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Program Overview

Welcome to International Relations – Virtual! Thanks to Tufts’ commitment to developing a safe and highly engaging virtual campus, we are able to bring the exciting and rigorous academic experience of our International Relations program safely to your home.

During the program, rising high school juniors and seniors will experience Tufts University’s distinctive approach to the study of International Relations, earn college credit, and create a path toward future scholastic and professional goals. Students will analyze current events and theoretical frameworks for understanding IR; take interactive seminars with world-renowned experts from across Tufts; interrogate key concepts in small, collaborative discussion sections; begin developing the language and communication skills that form the foundation of international affairs; work together in teams to handle simulated crisis situations; conduct research using academic resources available from Tufts’ Tisch Library; and compose a college-level research paper with guidance from advanced classroom assistants and a research librarian.After two weeks of intensive classes, students will gain a solid understanding of what studying International Relations at the college level is really like.

Participants will expand their social network of peers with a passion for IR while acquiring a deep sense of collegiate academics, gaining a group of insightful mentors, and being exposed to Tufts’ highly distinguished faculty and exceptional resources.

Virtual Format

Each element of the program—faculty lectures, discussion groups, language classes, and skills-building workshops—will take place on Tufts’ virtual campus using a combination of Zoom, Canvas, and, occasionally, other online learning platforms, all of which will be available to you through Tufts Technology Services. Each meeting will be held live, and all students are strongly encouraged to attend in real time. That way, you’ll be able to ask questions and share ideas with instructors and classmates just like you would during an in-person class. However, we know that you might not be able to join  every session, especially for students from far-off time zones, so each element will also be recorded and posted for asynchronous viewing. We also plan to host multiple discussion sections that take place at different times so that you can choose the scheduling option that works best for you.

Program Highlights:

  • Study a range of IR topics including international economics, cybersecurity, global public health, nuclear nonproliferation, and more with professors from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and the School of Arts & Sciences
  • Start to learn a new language or advance your skills in an existing language, including Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, Spanish, and English
  • Confront real-world issues in an International Relations Crisis simulation, putting to the test the diplomatic, negotiation, critical thinking, and writing skills you will be developing 
  • Forge lasting relationships with like-minded students from all over the world!

Program Outcomes:

  • A unique academic experience at one of the nation’s top International Relations schools, earning 3 Tufts Credits (P/F) along the way*
  • A college-level argumentative research paper
  • Academic and real-world skills including conducting research, synthesizing concepts, drafting and revising persuasive prose, and evaluating sources
  • Improved language skills
  • An official Tufts transcript upon request

* Student must Pass to earn credit; credit is pre-matriculation credit

Note: this page represents our best expectations for the program we will deliver this summer, but due to the ever-evolving situation, is subject to change. We will update this page as new information becomes available.

Not for you? Check out one of our other programs.

Program Details

Meet Your Program Staff

Andrew Alquesta is the administrative coordinator for the pre-college program in International Relations.  He also works as an administrator in the Tufts Political Science Department, and he is working on his doctoral dissertation in the Tufts English Department. His research focuses on depictions of populism in late nineteenth-century American fiction.  This dual interest in politics and literature extends all the way back to Andrew's undergraduate double major in English and Political Science at the University of Connecticut. After earning his BA, Andrew worked for a campaign consulting firm in Washington, DC for several years before moving to Somerville to begin graduate school. Since then, he has taught in Tufts’s and Emmanuel College’s first-year writing programs and tutored with the Tufts Academic Resource Center. Outside of work, Andrew enjoys listening to NPR and Carly Rae Jepsen, taking classes in education, literature, and CrossFit, and spending time with his friends and partner

Program Schedule

As noted below, these core program elements will be held virtually over Zoom. Though you are highly encouraged to attend all class meeting live, each element will also be recorded and posted on our Canvas page for asynchronous viewing.


