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Emerging Rural Leaders II

Rural Leaders

Thanks to the generous support of Trott Family Philanthropies, the College is excited to host the Emerging Rural Leaders II program for high achieving students who attend rural and small-town high schools across the United States.

Top juniors from rural and small-town high schools* are invited to apply for an opportunity to participate in a Summer Session course free of charge. Students selected will receive a full scholarship to enroll in a 4-week academic program. The program is comprised of 2 parts:

  1)  3-week academic course remotely taught online; and
  2)  Phoenix Week, a one-week series of workshops and activities hosted on the University of Chicago campus.

Students will spend 3 weeks immersed in an online academic, credit-bearing course. These courses typically require 5-6 hours of work daily, comprised of engagement with faculty, teaching assistants, or peers, and also including time spent on homework, problem sets, papers, or other independent work. For the academic courses, ERL II students will be in class with students from other scholarship programs. Students will be graded for their work and receive a grade for the course.

As a culmination of their academic course, students will then join their peers on campus to participate in Phoenix Week, where they will live in residence for the week. Phoenix Week is designed to introduce students to UChicago, prepare them for college-level work, provide insight to the highly selective admissions process, and allow for students in the program to get to know each other. Participation in Phoenix Week is required to receive their certificate of completion.

While at UChicago, I met a group that could understand me and whom I could understand in turn, a peer group that I could legitimately compare myself to. I have never felt less unique, and I have never felt more amazing.
- 2019 Emerging Rural Leaders Student -

*Rural and small town high schools: We use data from the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics to help us determine which considered rural or small town high schools in the United States. Most rural areas have populations of less than 50,000 residents and are located several miles outside of an urban or suburban area. If you are unsure whether your high school would be considered rural or small town, please contact Marjorie Betley at

Application Requirements


Applications will be accepted online beginning early January 2022. The final deadline is March 9, 2022. There is no application fee to apply.

Application materials include:

  • Online application
  • Transcript (official or unofficial)
  • Writing sample
  • At least one teacher recommendation
  • At least one parent confirmation email received

Applicants must complete the Summer Session Application, and all the related requirements which can be reviewed in the How To Apply section. Students who wish to apply for Emerging Rural Leaders II should select it as their first-choice program, and then identify which courses from the list below they are most interested in.

All courses will be taught remotely online for Summer 2022. Students in this program will be in class with students enrolled in the other Scholarship Programs. These are the courses offered to all Scholarship Program students:

  • Freedom of Expression and the Politics of Social Media
  • Pathways in Molecular Engineering
  • Revolution and Resistance in the Modern World 
  • Science, Technology, and the Body
  • The Biochemistry of Nutrition
  • The Rise and Persistence of “The Top 1%”: The Sociology of Economic Advantage

Course details can be found here.

The order in which the courses are selected will be considered the order of preference. Students who wish to be considered for Emerging Rural Leaders II do not need to complete the rest of the Scholarship Application or provide financial documentation.

Applicants to ERL II will be asked to respond to the following essay questions in the application:
     -    Why did you choose the particular program/courses for which you have applied? How are they related to your current interests and future plans? Please be as specific as possible, and make sure your response covers each of the courses you elected. (Limit: 500 words)
     -    Chicago is a city of diversity and each one of our 77 neighborhoods has its own unique culture. Tell us what your culture means to you. How will this program impact your life and your community? (Limit: 500 words)
     -    There are more than 4,500 colleges and universities across the United States. Why would you like to spend your summer with the University of Chicago? What about our academic community excites you the most? (Limit: 250 words)

Review the Application Overview pages for more detailed information.


Tuition & Fees

All costs, inclusive of tuition and fees, for the program are completely covered. Students will need access to wifi and to provide their own device to participate in the program. 

Course Dates

June 13 - July 9
Class starts: June 13
Class concludes: June 30

Arrive on-Campus: July 3
Closing session: July 8