An understanding of politics/political science can enhance how you perceive the world, not just in terms of what is happening but why it’s happening. Even if you are not interested in core politics but are interested in law, policy, international relations, development, and journalism, you’ll find that an understanding of politics is key.
Great opportunities to learn about politics can be hard to find, so we’ve put together this list for you! We’ve kept the list diverse with internships, seminars, and conferences.
1. Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS), Telluride Association
With a 6-week schedule centered around critical thinking, political problem-solving, and academic enrichment, TASS is one of the nation's most selective summer programs for high school students. You will engage in team-building exercises, attend lectures and seminars, participate in discussions, and complete group projects with other TASS members.
Two programs are available through TASS: TASS-CBS (Critical Black Studies) and TASS-AOS (Anti-Oppressive Studies). The curriculum, offered at several colleges, is designed to build critical thinking and problem-solving. What is great about TASS is that apart from coursework directly relevant to politics, you’ll also explore topics and ideas within history, literature, and art. There are a lot of political undertones across each of these branches, so you’ll get a holistic view of how politics permeates into other disciplines.
The program requires you to commit to three hours per day of college-level instruction in addition to exposing you to planning and carrying out community service projects using a fixed program budget.
Location: Cornell University, University of Maryland, and the University of Michigan
Cost or stipend: Free
Application deadline: Applications for TASS are now closed. The applications for the 2023 programs were open from mid-November 2022 till January 4, 2023.
Program dates: June 25 – August 5, 2023
Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors.
2. Lumiere Research Scholar Program, Social Science Track
Lumiere was founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Hundreds of ambitious high school students do politics research through the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs. Each student is paired with a top PhD and works with their mentor 1-1 to produce a university-level research paper.
The programs are entirely virtual and vary in duration based on the student’s end goal with respect to how much of a deep dive they would prefer. The research opportunities range from pure political science to combining politics with other social sciences.
Past research has explored the impact of social movements on effective political change and public political attitudes and their effect on democratic backsliding in countries.
Also, check out the Lumiere Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.
Application deadline: There are four cohorts throughout the year. Applications are due in February, May, September, and December, respectively. Apply here!
Program dates: There are four cohorts throughout the year in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Eligibility: All high school students may apply.
3. Summer Journalism Program, Princeton University
If you are interested in political journalism and have decided on it for your major, this year-long course at Princeton is a great option. The Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP) offers high achievers from low-income families a free residential journalism and college preparation program where they will study politics and current affairs, learn from Princeton professors and journalists, and collaborate with a college advisor.
The program includes a variety of online and in-person possibilities, such as weekly lectures and workshops led by program graduates and journalists from publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Politico, and CNN, among others.
Fair warning - this is a highly selective program, including a three-round application process and a final cohort of up to 40 students.
Location: Hybrid – Virtual and Residential (Princeton University campus)
Cost or stipend: Free
Application deadline: February 23, 2023
Program dates: July 28 – Aug 7, 2023
Eligibility: Applicants must be high-achieving juniors from high school and from low-income backgrounds
4. Annenberg Youth Academy (AYA) for Media and Civic Engagement, University of Southern California
This is a four-week summer intensive academy for 26 gifted high school students looking to gain a deeper understanding of the intersection between media communications / journalism and civics.
Writing, critical thinking, public speaking, debate, multimedia creation, interviewing, and ethnography are among the skills that you can expect to learn. You will take a variety of first-year college-level courses and get the chance to network with creative academics working to advance issues of racial, gender, and ethnic diversity in journalism and communication.
Location: University of Southern California
Cost or stipend: Free
Application deadline: March 31, 2023
Program dates: June 19 – July 14, 2023
Eligibility: Students must reside and attend high school in Los Angeles County
5. Yale Young Global Scholars | Politics, Law, & Economics, Yale University
The Yale Young Scholars’ PLE session is aimed at students wishing to pursue politics. This program will teach you to understand diverse political theories, governance structures, international policy, public policy, and more.
The PLE program is designed to enable students to critically examine social systems, issues, and current affairs through political, legal, and economic theory lenses. Some of their sample lectures and seminars are on political violence, post-conflict truth, reconciliation committees, and more.
