Summer Study at CU-Boulder - Courses & Curriculum

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  Type of Class

Program Length

CU-B College Credits5 weeks
Enrichment Classes/Workshops5 or 3 weeks  
2-Week Workshops2 weeks  
Science Discovery Workshops5, 3 or 2 weeks





Origins of Ancient Civilizations: This course examines origins of the world's first civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, Mesoamerica, and the Andes. We will cover archaeology of ancient cities, trade, economy, politics, warfare, religion, and ideology and seek insights into general processes of cultural evolution.


Intro to Archaeology: Discusses history, basic concepts, techniques, and theoretical construction of archaeological field and laboratory investigations, as well as a general outline of world prehistory.



Stars and Galaxies: Students will examine the principles of modern astronomy for non-science majors, summarizing our present knowledge about the Sun, stars, neutron stars, black holes, interstellar gas, galaxies, quasars, and the structure and origins of the universe. Offers opportunities to attend nighttime observation sessions at Sommers-Bausch Observatory and Fiske Planetarium.



Business Statistics: This course covers descriptive statistics, basic probability theory, statistical inference and hypothesis testing, correlation and simple linear regression analysis. Students will learn decision making and solving business problems by using data. We will be using statistical features of commonly used business spreadsheet software.



Public Speaking: Covers theory and skills of speaking in various public settings. Examines fundamental principles from rhetorical and communication thoery and applies them to oral presentations.


Discourse Culture & Identities: Examines how aspects of talk (e.g., turn-taking, speech acts, narratives, dialect, and stance indicators) link with identities (e.g., ethnic and racial, age, gender, work-related, and personal). Considers how communication is central to constructing who people are and examines social controversies related to talk and identities.



World Regional Geography: Involves an intellectual journey around the globe, stopping at major regions to study the people, their environments, and how they interact. Topics include the political/economic tensions in changing Europe, conflicts in Brazilian rainforests, transitions facing African peoples, and rapid changes in China.



Western Civilization - to the 16th Century: Surveys the development of western civilization from its beginnings in the ancient near East through the Reformation of the 16th century.


History of the United States Since 1865: Surveys social, economic, political, and cultural development of the United States from the close of the American Civil War to the present.



Languages of the World: Explores the issue of human diversity by examining how languages vary around the world. Outlines historical, geographic, and typological classifications of languages across human societies, and the criteria used by linguists for grouping them into language families. Theorizes the relationship between linguistic and cognitive diversity, and considers the impact of language death on humanity.



Fundamentals and Techniques of College Algebra: Covers simplifying algebraic expressions, factoring linear and quadratic equations, inequalities, exponentials, logarithms, functions and graphs, complex numbers, and binomial theorem. Students must have completed one year of high school algebra to enroll in this course.


Quantitative Reasoning/Math Skills: Promotes mathematical literacy for liberal arts students. Teaches basic mathematics, logic, and problem solving skills in the context of higher level mathematics, science, technology, and/or society. This is not a traditional math class, but is designed to stimulate interest in and appreciation of mathematics and quantitative reasoning as valuable tools for comprehending the world in which we live.


Calculus for Social Science & Business: Students will cover differential and integral calculus of algebraic, logarithmic, and exponential functions. Students must place into this class and require 2 years of high school algebra to enroll.




Intro to Philosophy: Introduces fundamental topics of philosophy. Topics include: knowledge, truth, universals, self, the mind-body problem, time, God, and value.


Philosophy & Religion: Philosophical introduction to some of the central concepts and beliefs of religious traditions, focusing particularly on the question of the existence of God and on the relation between religious beliefs and moral beliefs.


Philosophy and Law: Students will consider philosophical issues related to law in general and the U.S. system in particular. Topics to be covered may address such questions as: What is the nature of law? What kinds of acts should the law prohibit (abortion, drug use, pornography, cloning)? Is there a moral obligation to obey the law? Can civil disobedience be justified? Is there a justification for punishing people for breaking the law? Is capital punishment morally justified?



