UVA Launchpad is an intensive, eight-week University of Virginia program custom-built to prepare students for the world of work by combining liberal arts coursework, technical “bootcamp” style training, and career-focused projects.

This program was created to provide students an opportunity over the summer to grow academically and prepare for careers, and it will return for Summer Session 2023! Fill out the request for information form at the bottom of this page to stay updated.

The total program cost is $3,700 for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more, and complete the form at the bottom of the page to request additional information. Please also send any questions to launchpad_inquiries@virginia.edu.

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Liberal Arts Education

New, custom-designed courses teach important concepts for the workplace, from ethics and social justice to finance, research and writing.

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Learn high-demand skills in areas like data analysis and digital marketing. No experience or prerequisites required.

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Career Development

A hands-on, employer-based project completed as part of the program's required course will help develop skills to maximize your career opportunities.



This online program is built for rising second-, third- and fourth-year undergraduate students in UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences, but is also open to other students, including undergraduate students at other universities. Incoming first-year students are not eligible.

Request more information via the form below. Send additional questions to launchpad_inquiries@virginia.edu and visit our program FAQ.

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Students will take a liberal arts course and a bootcamp during the first five weeks of the program and a real-world project during the last three weeks. 

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Course credits are awarded through UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences. Students from other schools and universities should inquire with their institutions about transfer credits.



Complete a career-focused project that you can refer to in your next internship or job interview.


Program dates:

June - August, 2023 
(exact dates TBD)


UVA Launchpad for Summer 2022 includes a number of classes and bootcamps, as well as a required course that includes real-world employer projects. All courses and bootcamps are two credits each. The titles and descriptions can be found below. Accepted students complete one course from each category.

Apply early to get priority selection of courses.



Cultivating Resilience: Managing Stress and Hacking the Human Nervous System

Ame Wren

This course will include a basic overview of the neurophysiology of the human nervous system and provide a deep dive into the science and function of stress. Students will learn how stress impacts performance, concentration, and interpersonal relations. In addition, this course will give students the knowledge and practical skills to engage with their stress response and transform the way their mind and body is affected by it. Though we are physiologically designed to handle stress, much of our daily life is not conducive to it unless reimagined. This course will offer simple and effective strategies for living with stress inclusive of but not limited to breathing practices, meditations, postural awareness, reframing and mindfulness exercises and methods for detecting an oncoming stress response. Getting to know and being able to harness one’s nervous system is linked to resilience, wellness, and human flourishing.

Intercultural Communication

Eyal Handelsman Katz

What is culture? This is a question that can be deceptively hard to answer. To prepare students to answer this query, this course will introduce students to the field of intercultural communication. By exploring key readings and concepts in this field, students will develop a richer understanding of the role of culture and cultural difference (and the barriers it presents to communication) in our day-to-day. Students will learn explore issues of gender, race, class, capital, and more to unpack their own positioning in society and develop the intercultural competence necessary to navigate complicated and difficult intercultural situations that might arise in their future careers. This course will develop students’ human skills such as: communication, collaboration, problem-solving, ethics, and social justice.

Thinking Critically in the Digital Age

Alexander Wolfson

Suitable for students across the academic spectrum, this course will address the challenges and benefits that contemporary digital technology and media bring to critical thinking and decision-making processes. The class will both engage new and old digital media technologies to look at the ways in which technology affects how we go about thinking and solving problems, both in our everyday life and in the working world. We all know the importance of critical thinking, but have we asked ourselves how our cell phones, computers, social media, and other technologies, affect the way in which we do this thinking. Combining research, writing, analysis, and group activities, each student will try to understand the ways in which our capacities for critical thinking have been affected by our technological world. How can we aid in the regrowth of skills that have atrophied, while simultaneously taking advantage of all the ways in which modern technologies allow for a vast expansion of the information available and the production of new ways of connecting and thinking together? Students will have the opportunity to think through these issues using examples as simple as the pad of paper and pen, to new Virtual Reality worlds. The aim of the course is both to get a better understanding of how our minds are affected by the technologies in the world around us, but also to develop new and innovative skills to use those technologies to hone and sharpen our critical thinking abilities.

The Future: What it is and What it Might Be

Andrew Ferguson

The core of this class is a linked series of readings and viewings in fictional, sociological, ecological, and anthropological speculation about the potential avenues humanity might pursue in the decades to come, with the aim of preparing students to confront the challenges that they will face both personally and professionally as the pressures of climate change, economic inequality, and political partisanship increasingly shape our cultural landscape. While we cannot know what the future will bring, experiencing a variety of visions of what might yet be will prepare students to guide themselves and their organizations through the uncertain times ahead.

Required Course

Complex Problem Solving and Strategic Decision Making -Option 1

Data Management and Privacy (In-Person): This section has a one-week in-person component in Northern Virginia in which students will learn from and network with industry experts on Capital One's data privacy team. Housing will be provided for students (at no additional cost) in Northern Virginia from Sunday, July 24 to Friday, July 29. The remaining two weeks of the course will take place online, and students may complete that portion from their residence. During the in-person stay, students will attend classes and learn from guest speakers from Capital One. Students are responsible for the cost of travel to and from the housing site at George Mason University. Please visit the FAQ section to learn more about this option.

