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Georgetown's International Relations Academy: A Comprehensive Guide

In the competitive landscape of college admissions, students often seek ways to stand out and enhance their academic profiles. Pre-college programs and academies offer a unique avenue to achieve these goals. One such program that deserves a closer look is the Georgetown International Relations Academy.

This program is tailored for students with a passion for international relations. This program is one of many that Georgetown offers for high school students over the summer. Other programs focus on topics relevant to professional careers in business, law, medicine, or higher education. The programs which range from one week to three weeks all offer an immersive experience, leveraging the university's expertise in the fields to create a stimulating environment for you to explore global issues and challenges and receive college coursework credit in the process.

This article provides an in-depth exploration of the academy, its structure, costs, curriculum, eligibility, and its pros and cons, and ultimately addresses the fundamental question: Is the Georgetown International Relations Academy truly worth the investment?

Georgetown International Relations Academy: An Overview

The Georgetown International Relations Academy offers a program designed to provide high school students with a deep understanding of international relations, politics, and global affairs. In this one-week program, students will learn from world-renowned faculty members and gain hands-on experience in international relations. In this program you will be exposed to a diverse range of global issues, fostering critical thinking and intellectual growth in international relations, policy, and foreign affairs.

Curriculum and Daily Activities

A typical day at the International Relations Academy is a dynamic blend of classes, off-site visits, interactive activities, and group discussions. Over the course of the week, participants dive into various aspects of international relations, covering subjects such as:

  • The Structure of the International System

  • The Instruments of Foreign Policy

  • Intelligence and Foreign Policy

  • Ethics and International Affairs

  • International Law

  • Terrorism

  • Nuclear Weapons

  • The Environment

  • Global Health

  • International Development

  • Special States in the International System (North Korea & Russia)

  • The Future of the International System

The academy's comprehensive curriculum ensures that students gain a well-rounded understanding of global affairs, ranging from diplomatic strategies to environmental sustainability and global health concerns.

In the International Relations Academy, you'll attend academic programming between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. during the weekdays, which will include lectures, guest speakers, hands-on activities, group discussions, and off-site visits. At the end of the day, you'll have opportunities to participate in optional co-curricular events, free time, and residential living activities until curfew.

Eligibility and Application Details

The Georgetown International Relations Academy welcomes applications from current and rising high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors who maintain a strong academic standing. International students are encouraged to apply, reflecting the program's commitment to fostering global perspectives and diverse interactions.

To apply, students must provide the following:

  • An application form, which includes a 300-word essay expressing their interest in the program.

  • A $50 application fee, although this fee is waived until January 31 for early applicants.

  • A School Official Reviewer Form, completed by a high school counselor, teacher, or principal. This form serves to vouch for the applicant's academic readiness and verify their current GPA.

It is noteworthy that standardized test scores are neither required nor expected for an Academy application, removing a significant hurdle for many applicants and broadening the program's accessibility.

Annually the deadline dates are as follows:

  • Early Bird Deadline Dates: January 31* *Application fee waived for all applications submitted by this date

  • Final Deadline: May 15 Applications received after this date will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis

Is It Prestigious?

The Georgetown International Relations Academy benefits immensely from Georgetown University's esteemed reputation in the field of international relations. There is no public information on the size of the cohort for the program but the tuition costs for the program are high, at $3,225, with almost no opportunities for scholarships. The association with a prestigious institution adds to the academy's credibility but the program costs and lack of information about who you will work with make it a moderately prestigious program.

Pros and Cons

When considering participation in the Georgetown International Relations Academy, here are a few pros and cons you should consider.


1. You will learn from distinguished faculty

You will have the unique opportunity to learn from world-renowned faculty members at the forefront of international relations. These experts bring a wealth of real-world experience to the classroom, providing invaluable insights that extend beyond textbook knowledge. Faculty of the program include Anthony Clark Arend, Director Anthony Clark Arend who is Professor of Government and Foreign Service and Chair of the Department of Government. Dr. Arend specializes in the areas of international law, national security law, international relations theory and human rights. Your experiences in the classroom may help you refine what you want to study in college and connect with faculty who may offer valuable letters of recommendation for college admission.