Sound & Music: Explores the physical processes that underlie the diversity of sound and musical phenomena. Topics covered include the physical nature of sound, the perception of sound, the perception of pitch and harmony, musical instruments, synthesizers and samplers, and room acoustics.



The American Political System: Emphasizes interrelations among levels and branches of government, formal and informal institutions, processes, and behavior.



General Psychology: This particular class among many University of Colorado summer courses examines major topics in psychology: perceptions, development, personality, learning and memory, and biological bases of behavior. Students may participate as subjects for several hours in ongoing research.



The Social Construction of Sexuality: Discusses the social determinants of sexuality. Analyzes the economic, psychological, and cultural influences on human sexuality. Interactional perspective of human sexuality is presented.



Introduction to Acting: Introductory course designed to explore creativity, collaboration, and communication in the craft of acting. focuses on basic terms and concepts of psychological realism fundamental to the actors' process through solo work and ensemble excercises.


Introduction to Theater: Introduces the varieties of theatrical art, past and present, contributions of the various theatrical artists to the total production, and the place of theatre art in today's society.



1st Year Writing & Rhetoric: Rhetorically informed introduction to college writing. Focuses on critical analysis, argument, inquiry, and information literacy. Taught as a writing workshop, the course places a premium on invention, drafting, and thoughtful revision.


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ART: CREATE SOMETHING GREAT -- There was a time when Picasso had never picked up a paintbrush. Maybe you’re destined to display your artwork alongside his! Instructors lead you in drawing and painting, while focusing on the importance of composition, perspective and color. Self-expression leads to greatness! Explore basic mediums such as pencil, charcoal and watercolor, while cultivating your own unique style. Materials will be purchased by students at a nominal cost.

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY: SAY CHEESE! -- If capturing the perfect moment were easy, we would all be photographing models for magazines. Whether your style is Vogue or National Geographic, the new, advanced technology of the digital camera can be used to capture the essence of any moment! Explore camera use and functions, cropping, lighting, and flash. Learn how to download photos to your computer, back up your images, create slideshows and photo collages, adjust coloration, e-mail and print photos, and have fun while doing it! With Colorado as a magnificent backdrop and faces in your program from around the world, your photo memories will last a lifetime! Students must bring a digital camera with necessary connection cables.

GUITAR WORKSHOP: LIKE A ROLLING STONE -- Ever wanted to learn how to play the acoustic guitar? Now is your chance! Learn the basic development of sheet reading and guitar strumming while having fun. Students are welcome to bring their own guitar. Rentals are available for $75 for 3 weeks and $95 for 5 weeks during our summer programs for high school students in Colorado.




THE PRINCETON REVIEW SAT PREPARATION WITH ACT BOOST -- Prepare for the SAT and the ACT with The Princeton Review during our summer programs for high school students in Colorado.  The Princeton Review’s SAT and ACT courses will prepare you to perform at your very best on all sections of the exams.  Students learn critical test-taking techniques, receive realistic testing practice with proctored exams and are assigned drills and homework assignments to practice outside class (don’t worry – it won’t be too much). Please note that students in our 2-week programs will receive their ACT Boost as an online supplement after their program has ended. Students who complete the SAT Preparation with ACT Boost course will be eligible for The Princeton Review’s satisfaction guarantee as well as the following additional services:

  • FREE unlimited access to The Princeton Review’s SAT and ACT online courses
  • FREE online wrap-up courses before your SAT/ACT test date
  • FREE Access to The Princeton Review’s best-fit college search program and the extensive admissions/financial resources of 

Supplemental Cost:  $895 (regularly retails for as much as $1,398 if taken in your home city; available for 5, 3 or 2-week sessions)

