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Summer 2021 Programs are currently being planned. In order to stay up to date on the newest programs and when applications open join our email list today!

Program Overview

Join Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life for an exciting, engaging, two-week summer program created for those who want to develop their leadership skills while making a difference in the world and in their communities. The program will equip students with the leadership skills and civic knowledge to build connections, work collaboratively, and emerge as change agents who can inspire others.

Just five miles northwest of Boston, Tufts University’s Medford / Somerville vibrant campus sits on a hill overlooking the city. Tufts’ location offers the optimal combination of a relaxed and safe campus environment that is close enough to Boston to take advantage of everything the city has to offer!

Much more than a traditional college readiness program, Leadership for Social Change will enable participants to work together to develop the skills and knowledge to be leaders in their own communities — now and in the future.

Join us for your summer studies and share the Tufts experience!

Program Highlights:

  • Top-ranked University just minutes from Boston
  • Introduce participants to new areas of academic exploration, including:
    • public policy, management and problem-solving
    • political science and government
    • environmental studies and community health
    • leadership and social entrepreneurship
  • Create connections between students’ passions and academic interests
  • Engage with and learn from Tufts faculty and community leaders who are making a difference
  • Explore Boston to discover the landmark civic engagement sites throughout the city
  • Have fun with evening social events and weekend activities
  • Make lifelong friends with students from all over the world!

Program Outcomes:

  • Tufts college credit for one course (pass / fail)
  • Hands-on skills and foundational knowledge for sustainable, meaningful civic engagement work
  • Leadership development and networking opportunities
  • Inspiration and preparation to bring change and be active, engaged civic leaders
  • Individual action plans to address a pressing issue in each student’s home community
  • Team presentation and e-portfolio of each student’s work
  • Direct service opportunities in the community
  • A community of peers who value civic engagement and community leadership
  • Enhanced understanding of studying and life at college
  • Official Tufts transcript upon request

Please note, planning for Summer 2021 has only just begun and details are subject to change.

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

I made so many incredible and different friends at this program that I will keep in contact with for a long time. I learned more about a subject area I find myself interested in pursuing later in life.

I loved the people in the program. From my peers to my peer leaders, everyone had amazing personalities.

One of the best things about this program is the community that we built together. you could tell that all of the students and teachers have genuine relationships

The bond that I created with people and the site visits that made me learn so much more

Great exposure to important topics and opportunities to explore and reflect; great chance to experience campus living and independence.

[My student] really enjoyed all aspects of the program. It really made her think about the world she lives in and how she can make change.

She loves it there. When she came home, she was really awed at how Massachusetts and Tufts was a good experience

Program Details


Our program begins with an orientation and opening dinner on Sunday at 5:00pm in Dewick-MacPhie Dining Hall. During this required orientation, we will review the overall program schedule, discuss policies and safety, and answer questions. Staff will be on-hand to address any issues.

Orientation will continue on Monday with a campus tour to orient students to our Undergraduate Campus!

Program Schedule

This program will combine academics, fieldwork, skill-building, and opportunities for reflection with deeper exploration of specialized topics in civic life. The first week will explore the many pathways to civic engagement such as direct service, politics, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. In week two, teams based on areas of interest will develop a social impact project. Related site-visits, community field trips, guest speakers and interactive discussions will accompany academic coursework to provide students with a wide range of exposure to the many ways they can work together to create impact in their own communities.

Participants will reside in student dormitories and share meals in campus dining halls throughout the two-week program. Off campus, students will learn about the vibrant cultural offerings of the Boston area through site-visits and fun summer-time activities. Participants will expand their social network of peers and gain insightful mentors while acquiring an authentic understanding of the undergraduate experience.

Please note: the below represents a sample schedule based on Summer 2019. The schedule is subject to change as we continue to evolve the program, site visits, and speaker list to be as meaningful as possible for our students!

Week 1 SAMPLE Schedule

Time Block Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Daily Theme Foundational Learning Homeless, Hunger Public Health, Sustainability Politics, Government Youth, Education -
Meal Block Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Homework, Relaxing and Fun Activities! (including meals)
Morning Block 1 Program Overview Classroom Session on Theme Classroom Session on Theme Classroom Session on Theme Classroom Session on Theme
Break Block Break Break Break Break Break
Morning Block 2
  • Mindfulness, social, and emotional learning
  • Intro to Community / Asset-based approach to Community Engagement
  • Social innovations in addressing homelessness
  • The politics of food
  • Tufts Institute of the Environment
  • Small groups: Public Health issues
  • IDHE & CIRLCE presentations
  • Local government
  • Youth panel
  • Designing an ideal school
Meal Block Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Afternoon Block 1
  • Overview of e-portfolios
  • Styles of Civic Leadership
Small Group Site Visits and Reflection, e.g.: Somerville Homeless Coalition, Daily Table, The Food Project, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Small Group Site Visits and Reflection, e.g.: TUSM with CSL student panelist, Toxic Tour of Dudley Square, Mystic River EJ Boat Tour, South Jamaica Plain Community Health Clinic Civic Enrichment Activity and Reflection, e.g., : tip to State House or JFK Library Small Group Site Visits and Reflection, e.g.: Artists for Humanity, City Year Headquarters, Technology Center, The Welcome Project
Break Block Break
Afternoon Block 2 Community Partners / Faculty / Student Panel: “Social Change Pathways: Service, Advocacy, Policy, Social Innovation”
Meal Block Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner

