Curriculum Overview

VIPER is a unique college experience that positions students to make a significant impact in the development of sustainable energy science and technology while cultivating an interdisciplinary perspective in science and engineering and forming lasting connections with a community dedicated to solving the world's energy challenges.


Dual Degree

VIPER is a coordinated dual-degree program at Penn, and our students pursue two degrees -- a Bachelor of Arts in the School of Arts and Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Click the above degrees for more information about their degree requirements and click here to see more information about VIPER-approved major options. Dual-degree students should complete at a minimum of 46 course units (CUs).


Research Experience

Students take a dedicated "Introduction to Energy Research" seminar in the first (VIPR-1200; 0.5CU) and second year (VIPR-1210; 0.5CU). This seminar series prepares students for their first summer of research at Penn by introducing them to current energy research topics, the challenges and techniques involved with conducting research, and strategies for reading and writing technical papers. Throughout this course, students will be guided towards finding research opportunities with Penn faculty mentors that reflect their interests in energy science and technology. For more information about summer research support, click here.

During their time at Penn, VIPER students conduct energy research for at least 2 summers. VIPER provides substantial financial support for students to conduct research over the summer. Summer research happens on Penn's campus during the first summer, and students can opt to pursue opportunities both in and out of Penn for their second summer. Additionally, VIPER students can choose to do a third summer of energy research with VIPER. For more information on VIPER research experiences, click here.


Leadership Development

In addition to the "Introduction to Energy Research" seminar that students take, VIPER students also take an asynchronous energy research and leadership development course (VIPR-1300; 0.5 CU). This course is taken every semester by VIPER students starting with their sophomore year, including summers. Through this course, students are encouraged to reflect on their energy-relevant experiences at Penn, and to seek out new opportunities both within and external to VIPER, such as on-campus energy talks and poster sessions, alumni engagement, and community-building events. For more information on VIPR-1300, click here.


Energy Courses

Students complete at least 3 energy courses during their time at Penn. Click here for more information about energy courses at Penn.



In summary, VIPER students complete:

  • Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts
  • Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Engineering
  • VIPER Requirements
    • VIPR-1200 (0.5 CU)
    • VIPR-1210 (0.5 CU)
    • VIPR-1300 (3.5-4.5 CU)
    • 2 summers of research
    • 3 energy courses


Academic Standing

To remain in good standing with the program, VIPER students must:

  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (multiple incomplete or withdrawal grades will be taken into consideration)
  • Make reasonable progress towards meeting their dual degree requirements
  • Make reasonable progress towards meeting their research requirements

Students who do not meet these requirements will be placed on academic probation with the program for the following semester. Students must take the following steps to return to good standing with the program:

  • Hold regular discussions with the VIPER Managing Director about academic progress and actively engage with their advisors. Students should reflect on their academic difficulties and to develop and discuss their plan for returning to academic standing.
  • Restrictions on the students’ maximum CU load may be implemented. Students should develop or update their 4-year plans accordingly.
  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the following term

Students are also encouraged to take advantage of VIPER and Penn resources, such as peer study groups, Student Health and Counseling, the Weingarten Learning Center, and the Tutoring Center to work towards their goals. Students may receive additional communications from the School of Arts and/or Sciences or School of Engineering and Applied Science regarding their academic standing.

Students who do not meet the requirements to return to good academic standing may be dropped from the program. Students who earn an F or multiple Fs may be dropped from the program immediately.