THE PRINCETON REVIEW SAT SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION -- Prepare for your SAT in a group of 3-5 students.  This program is a hybrid between the classroom program described above and private tutoring.  As with all Princeton Review programs, you will receive all of the materials, testing, instruction and online tools necessary to prepare comprehensively for your SAT, but you’ll have the added advantage of an incredibly small class.  Students who participate in this program will be eligible for The Princeton Review’s satisfaction guarantee as well as the additional services listed above.
Supplemental Cost: $1,699

SPEED READING: DO THE HUSTLE -- Wish you could get through that tough required reading quicker and easier? Learn to read faster, with improved comprehension. Double, even triple your speed! Understand what you read, retain more, process information more efficiently and reduce study time. And with all that extra time, this valuable skill can also be applied to leisure reading.
Supplemental cost: $150

SKILLS FOR SUCCESS: AVOIDING COMMON MISTAKES IN COLLEGE -- Learn to take thorough notes and use them well to prepare for exams. Practice essential stress-reducing skills in preparing for and taking tests. This class will also review concepts of time management and motivation enabling you to learn how to balance the academic side of college with the social and personal pressures of your newly found independence.




HEALTH AND WELLNESS: A BETTER YOU -- Making the point to exchange bad health habits with positive methods is essential for a successful life in college. (Ever hear of the "freshman fifteen?") This workshop will help you focus on improving your mind and your body by examining your health holistically. On your journey you'll examine the relationship between your mental and physical states, and find the balance that will bring you to your ideal health. This workshop will teach you to enhance your overall wellness using yoga, aromatherapy, stress, nutrition and physical fitness. Awareness is channeled through discussions and out of class activities.

THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL: FROM AEROSMITH TO ZEPPELIN -- Do your parents get emotional about their Beatles records? Have you bought the CD version of every album? Rock music has the capability to influence generations of people. Listen to, analyze and discuss the impact of this timeless musical genre. Examine the social impact that the music and lyrics of Rock 'n Roll have on today's and yesterday's youth. Come with your ears and mind open, and leave with a head full of Rock.




CREATIVE WRITING: WRITE AWAY! -- Finally, a class where your mind has to wander! Inspired by entertaining and constructive writing exercises, you will work on establishing a distinct style, unique characters and sensible plot. You’ll explore the creative styles of known authors, playwrights and poets, focusing mainly on dialogue, theme and development of your own writing style. This class is workshop-style, and has a great “hands-on” approach to writing.

EXPOSITORY WRITING: PRODUCING THE RIGHT COLLEGE ESSAY -- Today’s assignment: Compose a quality piece of writing that clearly communicates your ideas and explores YOUR perspective on a controversial issue. If you enjoy debate, exploring multiple perspectives, or just speaking your mind, this class is for you! The meat of the course will consist of thesis development, organization of ideas, paragraph structure, strategies for editing and revision, and the importance of correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. We will work with a variety of styles within the expository genre, including journalism, creative non-fiction, and persuasive essays. Our class will leave you feeling more confident in your writing, and in yourself.

ESL: ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE -- This intensive class is designed for foreign-born students who want to improve their English language skills. Participants will be individually tested and assigned a personalized program. Emphasis will be placed on conversational skills as well as mastering English grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing skills.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: INTRO TO LAW & THE JUSTICE SYSTEM -- This workshop is an introduction to careers in law and some specialty fields such as criminal, real estate and entertainment law. Examine the fundamental concepts within negligence, bankruptcy, copyright and trademark law. Examine the American criminal justice system and its attempt to curb violence, crime and civil disobedience. Participation in a mock trial will give you an understanding of lawyers' roles: investigation, research, advocacy, negotiation, trial preparation, and dispute resolution.




