computationally using the R programming language.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (China)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China. This China sequence will review the broad characteristics of Chinese civilization from the beginnings to the present, with special emphasis the social, political and cultural transformations from the nineteenth century to the present.  The Japan course will emphasize the major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. The two courses may be taken separately.

Session(s)

Session II

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (China)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China. This China sequence will review the broad characteristics of Chinese civilization from the beginnings to the present, with special emphasis the social, political and cultural transformations from the nineteenth century to the present.  The Japan course will emphasize the major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. The two courses may be taken separately.

Session(s)

Session II

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (China)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China. This China sequence will review the broad characteristics of Chinese civilization from the beginnings to the present, with special emphasis the social, political and cultural transformations from the nineteenth century to the present.  The Japan course will emphasize the major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. The two courses may be taken separately.

Session(s)

Session II

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (China)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China. This China sequence will review the broad characteristics of Chinese civilization from the beginnings to the present, with special emphasis the social, political and cultural transformations from the nineteenth century to the present.  The Japan course will emphasize the major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. The two courses may be taken separately.

Session(s)

Session II

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (Japan)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China, with emphasis on major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present.  This sequence focuses on Japan from 1600 to the postwar era and on China from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.  The two courses may be taken separately.  These courses count toward the general education requirement in civilization studies.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (Japan)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China, with emphasis on major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present.  This sequence focuses on Japan from 1600 to the postwar era and on China from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.  The two courses may be taken separately.  These courses count toward the general education requirement in civilization studies.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (Japan)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China, with emphasis on major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present.  This sequence focuses on Japan from 1600 to the postwar era and on China from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.  The two courses may be taken separately.  These courses count toward the general education requirement in civilization studies.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia (Japan)

This is a two-course sequence on the civilizations of Japan and China, with emphasis on major transformation of individual identity, community, and nation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present.  This sequence focuses on Japan from 1600 to the postwar era and on China from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.  The two courses may be taken separately.  These courses count toward the general education requirement in civilization studies.

Session(s)

Session I

Italian Renaissance Art

This course will familiarize students with developments in the art production in Italy from the 15th through the early 17th centuries. In a combination of lectures and discussions, the course will survey a broad range of objects and settings, and attempt to familiarize students with relevant media and techniques, as well as important intellectual, social, and political developments that informed the production and reception of art. Students will hone their skills in visual analysis and their ability to engage art and express positions and observations about art orally and in writing.

Session(s)

Session I

Linear Algebra

This course takes a concrete approach to the basic topics of linear algebra.  Topics include vector geometry, systems of linear equations, vector spaces, matrices and determinants, and eigenvalue problems. Students may register for the second course (MATH 19620) without having taken the first.

Session(s)

Session III

Mathematical Methods for Social Sciences

This course takes a concrete approach to the basic topics of multivariable calculus. Topics include a brief review of one-variable calculus, parametric equations, alternate coordinate systems, vectors and vector functions, partial derivatives, multiple integrals, and Lagrange multipliers. Students may register for the second course (MATH 19620) without having taken the first.

Session(s)

Session I

Nutritional Science

This course examines the underlying biological mechanisms of nutrient utilization in humans and the scientific basis for setting human nutritional requirements.  The relationships between food choices and human health are also explored.  Students consider how to assess the validity of scientific research that provides the basis for advice about how to eat healthfully.  Class assignments are designed to help students apply their knowledge by critiquing their nutritional lifestyle, nutritional health claims, and/or current nutrition policy issues.

Session(s)

Session II

Public and Private Lives of Insects

This course examines the ecology and evolution of insects, from their early evolution over 350 million years ago to their adaptations that allow them to exploit nearly every habitat on earth and become the most diverse animal group on the planet.  We explore the basic biology of insects that have allowed them to become the largest group of animals on the planet, making up approximately 1 million of the 2 million described species.

Session(s)

Session II

Shakespearean Tragedy

This course will intensively study 3 of Shakespeare's major tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear.  We will devote a full week to each play.  It will be an intensive discussion course, and there will be a 10 - 15 page paper required.  Outside critical reading will be encouraged but not required.

Session(s)

Session II

Statistical Methods and Applications

This course introduces statistical techniques and methods of data analysis. including the use of statistical software. Examples are drawn from the biological, physical, and social sciences. Students are required to apply the techniques discussed to data drawn from actual research.

Session(s)

Session I

The Visual Arts in American Culture, 1830-1945

In 1995, bell hooks described visual representation as “a crucial locus of struggle for any exploited and oppressed people asserting subjectivity and decolonization of the mind.” This course charts a history of such assertions in an American context, focusing on the period from the Jacksonian era to the end of World War II. It addresses a range of artistic objects, including films, paintings, performance, photographs, and sculptures, some motivated by political commitment and others registering the contested social conditions of their day.

Session(s)

Session II

The Visual Arts in American Culture, 1830-1945

In 1995, bell hooks described visual representation as “a crucial locus of struggle for any exploited and oppressed people asserting subjectivity and decolonization of the mind.” This course charts a history of such assertions in an American context, focusing on the period from the Jacksonian era to the end of World War II. It addresses a range of artistic objects, including films, paintings, performance, photographs, and sculptures, some motivated by political commitment and others registering the contested social conditions of their day.

Session(s)

Session II

The Workings of the Human Brain: From Brain to Behavior

This course examines how the brain generates behavior.  Topics covered include the organization of the nervous system, the mechanisms by which the brain translates external stimuli into electrical and chemical signals to initiate or modify behavior, and the neurological bases of learning, memory, sleep, cognition, drug addiction, and neurological disorders.

Session(s)

Session I

Visual Language: On Images

This studio course investigates the basic elements common to the visual art experience, emphasizing the relationship between the formal structure of an image to its meaning.  Initial problems isolate principles and conventions common to images, examining such things as color theory, systems of representation, relationships between surface organization, and spatial illusion.  Later students reunite these principles by executing individual works.

Session(s)

Session IV

Visual Language: On Images

This studio course investigates the basic elements common to the visual art experience, emphasizing the relationship between the formal structure of an image to its meaning.  Initial problems isolate principles and conventions common to images, examining such things as color theory, systems of representation, relationships between surface organization, and spatial illusion.  Later students reunite these principles by executing individual works.

Session(s)

Session I