Frequently Asked Questions about EPGY Courses
What are the objectives of EPGY courses?
The goal of EPGY courses is to present gifted students with the opportunity to
take courses suitable to their ability. Because EPGY courses are
computer-based, students can take advanced courses regardless of where
they live, and without leaving their normal school environment. Within
the context of this goal, EPGY courses strive to deepen and improve the
nature of computer-based distance learning instruction. We revise our
courses regularly based on the data we collect on student
performance. We also evaluate new technologies as they become
available and incorporate them into our courses when we feel it is
appropriate to do so. In this way we continue to improve upon the
quality of the educational experience we provide. Top
How do the courses work?
Because there is some variation in the instructional models used in
the K-7, Secondary and University-Level Mathematics, Writing, and
Physics courses, we devote separate sections to each:
The K-7 Accelerated Mathematics Courses
The K-7 course software, Arithmetic and Geometry, is based on a
series of textbooks written by Patrick Suppes. The Arithmetic and
Geometry program has been designed to be very sensitive to
differences among students and to tailor the exercises to focus on each
student's weak points. The program divides mathematics into different
strands, or topic areas, and monitors each student's progression in
each of these areas separately. As students work problems online,
the computer keeps track of the student's strengths and weaknesses in
each of the strands, and requires students to do more work in their
Each time a new concept is presented to a student, a brief lecture
using sound and graphics is presented which explains the concept.
The lectures are often followed by example problems that show the
student how to approach a particular question. In addition to the
required exercises on the computer, students may be assigned
Homework - In grades 3 - 7, students are often given the
opportunity to request supplemental worksheets or homework. This
homework consists of exercises from the different strands/concept
areas that they covered in the last sessions of work. Homework is
not a requirement for the K-7 course, but rather an option.
While instructors will answer questions from students about
their homework, they do not grade the homework nor do they expect
it to be mailed in.
Working through the Course Sequence - After a student
completes each K-7 course, i.e., K-2, 3-4, 5-6, or 7, he or
she may register for the next course in the sequence by contacting
the course administrator. The M00D course is equivalent to Honors
Pre-Algebra. Generally, students complete a new registration form, and pay a
registration fee for each subsequent course. Top
The Secondary & Advanced Mathematics Courses
As with the primary school courses, these courses have both on-line
and off-line components. The on-line component consists of three main
parts, the most fundamental of which is the lecture. Lectures are
presented using digitized sound and graphics, which resemble what a
teacher would write on a chalkboard while lecturing. This lecture
environment gives the students a feeling similar to that of a real
classroom, and emphasizes the informal nature of spoken mathematics.
The lectures are followed by on-line exercises which vary according to
the course. These may be quizzes in which the student answers
questions about the lecture or interactive expositions in which a
student is led through detailed arguments step by step. The third
component is derivations, in which the student is asked to prove
mathematical facts using a symbolic computation environment.
In addition to the lessons on the computer, each secondary and
advanced course has regular offline homework from a textbook and
off-line chapter tests. This offline work is an important part of
the course and should be taken seriously. Students should expect to spend
as much as 45 minutes on homework for each lesson completed
on-line. Homework consists of reading the appropriate section in the
textbook and doing the assigned problems.
Students may read the textbook sections before or after
listening to the lectures on the computer. All the homework
problems should be written up on paper just like one would write
up homework for any other class.
Most of the courses have homework-checking lessons in addition to
the normal lessons. A homework checking lesson is a lesson that
consists of a series of questions about a particular homework.
These lessons ask students to type in their answers to a
particular question and then report whether or not the answer is
Tests - Along with the homework assignment sheet and
schedule, students will also receive a complete packet of chapter
tests, which should be taken after completing all the work from
the corresponding chapter in the textbook. Tests are important as
they are the main way for instructors to evaluate student
progress. We require students to be prompt in taking tests and
submitting them, and we request full assistance from parents in
seeing that this is done. Top
University-Level Math and Physics
University-level courses have several components, the most fundamental of which is the lectures. Lectures are presented using digitized sound and graphics, resembling a multimedia-enhanced version of what a teacher might write on a chalkboard. The lectures capture the informal nature of classroom instruction, while preserving a level of rigor appropriate to the subject matter. The lectures are usually followed by online exercises which vary according to the course. The final component is offline problem sets, which are designed to be comparable in difficulty to the problem sets given in traditional courses at Stanford. Students should expect to spend 5-10 hours per week working on these problems.
