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Immersion

UChicago's gothic rooftops against a backdrop of the Chicago skyline

Summer Immersion Programs for Pre-College Students

Immerse yourself in one of your passions and take advantage of the rich educational resources offered by the University through our summer Immersion programs for high school students. In these undergraduate-level courses, you will get personalized attention from faculty, researchers, and other professionals who will lead you through workshop discussions, research projects, and other hands-on activities.

The biggest advantage of this program is its caliber in teaching. The depth and style of teaching was perfect, keeping a perfect balance of serious work and an exciting atmosphere. Despite having to read tons and writing an essay, I was still eager to jump out of bed and dash into class
Lawrence X., Western Academy of Beijing, Beijing, China -

Whether you’re looking for creative writing workshops, preview courses in STEM fields, or to explore theories of economic policy, philosophy, and free expression., the University of Chicago’s summer Immersion courses offer you the opportunity to explore a topic of interest in-depth. 

THE IMMERSION PROGRAM IS RESIDENTIAL. Students live in residence and attend class in-person. There is no hybrid or remote option for Immersion courses. 

2023 Session I Session II
Course Dates June 12 – June 29 July 5 – July 21 
Move in  Sat., June 10 Mon., July 3
Move out  Fri., June 30 Fri., July 22

Eligibility: Current high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, who are at least 14 years old.

To search for courses based on your grade level and academic interest, check out the course finder.

Each summer course is the equivalent of a full, quarter-long (10 week) course.

Courses are three weeks long. Students will be class from 9am – 3pm CST with a lunch break Monday through Friday. Read each course listing carefully.

Once you choose the course(s) for which you would like to apply, make a note of the department code and course number (ex. ANTH 21501).

See individual course descriptions for prerequisites, if any.

Courses in Program

Biology and Its Modern Applications (Session 1)

This course aims at developing the basic concepts that form the crux of life from both structural and functional perspectives. It will cover cellular functioning and organization and the transformation of energy. In addition, concepts of evolution and natural selection will be investigated. The course also introduces the student to the continuity of life from genetic and molecular perspectives. The course will extrapolate to demonstrate how cells communicate through cell signaling and how defects in such communication often lead to diseases.

Session(s)

Session I

Biology and Its Modern Applications (Session 2)

This course aims at developing the basic concepts that form the crux of life from both structural and functional perspectives. It will cover cellular functioning and organization and the transformation of energy. In addition, concepts of evolution and natural selection will be investigated. The course also introduces the student to the continuity of life from genetic and molecular perspectives. The course will extrapolate to demonstrate how cells communicate through cell signaling and how defects in such communication often lead to diseases.

Session(s)

Session II

Biotechnology for the 21st Century (Session 1)

This course is designed to provide a stimulating introduction to the world of biotechnology. Starting with an overview of the basic concepts of molecular biology and genetics that serve as a foundation for biotechnology, the course will segue into the various applied fields of biotechnology. Lectures and some of the corresponding hands-on experiments will include microbial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, cloning, bioremediation, medical biotechnology, DNA fingerprinting, and forensics.

Session(s)

Session I

Biotechnology for the 21st Century (Session 2)

This course is designed to provide a stimulating introduction to the world of biotechnology. Starting with an overview of the basic concepts of molecular biology and genetics that serve as a foundation for biotechnology, the course will segue into the various applied fields of biotechnology. Lectures and some of the corresponding hands-on experiments will include microbial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, cloning, bioremediation, medical biotechnology, DNA fingerprinting, and forensics.

Session(s)

Session II

Cinema, Media and Society: A Global Survey

This course will introduce you to what academic film and media studies looks like at the undergraduate level. It will expose you to a wide range of industries, cinemas, and formats (including independent documentaries, Hollywood and Bollywood features, and East Asian animation), and how to discuss these forms in relation to one another.

Session(s)

Session II

Collegiate Writing: The Meaning of Fantasy

Fantasy has often been regarded as a somehow inferior genre because it supposedly leads us to “escape” from reality. But what if fantasy is in fact a pursuit to uncover things that otherwise confound us about the human condition, especially in unsettling moments that lack precedent? Could fantasy provide a necessary way to reimagine our world and our lives? This intensive course in analytical writing at the collegiate level will offer a chance to think through these questions and to craft rhetorically-effective essays that explore the meaning of fantasy.

Session(s)

Session I

Communicating Effectively: Free Expression, Civic Argument, and Public Advocacy

Communication shapes our lives – personal, professional, and political. Communication skills are also highly correlated with college and professional success: critical thinking, argument, writing, perspective-taking, and research skills are all foundational to a liberal arts education and life beyond college. The objective of this course is to help students develop these essential skills through an introduction to the principles and practices of public discourse: advocacy, argument, and speaking.

