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3-Week Courses with Day and Residential Student Options

Grades 6 - 12 Academic Summer Camps at Northwestern University

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Important Enrollment Update

Grades 6-8

  • Residential hall space for the July 16 - August 4 session is full. A waitlist is currently available for residential enrollment. Academic day camp enrollment remains available for open classes.
  • Residential hall space for the June 25 - July 14 session is extremely limited. Check back for any updates. 

Grades 9-12

  • Enrollment is available for both residential and day camp students.
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In Person

Residential and Day Camp Options at Northwestern University
Evanston, IL

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Session 1
June 25 - July 14, 2023 (no class on July 4)

Session 2
July 16 - August 4, 2023

Academic Summer Camp Tuition

  • 2023 Tuition Rates
    • Residential Camp: $4,780
    • Day Camp: $2,660
    • Partnership Residential Camp: $5,550
    • Partnership Day Camp: $3,430

Civic Leadership Institute (CLI)

  • 2023 Tuition Rates
    • Residential Camp: $4,895
    • Day Camp: $2,775

Financial aid available for qualified students.

Prepare for the Future while Enjoying the Summer

CTD's Academic Day and Residential Camps for students grades 6-12 (entering grade in fall 2023) offer high-achieving, motivated middle and high school students the opportunity to receive high school, college-level and pre-professional instruction from master teachers and industry leaders. Fast-paced, intensive courses engage students in critical and creative problem solving as they grapple with advanced concepts in subjects from math and science to writing and technology to leadership and service-learning, producing products such as writing portfolios, original iOS apps, or community action plans.

Why Choose CTD's Academic Camps?

Accelerated coursework and immersive learning experiences help students build confidence in their talents and potential. Master instructors, community partners, and industry experts support students as they explore possible career paths. Community with like-minded peers from around the country and across the globe provide the inspiration and support needed to stretch and grow. CTD participants develop their individual talents as they learn how to make positive change in their communities. In addition, residential camps immerse students in the beautiful lakeside campus of Northwestern University. Residential camp programming emphasizes the formation of life-long friendships and the independence needed to succeed at university and beyond. 

Benefits include:

  • Small class sizes and individual attention
  • Opportunities to network with a a global community of peers
  • Preparation for high school, college, and career
  • High-quality instruction using a talent development framework and best practices in gifted education

In addition to Academic Day and Residential Camp options, CTD offers a diverse range of online program options; view a full list here.

Application Process

Please note: Students should apply to programs and select courses based on the grade they will enter in fall of 2023.

The 3-week Academic Day and Residential Camps welcome applications from pre-qualified applicants as well as New Scores and Portfolio applicants. Before beginning the online application, determine which type of applicant you are based on the descriptions below.

Applications are submitted through MyCTD. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; many courses begin to fill by mid-March. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are completed. Incomplete applications do not "hold a spot" in the desired course. Once you have made a payment and submitted the application you will receive an email with further instructions. You will then be able to return to the application and select View Application Details to upload any necessary documents and to get the teacher recommendation link, if necessary. If you determine you have applied using an incorrect method, please email as soon as possible.  Applying with an incorrect method will delay your application and could result in not obtaining a seat in your first-choice class before it fills to capacity.

Pre-qualifed Review Applicant

You are a pre-qualified review applicant if you meet both of the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a CTD course at the same, or more rigorous tier (Emerald, Magenta or Indigo), within the previous two years. 
  • You are now applying for a course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math, or Science) as the CTD course you previously completed.

Please note: course eligibility requirements vary by grade level and type of course (enrichment versus accelerated). Please see the eligibility section and check the course descriptions for details.

New Scores Applicant

You are a new scores applicant if you meet either one of the following criteria:

  • You have not attended any CTD program for the past two years and you have qualifying test scores (Verbal, Math or Science) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously completed a CTD course, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math, or Science) and you have qualifying test scores. 

New Portfolio Applicant

You are a portfolio applicant if you do not have qualifying test scores because you have either:

  • never taken a nationally normed standardized achievement test or above-grade-level test, OR
  • taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.