Our program begins with a virtual orientation and welcome event held via Zoom. During this required first whole-group meeting, we will review the overall program schedule, introduce the online learning tools we will be using, discuss policies and safety, and answer questions.

Program Format

Our program is broken into four exciting components that introduce Tufts' unique approach to international relations in complementary ways:

  • Intensive Language Study: In keeping with Tufts’ strong emphasis on language and cultural proficiency for the understanding of global issues, students will immerse themselves in intensive college-level foreign language training. Summer 2020 options include beginning Arabic, Russian, and Chinese; intermediate French and Spanish; and advanced Spanish; additionally, English language learners will have the opportunity to participate in an all-English college-level writing seminar, which will prepare students for their final research paper and beyond. All lectures will be held via Zoom and recorded for asynchronous attendance.
    • During the application process, students will be asked to indicate their top 2 language course preferences. Placement will depend on remaining capacity in the section and, if it is an intermediate or advanced course, passing a placement exam.
  • Faculty Lectures: Hear from some of Tufts' world-class faculty who work on problems of international importance as they share their research and answer student questions about these critical topics, introducing students to the latest topics and scholarship in the field of IR. All lectures will be held via Zoom and recorded for asynchronous attendance.
  • Skills-Building Workshops: Gain marketable skills in research, writing, critical thinking, and analysis that are essential to work in virtually any field. 
  • Discussion Groups: Work in groups mentored by an advanced Classroom Assistant (CA) as you reflect on the topics discussed each day; students will learn how to utilize library resources effectively and craft a college-level research paper; they will engage in small group discussions with students in International Relations.
  • Capstone Project: All students will complete an independent research paper on an International Relations topic of their choice, building on the materials from the lectures, readings, workshops, and discussion groups. Students will work with university library staff and their CAs to develop a research question and explore supporting primary and secondary source material. Some students use this paper as a writing sample for future applications.

Social Events

During the program, students will also have time to meet their classmates and form lasting relationships in non-academic settings. We’ll have occasional, optional events for the whole group, such as an IR Trivia Night, as well as smaller group meetings where students can just spend some time getting to know each other.

Closing Ceremony

On our last day together as a group, we will gather for our closing ceremony. We’ll hear from guest speakers as well as student-selected presenters and get a last chance to come together as a group to celebrate our accomplishments, recognize the hard work everyone has put in over the previous two weeks, and mark the end of our program. This year, we hope to include our student speeches (with the speaker's permission) in the Tufts COVID-19 Documentation Project so they can live on in Tufts Digital Archives!

Capstone Project

All students will complete an independent research paper on an International Relations topic of their choice. Students will work closely with university library staff and their TAs to develop a research question and explore supporting primary and secondary source material. Some students use this paper as a writing sample for future applications.

Sample Research Paper Titles from Summer 2020:

  • An Analysis of the US Decision to Withdraw Support from the WHO through the Lens of Political Theory
  • Art and The Arab Spring Revolution: The Relationship Between Artistic Expression and Political Change
  • The Utilization of History in International Relations Theories
  • Brexit: Causes and Implications for the Future of the European Union
  • Is a Negotiated Agreement Between India and China Possible?
  • A New Era: The Evolution of Globalization Post COVID-19
Sample Schedule

Please note: the below is a sample schedule based on information at this time, considering an individual student attending the program scheduling independent work / recorded sessions in particular time slots. The schedule is subject to change as we continue to evolve the program and speaker list to be as meaningful as possible for our students and will look different for students choosing to attend live or independent work / recorded sessions differently. All times are in EASTERN TIME. Because this is a virtual program, meals will not be provided for students even if a meal is stated on the schedule - this is for demonstration only. Activities may occur during meal times. 



Attending Outside the Eastern Time Zone

If you live on the West Coast or internationally, you may be wondering how you will be able to participate in a program that has both in-person and virtual options. Please know that Tufts sees a diversity of geographical perspectives as not just beneficial but essential to a twenty-first century education. We have been working hard with our staff to ensure all students who are offered a spot in our programs will be able to attend - whether in live, streamed, or recorded sessions. We will be updating this section with program-specific accommodations as we seek improved ways to suit our students' needs and have a better sense of the geographic distribution of our students. 

