School of Professional Studies

Teaching with SPS – Pre-College and Undergraduate Programs

Through the School of Professional Studies, Brown University offers a number of programs designed for pre-college students as well as Brown and visiting undergraduates – primarily during the summer months.  Our instructors are primarily Brown faculty, visiting instructors, graduate students, post-docs and members of our greater academic community.  They all find, in teaching in an SPS program, opportunities to develop innovative courses and acquire valuable experience with different audiences.

Each fall we renew the call for proposals to teach in the upcoming summer.  Proposals are best received by us by November 1.  The summer curriculum is typically finalized between mid-December and mid-January. 

A course proposal form and instructions on its completion can be found below. We encourage those interested in teaching with us to read over the descriptions of each program carefully to ensure that the course they have in mind is designed for the most appropriate program/audience.   If you have further questions and wish to speak to a Program Director, please feel free to contact us:

Program Directors:

The Programs

University Summer Session

Summer Session serves as the summer term for Brown University, and Brown undergraduates comprise the primary audience for courses, although some visiting undergraduates, advanced high school students, and Brown graduate students do also enroll. A substantial number of students seek to enroll in courses that are pre-requisites for further advanced study; in courses that are particularly challenging during the fall and spring, such that focusing on just this one course in the summer appeals to them; in courses that are frequently closed during the fall and spring; and to a lesser degree in courses that have broad appeal across disciplines. Visiting undergraduates typically seek courses that are foundational in a discipline and which typically share common curricula with other colleges and universities. Advanced high school students generally seek courses that are introductory to a discipline or which appeal to them as exemplars of first year college study. The term is 7 weeks long, which include 6 weeks of instruction (approximately 8 hours per week of class time) along with an additional week of combined reading period and final examinations. Courses are also offered fully on-line as well as on campus and follow the same calendar. Our expectation is that all the goals accomplished in a course offered during a 15-week semester will be accomplished in the 7-week summer session, whether delivered on campus or online. Students may take no more than two courses during the Summer Session. In order for a course to be offered in the Summer Session, both course and instructor must have the endorsement of SPS and a Brown University academic department, and be approved by the University faculty committee responsible for the curriculum – The College Curriculum Committee.

To learn more, visit: 
Undergraduate Programs Web Site »
Those interested in teaching in the University’s credit bearing Summer Session should please contact James Chansky, Assistant Dean, Summer Session and Pre-College Programs directly at james_chansky@brown.edu or 401-863-7905.

Summer@Brown Pre-College Courses

High school students interested in the intellectual sophistication and varied methods of inquiry typical of a first-year undergraduate liberal arts curriculum pursue these opportunities through Summer@Brown. These non-credit courses are presented in an intensive workshop/seminar format that meets Monday through Friday, for 3 hours per day. Multiple sessions ranging in duration from one week to four weeks are offered, beginning at the end of June and ending the first week in August. The program curriculum reflects the diversity of a college curriculum in general, as well as the diversity of the particular academic fields represented at Brown University. Courses appropriate for this audience should be targeted towards a first-year student: in other words, for those beginning learners who are ready to be intellectually challenged, but might not have all of the building blocks of a more experienced student. For the most part, students are most interested in courses that introduce them to a discipline, a particular mode of inquiry, a particular methodology, or a particular issue or topic that provides a vehicle for such an introduction. Course content and delivery should be designed with the length of the term in mind, so that the goals of the course fit the timeframe. As classes meet for three hours daily, it is crucially important for instructors to consider a varied toolkit of teaching techniques, so that classes are engaging and—as much as possible—interactive.  As courses should be designed with the expectation that students will also spend up to 3 hours daily on preparation for each class, outside of class work should be similarly engaging, pointed, and directly connected to work done in class.

To learn more, visit: 
Pre-College Program Web Site »
Course proposal form »

The Leadership Institute

The Leadership Institute is designed for highly motivated, intellectually curious students who are interested in social issues and making a positive impact in their communities.  Consisting of three core elements: academic content, leadership development, and the Action Plan, this program enables students to analyze complex social issues and cultivate both the self-awareness and confidence to act on the knowledge they have gained. Faculty will work with the program director to synthesize course content with the established leadership components of this Institute. Courses are two weeks in length and meet for three hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Additionally, students and faculty are required to attend several late afternoon workshops related to leadership development and spend one full day off-site at a low ropes course. Course proposals that provide interdisciplinary, global, and contemporary perspectives and faculty who are committed to youth engagement are well suited for this program.