COMMUNITY SERVICE WORKSHOP -- Want to make a difference this summer? Students who enroll in the Community Service workshop will dedicate their heart, sweat and tears to helping local non-profit organizations. A portion of this workshop (sponsored by Habitat for Humanity) will allow students to dedicate their efforts towards building affordable, low cost housing to qualified families in need of adequate shelter. In addition, students will also join their classmates in extended local projects around campus that are beneficial to the community and enriching to you. At the conclusion of the program, students will be issued a Certificate of Accomplishment from Summer Study Programs attesting their hours performed during the workshop. High school credit may be available. This course is capacity controlled.
Supplemental Transportation Cost: $150 for 2 weeks, $195 for 3 weeks, $245 for 5 weeks




ALGEBRA: YOU CAN COUNT ON ME -- A firm understanding of algebra is necessary in order to continue on to more advanced levels of math. This class will improve your understanding of the basic concepts of high school algebra using familiar drills and exercises. Mind bending includes a review of basic geometric principles, also fundamental in math. This class is especially helpful in preparation for the math section of the SAT exam. Students must have completed two years of high school math to enroll in this class.

ARCHITECTURE: BOULDER WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY -- Many factors go into how structures are designed and where they will be erected. Using the areas on and around campus as a textbook, learn how practicing architects develop their ideas into a structural reality. Become more aware of the space around you, and determine if it is efficiently being used. Instructors will teach you elementary concepts in aesthetics, structures, building design, light and sound. Apply what you learn to a small design project that utilizes your new skills.

CALCULUS: WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION? -- A comprehensive introduction to college calculus including functions, limits, analytic geometry, derivatives, differentials and their applications as well as integrals and their applications. Students should have a strong math background having completed 2 years of algebra and 1 year of geometry, and have a working knowledge of pre-calculus.

ENGINEERING: BRIDGE THE GAP -- With the future in mind, instructors will introduce you to the “big four” disciplines of engineering: civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical. Work in teams and as an individual to visualize and design projects that briefly explore other disciplines of engineering as well (biomedical, aerospace, computer and environmental). Engineers build the world, and perhaps you’ll help to make it a more functional place!

PRE-CALCULUS: DON’T BE IRRATIONAL -- The word might be frightening, but this course will make calculus far less complicated than you thought it would be. Use this class to prepare yourself for what’s to come in high school calculus classes. Topics to be covered include equations, inequalities, functions and their graphs, polynomial and rational functions, analytic geometry and complex numbers. Sounds like Swahili, but really its just a numbers game!




PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS: DISTINGUISHING RIGHT FROM WRONG -- “Hey, that’s not fair!” Questions concerning rightness and wrongness, justice and injustice, goodness and badness, virtue and vice, and praise and blame, permeate our modern world. Philosophers have been thinking about these issues for more than 2000 years! Why haven’t they reached a consensus? The course will introduce students to the terms of the debates in ethical theory, and prepare students to construct, analyze, and assess ethical arguments in the modern world. Topics include: deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics, and more.

PSYCHOLOGY: FREUDIAN FRENZY -- Do you dream about mermaids and wonder why? Is some of your "abnormal" behavior actually "normal?" This class examines the major theories of human behavior, exploring experimental methods and testing that psychologists use to study it. Discover what role the brain plays in everyday situations, during sleep, on drugs and in emergencies. Understand how psychologists classify and explain various types of problems, and discuss their recommended therapies.




INTRO TO BUSINESS: EFFECTIVE OPERATIONS -- The course touches on some of the key terms and principles studied in business, including finance, accounting, marketing, and business law. Through a hands-on approach, students will develop a business plan, which will include effective marketing strategies and campaigns in today’s economy. Emphasis is placed on various business strategies of the past and present, and how organizations have failed/succeeded with these methods.

PUBLIC RELATIONS: PERSUADING THE PUBLIC -- Discover the nature and role of the field in our democratic society, and worldwide. Discuss the activities of public relations professionals, major influences that affect organizational behavior, ethics, and professional development of practitioners in the private and public sectors. This course emphasizes the functions of management and importance of developing effective public relations strategies.