Materials & Other Requirements


A critical part of this experience is engaging with the content material, faculty and peers as much as possible. Certain materials may be required to facilitate your engagement with the program. Stay tuned for updates on material requirements as we continue to develop the program!

Besides this and the technology requirements listed under "Technical Needs & Support" below, no materials will be necessary for participation in this program. We will, however, be mailing you some fun Tufts Pre-College Programs swag and your Certificate of Completion at the end of the program. 

Note: if you live internationally, we are not responsible if the materials we mail are delayed (which we will try to avoid) or held in customs.

Social Activities

Across Programs

Tufts Pre-College Programs staff is developing a series of virtual social activities throughout the program so that students can meet each other across programs and so that students from all time zones can participate. Some examples of potential activities include:

  • Morning Meetups: start (or end) your day by catching-up with your classmates and classroom assistants about current events, last night's late night show, recent lectures or events over breakfast! 
  • Lunch & Learns: join your peers from around the world to discuss an interesting topic in a staff-led discussion. Can't attend live? No problem, we'll post recordings so you can view them later!
  • Trivia Night: Unwind with your classmates and some friendly competition. 
  • Wellness Courses: To get you moving and feeling your best, attend at-home guided meditation, yoga, or other workout classes.
  • Game Club: Create teams and play games like Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Chess, and more. Teams will make moves when on their own time and games will play out over the course of the program or summer. 

And more! Look out for a social events calendar that may include a virtual talent show, dance party, cooking classes, photo challenges, scavenger hunts, 'quarenTHEME' spirit days, museum tours, and more!


Most programs will offer independent study time for students in a shared (and monitored) virtual "Common Rooms" "Studio Spaces" or "Study Rooms" that will allow students to work in the company of their peers, sharing questions and chatting.

Many programs are also planning their own program-specific activities, often thematically relevant to the program content itself. Look out for these activities in the program description above and in the information provided after you enroll!

Tufts Virtual Campus

We endeavor to make each moment of the student experience at Tufts memorable for our students. Tufts Virtual Campus brings new meaning to this as we strive to recreate the critical learning and social environment students expect from Tufts University through digital tools. Tufts Virtual campus exists on a series of software platforms to which students will have full access during their program. In particular, the following two platforms will be used for the majority of our activities:

  • Zoom: allows students to connect for lectures, webinars, breakout sessions, one-on-one mentoring, phone calls, chat sessions ... and more!
  • Canvasprovides a collaborative space for course content, assignments, and grading. Many programs will host course material (syllabus, readings, review questions, etc.) on a Canvas course site.

Academic Experience

Tufts Virtual Campus programs are being designed to provide high-quality, flexible, and interactive experiences to our students. We are carefully designing them to have the same academic rigor and expectations for teaching, studying, and achievement as their on-campus counterparts. The benefits of learning in a virtual environment include giving students greater freedom to interact with course content (lectures, presentations, discussions, forums, etc.) on a schedule that works for them, using a wider network of resources to achieve educational goals.



Tufts University is not only a leading institution of higher education and academic research, but it is leading the nation in terms of higher education's response to our public health crisis.

To ensure the safety of our Pre-College students, we are closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, and following local, state, and federal guidance as it pertains to our Pre-College programming.

After careful consideration we, at Tufts University, have decided that Summer 2021 Pre-College Programs, with the exception of Courses at Tufts for High Schoolers*, will be conducted online through our virtual campus.

*Courses at Tufts for High Schoolers: As of today, planned in-person courses will still be held on campus during Summer 2021. Virtual options are also available. Updated information regarding course modalities will be posted here as it becomes available.

For more information about Tufts' response and action planning regarding COVID-19: Please visit Tufts University's COVID-19 homepage.