Problem sets play a more important role in the university-level courses than they do at the secondary or AP-level. As the subject matter becomes more abstract, computerized assessment of a student's understanding becomes more difficult. At the same time, the types of problems given in a course become more complicated. Some courses require students to submit their problem sets so that instructors can more closely evaluate students' work and monitor their progress.
All courses have exams, consisting mostly of offline work submitted to the tutor for detailed review and assessment. Top
The 4-6 grade writing courses (W09ABC) include weekly
interaction via computer among students and instructor using the
virtual classroom. In small groups, students log on to a
world-wide-web site where each participant can see and interact
with the same screen display and hear and speak with the other
participants. Many of these courses also include CD-ROM lessons on
topics such as essay coherence, paragraph development, and
grammar. (For courses that do not yet include a CD-ROM component,
such topics are handled exclusively in the virtual classroom.)
Students complete reading assignments and weekly writing
assignments, concentrating on developing ideas for essays,
implementing those ideas as drafts, and revising drafts according
to comments they receive from their teachers in conferences or via
The secondary-level writing courses (W10ABC, W11ABC) are also
conducted in the interactive virtual classroom, where
students and teachers meet weekly in small groups, speaking and
listening to each other, and working interactively with the same
screen display. The syllabi are organized around weekly writing
assignments that students submit to teachers via email, and which
they receive back with comments in the same way. Weekly CD-ROM
lessons cover standard topics in expository writing: for example,
prewriting activities, thesis development, essay coherence,
paragraph organization and development, revision strategies, and
sentence style. The EPGY courses also include weekly readings from
course readers and from standard published
textbooks and weekly writing assignments. We encourage students to
make full use of the tutorial resources available to them, and to
ask questions both by email and by phone between live tutorial
When do the courses begin?
Please see the registration deadline page
in the 'Apply and Register' section of the website. It lists start
date information and registration deadlines.
How do I decide what course to begin with?
Usually, the question of initial placement in most
courses is up to the students and parents. However, we have produced some
placement tests and charts to aid students and parents in making an
initial placement decision. Placement in most writing courses are determined by us, based on
age. If you need assistance in choosing a
course, please contact us; we also have a complete listing of course
- K-7 Accelerated Mathematics Courses
Generally, we recommend that students begin at their current
grade level, unless they have demonstrated that their
mathematical knowledge is well advanced. We do not yet have a
placement exam for these courses; students should consult the Elementary-level Mathematics
pages to find a detailed list of topics covered in each
grade level in the K-7 series. Although the courses begin at
the start of every odd-numbered grade level (1, 3, 5, and 7), it
is not necessary that a student begin at that level when
starting the program. For example, a fourth grader may begin
the 3-4 mathematics course at grade level 4.0 in all strands.
Once the student begins the course, consult with the tutor to
make a more fine-grained placement decision if the material
turns out to be either too easy or too hard. The grade 7 course is an Honors Pre-Algebra level course. Top
- Secondary Mathematics Courses
Students who are currently in a first-year algebra course or
equivalent should take M011, Honors Beginning Algebra. Students who have had
a year of algebra should take M012, Honors Intermediate Algebra.
Students who have completed intermediate algebra can then take
M015, Honors Geometry. Students
who are ready for trigonometry and precalculus should take M013,
Honors Precalculus. If it is still unclear which
course in this sequence a student should start with, we do offer a
placement exam for these courses. Top
- Calculus Courses
Students who are prepared to take a first-year calculus course should
take Calculus A. Students who have had a semester-long course in
calculus in which they have covered the basic concepts of limits and
derivatives may begin with Calculus B. Students who have been
prepared for the AB Calculus AP exam or equivalent should begin with
Calculus C. Contact us if you have any questions regarding
placement into these courses. Top
- University-Level Mathematics Courses
Students who have completed Calculus C or the equivalent should
enroll in Multivariable Differential Calculus (M52A), followed by Multivariable
Integral Calculus (M52B). Linear
Algebra (M51A) should be taken after, or concurrently with,
M52B. (Note: M52A, or an equivalent course in Multivariable Calculus course,
is a prerequisite for M51A.)