Week 2 SAMPLE Schedule

Time Block Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Daily Theme - Foundational Learning Homelessness, Hunger Public Health, Sustainability Politics, Government Youth, Education -
Meal Block Introduction to Project: Selection & Planning Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Check-out & Departure
Morning Block 1 Project Development Project Development Community Partner and Local Program Visits Project Development Final Project Showcase
Break Block Break Break Break
Morning Block 2 Project Work Session Project Work Session Project Work Session
Meal Block Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Afternoon Block 1 Project Work Session Project Work Session Project Work Session Closing Ceremony & Final Reflection
Break Block Break Break Break
Afternoon Block 2 Project Work Session Project Work Session Project Work Session Checkout & Departure
Meal Block Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner



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. As such, our current policy for pre-college students states that students cannot be in a lab or leave campus during their program without the supervision of a staff member or explicit parental permission received through official processes. Commuter students’ commute to campus and time outside of the program will not be monitored by program staff, although Tufts community members have Tufts University Police Department and other campus safety protocols available at all times.

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.

Application Materials & Deadlines

Leadership for Social Change is a highly competitive program that fills up very quickly. We recommend submitting your application as early as possible.

Remind me when applications open!

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 May 1 May 15 June 15

Program Eligibility

General Requirements

Entering high school grades 10-12.

Residential Students

Students electing to live in the dorms or to attend a residential program must be at least 15 at the start of the program.

International Students

Both domestic and international students are welcome to apply to and attend our pre-college programs, although please note we cannot sponsor visas for this program.

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)
  • Short interest statement (max 250 words, prompt provided)
  • 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 TBD

Residential Program Fee: TBD

  • Includes: all program activities,1 Tufts credit, room, 3 meals per day (brunch / dinner on Sundays), use of select campus facilities, included program and residential excursions and daily activities, bed linens, pillow and towels, 24-hour residential care and support, staff accompanied airport transfer during specified windows.
  • Excludes: airfare/transportation to and from home city, courses and activities shown to have an extra fee, laundry, spending money, souvenirs, meals eaten away from program, airport transfers outside of specified windows, trip cancellation insurance, medical insurance, required vaccinations, medical and dental expenses, any non-program-related transportation needs, and 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

Health Fees - Summer 2021

Health Insurance: TBD, only if evidence of valid U.S.-based health insurance is not presented (Summer 2019: $128)

  • Coverage Dates: TBD
  • Students carrying sufficient, valid U.S.-based health insurance do not need to pay this fee
  • All high school students enrolled in Tufts Pre-College Programs must carry valid U.S.-based health insurance
  • Students will be asked to provide evidence of sufficient insurance during the enrollment process. If your student has sufficient insurance, no further action will be necessary
  • Those who do not have sufficient insurance will be asked to purchase a plan during the enrollment process

Vaccinations: TBD, only if evidence of required vaccinations is not presented (Summer 2019: $100-$300 per vaccine)

  • Students who can demonstrate that all required vaccinations were received prior to the program start date do not need to pay these fees
  • All high school students enrolled in Tufts Pre-College Programs must show evidence of required vaccinations during the enrollment process. If your student has all required vaccinations, no further action will be necessary
  • Those who do not have all required vaccinations will be asked to provide further documentation or will be required to receive the vaccination, with parental consent, while on campus. If a student receives the vaccination while on campus the student will be responsible for the associated fee and grades / transcripts will be with-held for non-payment. If a student does not provide appropriate documentation or agree to receive the vaccination while on campus, Tufts reserves the right to remove the student from the program

Other Key Financial Policies

Refund Policies

Billing & Payment Policies

All Policies


Financial Aid

Leadership for Social Change supports a limited number of students, who are invited to apply for funding. You will be notified by email if you are eligible for this aid.


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

Life at Tufts

Note: We are closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, and following local, state, and federal guidance as it pertains to our residential programming. Information below is subject to change as the situation develops.

Whether you commute to our program or live with us on-campus, we endeavor to make each moment of the student experience at Tufts memorable for our students. Every piece of the student-life experience, from our dorms to our dining halls, our athletic facilities to our check-in and orientation is designed to inform and enable students to have a healthy, fulfilling, and safe summer.

Take a Tufts Virtual Tour

University Facilities

Students will have full access to the university’s facilities including the libraries, computer lab and student center. Students will also have full access to Tufts’ Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness center, featuring racquet courts, a swimming pool and cardio and weight-training equipment.

In addition, SMFA Studio Art Intensive students will have access to supervised studios and resources including, the W.Van Alan Clark Library, the media stockroom (where you can borrow any equipment necessary for your art), the School Store, the computer lab. See more details about our studios.

