Explore Your Future: Notre Dame Pre-College Programs

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a smiling man with his chin rested on the books while facing the camera

Explore Your Future: Notre Dame Pre-College Programs

The University of Notre Dame, recognized for its academic excellence and enduring traditions, has created a unique offering for ambitious high school students – the Notre Dame pre-college programs. These programs provide a rich and immersive experience, giving students a comprehensive taste of university life. They are meticulously designed to nurture students’ intellectual curiosity, help them build leadership skills, and offer a glimpse into the Notre Dame community’s richness and diversity.

Young female student smiling at the camera.

From in-depth academic exposure to cultural immersion, Notre Dame pre-college programs serve as a gateway to the world of higher education. Whether students wish to explore their passion for a particular field, engage with global issues, or even study abroad, there is a program to match their aspirations. By participating in these programs, students gain invaluable insights into college-level rigor, community service, and global citizenship – all integral parts of a Notre Dame education.

What Do Pre-College Programs Mean?

What do pre-college programs mean? Pre-College Programs at the University of Notre Dame signify an expansive, immersive, and enriching academic experience specifically designed for ambitious high school students. These programs are an educational beacon, creating an intersection between the depth of college-level study and the breadth of high school curiosity. They are more than just summer courses; they are pathways to intellectual growth, leadership development, and global understanding.

The term “Pre-College” encapsulates an early introduction to the rigors and demands of higher education, combined with the vibrant, holistic student life at Notre Dame. It denotes a prelude to the traditional college journey, offering students the opportunity to explore academic interests, forms new friendships, and gain invaluable insights into the unique Notre Dame community.

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These programs span a diverse range of interests and subjects. For instance, the Summer Scholars Program allows students to dive into a specific field of study for two weeks, offering a taste of what it means to be a full-time undergraduate student at Notre Dame. Similarly, the Leadership Seminars confront students with pressing global issues, prompting in-depth discussions and critical thought. The Study Abroad programs in Rome and Ireland, on the other hand, invite students to venture beyond the borders of their home country, combining immersive learning with rich cultural experiences.

Moreover, these programs act as a launchpad for future aspirations. Participating in the Notre Dame pre-college programs can be a significant stepping stone toward a successful college application. The experience gained, the knowledge acquired, and the connections made during these programs are not just rewarding in their own right, but they also help students stand out when applying to colleges.

Finally, the Notre Dame pre-college programs embody the university’s commitment to service, social responsibility, and the pursuit of knowledge. They are a testament to the idea that the learning journey can start before college, nurturing the seeds of intellectual curiosity, leadership, and global awareness in promising students. The value of these programs extends beyond the duration of the course, imparting lifelong skills and inspiring students to make a positive difference in their communities and the world.

In essence, Notre Dame pre-college programs are a comprehensive, challenging, and rewarding initiation into the world of higher education, molding young minds to be future leaders, thinkers, and global citizens.

What are the Pre-College Programs at Notre Dame?

What are the pre-college programs at Notre Dame? Notre Dame’s pre-college offerings are a reflection of the university’s commitment to nurturing young minds.

Notre Dame pre-college programs are designed to provide a true college experience to high school students through a variety of offerings, both on-campus and online. They engage students in challenging college-level classes taught by Notre Dame faculty, provide opportunities for leadership and service, and connect students with like-minded peers from around the world.

There are several programs to choose from, each providing a unique lens through which to view the college experience:

Summer Scholars

The Summer Scholars program stands as a quintessential part of Notre Dame’s Pre-College Programs, offering a two-week intensive academic and life experience on Notre Dame’s campus. High school students join small classes taught by esteemed Notre Dame faculty, providing a legitimate preview of college academics.

The curriculum is challenging yet deeply rewarding, mirroring the comprehensive intellectual rigor that typifies university education. Students collaborate on coursework outside of designated class times, echoing the nature of group study and teamwork in a real college setting.

Alongside academia, students also partake in the unique social aspects of Notre Dame’s college life. Upon completing the program, students earn one transferable college credit, representing a tangible academic achievement ahead of their university journey.

Summer Scholars Online

An extension of the traditional Summer Scholars program, the Summer Scholars Online is a two-week virtual program that brings the essence of college-level academics to students in a wide array of disciplines. Even in a digital format, the program maintains the rigor and breadth of the on-campus version, with Notre Dame faculty leading the courses.

a female student looking intently at her laptop screen

The online nature of this program allows for flexible learning and collaborative work outside the regular class timings, replicating the self-discipline required in university-level study. Just like the traditional version, completion of the online program rewards students with one transferable college credit.

Leadership Seminars

Leadership Seminars is a selective 10-day program held on Notre Dame’s campus, targeted at academically talented students who exhibit remarkable leadership within their communities. The program accepts approximately 100 students annually, emphasizing intensive learning and engagement in critical global issues.

The competitive nature of this program enhances its value, with participants earning one transferable college credit upon completion. To ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation, Notre Dame covers tuition, housing, and meals for students admitted to the Leadership Seminars, reflecting the University’s commitment to inclusivity and opportunity.

Study Abroad

The Study Abroad program at Notre Dame transcends traditional classroom boundaries, giving students the chance to travel abroad to Italy, Ireland, South Africa, or London.

Under the guidance of Notre Dame faculty, students immerse themselves in foreign cultures, exploring various facets like Rome’s architectural history, South Africa’s struggle with race, or London’s distinctive literature and architecture. This unique offering provides an unmatched opportunity to foster global perspectives and make lasting memories.

