Core Course

All students enroll in the core course. The core course is offered at intermediate and advanced levels, with specific materials and activities for each level.

Philadelphia in a Global Context: Exploring Culture across the Disciplines

This all-skills core course is designed to introduce learners to skills and strategies necessary to succeed in U.S. universities. With a focus on the culture and history of Philadelphia, students read academic texts, listen to lectures, participate in academic discussions and presentations, perform research, and create a personal website that showcases their coursework and international experience. Students examine historical figures and contemporary society on a local and national level through the lenses of Business & Entrepreneurship, the Sciences, and the Arts. Coupling authentic material with personal experience, students finish the course with a better understanding of U.S. culture, a wider world view, and what it takes to succeed as an independent learner and researcher.

Elective Courses

Students take 2 content-based English language electives, specifying their preferences during the enrollment process. Elective choices cannot be guaranteed as availability is dependent on demand; however, all efforts are made to allow students to enroll in their preferred electives. All electives are offered at intermediate and advanced levels, with specific materials and activities for each level.


This course examines how online communication influences the way we construct language, identity and relationships. Students explore topics in social networking, public relations and crisis management through the analysis of real-life case studies in various spheres, from politics to business and entertainment. In a final project, students participate in a formal panel discussion to present their synthesis of research.

Innovation & Technology

How are technological innovations shaping the world today and how will they affect our lives in the future?  This course investigates these questions by exploring how today's top innovators are engineering the future in fields such as robotics and nanotechnology.  Students develop skills for describing complex concepts in concise academic language and deliver both formal and informal presentations on technologies of their choice. 


Through analysis of some of the world’s highest-performing CEOs and their leadership styles, students in this course learn strategies for communicating effectively with important influencers. Exploration of organizational dynamics focuses on how teams develop, learn, and achieve success together and the ways in which leaders emerge. Students present themselves as leaders by incorporating effective verbal and non-verbal communication strategies in a final speech.


How do companies continue to succeed in the face of intense competition? In this course, students first examine how some companies build and sustain consumer brand loyalty and then focus on gamification, a content marketing tactic that embraces game elements to attract and engage consumers. Students refine their speaking and listening skills by participating in critical and analytical discussions as well as a creating and delivering a group presentation.


What can you do to increase your well-being and become a more resilient person?  This course introduces participants to the growing field of Positive Psychology, and examines several of its key concepts, including signature strengths, positive emotions, resiliency, and grit.  Students give several presentations in which they demonstrate their understanding of the concepts and how they relate to their own lives.


Students in the sustainability elective develop a critical awareness of the current world situation of limited resources and expanding needs.  Through historical, cultural, and individual examples of sustainable, as well as un-sustainable, practices, students examine the societal, economic, and environmental impact of peoples' choices.  Through informative videos and purposeful discussion, students ultimately decide what they, in their communities, can do about this urgent matter.

Socio-Cultural Components

Lectures by Penn Professors

During the program, Penn professors provide guest lectures for students on material related to the elective courses. This unique opportunity allows students to practice their listening comprehen­sion and note-taking skills while learning from top professors in the field.

Socio-Cultural Activities and Field Work

Through class-wide and independent field work, students go beyond the classroom to find connections to their studies across Philadelphia’s many unique neighborhoods, and learn about the city’s history and culture in the process. Potential sites for class field trips include the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Independence Park, home of the famous Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center; and Reading Terminal Market, a central shopping and dining destination with a taste of something for everyone.  Individually or in small groups, students explore a chosen corner of the city and come to understand how Philadelphians from many backgrounds define and experience their neighborhoods.