2. You will experience a diverse curriculum

You will delve into a wide array of international relations topics, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the field. The curriculum covers everything from the structure of the international system to nuclear weapons and global health. This diversity equips you with a broad knowledge base, vital for addressing the complexities of global issues.

3. You will forge valuable connections

The academy creates an exceptional environment for networking and building connections for your future. You will interact with like-minded peers who share your interests and ambitions. These connections can lead to lasting friendships and potentially valuable professional relationships in the future which could serve as valuable letters of recommendation for college admission. While there is no public information about the size of the cohort, expect the program to be small in size and limited in diversity due to the lack of focus on creating opportunities for everyone to join the program regardless of cost.

4. You will take an advanced dive into international relations before college

A significant advantage of the Georgetown International Relations Academy is that it allows you to immerse yourself in the complex world of international relations at an advanced level while still in high school. This program offers an opportunity to explore intricate global issues and challenges that would typically be reserved for college-level studies. By participating, you gain a head start in developing a profound understanding of international relations, preparing you for more advanced coursework when you enter college. This advanced dive can set you apart from your peers and equip you with a deeper knowledge of the field, giving you a competitive edge in your future academic pursuits.


1. The program is priced quite steeply

The program entails financial costs, including a $50 application fee and tuition. These costs may pose a challenge for some students, especially those with limited financial resources. It's essential to assess whether the financial investment aligns with your budget and available resources. While you will need to verify exactly how much the program will cost by requesting further information, in the past the tuition has been around $3,225 for one week. This tuition includes coursework, housing, and meals. While commuter student tuition for those living in the area is at $2,500.

While scholarships are available, they are highly competitive and funds are limited. You will need to demonstrate your exceptional merit and financial need to secure a scholarship. It's important to be aware that not all applicants will receive this financial assistance, making financial planning a critical consideration.

2. You will experience an intensive schedule

The program's fast-paced nature may not suit students who prefer a more relaxed approach to learning. The rigorous one-week schedule is designed to cover a substantial amount of material, requiring active participation and engagement. You should be prepared for an intensive learning experience.

3. The program is not extremely prestigious

The Georgetown International Relations Academy, while prestigious due to its association with Georgetown University may be perceived as somewhat less prestigious to college admissions officers due to its relatively high costs, limited availability of scholarships, and the fact that it is a one-week program. Some individuals may argue that the prestige associated with the program is offset by the financial investment required and the brevity of the experience. The program's short duration may not carry the same weight as longer, more in-depth academic experiences on a student's resume or college application, which can potentially diminish its overall prestige.

Is It Worth Applying?

For students who have a deep-seated interest in international relations and are committed to advancing their understanding of global issues, this program represents a great opportunity. The faculty's eminence, coupled with the comprehensive curriculum, provides an immersive educational experience that can be highly beneficial for future academic and career pursuits.

However, it is essential to consider the program's associated costs. While the $50 application fee is relatively modest, tuition costs for the program can be substantial. This financial aspect may pose a significant barrier for some families. It is advisable for prospective participants and their families to assess whether the program aligns with their budget and financial situation.

The intensive nature of the program may also be a factor to contemplate. The week-long program is rigorous, requiring active participation and engagement. For students who prefer a more leisurely pace of learning, this intensity may not be conducive to their educational experience.

Additionally, the availability of scholarships, while a welcome feature, is limited. Scholarship awards are highly competitive, and funds are restricted to tuition assistance. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware that not all applicants who apply for scholarships will necessarily receive an award.

In conclusion, the Georgetown International Relations Academy is a program with substantial merit, offering a holistic and immersive learning experience in the field of international relations. Its association with Georgetown University adds to its prestige, and the faculty's expertise is an advantage you can make the best of. It is a valuable opportunity for students who are passionate about global affairs and want to prepare for a future in international relations or a related field.

However, whether the program is worth it depends on individual circumstances. Students and their families should carefully consider the financial aspects, their preferred pace of learning, and the availability of scholarships. Ultimately, the decision to participate in the Georgetown International Relations Academy should align with one's academic and career aspirations while also being mindful of their budget and financial capabilities. Students and families should always consider other options that may be more cost-effective and offer greater opportunities to prepare for college and their careers.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research at the intersection of engineering, urban planning and sustainability, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

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.

Image Source: Georgetown University seal



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