Summer Institute

2022 Cohort Summer Pic

The Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program’s (BHSP) Summer Institute at Notre Dame is designed to jump-start our scholars’ transition to college life and their acculturation to the demanding academic environment of a top-20 university. The Summer Institute is required for all scholars that want to receive the full benefits of being in the BHSP and it’s where every Balfour’s journey begins. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the Institute:

What does it look like?

Students attend five classes during weekdays and various team building activities on the weekend, all aimed at both academic, social, and emotional growth.

The freshman cohort is divided into ALBA (Arts & Letters, Business, Architecture) and STEM groups depending on their intended areas of study. Each group, ALBA and STEM, take different classes but have lunch/dinner breaks at the same time as well as study hall hours.

Students live in adjacent dorms and share a room with a fellow program scholar. The new scholars (we call them Littles) are assigned into groups with upperclassmen (called Bigs) to help get new students acquainted with the Balfour community and college social life.

The weekend activities include:

  • Taste of South Bend, an exploration of downtown South Bend with an opportunity to eat at one of the local spots on our dime
  • Leadership through the Barn Door, an opportunity to learn how to ride horses
  • Escape Room or Rum Village Adventures, depending on the weather
  • Unity Gardens, spending a day getting into the weeds and volunteering at the local community garden
  • Six Flags or Cedar Point
  • Bigs-Littles activities
What’s up with this Bigs-Littles thing?

Probably the most important aspect of the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program is community. We promote it from day one by having the Big-Little families do fun events. These events are coordinated by the families themselves and can range from simply getting dinner to white-water rafting in the Saint Joseph River. These Bigs-Littles families are not required to continue after the Summer Institute but often times they do because of the wonderful people in the program.

Can I see a sample class schedule?

Here’s an ALBA and STEM schedule from last year.

How much does it cost?

The BHSP pays for travel, meals, and housing; students should not expect to have to spend any money to attend. Additionally, travel and dining hall meals are coordinated by Balfour.

When does this amazing program take place?

Students live in dorms on campus for four weeks. The program starts mid-June and ends mid-July. Tentative dates for 2023 are June 23rd – July 21st.

Do I need to do the Summer Institute to be in the BHSP?

Yes, you need to attend the full four weeks to be a member of the BHSP.

How can I apply?

Students are contacted via email, additional instructions will be provided then.

Who can I ask for more information?

Contact options include emailing Charlie Ortega ( or You can also follow us on Instagram @balfour_hesburgh_scholars and we will try to respond to your DMs as quickly as possible.