Four smiling students with arms around each other standing in a forested area.Program Details

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. Viking Launch is designed to help students successfully achieve these advantages before fall classes begin. Viking Launch students will be assigned to and reside in either Fairhaven Residence Complex or Ridgeway Kappa for the program AND throughout the 2019/2020 academic year, as these are the only residence halls that are opened for early move-in.

For additional information, see SeminarsHousing, and FAQs, or read Viking Launch program testimonials.


Registration for the 2019 Viking Launch program is expected to open in late February.


 Viking Launch Program Details


This program is open to all incoming WWU Freshmen. This program does not replace the need for incoming freshmen to attend SummerStart or Fall Orientation.


September 15-20, 2019
View detailed schedule


All day


Western Washington University (Classes are throughout campus, housing choices are Fairhaven Residence Complex or Kappa Hall)
See location details


Program fees have not been set for 2019, but for historical reference, 2018 fees were as follows:

Program Fee/Deposit: $250 (paid at time of registration)
Housing: (Est.) $165 (added to fall housing invoice)
Tuition: (Est.) $0
Course Fees: Varies by course ($0-$60)
Estimated Total Cost of Program: $415-$475

See cost details

2019 Seminars

Viking Launch students will complete a preparation course or thematic seminar that will prepare them for careers in environmental science, neuroscience, marine biology, pre-med and other professional fields. Because Viking Launch courses are a one-week intensive course, students will choose only ONE Viking Launch seminar (2-credit or non-credit). Viking Launch seminars are graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U). The credits do not specifically go towards any requirements for majors, but the credits do count in your credit total for fall quarter.

*2019 Viking Launch courses have not been set, but will likely be similar to the 2018 offerings listed below:

First Year Experience (FYE)/Pre-Medicine Preparation Seminar

Interested in a career in medicine or a related health or science field? Consider a Viking Launch preparation seminar to get you ready for the gateway courses these fields require. Most health science programs expect students to complete a year of general chemistry and two quarters of calculus as soon as possible. Viking Launch preparation seminars prove engaging hands-on introductions to these classes designed to prepare you for a successful first quarter. Unsure if you are ready for chemistry? Don't worry. The preparation seminar is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory so that you can explore the subject without the stress of high pressure grading. The pre-medicine preparation seminar includes:

FYE Chemistry 100: Introduction to Chemistry (2 credits)

Introduction to general chemistry concepts in an intensive, 5-day format. The course is designed to assist students as they enter the General Chemistry (CHEM 121) by focusing on foundational concepts and strategies encountered in chemistry. The course provides instruction in: dimensional analysis, atomic structure, basic laboratory technique, and chemical bonding. The course serves the mission of helping students negotiate successfully the academic and personal opportunities and challenges of their first year.

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.

First Year Experience (FYE) Thematic Seminars

Explore topics, majors, career paths or interests in various subjects. Thematic seminar offerings include:

FYE Geology 197A: Mount Baker Geology (2 credits)

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 include a field trip to Mt Baker, and some engaging lab and classroom activities.
Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $12

Faculty: Dr. Bernard Housen

FYE Biology 195: Marine Biology (2 credits)


An introduction to marine and estuarine science, this course blends classroom lecture and study with field experiences and research at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes, 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 Shannon Point.
Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $60

Faculty: Dr. Deborah Donovan

FYE English 195: Creative Writing by Design (2 credits)

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; and to Adobe’s InDesign software for creating a publishable work. Course activities include reading and analysis; pre-writing, drafting, workshop, revising, designing, and publishing; and field trips through WWU’s outdoor sculpture collection and the Museum of Northwest Art in beautiful LaConner, WA. Leave the course with your eBroadside published on the Museum of Northwest Art webpage.
Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $12

Faculty: Nancy Pagh

FYE Environmental Studies 195: Environmental Impact and Sustainability (2 credits)

