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15 Summer Programs at Northwestern University for High Schoolers

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Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, boasting top-ranking programs across a range of fields, including journalism and music.


Along with offering exceptional undergraduate and graduate education, Northwestern is also home to summer programs for high school students in areas like STEM, journalism, management, and other fascinating topics. Students can not only experience college life at Northwestern, earn college credit, but also explore the world-class city of Chicago.


Want to learn what Northwestern University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Northwestern University needs to know.


How Can Summer Programs Benefit Students?


Summer programs are hosted right on college campuses, allowing high school students to experience first-hand what college life is like, including living in dorms with other students. They may also meet peers with similar goals and interests, briefly discover what it’s like to be on their own, and even earn college credit.


Furthermore, participating in a summer program may give high school students a competitive advantage when it comes to college admissions. Adcoms view participation in these programs favorably, since it demonstrates that the applicant elected to spend their summer learning and pursuing a passion, as well as challenging themselves academically beyond high school curriculum.


Is your child thinking of participating in a summer program? Here are 15 programs to consider at Northwestern.


15 Summer Programs at Northwestern


Note: Costs are estimates and vary according to factors such as residential or commuter status.



1. Center for Talent Development (CTD) – Equinox Program


Area of specialization: General Academic

Grades: 9, 10, 11

Application deadline: 6/14/19

Cost: $5,665

Apply now


During this three-week program, academically advanced students receive a rigorous education in topics including:


  • OS Bootcamp & Swift Development with MobileMakersEdu
  • SustainableXDesign: Design Challenge 2019 with the Chicago Architecture Center
  • Creating Knowledge: Data by Design


In addition to their courses, students will participate in recreational activities and social events such as dances, movies on the lawn, and more. Courses are taught at the high school honors, Advanced Placement, or college level, and students will receive 1-2 semesters of high-school honors credit at the completion of the program.



2. LaunchX


Area of specialization: Entrepreneurship

Grades: 9, 10, 12

Application deadline: 12/21/18 (priority); 2/25/19

Cost: $7,495

Apply now


Promising young entrepreneurs come from around the world to learn about the process of starting their own business. Over the course of four weeks, students will undergo steps such as discovering opportunities, engaging in prototype and user testing, and building real customer relationships and partnerships.



3. Civic Education Project (Northwestern University for Talent Development) | CivicWeek


Area of specialization: Management/Leadership

Grades: 9, 10, 11

Application deadline: 3/15/19 (priority); 5/14/19

Cost: $1,495

Apply now


Students explore service opportunities and careers in fields such as health, immigration, law, politics and urban development while gaining hands-on experience tackling social issues in the larger community. Participants take either Community Health & Medicine or Immigration & Global Affairs while visiting sites such as cutting-edge medical facilities and neighborhoods underserved by healthcare resources and engaging in conversations with community leaders.



4. Civic Education Project (Northwestern University for Talent Development) | Civic Leadership Institute


Area of specialization: Management/Leadership

Grades: 9, 10, 11

Application deadline: 5/14/19 (priority); 6/14/19

Cost: $4,195

Apply Now


CLI provides a hands-on educational and meaningful service opportunity for high school students. Participants will learn new perspectives and build skills with real-world applications through the course, Service, Leadership & Community Transformation, as well as engage in service experiences such as running activities in a youth center in the surrounding community. Additionally, students will hear from speakers including business and nonprofit leaders while developing their own leadership skills. 

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5-15. Northwestern University College Prep Summer Programs


Grades: 10, 11

Application deadline: 4/1/19 (priority); 5/1/19

Cost: $3,427

Apply now


Led by faculty and structured like college seminar courses, the Northwestern University College Prep Summer Programs enable students to participate in discussions and grapple with a wide range of issues and themes over the course of two weeks. Topics include:



  • Free Speech: Community, Rights, and Activism
    • Area of specialization: General Humanities
    • During this course, students will examine the current and historical context of free speech, hate speech, and other issues on university campuses.


  • How to Think Like a Scientist
    • Area of specialization: General Science
    • Through the lens of the story of astronomy, students will discuss scientific methods in the past and present, observing demonstrations , participating in excursions, and listening to guest speakers and presentations from professionals in the field.


  • Writing for College Success
    • Area of specialization: College Preparatory
    • This course teaches students the building blocks of college writing. Students will perform close readings of texts and write reflective responses and research-based persuasive essays, as well as peer-edit drafts of each other’s work. By the culmination of the course, students will produce a draft of their college admissions essay.


  • Legal Interpretation and Communication
    • Area of specialization: Law
    • Through this introduction to the American legal system, students will study the fundamentals of creative legal interpretation and participate in Socratic dialogue while building critical thinking and collaboration skills.


  • The Psychological Science of Improving Our Everyday Lives
    • Area of specialization: Psychology
    • By reading scientific journal articles, watching videos, and demonstrations, and discussing and analyzing key issues in psychology, students will learn about psychological studies and research and complete projects connecting the science to their own lives.



  • So You Want to be a Doctor?
    • Area of specialization: Medicine
    • Students explore the medical professional and learn about applying to and attending medical school. Hands-on learning experiences include taking medical histories and basic health measurements. Students will also work in teams to present projects about medical cases.


  • Fake News! Misinformation and Public Opinion
    • Area of specialization: Communications
    • Through exercises, readings, and research, students will learn how to identify fake news and bias in a variety of content. Projects include writing and re-writing articles to understand how perspective shapes the presentation of information.


  • How to Build a Just Society: Reading and Writing about Social Justice
    • Area of specialization: Government/International Relations
    • Performing close readings of texts and other resources, engaging in discussions, and more, students will develop perspectives on key issues and challenges in creating a “just” society. During the course, participants will work in groups to develop proposals for creating a just society.


  • The Future is Female: Wonder Women in STEM
    • Area of specialization: STEM
    • In this course, students will learn about remarkable women in STEM, including historical figures like Marie Curie, as well as the fictional Wonder Woman. They will also create their own STEM superhero while studying the drawing, writing, and storyboard construction process.


How Can You Help Your High Schooler Find the Best Summer Programs?


Does your child need help finding and applying to summer programs? There are many options available that will challenge and engage your student. Talk with your student about their goals for college and seek out advice from their teachers and counselors.


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.