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Debate Division

2024 Debate Institute

4-Week Hybrid Program

June 29 – July 27

6-Week Hybrid Program

June 29 – August 9

Hybrid Program Format Schedule:

Online June 29 – July 12 (2 weeks)

On Campus July 13 – July 27 (2 weeks)

Online July 28 – August 9 (final 2 weeks of the 6-week program)

Students currently in 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades who are interested in Policy Debate are eligible to apply. Must be in high school the fall following their participation in the Institute.


What is Policy Debate?

Policy Debate is the sole style offered in the Debate Institute. The main differences between policy debate and other types of debate are with the topics, the format of the debates, and the amount of work required to be competitive.

Policy debate chooses one topic for the entire academic year. For 2024-2025, the topic is “Resolved: The United States federal government should significantly strengthen its protection of domestic intellectual property rights in copyrights, patents, and/or trademarks.” That is the topic our institute will be researching and debating; more can be read about the topic here. A policy debate takes about 90 minutes to complete, and then the judge usually deliberates for 15-30 minutes before deciding a winner. Teams in policy debates will read a substantial amount of evidence into the record of the debate and judges will often review this evidence in the process of their deliberation. As such, the most competitive policy teams spend tens of hours per week producing the arguments and materials needed to compete against their top opponents.


Learn from the best: Northwestern is the “winningest” debate society in the National Debate Tournament history with 15 titles.


The Northwestern University Debate Society touts itself as the country’s oldest intercollegiate debating organization, with its roots dating back to 1855. During its 2021-2022 season, the team has enjoyed its best banner years with several tournament victories at the 76th NDT held at James Madison University…Team members travel around the country from mid-September until late March for competitions. With at least 25 tournaments and nearly 1,000 debates each year, no wonder students have exceptional argumentation skills!” –

The Northwestern Debate Institute is an unequaled living-learning experience for high school policy debaters.  The institute will provide an intensive and comprehensive summer debate experience that will prepare debaters for next season and beyond.

Northwestern University’s Debate Society has an unparalleled record of success based on the foundations, fundamentals and techniques taught at the Northwestern Debate Institute. Debate Cherubs learn the same principles that have led the Northwestern Debate Society to 15 NDT championships, 16 final round appearances, 12 top speakers – a record of success unmatched in college debate. Come join our program for rising Sophomore, Juniors and Seniors to learn with and debate against the best competition in the country.  Alumni of the Northwestern Debate Institute have gone on to win every major high school tournament.

The limited lab size and low student to staff ratio throughout our program ensure that every student receives a personalized and engaged institute experience.  Lab environments are designed to create the collegial atmosphere that allows intellectual risk taking and for students to truly explore the life of the mind.  Debaters leaving the Northwestern Debate Institute have the best chance to excel as they return to their own high schools, having learned the upcoming topic and skills from the finest instructors around the country as well as those from the unsurpassed Northwestern University Debate Society.




National Debate Tournament CHAMPIONS
2015 •2011 • 2005 • 2003 • 2002 • 1999 • 1998 • 1995 • 1994 • 1980 • 1978 • 1973 • 1966 • 1959 • 1958

National Debate Tournament TOP SPEAKERS
2012 • 2011 • 2006 • 2000 • 1999 • 1998 • 1996 • 1989 • 1973 • 1968 • 1966 • 1962




“Thank you for hosting this experience. It greatly helped me and reinvigorated my deep passion for debate. I highly enjoyed this experience and truthfully thank every person who allowed for this camp to be possible.” – 2022 Cherub


“The Northwestern Debate Institute over the past three years of my attendance gave me endless transformative educational experiences. Whether it was learning the technicalities of policy debate or real-world argumentation skills, NDI assisted greatly in my ability to articulate myself. This institute was a significant factor in my success as a debater and an individual. Without the assistance of this institution, I do not believe I would be attending Harvard University nor successfully competing on the national circuit.” – Amado Candelario, Chicago Scholar ’16, ’17, ’18


“Northwestern really helped me see why debate is so useful and helpful, and gave me the tools to be more successful and therefore find more enjoyment from it.”

Debate Division  –  Application Information and Deadlines  –  Tuition and Fees  –  Scholarships and Financial Aid  –  FAQ’s
Typical Day  –  6-Week Policy Debate  –  4-Week Policy Debate  – Debate at Northwestern  –  Faculty Bios