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2019 Summer Session has concluded. Program and course information will be updated in December for Summer Session 2020.

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

Summer Immersion Programs for High School Students

Immerse yourself in one of your passions, and take advantage of the rich educational resources offered by the University and the city of Chicago 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 labs, workshop discussions, field observations, 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 ethics, philosophy, and free expression, the University of Chicago’s summer immersion courses offer you the opportunity to explore a topic of interest in-depth. 

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

  Session I Session II
Course Dates June 24 - July 11 July 15 - August 1
Move-in June 22 July 13
Move-out July 12 August 2


The Global Political Economy: Power, Inequality, and Globalization

Between World War II and the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the world economy was subjected to a number of crucial transformations. This course introduces students to the trends that have produced the global economy of today and to useful conceptual tools such as "moral hazard" and the "tragedy of the commons." Its main argument is that problems in economics are inextricably tied up with politics and the distribution of various kinds of power.

The Physics of Stars

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. This course introduces you to the concepts behind and applications of this crucial breakthrough.

Gender, the Body, and American Culture

In this course, we will explore how biology and culture are inseparable from each other, and together shape our understanding of bodies and gender. There is not merely one way to think about what a “body” is, or what it means to be “female” or “male” – across the world, across different time periods, and even between groups who seem similar to each other, there is great variability in how people approach these questions.

The Psychology of Learning

Humans’ ability to learn from and teach others is a feature that sets our species apart. Students will investigate learning across the lifespan. What hinders learning and what enhances it?  We will learn about engagement, memory, analogical reasoning, executive function, social-emotional components of learning, mindset, “grit”, insight, stereotype threat and more. Students will observe learning in formal (e.g., classrooms) and informal settings (e.g., museums) and then conduct their own study of learning with human subjects.

Happiness in Western Thought, Art, and Culture

This program will explore “happiness” as a set of ideas, artifacts, and problems in the cultures of Europe and the Americas. We will study works ranging from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy to modern short stories, lyric poems, and films, by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Seneca, Kant, Mill, Keats, Shelley, and Dickinson.  As we do so, we will examine the different definitions and understandings of happiness put forward by these texts.

Ethics: Or, How Should We Live Our Lives?

In this course we ask the fundamental question each one of us faces: how should we spend our time on this Earth? How should we live, individually and collectively? What sort of life constitutes a happy, successful, flourishing, meaningful life? Is morality objective or subjective? What are we obligated, and permitted, to do? How are the goods of a society distributed in a just society?

Imagining the Modern City

The rise of the modern city makes possible new ways of living, new kinds of people, and new kinds of stories presented in texts, films, music, and art. To better understand what forms of life the modern city makes imaginable, we will start by looking at sociologist Georg Simmel’s seminal short essay, “The Metropolis and Mental Life” and the first chapter of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

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.

Biotechnology for the 21st Century

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.

Free Expression and Community Engagement: Principles and Practice of Civic Discourse

Persuasion is foundational to the human experience and 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 advocacy, argument, and speaking.

Biotechnology for the 21st Century

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.

Collegiate Writing: Awakening into Consciousness

How might we, as individuals and societies, sometimes remain unaware or ignorant? How can our lives – psychological, social, political, and spiritual – be reshaped by awakening from this lack of awareness? What does it mean to achieve true consciousness? 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 enduring struggle to understand what it means for us to awaken into consciousness.

Justice, the State, and the Individual

This course will introduce you to some of the most important issues in political thought.

Contagion: Infectious Agents & Diseases

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.  In this three-week course, students will learn about the origin, biology, and evolution of some of the most feared viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Influenza, and lethal bacteria such as E.

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.

Creative Writing

This workshop helps students find their writing voice through a series of creative exercises in fiction, and also in non-fiction and poetry. By the end of the course, each student produces several significant pieces of writing. Daily sessions begin with discussions of reading, followed by afternoon workshops in which students write, revise, and discuss their peers' work. Students have the opportunity to meet several working writers in different fields through in-class visits.  Students write in and out of the classroom and complete nightly reading assignments.

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. This course will provide an introduction to the basics of computer coding for biological data analysis, and how to apply cutting-edge high performance computation to biological questions using the super computers at the University of Chicago Research Computing Center (RCC).

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.

Medical Ethics

In this course we will tackle some of the complex ethical challenges faced in health care. We will discuss the broad philosophical frameworks used in health care settings to make decisions around hot-button issues like: abortion, organ donation, and withdrawing care at the end of life. We will also investigate how legal and cultural factors complicate decision-making around these topics.

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.