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New for 2020!

New Solstice courses include Villains & Anti-Heroes, Girl Power Math: STEM Innovators and In the Field: Urban Ecology. 2019’s breakout hits Big League Analytics and Art 360: Engineering Objects are back, along with returning favorites Breakout Bio: Infectious Diseases and Writers Lab. Solstice is also unveiling new, week-long Global Leadership Intensives running during second session so students in first and third session can extend their stay.



Application Process & Deadlines

Applications are submitted through MyCTD. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; many courses begin to fill as soon as mid-March. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are completed. Incomplete applications do not "hold a spot" in the desired course. Additionally, the $500 deposit does not hold a seat in a course.  Once you have paid the deposit and submitted the appication you will recieve 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.

The grades 4 to 6 Solstice Summer Program welcomes applications from returning 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.

Returning Applicant
You are a returning applicant if you are in grade 4 through grade 6 and you meet both of the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a CTD course through the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program or Online Program at the Emerald Tier, or a tier with a higher score requirement, within the previous twenty-four months. 
  • You are now applying for a grades 4 to 6 Solstice Summer Program course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) as a CTD course you previously completed.

New Scores Applicant
You are a new scores applicant if you are in grade 4 through grade 6 and you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have not attended any CTD program for the past two years and you have qualifying grade-level test scores (Verbal or Math) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously attended a course with the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program, or Online Program, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) and you have qualifying grade-level test scores. 
  • You have participated in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3 through 6 (NUMATS).

New Portfolio Applicant
You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 4 through grade 6 and the following is applicable to you:

  • You do not have qualifying test scores because you have either:

             1) never taken a nationally normed standardized achievement test 


             2) taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.

 An Admission Portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form, the link to which will be available in your MyCTD account once the application is submitted, 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 report card indicating exceptional performance in the subject area of the Solstice course to which the student is applying.
  • If available: most recent state testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP); or any results of a grade-level test.

Please note that students are to apply to the grade level that they are in as of January 2020 for Summer Program courses.  For the purposes of the Summer Program, students are considered to be in the grade they just completed and NOT the grade they will enter in the fall.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early, as many courses close by mid-March. Due to the rolling enrollment nature of our program, 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 the documents it will not yet be reflected in what you see 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 recieve an email once an admissions decision has been made.


Application deadlines are typically in June, but courses are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for Emerald Tier 4 to 6 grade Solstice Summer Program courses, students must be in grade 4 through grade 6 and must also provide one of the following:

  • Achievement of  a score of 90th percentile or higher on a nationally normed grade-level assessment in the required qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) for the desired course.
  • Successful completion of a CTD course, with the same qualifying subject area within the past two years. 
  • Participated in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3 through 6 (NUMATS).
  • Submission of a portfolio application, consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s most recent report card, demonstrating that the student is performing exceptionally well in the qualifying subject area.



Residential Tuition Commuter Tuition One-week Global Leadership Tuition
$2,835 $1,625 $1495 if enrolled as standalone course

$1300 if enrolled with additional, two-week enrollment. Tuition will
be adjusted after acceptance to both courses.


Tuition rates increase by $50 after May 14th.

Withdrawal Policy

  • Requests for withdrawals and refunds must be made in writing by Monday, June 8th, 2020. E-mail requests should be sent to
  • Withdrawals are subject to a processing fee of $60. (Update: With the challenges currently being presented by the spread of COVID-19 CTD is suspending its $60 withdrawal processing fee.)
  • Withdrawal requests made after the deadline will recieve 50% of fees paid, less the processing fee.
  • Students who withdraw after the start of the program are not eligible for any refund.
  • Once a refund has been initiated, it may take up to six weeks to appear in the account from which it was paid, depending on the type of account and the billing cycles.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

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 apply for financial aid for the Solstice Summer Program is April 19, 2020. However, funds are limited and historically our financial aid has been fully dispersed before the deadline date.
  • Do NOT wait for your 2019 tax info to be completed. You can provide your 2018 info along with your 2019 W-2.
  • Financial aid applications are not reviewed until a student has completed their course application and has been placed into a class.  Acceptance emails for students who have indicated they are applying for financial aid are not sent until a financial aid decision has been rendered.
  • 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 have a FACTS account with another institution or you have applied for financial aid with CTD in a previous year, you must still link your account to this year’s FACTS application for CTD.  You may need to update financial information.