Location: Residential, Yale University
Cost or stipend:
$6,500 program fee and $75 application fee
Application deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications are open from November to early January each year.
Session I: June 18 – June 30, 2023
Session II: July 2 – July 14, 2023
Session III: July 16 – July 28, 2023
Eligibility: Students have to be
At least 16 years old by the first day of Session III
A current sophomore or junior (or any international equivalent)
A first-time participant
6. Social Justice Research Academy, UPenn Arts & Sciences
The Social Justice Research Academy is designed to encourage critical thinking about the political and historical context of inequality and resistance. You can attend lectures and workshops to develop leadership, research, and analytical skills.
If selected, you will be required to work on a capstone project where you have to develop a research question around topics discussed in the coursework. These usually take the form of traditional academic papers and sometimes more creative projects. Past projects have been on gun deaths, redlining, international human rights laws and violations, and police reform.
Location: Residential, University of Pennsylvania
Cost or stipend: $9,700 program fee and $75 application fee
January 31 (Priority application deadline)
March 31 (International student application deadline)
May 1 (Domestic student application deadline)
Program dates: July 9 – July 29, 2023
Eligibility: Current 9th – 11th Grade students
The NSLC on Political Action & Public Policy is a mock Presidential campaign that lets students immerse themselves in the inner workings of the U.S. Congress. This is a program where students are guided by leading political advisors and politicians to get hands-on learning about presidential campaigns, crafting legislation, and understanding interest groups and lobbyists.
Students also get to attend a college-level lecture series to lay the foundation for the conference. They can also enroll in a supplemental online course to get an additional college credit option, thanks to a unique partnership between American University and NSLC!
Location: Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
Cost or stipend: $3,695 program fee
Application deadline: Admissions are considered on a rolling basis (though with limited seats, most of their sessions are full by late March)
July 12 – July 20, 2023
July 24 – August 1, 2023
Eligibility: High school students enrolled in grades 9-12
If you are interested in political science, the Senate Page Program should be on your list because it combines employment in the Senate with rigorous academic coursework. This is apart from the fantastic network you will build. Pages are primarily responsible for delivering correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol complex. While doing so, you will experience the legislative branch of government first-hand! This is apart from the fantastic network you will build.
We’d suggest you look up your local congresswomen/congressmen to check for internships on their pages. The application materials you need vary by senator and state, so you’ll need to contact your senator’s office if you’re interested in this kind of opportunity.
You may find opportunities like:
9. Headquarters Student Internship Program, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Internships at Treasury give students the opportunity to collect, analyze and present policy data, as well as conduct research and summarize academic literature and news important for priority missions. Through these internships, you get the chance to gain research and analytical skills and management and organizational skills through interactions with Treasury colleagues and other U.S. government agencies. You can choose to work in any one of the several offices that make up the Treasury Departmental Offices (headquarters).
Location: Washington, D.C.
Cost or stipend: Unpaid opportunity
Application deadline: All internship opportunities will be announced on www.usajobs.gov
Program dates: Treasury typically offers internship opportunities in the spring, summer, and fall:
Spring Internship Period (January-May): Apply in October.
Summer Internship Period (May-August): Apply in December.
Fall Internship Period (September-December): Apply in June.
Eligibility: Students must be U.S. citizens and must be enrolled or accepted at an accredited institution
10. Leadership Institute, Brown University
The Leadership Institute at Brown University encourages students passionate about politics, justice, and social movements to collaborate on collaborative leadership models. This program is meant to hone your research and problem-solving skills to develop an Action Plan that you can apply to a problem in your community. You can choose your course of interest, with political topics surrounding the law, social movements, intercultural communication, global health, and more.
Location: Residential (Brown University Campus) OR Online (through Canvas, Brown’s Learning Management System)
Cost or stipend:
Residential program fee: $5,218
Online program fee: $5,313
Application deadline: May 12, 2023, at 11:59 PM EST
On-Campus I: June 25 – July 7, 2023
On-Campus II: July 16 – July 28, 2023
Online: July 10 – August 4, 2023
Eligibility: Students completing grades 10 to 12, ages 16 to 18 by June 18, 2023
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.