Viking Launch

COVID-19 Update

Viking Launch is scheduled to run in a "normal" fashion with immersive and engaging field and lab-based experiences. Some activities may need to be switched to remote/online, but we expect most classes to be conducted face-to-face with proper social distancing and other safeguards, including smaller class sizes. Field trips will be limited to destinations we can walk to. Participating students will receive priority on-campus housing in Fairhaven or Kappa for the academic year, and room assignments will be consistent with University Residences fall housing protocols (i.e. # of students per room, etc.). Should conditions or health restrictions change, we will update registered Viking Launch students as quickly as possible, offer remote attendance options in some cases , or if it is necessary to cancel the program due to safety concerns, registered students will be provided a full refund for the Viking Launch registration fee.

a group of Viking Launch pre-college students stand smiling posed in front of iconic Mt Baker near Bellingham WA

Viking Launch is designed to provide incoming freshmen a strong, focused start-up to college life at Western. Research demonstrates that freshmen are most apt to succeed when they are socially and academically integrated within a campus community, when they are prepared and ready for their courses, and when they attend classes with an eye to their future goals and plans.

  • Complete a 2-credit First Year Experience course
  • Move into Fairhaven Residence Hall or Ridgeway Kappa Residence Hall a week early
  • Participate in activities with fellow Viking Launch students
  • Learn to navigate your way around campus before fall classes begin
  • Learn about various valuable university services available to you

Program Details

This program is open to all incoming WWU Freshmen that will be living on-campus and willing to live in Fairhaven Residence Complex or Ridgeway Kappa. This program does not replace the need for incoming freshmen to attend one of the Fall Advising & Orientation sessions (August sessions or September).


September 13-18, 2020


Western Washington University (Classes are throughout campus, housing choices are Fairhaven Residence Complex or Ridgeway Kappa)


$500 per student.

Includes: Extra week of on-campus housing, dining for the week (breakfast/lunch/dinner starting with dinner on 9/13 and ending with dinner on 9/19).

Does not include individual course fees (varies by course: $0-$90, see course descriptions). These will be applied to your account in the fall.

2020 Viking Launch Courses

An introduction to marine and estuarine science, this course blends learning in the classroom, lab, and field, including a remote connection with Western's Shannon Point Marine Station, one of the premier marine biology research sites on the west coast. Join Professor Deborah Donovan in an exploration of the field of marine biology and the coastal resources of Bellingham Bay.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Dr. Deborah Donovan

Is it true that we use only about 10% of our brain? Of course not! Weighing approximately 3 pounds, the human brain may be our last and most complicated biological frontier. So effective and efficient are the brain’s 100 billion neurons that, as long as things are working properly, we rarely stop to think about how this complex mass of tissue gives rise to our every thought, action and perception. However, when brain function is impaired people’s lives can be dramatically altered. This course will introduce you to behavioral neuroscience in Western’s state-of-the-art neuroscience research facility, where you will learn about the role that the nervous system plays in normal and abnormal behavior, thought and emotion. Lab activities include a sheep’s brain dissection, to help you learn about brain-and-behavior relationships hands-on!

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $10

Faculty: Dr. Janet Finlay/Dr. Michael Mana

Interested in taking chemistry?  Concerned about your skills or experience with chemistry?  This course is designed to help you confidently enter the general chemistry series (CHEM 161-163) by focusing on foundational concepts and strategies (e.g. dimensional analysis, atomic structure, basic laboratory technique, and stoichiometry).  Get off to a strong start in the sciences at Western by working closely with experienced faculty and other science interested students.

Faculty: Dr. Steven Emory and Dr. Elizabeth Raymond

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Visit Western’s Career Services website for more information and advising information on pre-med.

Explore the “ekphrastic” relationship between creative writing and other forms of art (music, sculpture, painting, glass, etc.) in this intensive, 5-day format. This course introduces you to elements of craft necessary for creative writing; to the process of imagining, generating, revising, and editing texts; to the electronic broadside form.  Course activities include discussion, response, pre-writing, drafting, workshop, revising, designing, publishing, and virtual & self-directed field trips through WWU’s outdoor sculpture collection and other sites.  Students need to available with reliable connectivity for synchronous activities each day with peers and faculty.  A detailed schedule and information about required online meetings and materials will be available by September 7, 2020.

Faculty: Nancy Pagh

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

This is a course for pre-engineering students who have placed into MATH 124 or higher. This course will review pre-calculus mathematics concepts and their application to solving engineering problems. In addition, a portion of the course will be on spatial visualization skills, and these skills will be practiced through hands-on activities. The focus of the course is to prepare pre-engineering students for the start of their engineering studies.

Students must obtain instructor approval to register for this course, and must have earned placement into MATH 124 or higher, for example by scoring an 80 or higher on the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment, or earning a 2 or higher on the AP Calculus exam.  Please contact Lisa Ochs in the Engineering & Design Department to request permission to enroll in this engineering preparation course.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Greg Schwartz, Andy Klein, and Sura Al-Qudah

Explore and engage with some of our region's most exciting community gardening and farming projects. Get your hands dirty alongside community leaders who are using healthy, local food to address pressing social issues like unemployment, depression, and climate change adaptation. We will learn about projects on campus, around town, and in the surrounding countryside. Ready to work outside, get inspired, explore, and play? 

