United States Senate Youth 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.

Numbering more than 5,700, USSYP alumni serve the country in many ways. USSYP alumni have become leaders in government, law, business, education, journalism, the military, medicine, health care, higher education and many other fields. Alumni serve as elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, including two current United States senators, many congressional staff members, a former governor, former senior political advisors to the president of the United States, former ambassadors and former federal judges. The commonality to all their success is the desire to serve.

North Dakota Application Process

Thank you for your interest in applying for the North Dakota Delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program. 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.

Application Process Opens: September 14, 2020.
Application Deadline: December 31, 2020.

To begin the application process, interested students should:

  • complete the application;
  • prepare an essay addressing the following: Discuss a policy proposal or cause championed by either one of your two U.S. Senators during the past five years. What resources and capital has the Senator devoted to that issue? Has the Senator’s interest and efforts had an impact on that issue? Why or why not?
  • submit the application by December 31, 2020, to Office of Outreach & Engagement

The USSYP Washington Week will be held March 14-18, 2021, online. Two students from each state will be selected to attend the online program and each will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship. Students may qualify to apply through leadership positions they currently hold per the USSYP official criteria for the current 2020-2021 academic year. If students are unable to hold leadership positions this year due to the pandemic, they can submit the position they held during the 2019-2020 academic year. All student leadership qualifying positions are subject to the judgement of the state selection administrator and will be verified and confirmed. 

North Dakota Application Criteria

Applicants must be a high school junior or senior.

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.

The school the applicant attends must be located in the state in which either one of the applicant's parents or guardians legally reside. 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 be enrolled in high school and not 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:

  • 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.

Program Rules

  1. *All students must agree to fully block both arrival and departure travel days to participate in Washington Week.
  2. *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.
  3. The chief state school officer from each state, the District of Columbia and DoDEA must submit in writing to The Hearst Foundations by the names of their two delegates and two alternates. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. *It will be the responsibility of the parents or 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.
  6. 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.
  7. *The program does not allow any individual or group athletic activities outside of the hotel facility.
  8. 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.

*These rules do not pertain to virtually-held events.

For more information about the United States Senate Youth Program, please contact the NDDPI Communications Officer at (701) 328-3216.