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5 Best Summer Schools for Conservative College Students

If you’re the kind of student who attends additional seminars during the academic year and conferences in July for fun, chances are you’re already planning your summer break.

Researching internships. Applying for conferences. Making a list of books you want to read but don’t have the time for during the school year. 

We feel you. And someone at the New York Times even envies you.

You’re ambitious and busy, and there are dozens of conferences and seminars you could attend. Don’t worry: we pulled together a list of some of the best.

Now, college is supposed to introduce you to timeless questions and ideas, so we selected conferences that expose you to leading thinkers and to perspectives you’re probably not getting in the classroom. If you’re a serious student, consider applying for one (or all) of them. 


Whether you aspire to be a policy wonk or simply wish to understand public policy better, this is the top gun of policy summer programs. You’ll join outstanding undergrads from across the political spectrum to discuss and debate urgent problems from the perspective of policy and the ideas shaping it.

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a well-respected and influential think tank in D.C., so you get to spend quality time in our nation’s capital and meet leading scholars and practitioners in policy. You can read all about it here.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Stipend: AEI’s program is fully funded, and they also provide you with a $250 travel stipend.

Application Deadline: Applications for this competitive program are due March 5, 2018. 


The advantage of a Hertog summer course isn’t just the caliber of the thinkers and teachers you get to study with—it’s also the wide range of courses from which to choose. From war strategy to political philosophy to international affairs, it’s an outstanding program designed to supplement what you’re already studying (or provide what you’re not). 

Hertog provides two main programs: a 7-week Political Studies Program that teaches 24 select students a sweeping summary of subjects, and a series of 1-to-2-week specialized summer courses to accommodate students who work summer jobs. You can get the full download here.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Stipend: Hertog provides its students with full scholarships, complimentary dormitory accommodations, and a stipend to offset travel and living expenses.

Application Deadline: Applications are due February 12, 2018. 


If you’re intrigued by America’s role both in history and in the world today, the Alexander Hamilton Society (AHS) hosts a rich annual seminar grounded in Hamiltonian studies. You’ll learn the strategic, defense, and economic principles that guide American foreign policy, and the basics of statecraft. 

You’ll find all the details here.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Stipend: AHS provides vouchers for travel and covers housing and most meals.

Application Deadline: Applications for this seminar are also due February 12.  


The Witherspoon Institute’s summer seminars are directed by Dr. R. J. Snell, a thinker and speaker loved by ISI students and faculty alike. Like Hertog’s, the Witherspoon Institute’s summer seminars are a liberal arts lover’s dream: well-rounded, comprehensive, and diverse. From the moral life and the classical tradition to anthropology and medical ethics, it’s a series not to be missed. 

You can read up on the different seminars here.

Location: Princeton, New Jersey 

Stipend: Unlike the other seminars listed, Witherspoon charges a small $250 tuition in exchange for room, board, and other necessities. No travel vouchers here, sadly!

Application Deadline: Submit yours by February 18.


This weeklong program is the most political of the bunch, featuring speakers like Ben Shapiro and former Mitt Romney adviser Bay Buchanan. Last summer, students heard from Vice President Mike Pence as well as former presidential candidates Ben Carson and Newt Gingrich. Leading thinkers like Princeton University professor Robert P. George (an ISI author!) are already lined up for this summer. The Young America’s Foundation conference is also the biggest, so you’ll get to meet and network with dozens of students as opposed to huddling with a Socratic few.  

If you’re a political animal who wants to hear from politicians and activists as well as scholars, then you’ll want to look into this conference. 

Get the details here.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Stipend: Like Witherspoon, Young America’s Foundation charges a small tuition fee: $195, which covers all conference materials, meals, and five nights’ lodging. You’re responsible for paying for your own travel to and from D.C. 

Application Deadline: There’s no deadline per se, but this conference fills up quickly, so you need to secure your spot ASAP. First come, first served. 


Make this your summer to learn and understand diverse worldviews and broaden your portfolio. Beyond the practical benefits, these conferences will challenge and enrich your mind, shape your soul, and foster meaningful relationships that could last a lifetime.   

Best of luck and warm wishes as you pursue the life of the mind this summer. 


Complement with Gracy Olmstead on the three unpopular virtues conservatives need in 2018, Ralph McInerny's quick guide to philosophy, and Jessica Hooten Wilson on 10 books you need to read before graduation


Do you love liberty, yet wish you understood its roots and history better? The Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Honors Program is dedicated to studying the philosophical roots of liberty, how it ought to look in practice, and why it matters so much today. 

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