Session(s)

Session II

Confronting a Political Economy in Crisis: Examining Causes, Creating Change

Young people, both in the US and elsewhere, are increasingly concerned about how climate change, toxic politics, and the fracturing of stable work arrangements will bear on their life prospects. This course speaks to all three concerns from a political economy perspective.

Session(s)

Session I

Contagion: Infectious Agents & Diseases (Session 1)

COVID, Zika, Ebola, HIV, SARS…in our increasingly globalized and mobile world, infectious diseases can emerge and spread faster than ever before, making epidemics, even pandemics, a real possibility. That, together with increasing antibiotic resistance, makes understanding where these threats come from and how we can control their spread one of the most urgent issues of our time.

Session(s)

Session I

Contagion: Infectious Agents & Diseases (Session 2)

COVID, Zika, Ebola, HIV, SARS…in our increasingly globalized and mobile world, infectious diseases can emerge and spread faster than ever before, making epidemics, even pandemics, a real possibility. That, together with increasing antibiotic resistance, makes understanding where these threats come from and how we can control their spread one of the most urgent issues of our time.

Session(s)

Session II

Creative Writing

"What is education?" asks the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard: "I suppose that education was the curriculum one had to run through in order to catch up with oneself."  When we speak of "finding your voice" or "writing your story" or "mining your material," we speak of things you already possess but that take work to realize. Creative Writing is that work. 

Session(s)

Session I

Developing Effective Economic Policy

At UChicago, we believe that developing effective public policy is a science, based on data and measurable impact. UChicago scholars have been fostering leaders who fearlessly ask the hard questions and follow the evidence to find the answers, leaders who are adept at using the best science of our day to confront the most important problems of our time.

Session(s)

Session II

Developmental Psychology: Theories and Techniques

In just a few short years, infants go from helpless beings who cannot even hold their heads up to walking, talking, thinking people who are able to understand complex games, infer intentions in others, and even engage in reflexive thought (i.e., thinking about thinking). In this class, we will explore this transition by studying major theories of developmental psychology, examining how the mind (and correspondingly, the brain) changes from infancy through adolescence.

Session(s)

Session I

Economics from an Experimental Perspective

A growing field in which the University of Chicago has been a leader, experimental economics uses experimental methods – observing everyday interactions and decisions made by people either in the lab or in the field – to explore economic questions ranging from how markets and other exchange systems work to what motivates people to make decisions about matters such as conserving environmental resources or donating to charitable causes.

Session(s)

Session II

Explorations in Neuroscience: Neurons, Behavior, and Beyond

How does the brain work, and how do changes in brain structure and function give rise to neurological conditions and deficits? Developing a deeper understanding of the brain has been deemed one of the 21st century’s Grand Challenges, and this course will draw on different research methodologies to begin unraveling one of life’s greatest mysteries.

Session(s)

Session II

Fairy Tales and the Construction of Childhood

In this course we will study fairy tales within the broader context of the history of childhood and practices of education and socialization. Today, fairy tales are commonly considered the stuff of children’s literature and film. But as historians such as Philippe Aries remind us, before the Enlightenment children were seen as little adults and childhood was therefore not considered as a distinctive period of life.

Session(s)

Session I

Freedom of Expression and the Politics of Social Media (session 2)

Social media presents a variety of current case studies in which to examine the tensions between freedom expression, private industry, and government regulation. The tensions exhibit in elections, politics, schools, employment, and our personal lives as we and social media companies learn to navigate this new landscape. This course explores the complexities of these issues from a basis in the theory, principles, and practices of free expression and their very tangible manifestations in personal, professional, and civic contexts.

Session(s)

Session II

Fundamentals of Psychology: Theory & Research

This course introduces basic concepts and research in the study of human behavior. A breadth of topics will be included such as: sensation and perception, emotions, memory, development, and psychological disorders. Lectures, readings (both textbook and academic journal articles), discussions, and field trips will combine to give you an overview of the scientific study of psychology across areas of inquiry. Several topics throughout the course will also include hands-on psychological research lab demonstrations.

Session(s)

Session II

Gravitation to Levitation: Physics from Supernova to Superconductor

This course introduces students to the foundational concepts of fundamental interactions and its varied applications, such as gravity, electromagnetism, light, particle physics, and quantum mechanics. Students will see how the laws of physics are universal and how the principles of physics can help us understand a range of phenomena from black holes to biology, superconductors to supernovas.

Session(s)

Session II

Hands-On Multimedia Design

The Media Arts, Data, and Design (MADD) Center at the University of Chicago is a 20,000-square-foot collaborative space for inquiry and experimentation.  In this course, students will take advantage of the MADD Center’s resources as they experiment with the fundamentals of design hands-on, working up to large-scale independent projects that will be featured in a group exhibition. Students will explore the history of design through lectures, readings, and “design walks” at special sites throughout the campus and city at large.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Creative Coding

This course is an introduction to programming, using exercises in graphic design and digital art to motivate and employ basic tools of computation (such as variables, conditional logic, and procedural abstraction). We will write code in JavaScript and related languages and we will work with a variety of digital media, including vector graphics, raster images, animations, and web applications.