 An Admission Portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form (available once you have submitted your application) indicating that the student is performing 1½ to 2 years above grade level in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying; 
  • Required: most recent school transcript or report card indicating exceptional performance in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying; 
  • If available: most recent standardized testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP) or results of a state grade-level assessment.

Please note: Applicants should apply to programs based on the grade they will enter in fall of 2023. 

Because applications are accepted on a continuous basis, courses that are listed as available may close before a student's application is complete and comes up for review. We strongly suggest listing second and third choice courses on applications. Applications are processed and reviewed by Admissions staff when all necessary documentation has been provided through the applicant's MyCTD account. 

It can take up to a week for our staff to first review newly submitted applications as well as any documentation provided to complete an application later. Until our staff has verified documents, they will not yet be marked as received in MyCTD. We kindly ask you to not call nor email our office to confirm receipt of documentation or application items within a week of submitting them.

It may take 2 to 4 weeks for an admissions decision to be made once the application is complete.  You will receive an email once an admissions decision has been made.

Accepted Students

Accepted students will receive admissions materials via email two to four weeks after their application is complete. Enrollment information will include a link to information regarding housing and travel details, a packing list, required health information, as well as program rules and policies. This information will be available in late spring.


The application period for 6-12 Academic Summer Camps will close Saturday, June 18 for Session 1 and Saturday, July 9 for Session 2, 2023.  Applications must be submitted AND completed by this date to be considered for enrollment.

Residential space may be limited.

After May 28, 2023, tuition increases by $100.

Applications submitted after June 10, 2023 must be accompanied by full tuition payment.

Academic Eligibility

Accelerated, Credit-Bearing Courses

Accelerated, credit-bearing courses are comprised of courses at the Indigo eligibility tier. Please make sure to thoroughly read the admissions requirements, including any prerequisites in the individual course descriptions.

To qualify for Indigo Tier Accelerated Courses students must provide one of the following:

  • Qualifying score on an Above-Grade-Level Assessment in the required qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math or Science) for the desired course.
  • Successful completion of a previous CTD course, with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math or Science), at the Indigo Tier within the past two years.
  • Submission of a portfolio application, consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s transcript or most recent report card demonstrating that the student is performing exceptionally well in the qualifying subject area. 
  • Students from India, UAE, Kuwait, or Singapore who have tested with ASSET Talent Search may be able to apply as new students with qualifying test scores.

Prerequisites and Graded Writing Sample for Creative Writing: Master Class

A few courses require additional prerequisites for admission. Any prerequisites are included the course description. Any student applying to a course with a prerequisite must submit documentation showing the prerequisite has been met unless CTD already has such information from previous applications, or if the prerequisite has been met via a CTD course.

A grade sample of the applicant's creative writing is necessary when apply to Creative Writing: Master Class. Evidence that the writing sample has been assessed for academic purposes can be provided on the writing sample itself or by submitting an accompanying rubric or other feedback that is clearly tied to the writing sample. Providing an ungraded writing sample will result in a delay of the application being deemed complete and may cause an applicant to miss out on a class that fills to capacity.

 Advanced Enrichment Courses

Advanced Enrichment Courses are at the Magenta eligibility tier. Please make sure to thoroughly read the admissions requirements, including any prerequisites in the individual course descriptions.

To qualify for Magenta Tier Advanced Enrichment Courses students must provide one of the following:

  • Qualifying score of 95th percentile or above on a nationally normed, standardized grade-level achievement test (e.g. MAP, STAR, ACT, SAT, PSAT 8/9, PSAT/NMSQT etc.), or
  • Participation in above-grade-level testing through CTD Above-Grade-Level Assessment or similar program, or
  • Successful completion, within the past two years, of a previous CTD course at the Magenta or Indigo Tier and in the qualifying subject area, or 
  • Admission portfolio (report card or transcript, teacher recommendation, and test scores, if available).  

Civic Education Program Courses

To qualify for Emerald Tier Civic Education Programs (Civic Leadership Institute (CLI), Taking Action and Leadership Intensive courses), students must be the appropriate grade and/or age and must also provide one of the following:

  • Qualifying score of 90th percentile or higher on a nationally normed grade-level assessment in the required verbal/reading qualifying subject area.
  • Successful completion of a CTD course, with a verbal/reading qualifying subject area within the past two years.
  • Past participation in above grade-level testing such as the ACT or SAT test taken in grades 7, 8, or 9 within the past two years (CTD Above-Grade-Level Assessment);
  • Submission of a portfolio application, consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s most recent report card, demonstrating that the student is performing well in language arts or humanities.

