Governor's School

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Governor's School Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Governor's School?
Governor's School is an intensive six-week residential program in English, information technology, science, mathematics, and either performing or visual arts for highly able North Dakota high school students who will be entering their junior or senior year. It is located on the North Dakota State University campus in Fargo and operates from the first or second week in June through mid-July.
When and how was the Governor's School established?
The Governor's School was established in 1990. The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction submitted a competitive grant to the U. S. Department of Education to develop a comprehensive system of services for gifted and talented students. Federal funding in the form of a Jacob Javits grant was awarded to the state. One component of that three-year project was the Governor's School in Science and Mathematics. In 1999, the Governor’s School in Business was added.
What kinds of learning activities are included?
Science students will participate in a broad-based training program in laboratory science during the first week of Governor’s Schools. They then will be paired with a mentor scientist and join a research group (in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, materials science, pharmacy or physics) based on the student’s interest and availability of projects. Here the student will further develop their laboratory skills and will learn quantitative data handling techniques. The students will present their research in a poster session during the final week of Governor’s Schools.

Mathematics students focus on select areas of mathematics theory, applied discrete mathematics and technology related to mathematics. Students also will learn about mathematics technology such as the functioning of graphics calculators and computer

Information technology students will explore a broad range of computer skills and real world applications. Students will learn Internet technologies, including Web development and networking, as well as computer programming, with a focus on developing computer games.

English students will experience a progressive program that introduces them to the multiple disciplines that comprise English studies.  The program is currently a three week program pending funding for a six week program.  The program allows the students to concentrate their efforts in one of the following sub-disciplines: creative writing, literary studies, rhetoric, new media studies, linguistics or English education.

Performing arts students participating will immerse themselves in all aspects of the performing arts from acting technique, to dance, music, set design and construction, and costume design. In six weeks the students will develop and perform a vaudeville-style revue that will tour the state during the last week of Governor’s Schools. Students who apply to this school must provide an audition DVD or VHS tape highlighting their theatrical, dance or musical abilities. The performing arts program is offered on even numbered years: 2010, 2012, 2014.

Visual arts students will immerse themselves in different mediums such as printmaking, drawing, sculpting, photography, and visual graphics. The outcome of these concentrations will be shown at various locations in a travelling art show that tours North Dakota.
All students, regardless of the school in which they are enrolled, participate in a class on personal and social development issues, fine arts opportunities (typically creative writing, drama, photography, music, painting, print making, sculpture, or ceramics), team-building, discussion of ethics, field trips, and community service projects.
What does it cost the student to participate in Governor's School?
All costs of instruction, room and board are provided without charge to the student.  Private schools students will have work with their local public schools district to attend free of charge.   There is a $75 activity fee that covers all scheduled weekend and evening activities. Students need money only for personal expenses, such as vending machines, "order out" food, bookstore purchases for items of personal choice, etc.
How is the  Governor's School supported?
Governor's School is supported by state monies through a line item in the Department of Public Instruction budget, and through Foundation Aid.
How many students attend?
Twenty students are selected for each of the five Governor’s Schools.
Where is Governor's School? How was that institution selected?
Governor's School is held at North Dakota State University. In making the initial selection of a host site, a Department of Public Instruction administrator visited each of the North Dakota universities to determine interest and capability to plan and conduct such an activity.

Subsequently, the State Advisory Committee on Gifted Services reviewed the information and made its recommendation. Prior to the DPI visit, NDSU had a plan in place for a similar type of intensive summer program for students, but had not yet secured funding. The State Advisory Committee agreed that NDSU's plans, along with their enthusiasm for such a project, would produce the desired program. The contract is reviewed on an annual basis.
Who is eligible to apply?
Governor's School is open to any student who has completed the sophomore year or the junior year of high school and who will be returning as a junior or senior the next school year. Applicants must be North Dakota residents. Acceptance into Governor’s School is done without regard to color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national origin, public assistance status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation.

 If a student is not accepted, may he or she reapply the following year? 
Yes, a student may reapply the following year. 

May a student apply for more than one of the Governor’s Schools within the same year? 
Yes. However, a complete application must be submitted for each of the schools for which the student applies. It is permissible to photocopy components of the application that are common to all (such as the student’s portion of the form, or a teacher’s recommendation).
When are applications due? 
When will I know if I have been selected?
Application packages are sent to high school principals and counselors by mid-December. Applications are due around February 1 (the date varies each year). Successful applicants are notified during the first week of March, and NDSU contacts them shortly after that to confirm their acceptance. Alternates are contacted if any students who are initially selected cannot attend.
How do I apply for Governor's School?
Contact your high school counselor for application materials. An online application form is available on the Governor’s School website at
Please note that in addition to the online application there are additional forms that must be downloaded, completed, and submitted by mail; electronic applications cannot be accepted.
Who makes the selection?
NDSU assembles selection committees (one for each of the five Governor’s Schools) to review every application. The committee members may include high school teachers as well as Governor's School faculty.
How does the selection committee make its decisions?
The application/selection process has been refined over the years. The committee must have a complete application (sometimes components are inadvertently not included by applicants). The decision is based on evidence of interest and ability in the chosen field as indicated through standardized test results, a transcript, the student's written response to specific questions on the application form, and recommendations of at least two persons (school counselor or principal and an instructor from the chosen field).
Are students from any particular type of school at an advantage in terms of eligibility for Governor's School ?
The Jacob Javits grant focused on students who were traditionally under-represented and under-served (i.e., those who were economically disadvantaged and/or from rural areas). Consequently, the first two years of Governor's School limited applicants to those from small rural schools. However, the Legislative Assembly provided funding for Governor's School from the third year on. As a result, applicants from any high school in North Dakota are eligible.
What kind of supervision is there for students?
Residence hall counselors have responsibility for and supervise Governor's School students in the dormitories. Often, they are former Governor’s School students. They supervise no other students. Governor's School faculty members are responsible for students during instructional times. The directors and coordinators of the respective Governor’s Schools ensure that students are supervised at all times outside of class. Counselors and coordinators receive training in procedures and rules established for Governor's School students. Students are informed of rules, and they select representatives who meet regularly with the directors and coordinators to discuss issues that are of concern.
Where do students stay? May they live off-campus?
All students live in NDSU residence halls, even if their home is in or near Fargo. The Governor's School activities extend beyond daytime hours; typically there are organized activities every evening and on weekends. Group cohesiveness and team building are encouraged through common learning experiences and residence hall living. Also, residing on campus as well as eating at the dining facilities familiarizes students with important aspects of college life.
Do students get credit for Governor's School?
Students who successfully complete Governor's School receive one high school credit on their transcript. The DPI informs each student's school that requirements have been completed and requests that credit be recorded on the transcript. Grades of A, B, C, D, F are only given for Governor's School if requested by the student prior to the second week of Governor’s Schools. Instead, "pass" or "unsatisfactory" are recorded.
How can I learn more about Governor's School?
In addition to the DPI website additional general information is available at the Governor’s School website

Specific questions about curricula, daily activities, housing, and so forth should be asked of the Director of Governor's School (Dr. Jeffrey Boyer) at ( or by contacting the ND Governor’s School offices at 701-231-6727. Questions of a more general nature may be directed to the Department of Public Instruction, 600 East Boulevard, Bismarck 58505-0440 or 701-328-2277.