The information below may be out-of-date for our 2020 online program. Please check our COVID page for updated links and changes.

Selecting a Course

With nearly 40 different courses to choose from, it is sometimes difficult for students to find the one course that is just right for them! We encourage you to read through the course descriptions to carefully identify a course that interests you and for which you are academically prepared. It is important to note course prerequisites and grade level requirements when you are selecting your course choices, as not all courses are open to all students. In addition to selecting the course that you are most interested in taking, you may select up to three other courses as alternatives.


Course Load

Half-year equivalent courses cover about a semester of course content in six weeks. The pace is accelerated but not rushed. Some of these courses are excellent options for current middle school students (including those continuing from the Elementary Division) who seek an introduction to high school-level topics. Others feature unique or special topics suitable for high schoolers preparing to transition to college; these advanced courses typically have academic prerequisites.

Full-year equivalent courses cover the equivalent of two semesters of course content in six weeks. The pace is extremely fast. Students should expect to dedicate a large amount of time to homework and self-study outside of class, and we recommend that they schedule no other summer activities during the program. Most of these courses have academic prerequisites.


Special Types of Courses

A–G Approved Courses

If approved, each course lists the UC/CSU A-G subject requirement met. Many high school-level ATDP courses are intended for college preparation (G). The online course catalog will list updates as more ATDP courses are approved throughout the year. For ATDP courses currently listed as “in process,” approval will be retroactive and should include this summer. (Please note that courses designed exclusively for students completing 7th and 8th grade are not eligible for A-G approval.)

Honors Designation

Due to the pace and depth of the curricula, all ATDP courses for high school students are taught at what most schools would list as “honors” level. This is different from the UC honors designation, which is an optional part of each course’s A-G status. Courses designated by UC as “honors” are comparable to introductory college-level courses in the subject, and always include a culminating final exam or project.

AP-aligned Courses

AP-aligned courses are especially rigorous full-year courses designed to help prepare students for an Advanced Placement exam in the subsequent spring. Take special note of these courses’ prerequisites and homework & self-study time required per class meeting. Review during the school year is highly recommended, and additional self-study may be required for full exam preparation. Students who pass the AP exam may be eligible for college credit, and some AP exam scores may be counted toward the UC/CSU A-G subject requirement (see Documenting Coursework > A-G College Entrance Requirements).

Choosing a Writing Course

Applicants sometimes have trouble figuring out which writing course is most appropriate for their skill level, age, and grade. Aside from creative writing, all of our writing courses share very similar learning goals, just at different levels. We recommend including all acceptable writing course alternatives on your application form. Based on your academic product, grade, age, and Letter of Interest, we will place you in the most appropriate class.

Choosing a Math Course

Accelerated core math courses are intensive full-year courses that are equivalent to the traditional high school math sequence, and are recommended only for students seeking acceleration at their school. They have rigid prerequisites and a special application process. Please review the special requirements and instructions for applying to these courses.

Other math courses are designed to help students who want to gain a deeper understanding of specialized math topics and who are not seeking acceleration at their school.


Applying for Two Courses

Only students with strong academic backgrounds are allowed to take two courses, and new Secondary Division students (including those who previously attended ATDP’s Elementary Division) are less likely to be allowed to enroll in two courses. Remember that expectations are high in every ATDP course, and many former students have reported that taking two courses was more time-consuming than they expected. Add together the two courses’ estimated hours per week listed in the course index for an approximate time commitment.

If you are interested in enrolling in two courses, you must petition to do so in your Letter of Interest that accompanies your application. The petition should explain your summer plan: clearly identify your desired schedule of two courses, making sure their meeting times do not conflict, as well as any alternatives (single courses or other two-course combinations) in order of preference. Also describe how you plan to manage time commitments outside of class meetings. Successful petitions tend to be for two half-year equivalent courses, or one full-year equivalent course with a smaller time commitment and one half-year course.

Please also consider Explorations if your goal is to plan a full day of activity.