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Top 18 Political Science Programs for High School Students  

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Business students. gathered around a table.

Top 18 Political Science Programs for High School Students

The quest for the top political science programs for high school students can be a daunting yet exciting journey. These programs offer academic enrichment and a platform for young minds to discuss, debate, and discover the intricacies of governance, policy-making, and international relations.

This article aims to guide ambitious students through a curated list of 18 esteemed programs, each designed to challenge, inspire, and prepare the next generation of political scientists, policymakers, and leaders.

Top Political Science Program for High School Students (Remote)

1. Pasquines Internship

  • Location: Remote
  • Estimated Cost: No cost, unpaid
  • Eligibility: High School Student
  • Important Date/s: Application Deadline: Rolling.

The Pasquines Internship stands out among the top political science programs for high school students. It offers a distinctive and engaging opportunity to delve into the world of political journalism, with a focus on U.S. territories.

This virtual internship caters specifically to those interested in understanding and reporting on the nuanced political, social, and economic landscapes of regions such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

High school students participating in the Pasquines Internship are not just passive observers but active contributors to the discourse surrounding territorial politics and policy decisions. They are tasked with writing, reporting, and analyzing current events, gaining invaluable real-world political journalism experience.

This program especially benefits students pursuing political science, journalism, or public policy careers. It provides a platform to sharpen their research, writing, and analytical skills.

Top Political Science Program for High School Students (Hybrid)

2. Summer Journalism Program, Princeton University

  • Location: Hybrid – Virtual and Princeton University campus
  • Estimated Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: High-achieving juniors from high school from low-income backgrounds
  • Important Date/s: Please check for the latest dates.

The Princeton University Summer Journalism Program is widely recognized as one of the top political science programs for high school students. It uniquely blends the study of journalism with a keen focus on political science.

This selective program welcomes high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds, offering them an unparalleled opportunity to delve into political journalism at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Over several weeks, participants engage with Princeton professors and professional journalists, gaining insights into the critical role of the media in shaping public opinion and policy. The curriculum encompasses various activities, including workshops, lectures, and hands-on reporting experiences, designed to equip students with the skills necessary to effectively report on politics and current affairs.

Beyond the practical skills of journalism, the program also emphasizes ethical considerations, encouraging students to ponder the responsibilities of journalists in a democratic society. Graduates of the program leave with a deeper understanding of political journalism and a project or portfolio showcasing their newfound skills.

Top Political Science Programs for High School Students (In-Person)

3. Internship at Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Office

  • Location: Baltimore, Rockville
  • Estimated Cost: Stipend provided
  • Eligibility: High School Junior or Senior
  • Important Date/s:
    • Fall 2023 Internship: Apply by June 23, 2023, Program Dates: August 28, 2023, to January 12, 2024
    • Spring 2024 Internship: Apply by November 3, 2023, Program Dates: January 22, 2024, to May 10, 2024.

The Internship at Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Office stands out among high school students’ top political science programs due to its comprehensive approach to providing real-world legislative experience.

Group of students talking in a room.

This prestigious opportunity allows participants to delve into the intricacies of the legislative process, offering a hands-on experience that is both educational and impactful. Interns are tasked with responsibilities such as assisting with constituent inquiries, supporting casework, drafting correspondence, and engaging in community events.

This immersive experience enhances understanding of governmental operations and builds critical communication, research, and policy analysis skills. By working closely with the Senator’s staff and attending briefings, interns gain unique insights into the challenges and operations of a U.S. Senate office.

The program is designed to foster the next generation of civic leaders and policy thinkers, making it a coveted choice for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers in public service, law, or politics.

4. House of Representatives House Page Internship | Washington State

  • Location: Washington State
  • Estimated Cost: No cost; stipend provided ($50 per day)
  • Eligibility: Specifics not provided, likely varies by state
  • Important Date/s: Please check for the latest dates.

The House of Representatives House Page Internship in Washington State stands out among the top political science programs for high school students, providing an unparalleled opportunity for young individuals to gain firsthand experience within the legislative environment.

This unique program is meticulously designed to immerse students in the intricacies of legislative proceedings, offering them a rare glimpse into the House of Representatives’ day-to-day operations.

Participants are tasked with responsibilities that range from assisting members on the chamber floor to delivering essential documents throughout the Capitol complex, thereby playing a pivotal role in the smooth functioning of legislative activities.

As part of the broader spectrum of political science education, the House Page Internship symbolizes a commitment to nurturing the next generation of informed citizens and leaders, making it a cornerstone among programs aimed at high school students with a keen interest in political science and governance.