Students are required to attend all elements of the program schedule and any expected absences must be communicated to program staff in advance. Tufts takes the safety of its students very seriously, even in the virtual environment. Students who enroll will receive more information about our virtual safety protocols.

Tufts makes reasonable efforts to secure background checks and to provide Title IX training to every staff person responsible for students in its Pre-College Programs.

Technical Needs & Support

Technical Needs

Students will need access to the following in order to participate in this program:

  • Computer: either a Mac or PC with the following
    • Mac - running at least OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) 
    • PC - running Windows 7/8/10. Users on Windows 10 will have to download the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
  • Smart Phone: any phone capable of accessing social media platforms like Instagram
  • Internet Access: A reliable, high-speed (cable or broadband) internet connection is required. Students are expected to log into Zoom and Canvas and to check email daily, and will need regular and reliable access to the internet.
    • If you do not have reliable access to internet, programs may have internet hotspots available for students with demonstrated financial need. While this cannot be guaranteed, and supplies may be limited, please check with your program for availability. 
  • Web Camera: either integrated into your computer or external, set-up and working
  • Web Browser: one of the following browsers updated for the latest updates: 
    • Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Safari.
  • Software*: programs capable of

              *software may vary by program

We will provide you will access to other software that is required for your program for the duration of your program. As long as you have technology that meets the above requirements, you should have no trouble accessing the software. Depending on the program, this software may include Zoom and Canvas.

Trial Run: Getting Connected

Most programs will send software in advance with instructions to complete a trial-run before the program begins. We will also use orientation time to ensure everyone is connected and comfortable! 

Accessing Tufts Email

Critical university emails will go to your Tufts email address. You can access your Tufts email through a web‐based email reader used to manage your Tufts email. It includes calendar and contact management tools as well. You must read Tufts University email, since this is the primary way that the university will send you information about registration and payment. Access Tufts Exchange via this link. You can also set up your Tufts email to forward to your personal email account using these instructions.

Getting Help/Support

First, please try contacting the Pre-College staff at 617-627-2926.

If they cannot answer your question, they will pass you along to our technical support team who is available 24x7 to students who are actively enrolled in a program.

Application & Policies

Application Materials & Details

We highly recommend applying to as early as possible to save a spot in your language section choice; the most popular languages often fill up well before the application deadline.

Apply Now!

Application & Key Enrollment Dates

Priority deadlines may apply. Admission granted on a rolling basis.

Note: all dates are as of 11:59PM ET

Application Opens Deadline: All Materials Deadline: Payment Deadline: Enrollment Forms
December 1 June 1 May 15* June 29

*Applications submitted after the payment deadline will require payment in full on admission to hold their seat.

Program Eligibility

General Requirements

  • Entering high school grades 11-12 *or* a Spring 2021 high school graduate
  • Any intermediate or advanced language sections will require passing a placement exam

International Students

Both domestic and international students are welcome to apply to and attend our pre-college programs.

Non-Native English Speakers

If you indicate that English is not your primary language, you will be asked to submit evidence of English Language proficiency. Please see our "How to Apply" page for details.

Application Requirements

Step 1: Complete an Online Application

The online application will ask you for the following information:

  • Basic personal information, including parents/guardians and emergency contact (if you are under 18, we will contact a parent for permission to enroll)
  • Language preferences - students will be asked to submit a first and second choice language preference
  • Contact information for 1 individual to submit a Letter of Recommendation - this individual can be a teacher, counselor, or mentor. We will contact this individual on your behalf.
  • Test scores - optional, unless you must submit scores as evidence of English proficiency
  • Warrants and signatures

If you need to log back into this application after starting, click here: return to my application.

Step 2: Upload Your High School Transcript

During your application process, you will be asked to provide us with contact information for an official from your high school. They will receive an email with further instructions to upload your transcript.