Global Scholars

The Global Scholars program serves as a bridge for students to connect with the Notre Dame International faculty at the London Global Gateway and the Jerusalem Global Gateway. In this program, participants select an online course of study, immersing themselves in the ND global community, and addressing complex issues on a global scale.

The interaction with international faculty and students enriches the academic experience and broadens the participants’ worldviews. Upon successfully completing this program, students receive college credit, symbolizing their academic growth and international exposure.

Other Summer Programs

Saints & Scholars Summer Theology Institute

Every year, the Saints & Scholars Summer Theology Institute invites 80 high school students to participate in a week-long, pre-college program on campus. This immersive experience includes living on campus, interacting with Holy Cross College students, engaging in vibrant seminar discussions steered by Holy Cross and Notre Dame faculty, and offering services to community organizations. This program provides a unique blend of academic exploration and community building, all rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Summer Seminary Immersion Program

The Summer Seminary Immersion Program (SSIP), led by the Holy Cross Congregation, is a two-week academic program specifically designed for young men aged 15-18 seeking to deepen their relationship with Christ and His Church. Participants, especially those considering the priesthood or a life as a religious brother, will have the opportunity to discern God’s call by studying Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the priesthood, and the consecrated life.

Based at the University of Notre Dame, the program offers a glimpse into seminary life, with participants housed at Moreau Seminary. In addition to academic engagement, daily schedules include worship, socializing, physical activities, and service-learning opportunities. Successful participants earn a college theology credit from Notre Dame.

Career Discovery for High School Students

This program is designed for high school students considering architecture as a career. The 12-day program introduces students to the skills and topics pertinent to modern architectural practice, such as historic preservation, accessibility, infrastructure, and urban design.

Participants experience life as Notre Dame architecture students, engaging in design studios, seminars, and field trips. They also partake in community activities to enhance their Notre Dame experience. The program aims to guide students in deciding whether to pursue architecture in college and prepare for their future academic journeys.

Notre Dame QuarkNet Center

The QuarkNet program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE), aims to enhance science education in schools by building a nationwide network of science teachers. It offers teachers opportunities to learn about cutting-edge physics research and mentorship from university physicists and those at national laboratories.

Art 2 Science Summer Camp

Art 2 Science Summer Camp is a unique initiative that blends STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning with hands-on activities. The camp ignites imagination through an integrated approach to learning, where participants learn about math, science, and engineering through various art forms. In each session, 150 campers are grouped by age and rotate through 24 hands-on activities, which are designed in collaboration with local artists, science teachers, and more.

Are Pre-College Programs Worth It?

Are pre-college programs worth it? Pre-college programs, such as the ones offered by the University of Notre Dame, provide high school students with valuable experiences that can help shape their future educational and career paths. The Notre Dame pre-college programs offer a multitude of benefits that make them worthwhile investments. Let’s dive into the reasons why pre-college programs are worth considering.

Academic Preparation

Pre-college programs provide a real taste of what college-level academics entail. They expose students to the rigor and intensity of university coursework, preparing them mentally and academically for the transition from high school to college. They allow students to explore areas of interest in depth and can often provide college credits that are transferable upon matriculation. This experience can also help students make informed decisions about their major or field of study.

a student smiling while holding her phone

Career Exploration

For students who have a specific career path in mind, pre-college programs provide an opportunity to explore these areas in a focused manner. Whether it’s architecture, theology, or international studies, students can delve into specific subjects and get a sense of whether it aligns with their career aspirations. This early exposure can help students clarify their career goals and chart a course to achieve them.

Skill Development

Beyond the academic realm, pre-college programs equip students with important life skills. From independent living and time management to collaborative learning and leadership, the skills learned during these programs are invaluable for both personal and professional development. Students also learn to navigate the social aspects of college life, including forming new friendships, networking, and engaging in diverse communities.

University Admissions

Participation in pre-college programs can strengthen a student’s college application. Admissions offices look favorably upon students who have demonstrated a commitment to learning and have taken the initiative to pursue academic interests beyond the classroom. This experience can help students stand out in a competitive applicant pool.

International Exposure

Study abroad pre-college programs expose students to different cultures, perspectives, and ways of life. This exposure can help students develop a global mindset—an increasingly valuable trait in today’s interconnected world. It also provides the chance to learn foreign languages, understand global issues, and make lifelong connections.

Boost Confidence

The transition to college can be daunting. However, the experience gained through pre-college programs can boost students’ confidence. By living on campus, navigating academic responsibilities, and making new friends, students often feel more prepared and less overwhelmed when they officially start college.

While pre-college programs require an investment of time and often finances, the returns in terms of preparation, skill development, and exposure are significant. Notre Dame pre-college programs can provide a competitive edge in college admissions, offer clarity on potential career paths, and equip students with skills that go beyond academics. Therefore, for many students, pre-college programs are not just worth it, but they are invaluable stepping stones toward college success and future career fulfillment.


The University of Notre Dame Pre-College Programs offers an excellent opportunity for high school students to experience college life, discover new interests, and build their academic and leadership skills. They offer valuable insight into the academic rigor, community engagement, and global perspective that define a Notre Dame education.

Whether students choose the Summer Scholars Program, Leadership Seminars, Study Abroad, or Global Scholars, they will undoubtedly emerge enriched, better prepared for college, and inspired to make a difference in the world. Embarking on this journey could very well be a student’s first step toward a promising future shaped by the transformative power of education. So, seize the day, embrace the challenge, and explore your future with the Notre Dame pre-college programs.

Want to learn more about your chances of getting into the University of Notre Dame? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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