Following multivariable calculus and linear algebra, there are
several choices: if a student is interested in subject matter
having broad applications and extending what's learned in
calculus, then the student should consider Differential
Equations (M53A); for those who
enjoy the algebraic aspect of Linear Algebra and want to study
mathematics of a similar but more general flavor, also with many
applications, Modern Algebra (M109) may be most appropriate; if
a student wants to continue the study of calculus but from a
more sophisticated, formal, and rigorous perspective, then we
recommend Real Analysis (M115);
finally, if one is interested in complex or imaginary numbers
and how to do calculus for complex-valued functions, then
Complex Analysis (M106) is the
natural choice -- although Real Analysis should be
taken before Complex Analysis.
M52A, M52B, M51A, M53A, M115, M106, and M109 should be considered "core" courses
fundamental to the undergraduate mathematics major, and many are
required for majors in physics, engineering, economics,
chemistry, and other "hard" sciences.
We also offer mathematics courses in Partial Differential
Equations (M131), to be taken
anytime after Differential Equations and Complex Analysis;
Elementary Theory of Numbers
(M152), requiring only precalculus
and a familiarity with constructing mathematical proofs; and
Introduction to Logic (M157), which requires only a background
The Course Catalog
gives more detailed information about course content and prerequisites. You should
contact us if you have any questions regarding placement into
- Physics Courses
Mechanics has prior or concurrent enrollment in Calculus A or
equivalent as a prerequisite. Electricity and Magnetism has prior
enrollment in Mechanics or equivalent as well as prior or concurrent
enrollment in Calculus B or equivalent as a prerequisite. Light
and Heat has
Electricity and Magnetism as a prerequisite, and Modern Physics
has Light and Heat as a prerequisite. Top
- Expository Writing Courses
All students requesting admission into the writing courses
are required to place in the top 15% of a standardized test.
Are there instructors?
In addition to the instruction they receive on-line from the
computer, students can ask questions of instructors at Stanford by
electronic mail, phone, or in "virtual classroom" sessions. This
contact between students and instructors is an important part of the
EPGY course experience. To facilitate this type of interaction, the
instructors keep detailed records on each student. Towards this end
students are required in most courses to file weekly electronic
reports in which they transfer a complete record of their recent work
to computers at Stanford. In this way students get rapid feedback on
their work, while the instructors are able to maintain detailed
records on the work of each student. These records enable the
instructors to closely monitor student progress and help to isolate
particular student difficulties which can be addressed in a later
tutorial session. Top
How do EPGY courses relate to other courses?
A frequently asked question is whether students should remain in their
math classes at school while participating in our program. Generally,
the assumption underlying participation in EPGY courses is that school courses
are not sufficiently challenging and that the student would prefer to
move at a faster rate. However, the answer to this question depends
on the student, the school, and whether he or she is receiving proper
instruction from the math class at school.
In order to first ensure that the content and presentation of the EPGY
courses is suitable for a particular student, it is recommended that the
student remain in his or her school math class for the first quarter of their
participation. Furthermore, students should pull out of their normal
mathematics courses only for those parts of those courses which are
truly redundant, if possible.
After they have completed several EPGY courses, students will
probably gain very little from the standard mathematics classes at
their grade level in school. The EPGY courses are designed to be
complete courses, covering all the material presented in standard high
school and college courses, so once a student has successfully
completed a given EPGY course, they do not need to repeat this course
at school. We are happy to explain and discuss this with school
officials should the need arise.
Once a student no longer takes math classes at school, we request
that arrangements be made with the school to have a daily study period
that can be used for doing homework associated with our courses. This
sort of arrangement has proved useful in two ways. First, it gives
students extra time to work on the course and helps to spread the work
out during the day. Second, it shows the school that the student is
working hard on serious material. While students are not required to
make this arrangement, we do strongly recommend it. Top
How much time does it require?
Students should expect to spend 5 to 10 hours per week working on the
course material, depending on their grade level. The 5 to 10 hours
corresponds to the amount of work expected in a standard class that
meets 5 days a week for an hour with 45 minutes of homework per night.
(Of course this will be less for younger students.) Students are
expected to move rapidly through the primary and secondary school
Students in EPGY courses are required to complete a certain minimum amount
of work each week. If they need to take time off for vacation,
illness, or other extenuating circumstance, this can be arranged with
the student's instructor or the course administrator. Top
What is the role of the parent?
For students' participation in EPGY courses to be successful, parents need
to take on several responsibilities. The most important is to make
sure that the students are in constant contact with us electronically.
