Online Diploma Program

STEM Foundations: GSSM's Online diploma program combines the excellence of a GSSM education with the convenience of learning from home. Created for rising juniors in the state of South Carolina, STEM Foundations is an online school with a high-level STEM-focused curriculum.

EOCEP Testing

STEM Foundations: Thursday, May 9 | Friday, May 10 (make up)
Residential Testing: Monday, May 13th  

Utilizing a cohort model, courses meet live and are taught online using Zoom. Students have live online access to teachers’ office hours, college counseling, and academic support. Students are admitted to this program as rising juniors and continue the program through their junior and senior year.  

STEM Foundations students build a strong community with each other and with their teachers. This community is built in the classroom through engaging classroom discussions, small group conversation, and problem-solving time with peers. Students attend study time via Zoom daily during which time they are able to collaborate with each other on classwork and provide peer tutoring as needed. 

Outside the classroom, students build bonds during club meetings, study hall time, and in informal communication with each other. To further the connections between students, STEM Foundations students get together in person two to three times per school year for optional events such as orientation, Interim, and prom. STEM Foundations students have access to our already existing clubs such as National Honor Society, yearbook, and math club and students can form their own clubs. GSSM will work with local high schools to allow participation in athletics. 

Graduatiion Requirements & Curriculum

Students in STEM Foundations take 5 courses each semester together with a seminar series. In their junior year, students take biology, chemistry, English, history, and math. Students take computer science, engineering, English, math, capstone research, and physics in their senior year. All students must meet the State of SC graduation requirements. We will work with students to help them meet any graduation requirements that are not part of our typical course load. 
In addition to the typical semester courses, students participate in an Interim course each year. All students participate in a mentored research & inquiry experience during their time in the program. 

The specific classes that STEM Foundations students take are as follows: 

Junior Year:  

  • Biology and Chemistry: All students take yearlong, dual enrolled biology and chemistry classes. 

Most students in STEM Foundations have taken honors biology and chemistry before enrolling in the program. These dual enrolled classes are different than the honors class students have already taken—they are taught at the college level and go in more depth. Students also receive college credit for these classes. 

  • Math: Students who have not yet taken precalculus will take a yearlong, honors precalculus class as a junior. Students who have already completed precalculus will take a dual enrolled Calculus 1 class. 
  • English: All students take two semesters of dual enrolled English. These classes give students two semesters of college credit for English.  
  • History: Students who have not yet taken US History will take a yearlong AP US History course. Students who have taken US History but not Gov/Econ will take a semester each of dual enrolled Government and dual enrolled economics. Students who still need both US History and Gov/Econ will take US History as a junior and Gov/Econ during the summer or as a senior 

Senior Year: 

  • Math: Students who took precalculus as a junior will take yearlong, dual enrolled Calculus 1. Students who took Calculus 1 as a junior will take dual enrolled Calculus 2. 
  • English: All students take two semesters of dual enrolled English. 
  • Physics: All students take two semesters of dual enrolled, algebra-based physics. 
  • Engineering: All students take a semester honors introduction to engineering class. 
  • Capstone Research: All students take a semester honors class in which they conduct research. 
  • Computer Science: All students take two semesters of dual enrolled computer science. 

We will work with individual students who have already taken a class that is equivalent to one on the list above to find a substitute class. 

2024-2025 Stem foundations academic calendar

 STEM Foundations Course Catalog

 STEM Foundations School Profile

Frequently Asked Questions

Is GSSM STEM Foundations right for me?

Are you a rising high school junior living in South Carolina? Do you want to do your schoolwork from home? Are you interested in receiving a high-level STEM foundation from faculty who are experts in their fields and caring teachers? Do you want to make friends with students across the state of SC? Do you want to start preparing for college now? If you answered yes to these questions, then this program is for you!

How is GSSM STEM Foundations different from other online programs?

Classes in this program will be taught synchronously for a small cohort of students. GSSM faculty teach all courses in the program—our faculty are experts in their fields (over 90% have PhDs in their subject area), but more importantly, we care about teaching and care about the success of all our students.

What classes are offered in GSSM STEM Foundations?

All students in this program will take biology, chemistry, English, US history, and math as juniors. Juniors will take either Pre-Calculus or Calculus I for their math class—placement will depend on students’ mathematical background. As seniors, students will take computer science, engineering, English, math (Calculus I or Calculus II), and physics. All classes are offered at the honors level or higher, most classes are AP or dual enrolled.

Can a student pursuing athletics, within their current school district or outside of their school district, participate in the online STEM Foundations diploma program?

Yes, A student can still participate in the athletic program in the district where they live, even if they are participating in our Governor's School program. See: Equal Access Interscholastic Activities

What if I want or need to take other classes that are not offered in the GSSM STEM Foundations program?

If students have not met SC diploma requirements that are not part of this program (for example, PE, economics, US government), we will work with the student to complete the requirement during the school year or during the summer.


Suppose students want to enroll in classes beyond the SC diploma requirements that are not part of this program (for example, additional years of foreign language). In that case, we will work with the student to see about adding those additional classes to the students’ existing workload. These classes will most likely be offered through Virtual SC.

How are classes in GSSM STEM Foundations be taught?

All courses in the GSSM STEM Foundations program are taught live via Zoom. Classes are interactive and engaging--students have the chance to work with their peers during most classes and teachers challenge students to ask and answer questions as they arise.

Will I be in class all day?

No! Classes meet three to four times a week for an hour each, so you will have breaks in your day between some classes. Our current students use these breaks for studying, working on homework, exercising, spending time with family, and club meetings. See here for an idea of a typical weekly schedule for STEM Foundations students.

How do labs work?

Labs are an essential part of many STEM classes. Students will receive (free of charge) lab kits for each lab science class. These kits will give students what they need to complete safe labs at home with the guidance of their teacher. Depending on the class, there might be chances for students to come to our campus in Hartsville, SC, for on-campus labs. If students are not comfortable coming to campus, they will be provided with alternative activities that can be done at home.

There are two math classes listed for juniors and seniors, how will I know which class I will take?

We will place juniors into math classes based on a math placement assessment and the previous math classes a student has taken. Students who take Pre-Calculus as juniors will take Calculus I as seniors, and students who take Calculus I as juniors will take Calculus II as seniors. 

If I participate in GSSM STEM Foundations, do I have to buy my own textbooks?

No, GSSM will provide students with all books, lab supplies, and other resources needed. Some textbooks provided may be eBooks.

What if I don’t have adequate technology to complete an online program?

GSSM will provide technical support and equipment as needed to make sure students in the STEM Foundations program have the best possible access to synchronous instruction and other online resources. 

If I complete GSSM STEM Foundations do I still need to complete the state of SC diploma requirements?

Yes. To complete this diploma program, you will also need to satisfy the South Carolina State diploma requirements. If you are enrolled in this program and need to meet a graduation requirement that is not part of the STEM Foundations program (e.g., PE, economics, US Government), we will work with you to complete the requirements during the school year or during the summer.

If I participate in GSSM STEM Foundations will I get to attend graduation?

Certainly! We hold an in-person graduation for all STEM Foundations students.

Can you tell me more about the academic calendar?

The school year begins with a “soft start” during which students are introduced to their classes and teachers. This time allows students to acclimate to our online learning environment, test their technology, and, most importantly, get to know their peers and teachers. In January, after winter break, students participate in interim for 2.5 weeks. These weeks are focused solely on interim, and no other classes will be taught.  After a long weekend at the end of January, spring semester classes will begin. 

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Please contact Emily Phillips at if you have any additional questions or would like more information about the program.