English Language Proficiency

Because courses are taught in English, test scores are used to assess proficiency and assist in course placement. TOEFL (or TOEFL Jr. for grades 4-8) or IELTS scores are required for students for whom English is not the first language and who do not have qualifying scores on an accepted English language grade-level or above-grade-level achievement test.  Students who do have qualifying scores on a test in English do not need to provide additional English Language Proficiency scores.

Requests for Grade Advancement/Acceleration

CTD course content is advanced or grade-level accelerated, as reflected in course descriptions and the standard admission requirements. Though course content is advanced, students can engage with intellectual peers who are also age- or grade-level peers. Therefore, most students should apply for courses aligned to the grade-level in which they are currently enrolled. Still, for some students demonstrating a need for an even higher level of instruction than CTD’s advanced and accelerated courses already provide, further acceleration may be an option. Visit the Requesting an Accelerated Placement web page for more information about the process, timeline, and required materials.

Fees, Withdrawals, and Financial Aid

2023 Tuition 

Grades 6-12 Tuition

  • Residential Camp: $4,780 or $5,550* 
  • Day Camp: $2,660 or $3,430* 
  • *Partnership Courses


Civic Leadership Institute

  • Residential Camp: $4,895 
  • Day Camp: $2,775 

Tuition increases by $100 for all courses after May 28.


Please see our withdrawal information for policies specific to this program.

Financial Aid

CTD offers need-based financial aid awarded as requests are received. Families are encouraged to apply early because the amount of aid available is limited. Please see the Financial Aid page for details. 

  • The deadline to provide a complete financial aid application is April 30, 2023.
  • You will receive the FACTS application link in your application confirmation email once the $60 dollar tuition deposit is paid and the application is submitted.
  • It is imperative that you complete the financial aid application as soon as possible as it may take FACTS up to ten days to process your information.
  • If you previously completed a FACTS application for the 2021-2022 academic year for CTD, you must still attach the 2022-2023 FACTS application to your FACTS account. You will be able to link your FACTS account to this new FACTS information. You may need to update financial information.
  • If you experience difficulties with the FACTS process please call the FACTS helpline at 866/412-4637.

Technology Scholarship

Students with financial need applying to technology courses may apply for the Sandra Dennhardt Technology Scholarship.  For a list of eligible courses and more information please see our Scholarship Opportunities page.

The application deadline for this scholarship is April 15.

Campus Life and Community

Inclusive Community

CTD's Academic Camps offer an opportunity for students to experience a true living-learning community at one of the nation's top research universities, Northwestern University. In diverse academic and residential groups, students form strong bonds with other advanced learners from across the country through academic endeavors and cultural and recreational opportunities outside of class.

Living on Campus

Residential students live in a residence hall on campus, under the supervision of trained residential staff. Each residential teaching assistant (RTA) is responsible for a group of approximately 15 students. Students are housed by gender identity and age.  Rooms are assigned by gender and age.  Students eat with residential staff and other members of the university community in a dining hall on campus.  Students also have limited access to other campus facilities, including libraries, computer labs, and athletic fields. Families with questions about student housing assignments may email CTD Summer directly at 

Experienced Staff Members 

Our staff is a talented group of educators brought together by their commitment to teaching highly able young people. Staff are invested in the success of every student, and help build a safe and supportive environment for growth and self-discovery.  

A High Standard of Student Conduct

Our programs are highly structured and operate with a strict set of rules regarding campus and community boundaries and appropriate staff supervision. These rules help to ensure the well-being of our students and staff, and all students who attend must be committed to respecting them. Students and families are asked to review our Honor Code so that all participants are aware of the program's expectations and their personal responsibility to contribute to a positive living and learning environment.

See COVID-19 Health and Safety below for information on campus health and safety protocols.