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Travis Tennessen Center for Service-Learning

In this course we will explore local environmental issues through research and field observations, with a special focus on the Nooksack River watershed, and examine the impacts of our energy, waste, transportation, and water-use choices. We will discover how WWU, governments, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals are working together to help solve the problems associated with environmental change, and opportunities for taking action in your new community.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Kayanne Sullivan

Interested in learning about the history of Bellingham’s local volcano? In this class you'll learn about the origin, geology, and hazards associated with this active volcano, and discover how geologists study volcanoes. The class will some engaging lab and classroom activities.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Dr. Bernard Housen

Everyone’s a photographer, right? We can all take photos on our phones and post them to Instagram or Tumblr. Now, delve further into photo practice, history, creative meaning, and ethics through presentations, photo assignments, visits from photographers, field trips, and in-class production in a design lab. To prepare you to do profile, stop motion, and self-expression projects, we will cover SLR cameras and do a tutorial on Photoshop. A field trip to a local magazine publisher (possibly remote) will discuss editorial decision-making in publishing outdoor photos as narratives, as well as the career of freelancing; a second field trip to a local newspaper (again, possibly remote) will cover how to make ethical editorial choices in local coverage. This course helps you build media literacy, as we will discuss design standards and visual creativity. The material covered is useful to prospective Journalism majors as well as any student who wants to learn how to produce photos with an understanding of the technical and creative aspects of photography, as well as the history and ethics of photo practice.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Sheila Webb

Are you considering business as your academic and professional pursuit but unsure as to which area to study or where to begin? This course is designed to introduce students to the College of Business and Economics (CBE) help students explore and understand the distinct areas of study and professional practice that business has to offer. The course will include a survey of the primary disciplines in business as offered at WWU in the CBE. You will become acquainted with Accounting, Decision Sciences, Finance and Marketing, Economics and Management. Students will learn from experienced faculty, meet department teams and have the chance to visit local businesses. This course is a great way to understand the opportunities offered at the CBE and get a head start on planning your degree in business at Western.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Lucas Senger

The quest to develop scalable, affordable sources of renewable energy represents one of the greatest challenges facing the next generation. This class explores the science behind renewable energy and the prospects and problems that need to be overcome. This year, the course explores topics including biofuels, wind and wave power, nuclear power and solar cells through synchronous remote/online class discussion, problem-solving activities, and real-time chats with energy professionals. A virtual laboratory component examines fabrication, testing, and computer modeling of solar cell devices as well as the synthesis of biodiesel. Students will also learn about instrumentation and facilities available to student researchers in the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC).

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Dr. Tim Kowalczyk

¡Bienvenidos a Western! If you’re thinking about studying Spanish at Western, join us this summer for a hands-on exploration of the campus community and the Bellingham area. Our focus will be on developing vocabulary and improving your conversational Spanish skills by actively engaging with all of the opportunities that Western has to offer, whether that’s figuring out how to navigate campus resources, spending time outdoors, or learning about Spanish-speaking communities in Whatcom County. You’ll practice Spanish while learning about Western and Bellingham and, depending upon your prior experience with the language, be ready to start with either Spanish 104 or 201 in the fall quarter.

Note: We recommend that students have 2 or more years of high school Spanish—or 1 year and travel experience and/or native fluency—in order to register for this course.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Faculty: Kirsten Drickey

Viking Launch Housing

Viking Launch students must select a room in either Fairhaven Residence Complex or Ridgeway Kappa in order to participate in the program, as these two halls open early specifically for Viking Launch. This will be your housing for the Viking Launch program AND your permanent assignment for the 2020/2021 academic year. There are no temporary on-campus housing options for only Viking Launch.

All incoming fall students who want to live on campus (including Viking Launch participants) must apply for housing through the MyHousingPortal, pay the deposit, and complete roommate search and room selection by the deadlines listed on the Housing Timeline.

After you apply for on-campus housing you are eligible to use Roommate Search. In your Search bio you should mention you are registered for the Viking Launch program and will select a room in either Fairhaven or Kappa. Please check the status on your MyHousingPortal dashboard often for updates. If you are participating in both Viking Launch and Honors, please contact University Residences for guidance on your residence hall selection.

If you have specific Housing questions about residence hall attributes, special housing requests (i.e. gender neutral rooms, accessibility, substance-free, etc.), or room/roommate selection, please contact University Residences directly: (360) 650-6565 (M-F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) or

Here is a PDF of the University Residences Campus Map, as a reference.


Viking Launch is open to all incoming WWU freshmen, and there is no selection process - you just need to sign-up and pay the program/deposit fee to register. The registration system for this program is different than regular WWU course registration, so you will need to click on the button/link below and create an account in the Outreach and Continuing Education registration system. You will also need to include your WWU ID # (Includes the letter “W” and 8 digits: WXXXXXXXX – please carefully check your W# to make sure you have entered it correctly), and indicate which Viking Launch course you would like to take, and pay the registration fee. (This is separate from registering/paying for your fall courses.)


There are twenty (20) $250 scholarships available to assist with the cost of Viking Launch for students that meet the following criteria:

  • WWU incoming first-year student
  • Enrolled in Western Washington University for the 2020/2021 academic year
  • Economic need (based on FAFSA information and application essay answer)
  • Enrolling in Viking Launch for Fall 2020*
  • Willing to write a thank you letter to the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education for the scholarship

Please follow the link to the Viking Launch Scholarship Application, complete all required information, and submit it prior to Friday, July 24, 2020.

*Scholarships are for Viking Launch participants only, so if you do not end up enrolling in Viking Launch, you must notify us immediately at so that the scholarship can be awarded to another student.

Financial Aid

Financial aid may be available to cover the Viking Launch program costs. For most students the type of financial aid available will be a student or parent loan. Since financial aid pays out after the first day of the quarter, students will need to pay the $500 program fee out of pocket and get reimbursed when financial aid disburses later. To request financial aid for the Viking Launch program costs, please contact the Financial Aid Department.


Cancellation requests must be received in writing via email to by July 3, 2020. Cancellation requests received by July 3 will be issued a refund, minus a $150 cancellation fee. No refunds will be given after July 3, 2020. A full refund is only granted if the program is cancelled.