5. National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) on US Policy & Politics

  • Location: Multiple locations in the US
  • Estimated Cost:
    • $350 for 6-9 day programs
    • $500 for 18-day programs
    • Additional fees apply for late cancellations
  • Eligibility: 6th-12th grade students with demonstrated academic excellence and leadership ability
  • Important Date/s: April 1 – May 1, 2024, for standard cancellation fees.

The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) on US Policy & Politics stands out as one of the top political science programs for high school students, offering an immersive experience that combines leadership development with an in-depth exploration of the American political system.

Students walking in the school campus.

This program distinguishes itself by providing students with a unique opportunity to engage directly with the world of US government and politics through a series of lectures, simulations, and discussions led by experts in the field.

Participants get a hands-on experience that includes simulations of US Congressional sessions, debates on current political issues, and public speaking and leadership workshops. The NSLC on US Policy & Politics aims to deepen students’ understanding of the complexities of US policy and politics and seeks to cultivate a new generation of leaders equipped with the knowledge and skills to contribute thoughtfully to the political discourse.

By participating in this program, students gain valuable insights into the workings of the US government and political strategies, setting a solid foundation for their future academic and career pursuits in political science and related fields.

6. Harvard Pre-College Summer School Program for High School Students

  • Location: Harvard University
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; varies by program
  • Eligibility: High School students
  • Important Date/s: Please check for the latest dates.

The Harvard Pre-College Summer School Program for High School Students is recognized as one of the top political science programs for high school students. It provides them with an unparalleled opportunity to explore the complexities of political science at one of the world’s leading universities.

This rigorous academic program invites high school students to explore Harvard’s rich educational resources, participate in challenging courses, and engage with a diverse community of peers and scholars passionate about political science.

Students can study under esteemed Harvard faculty, delve into political theories, examine the intricacies of government structures, and discuss contemporary global and domestic issues. This comprehensive exposure helps students develop critical thinking and analytical skills, encouraging them to examine political systems and their impact on societies worldwide.

Beyond academic growth, the program fosters personal development through college-preparatory workshops, helping students to prepare for their future collegiate and career endeavors in political science and beyond.

7. Political Science Summer Institute – UCLA

  • Location: UCLA
  • Estimated Cost: Scholarships available
  • Eligibility: 9th-11th grade students, as of Spring 2024, must be at least 15 by June 24, 2024
  • Important Date/s: Application Deadline: March 15, 2024.

The Political Science Summer Institute at UCLA is acknowledged as one of the top political science programs for high school students, designed to immerse participants deeply into the complexities and nuances of political science.

UCLA

This comprehensive program offers students an unparalleled opportunity to engage with UCLA’s esteemed faculty through lectures, seminars, and hands-on activities exploring the breadth of political science.

The curriculum covers various aspects of the discipline, including American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory, providing students with a well-rounded understanding of the subject matter.

Through this rigorous academic program, UCLA fosters a stimulating environment where young scholars can explore their interests, develop new insights, and connect with peers who share their passion for political science.

8. American Politics Academy at Georgetown University

  • Location: Georgetown University
  • Estimated Cost: Residential: $3,389 (includes tuition, housing, meals); Commuter: $2,625
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Date/s: July 2024.

The American Politics Academy at Georgetown University is prominent among high school students’ top political science programs. It offers a dynamic exploration of the American political landscape.

This prestigious program provides students with a unique blend of academic rigor and practical insight into the workings of the U.S. political system. Through a curriculum that includes discussions on the roles of political parties, the impact of public opinion, and the influence of special interest groups, participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors shaping political behavior and policy decisions in the United States.

This program enhances students’ understanding of American politics and equips them with critical thinking and analytical skills essential for navigating the complexities of contemporary political issues.

The immersive experience at Georgetown University’s American Politics Academy thus prepares ambitious high school students for future academic and professional success in political science and related fields.

9. Politics & Foreign Policy at Georgetown University

  • Location: Georgetown University
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; inquire for details
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Date/s: Recommend contacting for details.

The Politics & Foreign Policy program at Georgetown University has solidified its reputation as one of the top political science programs for high school students, aiming to deeply immerse participants in the intricate world of global politics and policy-making.

Business people discussing documents and ideas at meeting

This esteemed program offers an unparalleled academic experience. It integrates lectures, interactive seminars, and discussions led by Georgetown’s distinguished faculty and seasoned political professionals.

