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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 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. 

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

  Session I Session II
Course Dates June 13 – June 30  July 5 – July 21 
Move in  June 11 July 3
Move out  July 1 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

Beyond Human: Geniuses, Superheroes and A.I.

This interdisciplinary course will explore what it means to be human by spotlighting cases that push the limits of human cognition. We will study sociological and psychological works that deal with topics ranging from gifted individuals, superhuman abilities, and technological wonders. As we do so, we will bring into conversation the real and the imagined—moving from social experiments to works of fiction and media productions. Questions we will tackle throughout the course include: Why do we look at geniuses with both awe and anxiety? What can superhero movies tell us about morality?

Session(s)

Session I

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

Collegiate Writing: Awakening into Consciousness (Session 1)

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.

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

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

This program is currently at capacity during the Extended and Rolling deadlines. If you select this course as a first choice on your application, please apply for a second option that fulfills your interests.

Session(s)

Session II

Environmental Justice in Principle and Practice

Students will learn about different types of environmental injustice and how they intersect with other social problems, including segregation, housing, the devaluing of the lives of people of color, and the geographic distribution of environmental ills. Speakers from communities who have experienced environmental injustices in Chicago will be invited to share their perspectives with students in order to supplement readings from a diverse set of sources and outlooks.

Session(s)

Session I

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 I

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

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

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.

Session(s)

Session II

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 or related technologies, and we will work with a variety of digital media, including vector graphics, raster images, animations, and web applications.

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 Relativity

In this fast-paced course, relativity is explored in a systematic way, starting from the Galilean relativity of Newtonian mechanics, focusing much time on the special relativity of Lorentz and Poincaré and finishing with discussions on the general relativity of Einstein. Emphasis is placed on the novel features of special relativity, which notably states that time passes differently for different observers, and their consequences, which have been exquisitely verified in countless experiments over the past century.

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

Language and Conflict

An aphorism commonly thrown around, and then hastily disregarded, in linguistics courses is “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy,” popularized by sociolinguist Max Weinreich. While this definition may not hold water when it comes to analyzing the structures or validity of the world’s languages, language and language ideology have played an important, but under-emphasized, role in colonial and nationalist power and policy.

Session(s)

Session II

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 II

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

This program is currently at capacity during the Extended and Rolling deadlines. If you select this course as a first choice on your application, please apply for a second option that fulfills your interests.

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 (Session 2)

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 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. Why is there no world government? What are the consequences of not having a world government? These are the fundamental questions of interest to scholars of international relations.

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 II

Seeing Anew: Human Transformation and the Senses in Art, Film, Music, and Literature

This course explores the ways in which writers, musicians, and other artists renew and reframe the way that we see the world. Through readings, viewings, and other experiences, we will consider how the arts speak to our senses and imagination, the relationship between the senses and reality, and how works of art might help us imagine a transformed world.

Session(s)

Session I

The Psychology of Learning

Humans’ ability to learn from and teach others is a feature that sets our species apart. In this course, 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. For the major project of the course, students will work in groups to conduct an online study of learning with human subjects (e.g., via surveys).

Session(s)

Session II

What is Community? Making Sense of Social Connection in a Disconnected World

Why is social connection so important? What threatens our sense of relatedness to others? How can we thrive as social beings while spending so much time in front of screens? We will begin with a consideration of the meaning of human connection from the vantage points of Aristotle, Adam Smith, and the French sociologist Emile Durkheim. Through close readings of Marx, Freud, and Frankfurt School theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, we will next investigate factors that disrupt our ability to form meaningful relationships.

Session(s)

Session I