Explore a world of opportunity.

Self-discovery extends beyond the classroom. Each year, our Special Studies Program gives upper schoolers the chance to broaden their horizons through immersive learning opportunities, both on- and off-campus. 

About SSP

Special Studies Programs, or SSP,  comprises a series of outside-the-box learning opportunities throughout a student's Upper School experience. 

Agnes Irwin girls travel to Cuba to immerse themselves in language and culture. Road-trip through the South to study the Civil Rights Movement. Build homes for Habitat for Humanity. Conduct archeological digs on campus. Design wearable electronics. And pitch new product ideas, Shark Tank-style, to professors from the Villanova School of Business.

Winter SSP

One week each year

Held between semesters, upper schoolers spent a week each year engaged in immersive, project-based mini-courses, usually led by AIS faculty.

Global SSP

Once in Upper School

Students take part in at least one global program during their time at Agnes Irwin. Global SSPs typically take place over spring break or in the summer. 


Throughout Upper School

During Upper School, students complete 20+ hours of volunteering/service, and an additional 20+ hours focused on one area, organization, or issue. 

Winter SSP

Our Winter SSP programs help each student cultivate her own knowledge, interests and skills across disciplines.

Recent programs have included:

  • Wearable Technology (designing and building wearable tech)
  • Shark Tank (developing and pitching product ideas to a panel of expert "sharks") 
  • Exploring Philadelphia's history and culture through the lens of immigration 
  • How to Lobby for an Issue
  • Math for Social Justice
  • The Business of Sports
  • Careers in Medicine
  • Video Game Design

Juniors and seniors can also develop their own independent SSP, or spend this week in an internship. 

Global SSP

Our global SSP program is designed to help students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, recognize their own and others’ perspectives, communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, and translate ideas and findings into action. 

Recent programs have included:

  • Studying language and culture in Cuba
  • Road-tripping through the South to study the Civil Rights Movement
  • Experiencing Iñupiaq culture in a 200-person Alaskan village
  • Building homes for Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina
  • Learning about sustainable farming in Vermont
  • Forging connections with students at a girls' school in Tanzania

Students can also propose their own global program.