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Debate – Admission Information


“I loved the mixture between lectures, debates, and research. The variety really helped keep things interesting and engaging and all aspects of the three were really positive and helpful.”

2024 Application Now Open

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the program is filled. For this reason, it is advantageous to apply early. If you’d like to be notified when applications open, sign up for our email list here. 



  • Students must be rising into 9th, 10th,11th, or 12th grade the summer they are participating.
  • Rank academically near the top 30% of your high school class
  • Meet a high standard of character, responsibility, and intelligence
  • Able to provide evidence of experience and/or interest in Policy style Debate

How to Apply

  1. Fill out and submit the National High School Institute Application including $50 application fee.
  2. You will receive an email from NHSI confirming your application has been received along with next step instructions on how to complete your application. You should receive this confirmation email within 1-3 business days of submission.
  3. Submit the supplemental materials required to complete your application which may include a letter of recommendation, your debate record, and current high school transcript. Further details will be included in your confirmation email.

Technology Requirements

To aid our students in making the transition to online learning, the NHSI has established certain minimum technology requirements for participation in the virtual portions of the Debate Institute. These requirements are in place to ensure that everyone can have a smooth and effective institute experience, and to minimize the amount of time during the institute devoted to technological troubleshooting.

Importantly, your registration for the institute requires your agreement to procure the necessary technology to meet the minimum standards. The NHSI will be unable to offer tuition refunds if the state of a student’s technology makes their participation in the institute infeasible. Please reach out to the NHSI via email at if you have any questions regarding these technology standards.

Minimum technology requirements include:

— High speed/broadband internet access
— A laptop computer with a webcam and microphone (ideally built-in, but external webcams and microphones will also suffice). Tablets such as iPads are not sufficient, as they do not enable the use of the full-featured versions of Microsoft Office products. Phones are also insufficient, as they lack the set of features we will need for the institute.

— Microsoft Word, necessary for viewing and editing debate files
— A quiet place at home from which to deliver practice debate speeches.

Suggested* additional technology includes:

— Ethernet connectivity to a high-speed internet router, usually requiring an ethernet-to-USB adapter for the student’s computer
— A backup method of recording speeches, such as the Voice Memos app for iPhone, or Audacity for the PC
— Over-the-ear headset. Headphones such as AirPods are sub-optimal for debate, even an inexpensive headset is a large upgrade
— A TableTote or other telescoping podium on which to deliver speeches
— An external monitor, to enable simultaneously viewing multiple programs during debates

*Items in the “suggested” list will help optimize the online institute experience but are not required for participation.


“I thought the best feature of [the Debate Institute] was the cooperative framework the lab leaders fostered. We weren’t here to duke it out with each other, but to learn, practice, and help one another.”


Application Deadline

The NHSI Debate Institute currently operates on a Rolling Admissions basis. Space is limited, we accept applications through May or until labs are filled to capacity. It is in your interest to apply as soon as possible once the application is open.

Upon completion of your online application, and the submission of all required supplemental materials, you will be informed of your acceptance status. It is the applicants’ responsibility to make sure that ALL necessary supplemental materials have been received in the NHSI office before acceptance.

If you are not sure that your application is complete, please contact us at (847) 491-3026 or via email,





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