See sample syllabus here.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to Proof-based Discrete Mathematics

This course will introduce you to higher-level mathematical argumentation and proof, an understanding of which is crucial to making the transition from high school to undergraduate math coursework. What we take as given early on in the study of mathematics actually has reasoning behind it, and this course will show you how to begin to uncover and articulate that reasoning for yourself.

Session(s)

Session I

Introduction to the Philosophy of Life and Death

The focus of this course will be how philosophy arises in response to problems in the conditions of human life, especially our mortality and the prevalence of social injustice. Every one of us will die one day; and every one of us suffers from and/or helps perpetuate some form of injustice. These can be sources of alienation, suffering, and bad choices; they can also be sources of conviction, bravery, and wisdom.

Session(s)

Session II

Justice, the State, and the Individual

This course will introduce you to some of the most important issues in political thought. What should we think about the nature of justice, and the relationship between justice, morality, law, and social conventions? How do, should, and could individuals and their political communities relate to each other? What is the basis, if any, for the legitimacy of political authority? What are possible approaches to the resolution of political and social conflicts, and what are the relative merits of those approaches?

Session(s)

Session I

Life in the Universe & The Laws of Physics

This course treats our current understanding of the role that the laws of physics play in the development, existence, persistence, and prevalence of life in the universe. Starting with the big bang theory, we will explore how the laws of physics guided the evolution of the universe through the processes most likely to have produced life on earth as it exists today. We will then consider what the laws of physics have to say about life elsewhere in the universe.

Session(s)

Session I

Mathematical and Computational Research in Biological Sciences

Using computation to model and study biological systems is one of the leading edges of current scientific research. In this hands-on exploration of the latest techniques, students will learn how macromolecules, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, perform their functions and how to visualize and quantify their behavior.

Session(s)

Session I

Pathways in Data Science

Learn how to glean insights and meaning from complex sets of data in this overview of a field with growing importance in business, government, and scientific research. Students will learn to use the transformational tools of data science and machine learning and see how researchers are applying them in various scientific and social science fields. Students will study how data is collected and stored and then how it is explored, visualized, and communicated.

Session(s)

Session II

Pathways in Economics

This program introduces students to the approaches to economic research and experimentation that make UChicago a world leader in the field. Full-time lecturers in the Department of Economics teach classes on topics in macroeconomics, microeconomics, game theory, and field experiments, drawing on research that applies the tools and insights of the field in new and exciting ways.

Session(s)

Session I

Pathways in Molecular Engineering

The emerging field of Molecular Engineering brings together concepts from chemical and mechanical engineering, materials science, physics, and nanotechnology to innovate across a wide range of areas, such as energy storage and harvesting, water purification, and manufacturing electronic, biomedical, and mechanical devices. Molecular engineers may build new materials or objects from the molecule up, or even create new molecules that do not exist in nature.

Session(s)

Session II

Pathways in World Politics

International relations explores the consequences of the world having multiple, interacting national governments, rather than a single world government. International relations offers conceptual tools for understanding the causes of and possible solutions to many of the challenges facing the world today, including global pandemics, wars, nuclear proliferation, economic crises, and climate change.

Session(s)

Session II

Physics of Stars: An Introduction

Understanding how stars work - what makes them shine - is one of the great accomplishments of 20th-century science. The theory of stellar structure allows us to investigate the interiors of stars, even though what we observe is radiation from their outer atmospheres. This theory also helps us determine how old stars are, how they create heavier nuclei from lighter nuclei in their centers, and how they evolve from birth to death, ending as a white dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole.

Session(s)

Session II

Revolution and Resistance in the Modern World

This course introduces students to the history and theory of rebellion, revolt, and resistance. From peasant rebellions to urban uprisings, from heretical movements to nationalist struggles, the course examines how communities resisted and negotiated structures of power, be they bureaucratic, religious, social, or political. In doing so, we will learn about the context in which these events occurred and encounter the people who led and made up these movements- women and men, mystics and soldiers, farmers and artisans, teachers and journalists.

Session(s)

Session I

The Possibility of Freedom

Since the eighteenth century, freedom has served as one of the primary ends toward which political life is directed, and perhaps as a result freedom has come to be understood largely in political terms. In this course we will question this association of freedom and politics, both with an eye toward expanding the possible avenues through which freedom can be understood and enjoyed while also identifying the conditions under which freedom can be meaningfully lived in the political realm.

Session(s)

Session II