Daily Schedule

Grades 6-8 

7:30 – 8:30: Residential students attend breakfast with RTA
8:00 - 8:30: Day camp drop-off 
8:45 - 9:00: Students are walked to class by Teaching Assistants 
9:00: Class begins 
Lunch hour varies by class
3:00: Class ends 
3:15: First day camp pick-up 
3:30 - 4:45: Activities 
5:00: Second and final day camp pick up.  See you tomorrow!
5:30: Dinner for residential students. 
6:30 to 7:45: Student Union (M/W) and Study Session (T/R)*
8:00: Building curfew for residents
*Tuesdays/Thursdays only (optional and virtual only for commuter students) 6:30 - 7:45: TA led study session
*No class on July 4th

Evenings and weekends find residential students enjoying a broad range of activities, such as dances, field days, trips to downtown Chicago, and talent shows. 

Grades 9-12

7- 8:30: Students get ready for the day and transition to class
8:00 - 8:30 Day camp drop-off 
9:00 - 12:00: Class 
12:00 - 1:00: Lunch 
1:00 – 3:00: Class  
3:00 - 3:15: Students transition home and/or to residence halls/day camp pick up 
3:30 - 5:30: Afternoon activities and sign-out
5:00: Second and final day camp pick up.  See you tomorrow!
5:30 - 7:00: Sign in/Dinner 
7:00 - 9:00: Evening TA office hours and sign-out.  Day camp students may participate virtually in TA office hours.
9:00: Residential curfew 
*No class on July 4th

Day camp students are welcome to participate in in-person afternoon activities and in virtual office hours.

Evenings and weekends find residential students enjoying a broad range of activities, such as dances, movies on the lawn, museums, and talent shows.

Student Evaluations

All students who successfully complete CTD Academic Summer Day and Residential Camps receive a brief narrative evaluation that includes comments on the student’s performance in class, grade and credits earned (if applicable), service-learning hours for CLI students, as well as recommendations for future study. Residents also receive a brief narrative evaluation that includes comments on community membership and contributions. These evaluations are available 6 weeks after the final class of the session.

COVID-19 Health and Safety

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CTD will implement health and safety policies and procedures based on Northwestern University and CDC policies in effect at the time of each program. Following guidance from Northwestern University: 

  • CTD strongly recommends that students are vaccinated and boosted with an updated bivalent vaccine against COVID-19. Families will upload their student’s vaccination information into their health profile, after a student’s application and enrollment into the program. Students who are not vaccinated may be subject to additional health protocols.  
  • Regardless of vaccination status, students are subject to testing for COVID-19 during the program if they exhibit one or more common symptoms of COVID-19.   
  • Students must be tested for COVID-19 prior to arrival on campus. All families will upload documentation provided by a third-party clinician of their student’s negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival. Residential students will not be allowed to move into residence halls until a negative test is received.  
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 during the program must be picked up by a parent/guardian or other adult designee as soon as possible. Care will be provided on-site until the family member or designee arrives. Please be aware that a positive test result would likely make a child ineligible to travel by air, train, or bus, making it essential that all residential students have a parent or designated adult who will be in the United States and able to retrieve the students from campus. CTD cannot provide housing and supervision for residential students beyond the published dates of the program session in which they are enrolled for any reason.  

Northwestern University COVID-19 Health and Safety policies are reviewed regularly and periodically updated in response to ongoing data monitoring and guidance from public health officials and are therefore subject to change. During the program, program administrators will take a conditions-based approach to managing program activities based on risk levels as reported by the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health. COVID-19 health and safety protocols may include measures such as masks, distancing, additional cleaning protocols, changes to scheduled program activities, and Northwestern University policies as warranted by current public health conditions.   

All CTD students will be expected to comply with policies in effect during the dates of the program for which they are registered and may be removed from the program for non-compliance without refund.   

Contact Us

Enrollment Updates for Summer 2023

Grades 6-8

  • Residential hall space for the July 16 - August 4 session is full. A waitlist is currently available for residential enrollment. Academic day camp enrollment remains available for open classes.
  • Residential hall space for the June 25 - July 14 session is extremely limited. Check back for any updates. 

Grades 9-12

  • Enrollment is available for both residential and day camp students.

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Attending CTD classes is about trying new things and getting inspiration for what my career might be someday....CTD has taught me that the world is wide open."CTD Student

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