  • If you experience difficulties with the FACTS process please call the FACTS helpline at 866-412-4637.
  • five-month payment plan is available for students in Solstice.

Technology Scholarship

Students with financial need applying to technology courses may apply for the Sandra Denhardt 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.

Payment Plan

A five-month payment plan option is available. The payment plan application is due within 30 days of acceptance. There is a $50 service charge for using the payment plan; families eligible for financial aid will not be assessed the service charge.



High academic standards and a diverse student body ensure that CTD students learn not only from their teachers but from one another. Students come from around the world, and share a common love of learning.

Solstice students enroll in one class per session, either two weeks or a one-week Leadership Intensive. Classes meet for five and a half hours per day. In order to maximize personal attention, Solstice courses are generally limited to 18 students per class. Each class has a master teacher and a teaching assistant, who work together to get to engage students in hands-on activities and challenging lessons. Solstice courses are intended to build upon a student's strengths; courses do not remediate areas of weakness. Each course is an intensive experience, and approximately one hour of homework is assigned each night. Solstice students living on campus attend mandatory study sessions led by teaching assistants on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Students who commute to campus daily are encouraged to participate in these study sessions, as well as in afternoon activities.

Students receive a final evaluation on achievement and performance in the course; areas in need of further development; and student work habits and attitudes. Solstice courses are generally limited to 18 students.

Daily Schedule

Solstice students develop life-long friendships and enjoy a summer on Chicago's North Shore under the supervision of professional, caring staff.

Residential students are assigned to all-gender floors and roomed by gender. Accessible bathrooms are available on each floor. Students eat with staff and University community members in dining halls. Intersession stays are available for residential students attending consecutive sessions for an additional $185 fee.

RESIDENCE HALL AVAILABILITY: Northwestern University residence halls are undergoing a major renovation project for the next several years. While CTD strives to provide space for all students who wish to reside with us on campus, available rooms may be limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to renovation schedules, residence halls assigned to CTD may not have air conditioning.

Solstice students who prefer to reside at home while participating in the Summer Program may choose to commute. Commuter students are dropped off and picked up at a central location monitored by Summer Program staff, and are encouraged to participate in afternoon activities and evening study sessions.

Academic Day Schedule
7:45 - 8:15: Commuter drop-off
8:15 - 8:30: Students are walked to class by Teaching Assistants
8:30: Class begins
Varies by class: Lunch, one hour
2:45: Class ends
3:00: First commuter pick-up opportunity
3:15 - 5:00: Activities
5:00: Second commuter pick-up

Tuesdays/Thursdays only
5:30: Dinner
6:30 - 7:45: Study session
8:00: Third commuter pick-up

Evenings and weekends find residential students enjoying a broad range of activities, such as dances, off- and on-campus movies, trips to downtown Chicago, and talent shows.

Families are invited to visit classrooms on Closing Day. A schedule will be sent during the last week of the session.


Safety & Conduct

CTD takes every reasonable step to ensure student safety. Faculty and staff provide clear conduct guidelines and careful supervision. Students are coached in safety procedures, including the use of on-campus emergency phones; student ID cards are worn at all times and include emergency phone numbers on the back.

Summer Program participants must adhere to the CTD Honor Code, which establishes standards and expectations for student behavior and reflects CTD’s commitment to fostering character development, integrity and respect. Summer Program rules and policies help ensure the safety of our students and staff, and students are expected to abide by them.


Residential students in Solstice are encouraged to bring personal laptops or tablets with them to assist with coursework. Some Solstice courses require students to bring a computer; check course descriptions for details.

International Students

TOEFL, TOEFL Jr., or IELTS scores are required of students for whom English is not the first language.

The CTD Summer Program requires a student visa for any non-U.S. citizen/permanent resident. Please see the International Students Page for more information.

Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development