Middle School Residential Opportunities

Grades 7 - 8

If you are a 7th- to 8th-grade student with a deep curiosity when a topic sparks your interest, a love of learning, or a lot of talent in a particular area, you will feel right at home in our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI)! JSI is a one-week residential summer academic program at the University of Iowa's Belin-Blank Center, designed specifically for bright middle school students who want to take a deep dive into a topic – all while having fun with other middle school kids who share their level of interest and ability.

About the Program

Spend a week on the University of Iowa campus, immersing yourself in one of your favorite subjects, in a class full of other kids your age who share your level of interest and ability.

JSI takes place June 26-30, 2023.

Application Timeline:

  • December 15, 2022 (5:00 pm CST): Application opens
  • April 30, 2023 (11:59 pm CST): Application closes
  • April 30, 2023 (5:00 pm CST): Students will be accepted into JSI on an ongoing basis until all classes are full. Students will typically be informed of their status within two weeks of applying.
  • May 1, 2023 (11:59 pm CST): Accepted students must enroll and submit the first payment

Students take a single advanced level course for the entire week – and these aren’t regular classes! With past options like Women in Engineering, Mixed Media Art, and Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference (and more!), there’s sure to be something that sparks your interest. Class sizes are small, and they take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving you access to valuable university-level resources and experts.

I enjoyed being able to be independent and be surrounded by people who enjoy the same thing I do and could easily engage and connect with them since many shared similar interests with me.

JSI Student


A Writer's Retreat

Grades 7-8

June 25 - June 30, 2023

There are few things more precious to a writer than the gift of time. Time to write, time to think about writing, time to read the work of other writers. This course will be devoted entirely to the craft of writing. We’ll explore multiple genres (everything from poetry to fiction to playwriting) and we’ll look at how other writers approach their work. Much of our time together will be devoted to your own writing and there will be lots of prompts to help inspire you. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or wanting to develop a writing practice, this might be the course for you!

Applications are closed.

Already started an application? Log in

Art and Activism

Grades 7-8

June 25 - June 30, 2023

The course will focus on overlapping cultural activities next to, and within, contemporary art practice. This will include the transformative and prolific civil rights and disability rights movements in the US, both past and recent social movements and the overlap between cultural practices and socially engaged art around the world. Students will be challenged to explore these topics through symbolism, critical thinking, group discourse + reflection, collage, signs, sound art and painting. 

Applications are closed.

Already started an application? Log in

Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference

Grades 7-8

June 25 - June 30, 2023

This course will allow young people to learn how to lead themselves and then how to lead others. We will examine a variety of leadership styles and skills, identify each individual’s strengths, and learn how to create positive impact. We will build a foundation for them to stand on centered around values and teamwork, in order to ignite the potential of tomorrow’s leaders. 

Applications are closed.

Already started an application? Log in

Solving the Grand Challenges of Sustainability

Grades 7-8

June 25 - June 30, 2023

This class will introduce students to sustainability, a critically-important subject that explores how our [human] interaction with the natural environment impacts the planet’s ability to support our long-term well-being. We will explore issues of climate change, energy and water use, food production, and policy and discuss how these issues are currently being addressed, as well as what we can do now, and in the future. This class will include discussions on the various topics, exercises, and both in and out-of-classroom learning.

Applications are closed.

Already started an application? Log in

How to Apply

While the application process is straightforward, planning ahead is essential. Here's all the information you'll need in order to submit your application..


Any student who is currently in 7-8 grades is eligible to apply for JSI. You do not need to be in a talented and gifted program to apply. Qualified students will show a high level of interest in the topic, motivation to learn, and the emotional maturity to live in the residence halls.

Application Process

When you apply you will need to submit the following:

  • Your demographic information
  • Email addresses for two adults who will provide letters of recommendation: one from someone who knows your abilities and another who can speak to your character. (These may not be a family member or friend.) These two adults will be sent an electronic form which they must complete and submit to the Belin-Blank Center by the application deadline.
  • 250-500 word essay on your interest in attending the Junior Scholars Institute


Completed nominations will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of faculty and staff from the University of Iowa, educators from the area, and community leaders. The selection committee will evaluate applications based on the following criteria, ranked in priority order:

  • Content of student essay, portfolios, and supporting materials
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Evidence of commitment and motivation
  • Programs or activities involved in at school and in the community
  • Maturity to live in a residential setting

Selected students will be notified on a rolling basis.

After You're Accepted

You can look forward to a fun and enriching summer! Here you can find answers to all the pressing questions you may have while making your plans to join us.

Cost & Financial Aid


Each student selected for the Institute will receive a $1000 scholarship which covers the majority of the Institute's costs. Each student will pay a program fee of $200 to cover the remaining costs. Together, the scholarship and the program fee cover all instructional costs, room, board, books, and admission to all regularly scheduled activities.

The program fee does not include transportation to and from the University of Iowa or incidental expenses, such as souvenirs and snacks. You and your family are responsible for these expenses.

Payment Deadlines

You must either pay in full or have arranged monthly installments by June 1 in order to participate. All fees are payable to the Belin-Blank Center.

Payment Options

  1. Pay the entire amount on a credit card.
  2. Pay in three equal installments using a credit card.

Financial Aid

Once you are accepted into the program, you may apply for financial aid. Financial aid may cover up to 50% of the remaining cost of the program. Awards will be applied directly to your program fees. After your information is reviewed, a decision will be made, and you will receive an email regarding the amount of your award. Awards will be applied directly to your program fees. Additional scholarships may be available. International students are not eligible for scholarships or financial aid.

Daily Schedule

You will attend classes from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The typical schedule for each day looks like:

  • 7:30-8:30 Breakfast
  • 9:00-12:00 Class / Lab
  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch
  • 1:00-4:00 Class / Lab
  • 4:00-5:30 Free time
  • 5:30-6:30 Dinner
  • 6:30-10:30 Evening activities
  • 11:00 Lights out

Evening and weekend activities include special seminars, off-campus field trips, and cultural and recreational activities. We carefully select activities to complement the program. For this reason, all activities, including the weekend activities are required.


You will be supervised at all regularly scheduled events and activities. Supervision at the residence halls will be provided by a Belin-Blank Program Coordinator and a residence hall staff specially selected and trained to work with and supervise students. There is approximately one resident advisor for every ten students. You are expected to live within the policies of the residence halls, the university, and the program.

Living on Campus

You will be housed in a residence hall located near the Blank Honors Center on the University of Iowa campus. Most program activities will take place within brief walking distance of the residence hall. Male and female students will be assigned to separate floors and all students will share a room with at least one other student.

In addition to academic programming, you will be able to participate in a variety of scheduled activities selected by the staff, especially on the weekends. You will also have access to the University of Iowa libraries, computer facilities, and study areas.

Family Visits

We ask that your family inform staff of their plans so that arrangements can be made to facilitate any family visits. Because the program is dedicated to the development of a cohesive community, you may not have non-family visitors during the program.

Check-in / Check-out

Check-in for the program will be held from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm on Sunday. All students should be checked in during this time. If you are unable to check-in during these times, please contact the Belin-Blank Center.

Check-out for the program will be held on Friday after lunch.

Cancellation Policy

If you must cancel, email summer@belinblank.org as soon as possible to decline the acceptance so that a student on the waiting list may attend. A $100 administrative fee will be retained for cancellations received by June 1st. Cancellations made after June 1st will not be refunded.


You may request a roommate once you have been accepted to the program and are asked to fill out enrollment forms. If you do not have a specific request for a roommate, you will be matched with another student from the program. Students who identify as transgender or have medical conditions or other unique circumstances may request a single room.

Contact Us