In this course we will explore local environmental impacts through research and field observations with a special focus on the Nooksack River watershed, and examine the impacts of our everyday choices. Then we will explore the questions: What is sustainability, really? And, what can we really do? You will discover how local governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals are working together to help solve the problems associated with environmental change and take action by participating in a service-learning project. 
Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $12

Faculty: Riley Grant

FYE Journalism 197A: Introduction to Design and Photography (2 credits)

Everyone’s a photographer, right? We can all take photos on our phones and post them to Facebook 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 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 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): $12

Faculty: Sheila Webb

FYE Materials Science 197A: Introduction to the Science of Renewable Energy (2 credits)

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. The class consists of a combination of lectures on topics including biofuels, wind and wave power, nuclear power and solar cells, as well as field trips to local energy companies. A laboratory component includes activities such as the fabrication and testing of student-made solar cell devices and biodiesel.
Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $40

Faculty: Dr. David Patrick

FYE Psychology 195: Neuroscience (2 credits)

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

Spanish 197: Spanish Language and Culture (2 credits)

¡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): $10

Faculty: Kirsten Drickey

First Year Experience (FYE) Community Service Learning

Viking Launch students interested in discovering Bellingham through community service can choose the following non-credit seminar.

FYE Digging Into Bellingham: Growing Community Through Food (non-credit)

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

Other Activities

College success workshops

Several workshops will introduce you to different campus resources available to students, such as the Learning Commons and Campus Wellness. These workshops will prove helpful tips on effective study skills, note taking, career planning, and healthy living, proving students with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for academic success before fall classes begin. 

Residence Life activities

Residence life staff will offer meet and greet opportunities with other Viking Launch participants and orient students to campus life.

Recreation activities

Team-building exercises facilitated by our engaging Outdoor Center staff are scheduled to give you an opportunity to get to know your fellow Viking Launch students.


Below is the TENTATIVE schedule for Viking Launch. Please check back regularly for updates.

Program Schedule


Day Hour Description


11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Move-in to Fairhaven Residence Hall or Ridgeway Kappa (NO EARLY ARRIVALS PLEASE)
2:45 - 3:45 p.m.  Viking Launch Check-in/Welcome: Check-in for Viking Launch, meet some of the Viking Launch faculty, orientation presentation for parents/families. Families depart.
4:00 - 5:30 p.m. Program begins: Getting to know each other activity
5:30 - 6:15 p.m. Dinner in the dining hall for students
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Resident Life Community Meeting


8 – 9 a.m.  Breakfast
8 - 9:15 a.m. Pick-up ID Cards/Bus Passes (if you did not attend SummerStart)
9:30 a.m. – noon Class/engaging seminars with a faculty member
noon – 1 p.m. Lunch
1 – 2:45 p.m. Class
3 – 4 p.m. How to Win @ Western Workshop
4 – 5 p.m. Community Question activity
5 – 6 p.m. Dinner
Evening Get settled in your room


8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast
9 a.m. – noon Class
noon – 1 p.m. Lunch
1 – 2:45 p.m. Class
3 – 4:30 p.m. Financial Literacy Workshop
4:30 – 5 p.m. Free Time
5 - 6 p.m. Dinner
6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Viking Launch Night @ the Student Rec Center
Evening Study time


8 – 8:30/9 a.m.  Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Class/Many will have field trips (field trips will have bag lunches)
5 - 6 p.m. Dinner
Evening Study time
Thursday 8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast
9 a.m. – noon Class
noon – 1 p.m. Lunch
1 – 2:45 p.m. Class
3 – 4:30 p.m. Health & Wellness @ Western Workshop
5– 6 p.m. Dinner
  Study time/Residence Life activity


8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast
9 a.m. - noon Class
noon - 1 p.m. Lunch
1 - 2:45 p.m. Final class presentations
3 - 4:30 p.m. Free time
5 - 6 p.m. Viking Launch BBQ
Evening Residence Life activity (optional)


8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast
TBD Optional Viking Launch excursions: Walk into downtown Bellingham to visit the Farmers Market or Hike in the Sehome Arboretum
noon - 1 p.m. Lunch
5 - 6 p.m. Dinner


  Free day, Move-in day for all WWU students
Breakfast and Lunch on your own
Dining Hall open for Dinner.


