Program Overview

Alpha Scholars is a rigorous social science research program that teaches college-level research, writing and presentation skills to high school students in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Students work one-on-one with Harvard undergraduate mentors in advanced study and research of a topic related to their chosen SDG, culminating in a 12-page research paper and 15-minute presentation. Final papers are evaluated by the Harvard International Relations Council and the Harvard International Review, which features the best papers on its website.

  • 3

  • 6-13

  • 4

    Research Fields
  • 40

    Instructional Hours
  • 40

    Independent Study Hours
  • 12-15

    Page Final Paper

Research Fields

The Sustainable Development Goals were set by the UN General Assembly in 2015 as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, but we teach them in four distinct research fields in order to group students based on similar research interests. Scholars learn about each goal during the early phases of the curriculum before focussing on 1-2 goals to narrow their research question.

Research Fields6

Program Design

Guest Professors from Harvard inspire scholars with their latest research; Academic Seminars teach the UN SDGs, research methodology, academic writing and presentation skills; Mentor Meetings provide 1-on-1 guidance and feedback throughout the program; and group workshops reinforce learning of key concepts. We have high expectations of our scholars, but we ensure that they're supported every step of the way.

SDG Topic Tutorials (10 hours)
Academic Seminars (10 hours)
Mentor Meetings (10 hours)
Group Workshops (6 hours)
Individual Research (40 hours)
Office Hours (4 hours)

Curriculum Design

This is the first college-level research paper our students ever write, so we ensure they're supported every step of the way without doing their work for them. Our program schedule and curriculum is structured into eight phases using the Guided Inquiry Design® protocol.

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Process-Driven Organization

Alpha Scholars uses a project management tool called Trello to guide students through the program and track their progress. Curriculum materials, events, lectures, seminars, workshops, mentor meetings, assignments and other resources are all organized into individual research trackers to help our scholars stay on track. All program communications are also centralized through Trello so that students can interact with their mentors, peers and program staff in one place.

Research Tracker List View Small Copy

Harvard Mentors

Alpha Scholars are mentored one-on-one by current students at Harvard University with deep expertise in their chosen research field. All mentors are jointly selected by Alpha Partners Education and the Harvard International Relations Council, the largest student-run 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in the United States with a membership of over 700 Harvard students.

Kendrick Foster Harvard University (2022)
Christian Abney Harvard University (2023)
Ryen Diaz Harvard University (2021)
Roshni Chakraborty Harvard University (2022)
John Nugent Harvard University (2022)
Nadine Bahour Harvard University (2022)
Larry Dang Harvard University (2022)
Oscar Berry Harvard University (2023)
Joseph Felkers Harvard University (2023)

Harvard Standards

All mentors are trained and supervised by Thomas Kennelly, the Program Director for History and Global Understanding at Boston Latin School. Founded in 1635, Boston Latin School is the oldest public school in America and graduates more students into Harvard than any other school in the world.

All final papers are evaluated by the Harvard International Relations Council, with A/A+ papers qualifying for awards through the Harvard International Review Academic Writing Contest.

Thomas Kennelly Academic Dean
Harvard IRC Evaluations
Harvard International Review Awards

Global Community

The average Alpha Scholars cohort is selected from over 7 countries and 12 US states, and their research takes them all over the world.

Global Topics

Program Outcomes

Alpha Scholars boost their college applications by demonstrating academic achievement, college readiness, interest in their planned major and having their papers featured online. More importantly, they prepare set themselves up for success at college and their future careers by building strong time management skills; reading, writing and communication skills; critical thinking and analytical skills, and the ability to search and synthesize credible data.

Harvard IRC Evaluation
Harvard IRC Certificate of Completion
Harvard International Review Awards
Mentor Letter of Recommendation
Foundation for Other Qualifications

Dates & Deadlines

Alpha Scholars operates three trimesters each year with the same curriculum and program outcomes. The Spring and Fall trimesters run for 13 weeks during the school term, while the Summer trimester is condensed into 6 weeks. There are limited spots on each trimester and applications are processed on a rolling basis.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I apply to become an Alpha Scholar?
Is admission to Alpha Scholars selective?
What is the expected time commitment?
How are classes and mentor meetings scheduled?
How is the Harvard International Relations Council associated with the program?
How is Harvard International Review associated with the program?
At what age or grade level are students eligible for Alpha Scholars?