United States Senate Youth Program


About the Program

The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution in 1962 creating the UNITED STATES SENATE YOUTH PROGRAM (USSYP), a national nonpartisan initiative to provide an annual opportunity for talented high school students with demonstrated leadership abilities to deepen their understanding of America’s political processes and strengthen their resolve to pursue careers in public service.

The USSYP brings the highest-level officials from each branch of government to meet with this outstanding group of young leaders—two high school juniors or seniors from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)—for an intensive week-long education and leadership program held in Washington, D.C. The program is merit-based and highly competitive.

Each student will also receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science. Now in its fifty-eighth year, the program has been fully funded since inception by THE HEARST FOUNDATIONS as an enduring commitment to preparing young people for civic leadership in our participatory democracy.


Regardless of platform (virtual or in person), all confirmed student delegates will partake in a comprehensive, interactive leadership program in the stated timeframe, and each will receive the $10,000 college scholarship in the name of the United States Senate. The program will have a strong focus on public service, leadership, and education experience. Students will hear from speakers from the three branches of government and the national media. Additional details will be made available upon selection. Students MUST attend Washington Week in order to receive their scholarship.

Basic Qualifications/Application Criteria

Applicants must be high school juniors or seniors.

Selection will be based on the student’s outstanding abilities and demonstrated qualities of leadership in an elected or appointed student office for the entire school year. The primary purposes of the qualifying leadership position must be representation of a constituency and service to others. Students must demonstrate an interest in participating in leadership, public service, and government-related activities. 

The school the applicant attends must be located in North Dakota and at least one of the applicant's parents or guardians must also legally reside in North Dakota. A student who attends school in a state other than the state of legal residence of his or her parents or guardians is not eligible. Additionally, students must not be graduating prior to spring of the academic year. Please note: eligible students must be able to confirm their proof of citizenship or legal permanent resident status before participating. 

The student applicant must hold a leadership position in any one of the following student government, civic, or educational organizations during the entire academic year (Please review the USSYP Brochure for a complete list of the positions that do and do not qualify):

  • Student Body President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
  • Class President, Vice president, Secretary, or Treasurer
  • Student Council Representative
  • National Honor Society President, Vice-President, Secretary, or Treasurer (includes discipline-based National Honor Societies)
  • Student representative elected or appointed (appointed by a panel, commission, or board) to a local, district, regional or state-level civic, service and/or educational organization approved by the state selection administrator
  • Organizations such as FFA, FBLA, Key Club, and other national service groups are allowable organizations if the student is serving in an ongoing and active high-level elected or appointed leadership position for the entire academic year.

The applicant's high school principal, guidance counselor, or history/government teacher must sign and verify the student's application submission and nomination to the program. Selected student delegates MUST be able to attend the entire Washington Week event.

North Dakota Application Process

Students may qualify to apply through leadership positions they hold per the USSYP official criteria. All student leadership qualifying positions are subject to the judgment of the state selection administrator and will be verified and confirmed. A committee of education leaders selects two delegates and two alternates to represent North Dakota in this program. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction provides final approval. 

The application window for the 2023 Washington Week and the corresponding scholarship is closed. The application process will open again in August 2023.

To begin the application process, interested students should:

  • complete the application (available August 2023)

  • prepare an essay (there is no length requirement, but please be sure to cite your sources) following a specified prompt (to be determined)

  • submit the application to Office of Outreach & Engagement

  • IMPORTANT: if you do not receive email verification that your application was received, please CALL the NDDPI communications officer at 701-328-2260. 

Two students from each state will be selected to attend Washington Week in March of the academic year, and each will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship. All applicants will be notified of selection results in early December of the academic year. 

Program Rules

("*" denotes rules only applicable if/when Washington Week is held in-person)

  • *All students must agree to fully block both arrival and departure travel days to participate in Washington Week.
  • *No tours or trips will be permitted by individual delegates while traveling to or from Washington, D.C. Or while in Washington, D.C. This policy includes any other outside activity, conference, scholarship competition or event of another organization which is conducted in Washington, D.C. Or the surrounding area during the time frame of the program. All travel provided by The Hearst Foundations is round-trip only and scheduled within a specific time frame. 

          *All travel provided by The Hearst Foundations is round-trip only and scheduled within predetermined time frames. 

  • The chief state school officer from each state, the District of Columbia, and DoDEA must submit the names of their two delegates and two alternates in writing to The Hearst Foundations. Upon confirmation of qualifications, the program requires each delegate to submit a statement of participation including a code of conduct agreement to be signed by students and parents or legal guardians.
  • Code of Conduct: Delegates will be the guest of the United States Senate and The Hearst Foundations throughout the program and are required to conduct themselves with civility, dignity and professionalism. Debate and discussion are actively encouraged in an environment of tolerance, respect, and inclusion. Students selected to the program are serving as at-large public representatives of their states, communities, and schools, and attend the program to learn from the speakers and from one another. Students are prohibited from engaging in lobbying, petitioning, protest, or overt political activism in the presence of speakers, at any venues visited, or on social media during Washington Week. Students will refrain from other politically-charged actions during the program week, including wearing political articles of clothing, pins, buttons, or other symbols of political activism.
  • *It will be the responsibility of the parents/legal guardians to transport (at their expense) each delegate to the nearest commercial airport or train station that provides round-trip travel to Washington, D.C., from their hometown. 
  • No arrangements for individual religious practices or services other than dietary guidelines will be made during Washington Week. This policy will be strictly observed for the entire duration of the event.
  • *The program does not allow any individual or group athletic activities outside of the hotel facility.
  • Failure to abide by rules and requirements of the program will result in dismissal from the program and forfeiture of the $10,000 scholarship award. Rules related to the USSYP and scholarship award shall be construed, interpreted and applied by The Hearst Foundations, whose action and determination shall be final and binding.

For more information about the United States Senate Youth Program, please contact the NDDPI Communications Officer at (701) 328-2260.