Viking Launch courses and workshops are held in classrooms throughout campus, giving students an opportunity to learn to navigate campus before school starts. Viking Launch students will be assigned to and reside in either Fairhaven Residence Complex or Ridgeway Kappa for the program AND throughout the 2019/2020 academic year. There are no exceptions to these two residence halls for Viking Launch participants, because these are the only residence halls open and staffed early for this program.

Fairhaven Residence Complex or Kappa Hall

Here is a link to a campus map.


*Tentative* Viking Launch Cost (based on 2018 pricing)




Program Fee/Deposit


This fee covers all program activity costs, workshops, all meals (breakfast, lunch, & dinner) beginning with Sunday dinner and ending with Saturday dinner. This is the only amount you need to pay ahead of time in order to register for the program.


(Est.) $165*

The extra Housing cost for moving in to your residence hall room a week early will be added to your fall Housing bill and will vary based on your room specifications (i.e. single/double, etc.) The regular rate for a double room is about $165 to cover the week.


(Est.) $0

As long as you don’t enroll for more than 18 credits, combining fall and Viking Launch, there will be no extra tuition cost for VL because full-time students pay the same rate for 12-18 credits (We recommend 14-16 credits for fall in addition to your VL credits). The cost for credits beyond 18 can be calculated here

Course Fees

Varies by Course ($0-$60)

Course fees are course-specific charges to cover labs, materials, field trips, etc. and will be added to your fall quarter bill. Please see course descriptions for the course fees for each course.



Estimated total cost for the Viking Launch program including the up-front program cost and the other expenses that will be charged directly to your student account. Only the $250 Program Fee/Deposit is due at the time of registration.

*2019 Viking Launch fees have not been set; the above costs are from 2018 as a historical reference. Please check back in February/March for updated fees.

You will need your Western Washington University student number (Wxxxxxxxx) to complete the registration form, once registration opens. 


There may be a limited number of scholarships available for the Viking Launch program. Please check back when registration opens for details. Students typically have to meet the following criteria:

  • WWU incoming first-year student
  • Enrolled in Western Washington University for the 2019/2020 academic year
  • Living in on-campus housing for the 2018/2019 academic year
  • Enrolling in Viking Launch for Fall 2019*
  • Pell Grant Eligible, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)**
  • Willing to write a thank you letter to the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education for the scholarship

 * 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.
**If you are receiving financial aid and are not sure if you are Pell Grant eligible, go ahead and fill out the application and we will determine your eligibility.


Cancellation requests must be received in writing via email to by July 1, 2019. Cancellation requests received by July 1 will be issued a refund, minus a $150 cancellation fee. No refunds will be given after July 1, 2019. A full refund is only granted if the program is cancelled.


Viking Launch students will be assigned to and reside in Fairhaven Residence Complex or Ridgeway Kappa for the program AND throughout the 2019/2020 academic year. There are no exceptions to these two residence halls for Viking Launch participants, because these are the only residence halls open and staffed early for this program.

All incoming fall students who want campus housing (including Viking Launch participants) must apply for housing online by June 15.  In addition to indicating your resident hall preference when you register for Viking Launch, you still need to apply for housing for the academic year and follow the housing application instructions and deadlines, which are posted at the University Residences website.


Do I have to live in the Fairhaven or Kappa Residence Halls?

Yes. The only way to have Viking Launch students move in early and establish a close-knit campus community, is to house all VL students in the same dorms. In addition, these are the only two residence halls that will be opened and staffed early enough for Viking Launch.