This interactive project-based learning course is designed to help students navigate complex and ambiguous problems. Complex problems range from choosing a major or career path to solving world poverty, climate change, and ethical dilemmas. During Launchpad 2022, students will engage with a partner company in the data privacy to solve case studies that the company is currently facing. Overall, students will build problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, presentation skills, self-awareness, and gain new insights about career interests and workstyle preferences that will set them up for success in their next steps beyond UVA. In addition to the case study preparation and presentations, students will attend workshops on career resources such as resumé writing.  

Complex Problem Solving and Strategic Decision Making - Option 2

Sustainability (Online): This section will be held entirely online to provide maximum flexibility and allow students from anywhere in the country to participate. Students will work on a case study based on a problem that a company in the sustainability sector is facing. Students will also learn from industry experts from the partner company. Check back soon for more details on this option!

This interactive project-based learning course is designed to help students navigate complex and ambiguous problems. Complex problems range from choosing a major or career path to solving world poverty, climate change, and ethical dilemmas. During Launchpad 2022, students will engage with a partner company in the sustainability sector to solve case studies that the company is currently facing. Overall, students will build problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, presentation skills, self-awareness, and gain new insights about career interests and workstyle preferences that will set them up for success in their next steps beyond UVA. In addition to the case study preparation and presentations, students will attend workshops on career resources such as resumé writing.  


Sound Production and Podcasting

Nathan Moore

During the pandemic, literally a million people started new podcasts. Most of these weren’t very good. “Sound Production and Podcasting” is a hands-on workshop course that gives you the tools to do better. The class focuses on the craft of podcast production and audio storytelling: story and structure; interviewing techniques; writing for the ear; field recording; sound editing & mixing; using music; audio teamwork; voice; and ethics. By the end of the class, students will have planned, produced, and published a new podcast. Each student will develop their own individual podcast ideas around an assigned theme and produce three deliverables: one 1-minute audio portrait, one project blueprint, and one finished podcast episode. We’ll share the best ones in our podcast collective and on WTJU 91.1 FM. Success in this class requires genuine curiosity, an interest in sound, a degree of DIY resourcefulness, a spirit of creative collaboration, and an openness to the unexpected.

Commercial Writing & Brand Storytelling

Gahl Pratt Pardes

This class is an introduction to the art of story-driven commercial writing, rooted in the discovery and articulation of a brand and its components. We will start by building a vocabulary of the elements of brand identity and proceed to avenues for storytelling: establishing the brand’s market positioning, articulating and protecting brand expression guidelines; how brand identity impacts UX; and implementation of brand identity into marketing creatives. We will take a look at and practice writing a variety of compelling text creatives, from user interface microcopy to scripts for television commercials. While this course will touch on the conceptual backbone of a brand's visual design, its focus is on verbal expression—we will use words to tell an evocative marketing story.

Spotting the Social Pattern: How to Figure Out What’s Going on in the Everyday

Tessa Farmer

Organizations as diverse as Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, and government institutions employ ethnographers to help them understand what people are doing and why they are doing it; to give them insight not just into what people say is happening, but to spot patterns and unspoken systems that can powerfully shape outcomes. Beyond contributing to the development of the soft skills that employers always clamor for (critical thinking, the ability to work with others, resilience, agility), ethnographic skills offer privileged insight into who the power brokers are and how things are getting done that no org chart or employee handbook can give you. These abilities can be translated into portable skills such as market research, user-centered and participatory design, and organizational analysis. They can also help you to be a savvier employee and more successful friend by teaching you how to systematically understand some of the hidden logics in the social relationships and organizational contexts that you find yourself in. Building on the skills of applied anthropology, this course will involve discussion of assigned readings and media material, in-class activities, regular fieldwork assignments, and workshops on systematizing and analyzing observations.

Data Analysis With R

Marieke Jones

This course introduces statistical software and methods for reproducibly managing, manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing large-scale datasets. Specifically, the course introduces the R statistical computing environment and popular tidy verse packages for manipulating and visualizing high-dimensional data, covers strategies for reproducible research, and teaches analyses of real-world datasets using R. I want you to take away from this course the ability to use an extremely powerful scientific computing environment (R) to do many of the things that you’ll do across study designs and disciplines–managing, manipulating, visualizing, and analyzing large, high-dimensional data. Whether that data is gene expression data from yeast, consumer retail buying trends, public health data, all the lines spoken in a tv series from Netflix, or truck routing data from FedEx, you’ll need the same computational know-how and data literacy to do the same kinds of basic tasks in each. I might show you how to use specific software packages here and there, but these are not important – you probably won’t be using the same specific software or methods 10 years from now, but you’ll still use the same underlying data and computational foundation. That is the point of this course – to arm you with a basic foundation, and more importantly, to enable you to figure out how to use this tool or that tool on your own, when you need to.