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4-Week Policy Debate Program


4-week Policy Debate – Advanced, Intermediate, and Beginner Level Instruction

June 29 – July 27

Hybrid Program Format Schedule:

Online June 29 – July 12 (2 weeks)

On Campus July 13 – July 27 (2 weeks)


The 4 Week Program offers a tried-and-true curriculum for students looking for an intensive summer program.

Students will complete summer curriculum in debate fundamentals, will conduct in depth research into the annual debate topic, and receive lectures from top high school and college coaches in the country.

Northwestern believes in a low student to faculty ratio so that each student gets dedicated attention from their lab instructors. Students conduct practice debates and speeches with lab leaders, so that they can work in depth over the course of the 4 weeks to identify the specific needs of each student for improvement. Labs also receive “guest” lectures from other lab leaders so that students get to work with instructors from across the Institute.

The Chicago Scholars program is a cooperative program with the Chicago Debate League that offers a small lab size of 4 students to offer a special learning environment for four CDL students who seek both excellence in their academics and debate careers.


4-Week Beginner Lab Curriculum

The focus of the beginner lab curriculum provides as many opportunities for direct skill development as possible. This lab prides itself in having the lab students speak every day, whether it is a line-by-line drill, rebuttal redo, clash drill, or full debate.  Students get direct feedback, both verbally and on the lab website, on skills they should work on.

The lab website records feedback on student speeches, allowing coaches to track students skills development and areas for improvement after their time at NU is done. Lab instructors use the wiki as both a diagnostic tool and a focus for instruction – i.e. a comment on a speech on Monday can provide follow-up opportunities later in the institute. It also allows the students to go back and process the feedback given.

Our research instruction focuses on beginning skills. We start with a skeleton Affirmative that teaches the students to locate specific arguments for further development. This problem-centered approach allows for more tailored focus on teaching research than sending the young lab students out on a large fishing expedition to start an Affirmative. Although not research intensive, students will do three waves of research that will incorporate specific, targeted work on an Affirmative and its case negative, a couple of topic-related DAs and CPs, a Kritik, and a final toolbox (i.e. advantage counterplans, advantage frontlines) that allows the student to take on a mini-assignment and see it through from start to finish.

In addition to small group skills development, students receive cross-curricular instruction from the entire NU faculty. Guest lecturers from other labs provide their unique expertise across a wide variety of debate theory, specific topics, and practical strategies for improving ethos, cross-examination, and utilizing preparation time.

We believe we have done our job effectively if (a) every student in our lab finishes the summer with a vast improvement on the skill set they brought to the institute and (b) every student in our lab finishes the summer with a high level of motivation and passion for the activity to start the season.



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  –  Policy Debate Commuter Option  –  Debate at Northwestern  –  Faculty Bios