Students engage in comprehensive analyses of current global issues, understand the complexities of international relations, and explore the mechanisms of policy development and diplomatic strategy.

The program imparts theoretical knowledge and cultivates practical skills through simulations and debates that mimic real-world political and diplomatic situations. Participants emerge from the program with enhanced critical thinking abilities, a broader understanding of global politics, and a clearer vision of their potential career paths in political science, international relations, or public policy.

10. Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement, University of Southern California

  • Location: University of Southern California
  • Estimated Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Students must reside and attend high school in Los Angeles County
  • Important Date/s: Please check for the latest dates.

The Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement at the University of Southern California is celebrated as one of the top political science programs for high school students. It emphasizes the critical intersection between media, journalism, and civic responsibility.

A group of students gathered around a table working on a project

This intensive four-week summer academy opens its doors to a diverse group of gifted high school students interested in exploring the realms of media communications, journalism, and civics.

Through a curriculum designed to foster writing, critical thinking, public speaking, and digital media production skills, participants are prepared to engage with and contribute to the democratic process in informed and meaningful ways.

This program aims to broaden students’ understanding of the media’s role in shaping public policy and opinion and strives to empower them to become informed citizens and future leaders who can navigate the complexities of the media landscape.

11. Yale Young Global Scholars – Politics, Law, & Economics

  • Location: Yale University
  • Estimated Cost: $6,500 program fee + $75 application fee
  • Eligibility: At least 16 years old by the start of the session, current sophomores or juniors, first-time participants
  • Important Date/s:
    • Session I: June 23-July 5
    • Session II: July 7-July 19
    • Session III: July 21-August 2.

The Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program in Politics, Law, & Economics is among the top political science programs for high school students globally, providing an extraordinary platform for exploring complex issues at the intersection of these critical fields.

This prestigious program, hosted on the historic Yale University campus, draws together a diverse group of young scholars worldwide. It encourages them to delve into various topics, from governance and justice to market economies and international relations.

Participants benefit from a rich curriculum with lectures, seminars, and discussions led by Yale faculty and other experts. This fosters an environment of rigorous academic inquiry and mutual learning.

The program is designed to impart knowledge and develop critical analytical skills, enabling students to dissect and debate global issues with depth and nuance. Moreover, the collaborative project work and simulation exercises offer practical experiences that complement theoretical learning, preparing students for future academic and professional pursuits in political science, law, economics, and beyond.

12. United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP)

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Estimated Cost: Fully funded for selected students
  • Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors
  • Important Date/s: Application Deadline: December 1.

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is distinguished as one of the top political science programs for high school students. It aims to provide an unparalleled educational experience in the heart of the United States government.

a female student being interviewed and hand shaken

 

This highly competitive program selects two high school juniors or seniors from each state, Washington D.C., and the Department of Defense Education Activity to participate in an intensive week-long study of the federal government and its leaders.

The USSYP offers young leaders a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the Senate’s role within the broader context of American government through direct interaction with Senators, Congress members, and key government officials. Participants engage in briefings and meetings to enhance their understanding of policymaking’s complexities and the importance of public service.

In addition to offering a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity, the program also awards each delegate a significant scholarship to encourage their pursuit of careers in public service. The USSYP stands out for its commitment to fostering a generation of informed and motivated young leaders ready to contribute to their communities and the nation’s political discourse.

13. Workshops Foundation Congressional Seminar

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; recommend inquiring directly
  • Eligibility: Not specified; recommend inquiring directly
  • Important Date/s: Not specified; recommend inquiring directly.

The Workshops Foundation Congressional Seminar stands out among the top political science programs for high school students, offering a unique educational experience in the heart of the United States political landscape.

This prestigious program provides a deep dive into the workings of Congress and the broader U.S. government system through lectures, discussions, and hands-on workshops led by experienced professionals, lawmakers, and political insiders.

Participants have the rare opportunity to gain insider perspectives on the legislative process, understand the intricacies of policymaking, and engage in simulations that mirror Congress members’ challenges.

Thus, the Workshops Foundation Congressional Seminar represents a critical stepping stone for high school students passionate about political science, offering unparalleled insights and networking opportunities that can shape their academic and professional futures.

14. Department of Education Student Trainees Volunteers

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Estimated Cost: Unpaid, but offers professional development opportunities
  • Eligibility: Accepted at an accredited college or university
  • Important Date/s: Application Deadline: Rolling.

