School of Public Service

Learn a little bit more about the St. Albans School of Public Service, a summer program for rising high school seniors held in Washington, D.C., by watching our introductory video.
The St. Albans School of Public Service (SPS) lasts only four weeks each summer, but our students describe it as "life-changing." The School of Public Service is a unique program that brings approximately 45 rising high school seniors from all over the United States and the world to the heart of Washington, D.C., where they undertake an in-depth exploration of government, politics, and public service. If you are accepted to SPS, you'll use the case study method (the teaching method used in graduate programs in law, business, and public policy) to dissect public policy issues ranging from the debate over the use of enhanced interrogation methods and drones in the war on terror, to the ethics of undercover journalism, to the efforts here and abroad to achieve equity in education.
You'll take part in sophisticated simulations. Picture yourself as a member of a political action committee–you'll draft proposed legislation on your pet issue, seek Congressional sponsors for your bill, and present and defend your bill in a press conference...but will the full Congress pass it? Or step into the courtroom, as you and your classmates act as lawyers in a mock Supreme Court argument of a case from the "real" Supreme Court's docket–what's the proper scope of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms?  What are the limits of First Amendment Free Speech rights for high school students? Your own classmates will serve as the Justices and rule on your arguments. 

You'll hone your debating and speaking skills in practice in every case study and in organized debates throughout the session, including the annual Congressional Debate that caps off the session.  Need a little extra ammunition in that policy argument?  You'll explore the intersection of economics and public policy in an Economics mini-course throughout the SPS session.

The learning continues outside the classroom.  A typical week might include a visit to the United States Supreme Court for a meeting with a Supreme Court Justice; a question-and-answer session at the Capitol with a sitting Member of Congress; an exclusive tour of the Library of Congress; a trip to the U.S. Naval Academy for a tour and a classroom case study with a Naval Academy Professor; and an afternoon at a community health clinic in Washington D.C. talking to doctors and staff about their service in the field of public health.

The School of Public Service faculty holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from institutions such as Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, Amherst, Oxford, and the University of Virginia, but you'll also learn from the wide array of speakers -- Pulitzer prize winning reporters; Army Special Forces Officers; Presidential Medal of Freedom winning scientists; Presidential Campaign staffers; Senators and Congresspeople; and federal judges. And last but not least, you'll learn from your own classmates, who, like you, will be competitively chosen from among the best and brightest high school students in the United States and around the world.   As one recent SPS participant said: "I never imagined having so many conversations with people my own age about things that matter."
You'll live at St. Albans School on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral (students from the D.C. area can attend SPS as boarding or day students).  And as you explore policy and politics, you will also explore Washington D.C., whether it's a twilight tour of the Monuments, a day at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, an afternoon at the ballpark taking in a Washington Nationals baseball game, or a private tour of the National Portrait Gallery hosted by a Smithsonian curator.  Click here to check out our blog for a day-by-day look at this summer's program!

Program Dates & Application Information

The 2020 School of Public Service program will take place from June 28 - July 25, 2020. We welcome inquiries about the program at any time for those who are trying to decide if SPS is right for them, and we will begin accepting applications for the 2020 program on December 1, 2019. Admissions decisions are on a rolling basis and in most cases the class is filled by mid-March. For more information about the application process (including tuition and financial aid information), and a link to the printable application form, click on the "Apply to SPS" link on the top left-hand side of this page. Applicants should try to complete the application form and essay as soon as possible, and then follow up with additional materials (transcript, standardized score report, teacher letter of recommendation). Feel free to email us (sps@stalbansschool.org) or call our office (202-537-5286) for more information.

What Kind of Student is the School of Public Service Looking For?

The School of Public Service is a co-educational program for rising high school seniors with strong academic backgrounds, a demonstrated interest in government, public policy, and public service, and a desire to share their interests and learn from and with like-minded peers from around the country and the world.  (SPS also encourages applications from area students, who can attend as residential or day students.)  We look for students with diverse backgrounds and talents with the enthusiasm and commitment to spend four weeks intensively immersed in government, public policy and public service.  SPS accepts applications from international students.  International candidates should email us at sps@stalbansschool.org, as some application procedures might differ slightly.
Located in Washington D.C.,  St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.