About Course Descriptions

Course Categories

For purposes of planning programs of study, courses at WPI are divided into three categories

Category I (Cat. I)

These courses cover core material of interest to large numbers of students. Category I courses are offered at least once a year.

Category II (Cat. II)

Category II courses are offered at least every other year

Category III (Cat. III)

Category III courses are offered at the discretion of the department/program.



The course will build on material in the recommended course. Instructors can assume that the student is knowledgeable of the material from the recommended course or from other experiences.


The material from this course would be helpful to the student, but it is not assumed background.

Some sections of WPI courses may be labeled as “WI” in the course schedules. These sections will:

  • Assign writing to teach course content and disciplinary forms of communication and reasoning;
  • Provide explicit instruction in and feedback on students’ written work; and
  • Specify and require standards for ethical writing practices.

Catalog and Schedule

The catalog and course schedule can be found online at https://www.wpi.edu/academics/calendar-catalogs and https://courselistings.wpi.edu.

Course Numbering

Each course at WPI is designated by a prefix identifying the subject area followed by a four digit number. The first digit is coded as follows:

1 — Courses for which first-year students will receive priority in registration. Upper class students may register on a space-available basis.

2 — Basic level courses.

3 — Advanced level undergraduate courses for which no graduate credit is given. (This restriction may be waived at the discretion of the degree department.)

4 — Advanced level undergraduate courses for which graduate credit may also be given.

5 — Graduate courses.

The last three digits may be used by the departments to indicate subject areas. Many graduate courses are also available to undergraduates.

Course Credit

Unless otherwise indicated, WPI courses usually carry credit of 1/3 unit. This level of activity suggests at least 15-17 hours of work per week, including work outside the  classroom, as well as scheduled class and laboratory time. The usual workload per term is 1 unit.