The Department of Education Student Trainees Volunteers program is a notable entry among the top political science programs for high school students. It aims to offer an immersive educational experience beyond the conventional classroom setting.

interviewer smiling at the camera

This program uniquely positions itself by providing high school students accepted at an accredited college or university the chance to work within various segments of the Department of Education, thus gaining firsthand exposure to the federal government’s role in education policy and administration.

Participants are introduced to various activities, including policy analysis, educational research, and project management, which allow them to gain valuable insights into the inner workings of one of the nation’s most pivotal governmental bodies.

Such a comprehensive approach not only equips participants with a deeper appreciation of the educational landscape but also fosters a sense of civic engagement and public service, making it an exemplary opportunity for young scholars interested in the intersection of education, policy, and governance.

15. U.S. Department of the Treasury Student Internship Program

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Estimated Cost: Unpaid
  • Eligibility: Accepted at an accredited college or university
  • Important Date/s:
    • Spring: January through May
    • Summer: May through August
    • Fall: September through December.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Student Internship Program is a distinguished opportunity for high school students in top political science programs. This initiative provides an invaluable learning experience for those interested in understanding the intricacies of national financial management, policy formulation, and economic strategy from the heart of federal governance.

Unlike traditional educational programs, this internship places students amid ongoing projects and assignments that contribute to the Treasury’s mission, offering a unique perspective on the financial pillars that support the nation’s economy.

While the internships are unpaid, their experiential learning and networking opportunities are profoundly valuable, equipping students with practical skills, insights, and contacts that can significantly influence their academic and career trajectories in political science and beyond.

This program exemplifies a practical approach to education, preparing the next generation of leaders and professionals to navigate the complexities of government finance and policy.

16. Stern Civics Immersion Program at Junior State of America

  • Location: Stanford University
  • Estimated Cost: $5,295
  • Eligibility: High school students in 9th-12th grade
  • Important Date/s: July 1 – 19, 2024.

The Stern Civics Immersion Program at Junior State of America (JSA) is a standout initiative among the top political science programs for high school students, aiming to deeply engage participants with the critical aspects of civic leadership and the complexities of democratic governance.

Held at prestigious locations such as Stanford University, this program merges rigorous academic content with practical, real-world exercises in a vibrant, interactive setting. Students are encouraged to delve into current political issues, debate with peers, and develop actionable projects that address societal needs under the guidance of experienced educators and political professionals.

This immersive experience is designed to educate and empower students, fostering a generation of informed citizens and leaders prepared to contribute positively to their communities and the broader political discourse.

By participating in the Stern Civics Immersion Program, students gain a comprehensive understanding of U.S. democracy, enhance their leadership and communication skills, and connect with like-minded peers, laying a solid foundation for future political science, public policy, or civic engagement endeavors.

17. Wake Forest University’s Policy and Politics Institute

  • Location: Winston-Salem, NC – Wake Forest University Campus
  • Estimated Cost: $2,800
  • Eligibility: Current 9th – 12th grade students
  • Important Date/s: Week of July 7 – 12 and week of July 14 – 19.

Wake Forest University’s Policy and Politics Institute is recognized as one of the top political science programs for high school students. It provides an exceptional educational experience that dives into the core of American democracy, constitutional rights, international politics, and the shaping forces behind current laws.

Situated on the picturesque campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the institute offers a comprehensive exploration of political ideologies, party politics, and the intricate processes of policy development and legislative action.

Students engage in vibrant class discussions, enhancing their understanding of how citizens can influence change and the importance of persuasive communication in the political realm. With a focus on hands-on experiences, attendees can interact with policy leaders, analyze political messaging in the media, and even develop their public policy proposals.

This immersive program broadens students’ perspectives on political mechanisms and global leadership roles and hones their analytical and leadership skills, preparing them for future academic pursuits and civic engagement.

18. Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS)

  • Location: Cornell University, University of Maryland, University of Michigan
  • Estimated Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors
  • Important Date/s: Applicants will be selected in spring 2024.

The Telluride Association Summer Seminars (TASS) hold a prestigious spot among the top political science programs for high school students. They offer a rare blend of academic rigor and intellectual exploration in a collaborative setting.

Designed for sophomores and juniors interested in critical black studies, democratic theory, and practices, TASS provides a challenging six-week college-level curriculum at no cost to the participants.

This program, hosted at distinguished institutions like Cornell University, encourages a deep dive into topics through seminars led by college faculty, fostering an environment where students are encouraged to engage in thoughtful discussion, critical analysis, and reflective writing.