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GOVERNMENT & POLITICS: D.C. BOUND -- Expand your knowledge of politics and law, while improving your leadership skills with this intensive workshop.
  The class begins with an introduction to American government, goes on to discuss the judicial system and its relevance in the United States, and incorporates debates and public speaking in discussing real world issues affecting society.  Students will gain knowledge on numerous topics impacting the modern world, and will be able to construct a more educated opinion in developing a plan for a better future.


COLLEGE ESSAY WRITING: GET IT "RIGHT!" -- Your assignment: Write an essay that will be your ticket to that dream university!  It is not an easy task to master the skills of writing effective papers.  This class aids in the process of producing college-worthy essays by covering how to choose a topic, organize ideas, and correctly structure paragraphs.  A portion of this workshop is also dedicated to the importance of proper syntax, grammar and punctuation.  At the completion of the course, students will complete a college essay for evaluation and critique by the instructor. 


PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL -- Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. While psychology is most often associated with clinical issues (abnormal, personality), this makes up only a small portion of the field. Other specialties within the field include, to name a few, physiological, social, organizational, and developmental psychology. We cannot understand ourselves or the individuals around us without looking at how we develop, how we behave in a social context, or the physiological components of our behavior. Thus, this course will serve as an overview of the major fields within psychology and key terms that students may encounter in psychology classes when in college. Students learn to critically evaluate "common sense" knowledge about how people function. 


ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES: BECOME ONE WITH NATURE -- This course serves as an introduction to and covers broad aspects of environmental science and environmental studies.  Negative environment impacts are studied in detail.  Specifically, this course examines the risks associated with industrial growth in a developing world, the impact of population growth on natural resources, air and water pollution, mineral and resource extraction, water usage, and various sources of power generation.  Emphasis is placed on a holistic approach to environmental science using known tests results, surveys, and class discussions to reinforce specific concepts.


HEALTH, FITNESS, & NUTRITION: ONE HEART -- Your seventh grade gym teacher may have told you that your body is a temple – your teacher was right!  Your body is made up of living cells that must be treated with great care in order to stay healthy, fit and rid of disease.  This intensive workshop will be divided into two parts: 1) Overall health and nutrition, and 2) physical fitness.  The first part of each period revolves around in-class discussions on digestion and vitamin absorption, carbohydrate, fat and protein requirements, food fads, diets, and additives.  The second part of each class period will concentrate on physical fitness.  Workouts will take place outside the classroom at a fitness facility.  You will learn about the body’s complex muscle groups and different exercises that can be used on each muscle, the basics of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and static stretching such as yoga and Pilates.


COMMUNITY SERVICE/LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP -- How would you like to make a difference in your community and to see a difference in yourself this summer? The focus of this workshop involves a hands-on approach, in which students volunteer in conjunction with local organizations such as Bessie’s Hope, The Humane Society, Science Discovery, Good Will, Habitat for Humanity, and many others. Additionally, an interactive leadership program is put in place on days when no fieldwork is assigned to discuss various styles of leadership, their effectiveness, and the characteristics necessary to succeed in school, the workplace, and community. The combination of both factors enables students to make a difference, while increasing awareness of their sense of self and bring out their true leadership potential. Each student enrolled will be issued a Certificate of Accomplishment from Summer Study Programs, attesting the hours performed during the workshop.



Last Updated 10/14/13


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The first 2 Science Discovery workshops listed below (Biosciences and Engineering) are offered to 5 and 3-week session participants. The Science Journalism workshop is offered to 2-week participants. In addition to the Science Discovery workshop, students may also enroll in 1 of the enrichment classes above. Science Discovery workshops meet 3 hours each day, 5 days per week for 2 or 3 weeks. Students in the 5-week program who select one of the Science Discovery workshops below, will need to select an additional 2-week class or workshop for the final 2 weeks of their program.

