Joseph Baldwin Academy

Courses FAQ

Students have the opportunity to rank their choice of classes when they apply.

  • The Academy attempts to place students in their first class choice, but some classes have many more applicants than seats available.
    • When this occurs, all students’ applications are reviewed for factors such as:
      • what students state their interests are
      • reasons for choosing a course
      • other course rankings
      • grades in courses
  • The instructor for each class will do a final review of student applications and gives a final determination of whether an applicant would be successful in their course by considering such factors as the student’s:
    • school transcripts
    • essay responses
    • letter(s) of recommendation
    • previous attendance/work at the Academy (if applicable)

Completed applications by Friday, December 3, 2023, will be considered Priority and will be given the first applications reviewed for acceptance and placement in a course.

The second round of application reviews will be for applications received between December 4, 2023, and January 7, 2024.

Once all applications have been reviewed and recommendations have been made, we will send an email notification of acceptance the final week of February/first week of March.

Students who did not receive a placement will also be notified.

All of the Academy’s classes are challenging and are designed to be similar to a semester-long university course offered during the regular academic year.

  • Classes are adapted to correspond to the three-week session (Truman semesters are fifteen weeks long),
  • Faculty members still have high expectations for the performance of the students,
    • students accepted to JBA will enroll in ONE concentrated college course,
    • which meets six hours each weekday, and
    • three hours on Saturdays.

The Academy’s classes fall within one of several categories:

Click on tabs to view description of each category

Social Science

  • investigate human behavior and activity in its social and cultural context
  • more specifically, social scientists consider what motivates human beings in both private and public settings
  • students will learn how to collect evidence, test a hypothesis, analyze results, and present a conclusion

Past JBA classes that belong to the Social Sciences group include:

  • Illuminating the Black Box: Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Why We Fought: American Wars from World War I to Iraq
  • Crime and Justice in America
  • Psychology Through Science Fiction
  • Advocacy, Argument, and Persuasion: Classical Rhetoric in Contemporary Times

Natural Science

  • classes that attempt to understand and explain the natural world
  • students will learn how to gather and analyze evidence to develop experiments that will test a hypothesis
  • scientists use proven and disproven hypotheses to develop a tentative series of laws and theories to create a model that describes the natural world.

Past JBA classes that belong to the Natural Sciences group include:

  • Introduction to Chemistry
  • Underwater Biology
  • Extra Solar Planets and the Search for Life
  • The Human Lab
  • A Star Called the Sun
  • Backyard Ecology:  From Field to Laboratory Ecological
  • Missouri Mammals: Natural History, Ecology, and Behavior

Mathematics/Computer Science

  • classes that create structures to describe the relationship and functions of concrete and abstract objects
  • students must employ a rigorous logic whether they are working with a branch of mathematics (such as geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus) or a specific language in computer sciences (such as JAVA or Visual Basic)
  • these classes also are invaluable tools for many disciplines, especially the natural and social sciences.

Past JBA classes that belong to the Mathematics/Computer Sciences group include:

  • The Art and Science of Computer Programming
  • The Mathematics of Secret Messages
  • The Art and Science of Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Preparatory College Algebra

We also offer two courses that teach sophisticated applications of computing technology:

  • Computers in Art and Design
  • An “Animated” Course


These classes examine the culture of human beings:

  • More specifically, the Humanities strive to examine and appreciate human values by looking at:
    • creative works: such as literature, art, and music; and
    • systems: such as languages and ethics.
  • Students will learn how to analyze and evaluate the creative world of humans, and
  • Express their personal reactions.

Past JBA classes that belong to the Humanities group include:

  • Ancient Greek:  A Modern Odyssey
  • Biomusicology: The Study of Music from a Biological Perspective
  • German Language and Culture
  • Can You Say That With Your Hands? An Introduction to American Sign Language
  • This Just In! Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • “Read All About It” Newspaper Reporting and Production
  • In Focus:  The Art and Practice of Filmmaking

Fine Arts

These classes nurture human creativity by:

  • allowing students to engage in the production of music, art, acting, and fiction
  • students will learn the conventions of a specific academic discipline and how to channel and express their own creative impulses
  • JBA students in these classes will have an opportunity to display or perform their works before the Academy.

Past JBA classes that belong to the Fine Arts group include:

  • Clay Castles and Medieval Mugs
  • The Writer’s Craft
  • Computers in Art and Design
  • An “Animated” Course
  • Nature Writing
  • Theater: Onstage and Off


Truman has a distinctive focus on Interdisciplinary these classes draw from different areas of the liberal arts. For instance, these offerings have included:

  • Argumentation: The Toolbox of Inquiry
  • Communicating Politics: Rhetoric and Campaigns in the Communication Age
  • Creating a Usable Past: Genealogy and Local History, which are areas of study in their own right, but which apply to a wide variety of human inquiries, problems, and endeavors.

In fact, all of our JBA courses strive to meet the interdisciplinary challenge: to bring various ways of thinking and learning together in one course, to challenge students to find how disciplines solve problems and address creativity in different ways.

You will have the opportunity to rank your preference for each of the classes offered in each of the two sessions.  The goal of the Academy is to place students in the courses they are best qualified for while also trying to respect students’ preferences as much as possible.

The more flexibility you show in your application, the higher the probability that we will be able to place qualified applicants in a course at the Academy.  Therefore, we encourage students to rank ALL courses they would consider accepting.

Students who are returning to the Academy for their second or third year, however, should not rank courses they have already had. Students who are available for both sessions (one or the other) also increase their odds of placement.

Although we would like to accommodate all students who apply to the Academy, due to space limitations, this is not possible. Each year, anywhere from 150-200 students are not able to be placed in a course.

  • Students who could not be assigned to one of the choices indicated on their application will be notified at the same time as the students who were assigned.
  • If a student declines an offer for a course, we will contact a student who we were unable to accept to offer a seat in a course.

Placement for any student not initially offered a course is not guaranteed.  There are very few seats that are declined.

You may apply to attend both Session I and Session II. At the time you initially apply to the program, you should indicate this on your application.

  • Students still must be selected by the JBA faculty member of each class to which they apply before they are allowed to attend each session.
  • Each year approximately 6-10% of our students attend both sessions.

Students who attend both sessions must go home at the end of Session I.  Students are usually able to remain in the same room for both sessions, but occasionally housing placement requires the JBA staff to move the student to a different room.

After the end of each session, students will receive a description of the course they completed and an individualized evaluation from their faculty member.

The faculty member will:

  • assess each student’s performance in the class
  • address the student’s academic strengths and weaknesses
  • possibly suggests areas for further academic development

Students and parents may wish to send a copy of the assessment to their own school to be placed in a student’s record.

We believe the primary purpose of attending the Joseph Baldwin Academy should be experiencing the unique intellectual stimulation the program provides.  For this and other reasons, the Academy does not offer high school or college credit for courses completed. Students, however, may negotiate with their local school officials for credit or advanced placement.

View more Frequently Asked Questions about JBA>