The programs have been designed to let us keep an eye on each
student's progress. In order for this to work, the students need to
be comfortable using these facilities. It is up to parents to make
sure that they are. If they are not, please contact us for
In addition to making sure that the students are in regular
electronic communication with us, parents also need to be sure that
the students keep up with their schedules and, for students in the
secondary courses, that they take their exams when they are supposed
to. Each student is given an exam packet which contains tests for
each of the chapters in the book, a schedule telling them the minimum
acceptable rate of progress, and an assignment sheet telling them
which problems to do out of the book after they finish a given lesson
on the computer. Students should expect to spend approximately one
hour per day running lessons on the computer and another 30-45 minutes
per night doing homework. Parents should make sure that the students
are doing their work at regular intervals and not working
sporadically. Parents should also administer the tests at the
It is up to the parents to make sure their students are doing this
work and staying in touch with us. If after repeated attempts to
contact a student, we feel that a student has lost touch with us, we
will drop him or her from the course.
Parental Involvement in the K-7 Courses
In addition to the above duties, parents of K-7 students are
encouraged to participate in the K-7 course as much as they like. It
is important that students thoroughly understand the concepts that
they learn from the Arithmetic and Geometry course. Student questions
may be answered by parents whenever they arise and/or parents should
encourage students to call their tutor or to write questions and
comments to be read and answered through the electronic mail as often
as necessary. Top
What sorts of credits can I get for EPGY courses?
Students successfully completing eligible EPGY online courses at the university-level may receive
transcripts from the Stanford University Continuing Studies Program. These transcripts,
which bear the seal of the Stanford University Registrar, show the EPGY courses that a
student has completed, together with the grades obtained.
Students who wish to transfer this credit to their school may do so. Decisions concerning
whether or not the credit is accepted by the institution to which it is
transferred are up to the receiving institution.
Students who complete courses at the Advanced Placement level are encouraged to take
the corresponding Advanced Placement Examinations.
For registrations with start-date after October 1st, 2012, a completion certificate rather than a university transcript will be given for the following courses:
- M0WA, M0WB, M0WC, M0WD,
- M011, M012, M013, M015,
- M040, M041, M042,
- C11A, C11B, C11C, C015,
- P10A-C, P051, P053,
- LA&W (Language Arts and Writing),
- W09A-C, W10A-C, W11A-C, W041, WLI1, WLI2.
For registrations with start-date on or before October 1st, 2012, transcripts and
credit for the above courses will be issued only if the student
completes the course no later than May 30th, 2013.
Note that courses offered through the Stanford University Online High School, as well as
university-level courses in Mathematics and Physics, will
continue to be eligible for transcripts and credit as usual.
What are the tuition fees for courses?
Tuition costs vary by course and if a course has a one-time fee or
is billed quarterly. For more information on tuition, please visit
our Admission - tuition section.
What is the history of EPGY courses?
EPGY courses began in 1985 at the Institute for Mathematical Studies in
the Social Sciences, under the direction of Professor Patrick Suppes
and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, as a
project to develop a complete first year calculus course that would
be entirely machine-based. This project grew out of 15 years of
teaching university level courses in logic and set theory at Stanford.
The motivation for doing a calculus course was the fact that fewer
than 25% of the high schools in the country currently offer calculus.
Computers were seen as a way to make calculus available at schools
that had no other way to offer it.
In 1990-91, we decided to turn our attention to middle schools because
they provided situations where there might be a few students
capable of taking the course, but no one available to teach it. We
selected a group of 30 interested students in the area, in grades
7-10 to attend a special summer course at Foothill Community College
to prepare them to take the calculus. Out of these 30 students we
selected 13 from seven schools to participate in the first test. All
of these students took the AB Calculus Advanced Placement exam in May
Following this success we extended the calculus course to cover the
entire BC curriculum, the equivalent of a full
year of college calculus. We also developed courses designed to take
students from Beginning Algebra through Pre-calculus.
During the summer of 1992 we moved the program from expensive
workstations to personal computers, making it possible for students to
have machines at home on which to run the course. It also meant that
the number of students who could participate in the project was no
longer limited by our computing resources. Top
You can view more information on the history page.
How do I go about purchasing textbooks?
There are no textbooks for the K-7 courses.
In most other courses, textbooks are required and must be purchased
Complete textbook ordering information can be found on the
textbook ordering information page. Top