BIOSCIENCES SERIES -- Supplemental  Fee: $425 for 3 weeks Explore new advances in the life sciences through this interdisciplinary series that integrates current university research. Dive into the mysteries of the mind and how our brains work in Cognitive Science. Explore the world of microbes in Microbiology. In Biomedical Engineering, use molecular biology techniques and explore cutting-edge life sciences research at CU’s BioFrontiers Institute.
Week 1. Cognitive Science: Do androids dream? Is your “red” the same as mine? In this course, we’ll explore these and other questions of the mind and brain from a variety of different perspectives, including cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience and artificial intelligence. You’ll get a chance to participate in real experiments, and tour the new fMRI brain scanner at CU!
Week 2. Microbiology: Let’s explore the hidden world of microbiology! Microbes cannot be seen with the naked eye but they are all around us. We’ll explore the fascinating effects microbes have on human health, the natural world and modern industry. Along the way we will examine the careers of modern microbiologists and the techniques they use to understand the hidden world of microorganisms. We’ll tour cutting edge microbiology research labs, consider the exciting future of microbiology and perform real-world microbiology experiments.
Week 3. Biomedical Engineering: Have you ever broken a bone or strained a muscle? Ever wondered how your body regenerates itself and what we can do when it doesn’t? What materials can we use as body part replacements and what makes those materials so special? We’ll explore our amazing bodies, how they can heal and what tools we have to figure out why they won’t. We’ll get some hands-on experience using some of the actual assays that biomedical engineers would use such as ELISAs, Microarry assays and DNA chromatography. In addition, we’ll have the opportunity to play with a biomaterial used to engineer cartilage.


ENGINEERING SERIES -- Supplemental  Fee: $425 for 3 weeks
Experience the dynamic world of engineering in this unique three-week series surveying the fields of Optical, Environmental and Materials Science Engineering. Explore real-world challenges, design and test solutions to these problems, and go behind the scenes to experience CU engineering in action!
Week 1. Optical Engineering: Optical engineers design components such as lenses, microscopes and telescopes that utilize light’s properties in a wide range of applications. In this class, go behind-the-scenes at CU’s Engineering Center and learn how CU research groups are designing and using optical instruments in different fields. Through hands-on activities and experiments, we’ll investigate the properties of light and lasers and see how lasers are used are communications, medicine, imaging and water purification.
Week 2. Environmental Engineering: Learn how engineers ‘make a world of difference’ as we design solutions for real-world problems related to sustainability and environmental health. Today, developed countries face challenges surrounding chemicals spills, contaminated storm water runoff, climate change, and forest fire hazards from the pine beetle kill epidemic. In developing countries, people often do not have access to clean drinking water, or sanitation services. The skills an environmental engineer has can address such issues all over the world, making environmental engineering an important and exciting field. This course will look at the development of technologies, such as biochar, that can address climate change, contaminated water, and waste management in both developed and developing nations. We will investigate different ways to generate such materials, using simple cook stoves and furnaces, and conducting laboratory experiments to clean water at University of Colorado, Boulder laboratories.
Week 3. Materials Science: Biomimicry: How does the nanoscale structure of a gecko’s foot allow it to cling to walls? How is the surface of a lotus leaf designed to easily shed water? What about an abalone shell creates an incredibly strong and tough material that we mimic in tank armor? In the field of Materials Science, we use engineering, physics, biology, and chemistry to study how materials gain their particular properties. Materials in nature have been in development for billions of years and many are optimized to achieve fantastic physical properties. In this class, we will use inspiration from natural materials to innovate solutions to modern engineering problems.


SCIENCE JOURNALISM -- Supplemental  Fee: $350 for 2 weeks
Effectively communicating your scientific understanding plays a critical and often underestimated role in the world of science. Through the application of video, photography and audio, we will learn how to take a science topic and mold it into a compelling story for all audiences. In this class, we will learn how to write, shoot and edit like a broadcaster as well has how to incorporate the elements of photography and audio production to take our science stories to the next level. Each of us will have a role to play, whether it is a director, reporter, interviewer, photographer or editor. If you are interested in learning how to tell a compelling story while developing video, photography and sound-editing skills, this is the class for you.


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