Viking Launch students can choose to live in the Fairhaven Complex or Kappa Hall in the Ridgeway Complex. Viking Launch students will live in this assignment for the full academic year. Follow these links to learn more about Fairhaven Complex and Ridgeway Kappa.

Do I have to be a Fairhaven student to participate in Viking Launch?

No, any incoming freshmen can participate in Viking Launch. However, you do have to reside on campus in the Fairhaven Residence Hall or the Kappa Hall on the Ridge for the full academic year. The Fairhaven Residence Hall is located in the Fairhaven Complex, but separate from Fairhaven College. Kappa is located in the Ridgeway Complex.

Can I select my roommate or room with a friend who is not in the Viking Launch program?

Yes. Please refer to the Roommate Options page on the University Residences website for details on how to search or select your roommate. Be sure to meet the June housing deadline. Your roommate will be placed with you into Fairhaven or Kappa, since those are the only options for Viking Launch. So please be sure your roommate understands that they will have to follow you to one of the Viking Launch residence hall options.

What if I'm in Viking Launch but my roommate isn't?

You would be alone in your assigned Fairhaven or Kappa room during the Viking Launch program, and your roommate would move in on the regular move-in date.

Can I sign up for Viking Launch and the Honors Cluster?

Not at this time. You do need to choose between the two.

What if my preparation course convinces me I'm not prepared for the chemistry course I'm signed up for?

The purpose of the preparation course is to get you ready for chemistry. However, if the course convinces you otherwise, we will help you change your schedule.

Can I change my VL seminar after I register for courses at Summerstart?

Yes, you can if there is space available in the VL seminar you want to register for.

Can I wait to register for VL until after I register for fall courses at Summerstart?

It is not recommended that you wait. There are limited spaces available in Viking Launch and in specific courses, so waiting until Summerstart may be too late. July 1 is the priority application deadline for Viking Launch; applications will be accepted on a space available basis after July 1. As noted above, you can always request to switch your Viking Launch course after SummerStart, as long as there is still space available in that course.

Will my Viking Launch credits count towards my graduation credits?

Yes. Viking Launch seminars count as elective credits.

How do I sign up for this program?

Once registration is opened for Viking Launch, you can register online for the VL program through this website. Viking Launch registration is separate from regular course registration, but your Viking Launch credits will go towards Fall quarter.

What is the cost and what does it cover?

The cost of the program can be found here.  Cost includes tuition for the seminar as long as your total Fall credits don't exceed 18 credits; and all of your lodging, meals and recreation activities during the week of Viking Launch.

Will I receive credit for VL?

Yes, as long as you sign up for one of the 2-credit seminars, you will receive undergraduate credits for successful completion of VL, depending on your seminar of choice. The non-credit Service-Learning seminar is non-credit.

Who is eligible to participate in VL?

All incoming freshmen living on campus (Fairhaven Residence Hall or Kappa Hall on the Ridge) can participate in Viking Launch.

For more information, contact:

Michele Anderson 

Testimonials from Viking Launch participants

“Viking Launch was such a great experience and I would highly recommend it to incoming students because it's so nice getting to meet people early rather than struggle to meet people your first week of school.”


“I met so many great people during that week that I had no fears as I started the academic year. We all felt so much better prepared than those who did not participate.”


“This program was super useful getting settled into school and to learn the campus. Also getting two credits out of a week was amazing.”


“I found Viking Launch to be extremely beneficial, especially because I am an out-of-state student. By choosing to attend this early-start program, I was able to familiarize myself with the foreign campus and city. I made friends with people who have similar interests and I learned a lot in my class. Being so far away from home is scary and I didn't know anyone before coming here, so the program really helped me to push forward and meet people; whereas, if I had waited until regular start, I may have been too scared or overwhelmed to take that leap.”


“Viking Launch really helped me settle into Western because we got to move in early and see the campus before everyone else did. It felt really personal, and now going into my first quarter, I have amazing friends and a familiarity with Western overall.”

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