High school students today are witnessing unprecedented progress, unrest, and changes in the world including social justice, climate change, public health crises, and challenges to freedom of speech.

Because the laws and policies enacted today will affect your future, you may be eager to become part of those conversations and are looking for ways to better understand the current political landscape, the history of civil engagement, or opportunities to get involved with community efforts for change.

Spending your summer studying political science is a great opportunity to explore your interest in the subject area and prepare for a potential future career.

What You’ll Learn in a Political Science Summer Program

To better comprehend the current state of society, you’ll need a comprehensive understanding of the politics at play around you. At its core, political science is the study of how political systems and governments work.

It’s also a social science, meaning that it isn’t just the study of systems but how people interact and move within those systems. Whatever your interest is, the study of political science can be as broad or as narrow as you choose to make it.

Political Systems and Processes

If you want to learn more about how the American political system functions and how that structure impacts you and the people around you, you can focus on topics in government and the political process. Or, you can learn about how governments in other nations are structured, and what benefits and drawbacks there are to those systems.

Public Policy and Lawmaking

Maybe you want to have a hand in creating legislation that impacts major issues like climate change, equal rights, or gun control. Or maybe you want to help pass laws in your community that build better roads and parks, and give more access to resources for marginalized people. Either way, you could focus your political science studies on topics in public policy, which examines how laws and policies impact communities and influence culture.

Morality and Ethics

Political theory is rooted in philosophy and looks at politics through the lens of human nature and how societies should establish their governance and institutions. If you’re someone who asks bigger questions about the world around you and seeks to understand the “why” behind people’s motivations, you’ll benefit from concentrating your political science studies on topics in political theory, ethics, and morality.

Social Justice

If you’ve been thinking about what it means to live in a just society where everyone is not only deserving of equal opportunities, but also gets them, you may gain value from social justice studies. Social justice courses offer the history of social justice and how to get more involved with initiatives focused on race and ethnicity, economy, gender and sexuality, the climate, or other issues. 

Other Topics in Political Science

There are many more topics to explore under the political science umbrella, including environmental ethics, economics, the politics of specific nations, war and conflict, and communication and propaganda. 

Of course, you’re not just learning the information, but engaging with these topics through discussion, debate, and research. These classes will challenge you to think deeply about your political beliefs and those of the people around you, as well as help you to articulate that worldview.

Why Enroll in a Political Science Summer Program?

There are a number of benefits to studying political science in a summer program while still in high school. These programs can give you the chance to experience what the college academic experience is like, investigate a future career, and make friends who have common interests with you. 

Here are just a few reasons to consider enrolling in a summer program focused on political science.

1. Explore Political Science as a Potential Major

Right now, you’re evaluating where your life will take you — or at least what you want your college experience to be. If you’re interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in political science, now’s the time to explore if that major would be a good fit for you.

2. Exposure to College-Level Academics

A summer at Harvard Summer School and other summer programs can also help prepare you for the college experience. At Harvard Summer School, you’ll participate in engaging class discussions, learn about new concepts and ideas, and think deeply about those topics of study. 

You’ll also get a sense of the college environment, your instructor’s expectations, readings and homework, and the satisfaction of knowing what it’s like to succeed in a Harvard classroom.

3. Reduced Course Load

You’ll be able to get a feel for the college experience while balancing only one or two courses with a reduced course load, and the option of taking courses to earn college credit (Secondary School Program) or simply for the experience (Pre-College Program). This can help ease you into what the expectations for a college class are like.

4. Make Connections

Being in classes with like-minded students from around the world offers the unique opportunity to make new friends and be exposed to new ideas. You’ll have the chance to work on projects, explore career paths, and take on creative challenges together. 

The students you connect with on campus may become part of your future undergraduate cohort, or may even become best friends for life.

5. Keep Your Academic Skills Up to Date

Research has been conducted on the “summer slide,” or the loss of skills and knowledge when school isn’t in session. Enrolling in a summer program at Harvard is a great way to keep up your academic skills over the summer, and even bring new skills with you when you return to class in the Fall.

6. Elevate Your College Application

As you think ahead to college, consider what you could include in your application that will help admissions officers see you as the ideal student to join their school. Including that you took college courses in political science at Harvard Summer School — especially if you’re applying as a political science major or minor — can certainly help boost your application. Read our blog for more ways to boost a college application during the summer.

7. Not Just Academics

Attending a summer program isn’t just about academics. Life on campus will encourage connections with fellow students, and give you the chance to experience dorm life and independence

More About Harvard’s Summer Programs for High School Students

If you’re looking for an engaging and unique environment in which to take a summer of political science courses, why not look at attending Harvard Summer School?

Harvard offers two summer programs for high school students.

The Harvard Summer School Pre-College Program for high school students is a 2-week, non-credit program that allows you to take courses without the pressure of being graded. Multiple two-week sessions run over the course of the summer, so you can choose which dates work best for you.

The Harvard Summer School Secondary School Program for high school students is a 4- or 7-week, for-credit program that immerses you into what the college experience will be like. Flexible options are offered in the 7-week program to commute to campus or study 100 percent online.If you’re ready to get started planning your summer of political education and engagement at the Harvard Summer School, head to our College Programs for High School Students page today.