Step 3: Parental Consent and Letter of Recommendation

As a part of your application, you will be asked to provide contact information for both a parent/guardian and a recommender. Once you submit your application, our systems will automatically email the parent/guardian and recommender you listed in the application with instructions for how to fill out the online permission or recommendation form.

Please note your application will not be considered submitted and review of your application will not begin until the materials from Step 2 and Step 3 have been received by Tufts Pre-College Programs.

Pre-College Admissions Decision

Once an applicant has submitted an application and all required admissions documents are received, the applicant will be considered for admission by the Tufts Pre-College Programs review committee for the specific program(s) to which they applied.

Decisions are made on a rolling basis and students will typically receive an official email informing them of their admissions status within 10 business days of Tufts receiving all required materials.

If you do not receive your email within two weeks of all materials being submitted, please contact us at or 617-627-2926.

Disclaimer: This program is not related to Tufts University Undergraduate Admissions. Participation in this program does not result in admission to a Tufts University degree program. Tufts reserves the right to admit as requested, to deny admission, or to offer provisional admission. The program will not provide feedback to applicants if admission is denied.

Post-Enrollment Materials

Admitted students must do the following prior to the start of the program:

  • Submit a deposit to hold your seat; this program requires a deposit within 10 business days of the date on which the admissions decision was posted
  • Pay your balance in full prior to the stated deadline
  • Complete all enrollment forms and/or follow-up requests prior to the stated deadline

Should the above not be completed prior to the stated deadlines, the student will be automatically withdrawn from the program.

Tuition & Fees

Program Fees - Summer 2021

Virtual Program Fee: $3,800

  • Includes: all program activities, 3 Tufts credits (pass/fail, pre-matriculation, on passing the program), crisis simulation, opening/closing events, daily activities.
  • Excludes: anything not explicitly stated above.

Non-Refundable Program Deposit: $550, applied to the Program Fee

  • A pre-payment on program fees is required to reserve space in the program within 10 business days of admission to the program
  • This deposit will be applied toward program fees and is not an additional fee
  • The balance of payment for program fees is due upon notification of charges, and no later than May 15
  • This deposit is non-refundable in the event of withdrawal from the program

Other Key Financial Policies

Refund Policies

Billing & Payment Policies

All Policies

Financial Aid

Availability of Awards

Tufts Pre-College Programs are committed to aiding students from all backgrounds. Although we have only limited financial aid available, we do our best to distribute the funds to students for whom it can make the greatest difference in their ability to attend.

Financial Aid awards are made on a rolling basis to students with demonstrated need. We aim to provide enough aid to eligible students that they are able to successfully enroll and participate in the program. Seasonal aid awards are as follows:

  • Fall: we currently do not offer aid for the Fall term
  • Spring: we currently do not offer aid for the Spring term
  • Summer: we will typically distribute awards monthly beginning in February and will continue until the enrollment deadline or until aid is fully distributed

Please note:

  • International students are not eligible for financial aid at this time. Families should expect to contribute to the remaining portion of the program cost as well as other expenses like travel, books, etc. 
  • We currently do not offer aid for students participating in our Leadership for Social Change Intensive


  1. Complete the Admissions Application for the pre-college program you would like to attend.
  2. During the application process, you will be asked to indicate whether you are interested in being considered for financial aid.
  3. After submission, you will have the option of completing a financial aid application in your student portal
  4. We will review your financial aid application. Your financial aid application will be considered for the next monthly aid award(s).
  5. If you receive an award,
    1. You will be notified by email of the amount of the award
    2. You will have 10 days (including weekends and holidays) to accept the award by completing your Financial Aid Award Form and submitting your deposit
    3. Tufts Pre-College Programs will then credit your student account with the amount of financial aid you received
    4. Please note: Your enrollment in the program is still contingent on payment of any remaining balance after the award is applied to your account, and on receiving your enrollment forms
  6. If you do not receive an award you will be notified via email

Please see the policies section of this website for a complete list of applicable policies.