Health & Wellness

Tufts works hard to ensure the health and well-being of all of its students. Once accepted to the program, Tufts will ask all students to submit information related to their health and will collect details regarding allergies and accessibility concerns. Tufts and Summerfuel staff will work together to ensure students’ routine medical needs are met.

Tufts also has procedures in-place for students with urgent or emergency needs, illnesses, or injuries. Our procedures combine on-campus and hospital-based care depending on the nature and severity of the issue. A student’s emergency contact will be notified, if one is provided, in the event of an issue. Please see our Health & Wellness Services page for additional information.

In any type of health & wellness emergency, students should immediately contact Tufts University Police at (617) 627-6911.

Please note: medical fees of any kind will be billed to the student and are not included in program fees.

Campus Security

The campuses of Tufts University are considered very safe among U.S. college campuses. Although crime on campus is unusual, we do have an open campus in a major metropolitan area and we expect our students to exercise good judgment and responsibility as they navigate the campus. Tufts University maintains its own police department, on the job 24 hours a day, if an emergency arises. Each location is equipped with an emergency blue light phone system and residence halls require a current and valid Tufts ID card for entry and a mechanical key for access to bedrooms. Emergency processes and protocol will be reviewed during orientation.

For more information, please visit our Campus Safety page

Residential Students

Note: We are closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, and following local, state, and federal guidance as it pertains to our residential programming. Information below is subject to change as the situation develops.


Check-in will begin at Houston Hall at 9am on the first Sunday of the program. Students are welcome to arrive on campus and check in anytime on Sunday between 9am and 5pm. During check in, room assignments will be distributed and students will have the opportunity to meet their RAs and roommates and unpack.

For students arriving from out of town on Sunday between 9am and 5pm, there is a shuttle service from the airport and train/bus station for students arriving from out of state. All details about arrival and departure travel will be communicated after you have been admitted to the program.

Students arriving outside of the specified window should be in-touch with us to discuss what accommodations can be arranged. While we make reasonable efforts to accommodate students who need to arrive early or depart late, we cannot guarantee the same services will be available to students arriving or departing outside of the specified windows.

Residential Life

Residential Students will get the full Tufts University experience by living on-campus in one of Tufts Undergraduate dorms! Rooms are air-conditioned, 24/7 security and hospitality is available, and accessible rooms are available upon request.

Bedrooms will be doubles on a common hall. Halls are divided by gender and age and students are grouped into smaller communities known as Resident Advisor groups. Roommates and RA groups are determined based on the pre-program housing questionnaire and taking into account age and geographic diversity. Full bedding and towels will be provided and will be replaced weekly. Wi-Fi is available throughout campus.

Resident Advisors (RA) will live on each hall and will work to create a strong, supportive residential community. A Resident Advisor’s role is to support students in every aspect of their summer experience while serving as a mentor and active leader. 

The residence is accessible with a current and valid Tufts ID card, which is required for entry into the building and a mechanical key for the bedroom door. Tufts University security is on 24-hour patrol and available to any student that may need assistance.

A dedicated residential staff oversees student safety during the entirety of the program. Students are honor bound to follow clear safety protocols whether on campus or in the city, and are required to use the buddy system during free time.

See our policy section for additional information and please do not hesitate to contact us with questions and concerns.

Residential Staff

Residential staff will support students as they adjust to living in a dormitory and being responsible members of a summer program community. The residence staff will include a director, senior staff and one resident advisor for every ten students. Prior to the program, residence staff will be trained to lead student groups, manage student conflict and resolution and oversee all safety aspects on program. They will begin the program well prepared to meet the needs of all Tufts Pre-College Program students.


Residential program fees include three meals per day and brunch / dinner on Sundays. All meals on the Medford/Somerville campus will be at Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center, conveniently located a few minutes from student housing. Dewick-MacPhie provides a wide variety of menu choices, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and an organic salad bar. All meals on the Boston Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston Health Sciences, or Grafton campuses will be provided through boxed lunches or by Tufts staff. Tufts staff will also provide meals for program related activities taking place off-campus. Tufts dining is able to accommodate most dietary restrictions and preferences. Please advise us of dietary needs during the application process.

Activities & Trips

We want your summer to be fun too! It is summer after all! Residential Life staff will be planning trips and activities throughout the summer that will allow students to make friends, build relationships, and relax from the world-class academic work they will be doing in the classroom.

Examples of past weekend trips include excursions to Six Flags New England, Crane Beach in Ipswich, downtown Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Duck Boat tours, Charles River Cruises, and more! Please note that weekend trips vary from year to year and these are only examples of the kinds of trips this program might include.The cost of any such excursions (including transportation, entrance fees, regularly scheduled meals, and supervision) is included in the cost of the program, although souvenirs, extra food, and other incidentals is not.

Daily activities might include ice cream socials, midnight pancakes, trips to local coffee houses for poetry readings, lectures around campus, visits to Davis Square, etc. The cost of most of these activities will be included, however incidentals like coffee at the coffee house or public transportation fares for an optional activity will not be covered by the program.