Beyond the seminars, TASS participants also engage in community service, workshops on college preparation, and cultural activities that enhance their learning experience. This multifaceted approach deepens their understanding of societal issues and political theories and prepares them for collegiate academic expectations, making TASS an invaluable stepping stone for high-achieving students.

How to Find the Best Political Science Program for You?

Discovering the ideal political science program for your academic and career aspirations can be transformative. Here’s how to navigate the search for the top political science programs for high school students, ensuring you find a path that not only aligns with your interests but also propels you toward future success:

  1. Identify Your Political Science Interests. Political science is a broad field encompassing American politics, international relations, political theory, and more. Begin by pinpointing which areas most captivate you to narrow down programs specializing in these subjects.
  2. Conduct Thorough Online Research. Dive into detailed online searches to uncover programs offering courses and experiences tailored to your specific political science interests. Websites of educational institutions and dedicated educational platforms are good starting points.
  3. Seek Recommendations. Tap into the knowledge of guidance counselors, political science teachers, and professionals within the field. Their insights can lead you to programs that suit your academic goals and interests well.
  4. Look for Practical Experience Opportunities. Prioritize programs providing practical experiences, such as internships with government or political organizations. These experiences are invaluable, offering a glimpse into the political landscape and enhancing your understanding of theoretical concepts.
  5. Evaluate Faculty and Alumni Success. Investigate the qualifications of the program’s faculty and the achievements of its alumni. Programs with accomplished instructors and successful alumni indicate quality education and impactful networking opportunities.
  6. Assess the Program’s Reputation. A program’s reputation can be a significant indicator of its value. Look into rankings, reviews, and testimonials to gauge the overall standing and effectiveness of the program.
  7. Participate in Open Houses and Informational Sessions. Whenever possible, attend open houses or informational sessions. These events can provide deeper insights into the program’s culture, curriculum, and whether it fits you.

By following these steps, you can make an informed decision, selecting a program that meets your educational needs and sets the stage for a rewarding career in political science. Remember, the best program for you aligns with your interests, academic goals, and professional aspirations within political science.

What are the Benefits of Top Political Science Programs for High School Students?

Top political science programs for high school students offer numerous benefits beyond academic knowledge. These programs foster critical thinking and analytical skills by encouraging students to examine and debate complex political issues.

Students talking in a conference room.

Participants gain an understanding of political systems, policy-making processes, and the impact of political decisions on society. Many programs also offer opportunities for hands-on learning through simulations, internships, and interaction with professionals in the field, providing students with a practical understanding of political science.

Additionally, these programs can enhance college applications by demonstrating a commitment to academic rigor and an interest in civic engagement. Networking opportunities with peers, faculty, and professionals can also be invaluable for future academic and career prospects.

What is Expected from Participants upon Joining Top Political Science Programs for High School Students?

Top political science programs typically offer high school students a challenging and intellectually stimulating experience. These programs typically combine lectures, seminars, and interactive activities to engage students with current political issues and theories.

Participants should be prepared to engage in extensive reading, research, and discussion, often requiring them to analyze different viewpoints and articulate their arguments effectively and critically.

Additionally, many programs incorporate real-world political science applications, such as simulations of legislative processes or model United Nations conferences, which require active participation. Support for academic and career guidance is also a component of these programs, helping students navigate their future pathways in political science or related fields.

How Do Top Political Science Programs for High School Students Prepare Its Participants for College?

Top political science programs for high school students introduce the students to the rigors of collegiate-level coursework and foster essential academic skills such as critical thinking, research, and analytical writing.

Through exposure to a diverse curriculum and engagement with complex political issues, students develop a deeper understanding of the field, which can give them a significant advantage in their future studies.

These programs also encourage independent thought and the ability to articulate and defend positions, skills invaluable in a college setting. Furthermore, by participating in internships and other practical experiences, students gain insights into potential career paths and build professional networks that can be beneficial in college and beyond.

Conclusion

As we conclude our exploration of the top political science programs for high school students, it’s clear that each program offers a unique gateway into the vast and dynamic field of political science.

These programs equip students with a solid foundation in political theory and practical insights into the political landscape. They also foster critical thinking, public speaking, and analytical skills. Beyond the classroom, students gain invaluable experiences through internships, simulations, and professional interactions, further enriching their understanding of the subject.

As young scholars embark on this educational journey, they join a community of like-minded peers, setting the stage for lifelong friendships and professional networks. With a deepened appreciation for the complexities of political science and a heightened sense of civic responsibility, graduates of these programs are well-prepared to tackle the challenges of college and beyond, poised to contribute meaningfully to discussions on governance, policy, and social change.

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