To learn more, visit: 
Leadership Program Web Site »
Course proposal form »

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL)

BELL is a leadership program for high school students focused on environmental studies and science through place-based learning. Historically the programs have been offered in a variety of locations with academic content reflective of each site. Locations include: Rhode Island: Environmental Science and Social Action, and: Alaska: Cultural Preservation, Economic Growth and Environmental Choices.

To learn more, visit:
BELL Web Site » 
Course proposal form »

Location-based Programs

Location-based programs are designed for pre-college students interested in immersive learning experiences that take place in a location that bears directly on the learning.  For students with interests in cultural diversity, cultural studies of the arts and sciences and leadership, programs may also extend their experience with a language and/or a culture.  Programs take place in secure, faculty-facilitated academic environments and are typically between one and two weeks in length.  Faculty who have well established research interests and resources abroad or on locations in the US are invited to develop programs with support from the staff of the School of Professional Studies.

To learn more, visit: 
Location-based Programs Website »
Course proposal form »

Intensive English Language Program

The Intensive English Program is an immersive experience designed for non-native speakers who seek an opportunity to develop their English language skills in preparation for study at an English language college or university. Through liberal arts courses that explore American and global culture, history, economics, and the arts, students focus on strengthening their language skills. Small class sizes, events, and workshops maximize student participation and student-instructor interaction.

To learn more, visit: 
Intensive English Language Program Website »
Course proposal form »

STEM I: for Middle School Students - SPARK

The SPARK program is a Pre-College program for middle school students who have demonstrated an outstanding ability in science or math and are seeking to experience additional challenges and gain exposure to a multidisciplinary STEM-based curriculum. SPARK courses are one and two weeks in the summer and classes meet for three hours each morning and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. They should be designed to introduce a complex scientific topic in a manner appropriate for highly advanced rising 7th and 8th grade students and should include hands-on activities, student-centered learning, and inquiry practices. Faculty should be prepared to develop courses that allow students to begin to think, and act, as interdisciplinary problem solvers.

To learn more, visit: 
SPARK Program Web Site » 
Course proposal form »

STEM II for Rising 9th and 10th Grade Students

This program is a Pre-College program for students who have completed middle school and are either entering the 9th grade or have just recently completed 9th grade. This program is designed to strengthen the student’s innate curiosity and passion for content in the STEM subjects, further prepare them for success in High School and introduce them to potential career paths. Ten courses will be offered, each two weeks in duration. Classes will meet for three hours each morning and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Faculty will enhance the academic content through the inclusion of a challenging and comprehensive research project, activity or design challenge. The students will spend time out of class during the full two weeks working on this project and will present their efforts on the final day to their instructor, peers, and family. The students we are educating today will be the leaders of tomorrow. These courses should expose students to the concepts behind topics of global importance that are part of the students’ world and make them aware of where their curiosity and strengths may lead them in the future and how they can have an impact.

To learn more, visit: 
STEM II Program Web Site » 
Course proposal form »

Pre-College Online Courses

While fully reflecting the Summer@Brown broad liberal arts curriculum and its academic goals, Precollege online courses are fully online, and delivered in Brown's Canvas learning management system. The courses are asynchronous, meaning that students are not required to log in at a set time to do their work. They do follow a weekly schedule, so students will know what they need to do each week and the due dates for their assignments, but it is completely up to them when during the week they do their work. Courses are designed for students to spend approximately 10 hours per week on coursework.

OUR APPROACH TO ONLINE LEARNING: We believe effective learning depends on high-quality instructional design – no matter whether in a traditional face-to-face classroom or in an online environment.  For this reason, instructors work closely with the SPS instructional designers to develop and deliver course content that exemplifies best practices of student-centered design and inquiry-based learning. We maintain small class sizes that reflect Brown’s policy for teaching assistant support of undergraduate courses, and which fosters exciting, dynamic learning communities that encourage one-on-one interaction, team work, and networking.

To learn more, visit: 
Online Pre-College Courses Web Site »
Designing and Teaching Online Course »
Course proposal form »