About the program

General information


What is the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute?

The institute, also known as “Medill cherubs,” is a five-week journalism program for rising high school seniors at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. It is sponsored by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Students learn from accomplished journalists and university professors while gaining practical experience in the field. By the end of the summer, students create a body of work, build connections and meet aspiring journalists from around the world. In the summer of 2016, students came from 22 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia, as well as China (4), Hong Kong, Mexico and South Korea.

What is a “cherub?”

It is a nickname, meaning a celestial being (angel). Students are traditionally called “cherubs.”

Who are the teachers?

The program has been directed by Medill Prof. Roger Boye since 1985. The team of instructors is made up of professional journalists, educators and Medill graduates, many of whom are cherub alumni. Students are assigned a specific instructor who will be their mentor throughout the summer. The instructors critique papers and meet with students individually for weekly conferences. Dorm life is supervised by community associates, who are Medill undergraduates. The CAs also help lead some of the classes.


How do I apply?

The 2017 application will be available in late October under the “Apply” link on the homepage. Students need a transcript, test scores, a letter of recommendation and samples of their writing in addition to the application form.

What are the important dates?

Applications and financial aid requests are due in mid-to-late March. Exact deadlines will be announced. The five-week 2017 program will run from June 25 to July 28.

How selective is the program?

In picking students, the program looks for a strong academic record and a strong background in journalism. There are no more than 84 students enrolled each year. In 2016, about half of the applicants were accepted. The program does not take late applications.

How much does the program cost?

In 2016, the price was $5,500, which includes tuition, room/board, health service fees (but not hospital insurance), field trips and group events. Transportation to and from campus and personal expenses are not included.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. In 2016, about 20 cherubs received financial aid and/or scholarships provided through the program totaling $76,500. Financial aid is need-based but there is no set income level necessary to qualify.  The program had six named scholarships in 2016. Students applying for financial aid are automatically considered for a named scholarship, almost all of which are given on the basis of need. Here is a list of the named scholarships in 2016:

  • Peter Alexander International Student Scholarships
  • Joan Beck and Ruth Moss Buck Journalism Scholarship
  • Norma Kinsel – Linda Foley Cherub Scholarship
  • Mary Lou Song Cherub Alumni Scholarship
  • Diane Granat Yalowitz Memorial Fund Scholarship
  • Scholarship by an anonymous donor

Can I apply if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

The program welcomes journalism students from around the world. Seven of the 2016 cherubs were international students.

Photo by Paisley Meegan

Photo by Paisley Meegan

Can I apply if I’m not involved in newspaper?

Any student with experience in journalism and journalistic writing should consider applying. Cherubs have backgrounds in digital journalism, newspaper, television, audio and/or yearbook.


What skills can I expect to gain?

During the program, students will focus on reporting, writing, fact checking and Associated Press style among other things, with practical assignments in various types of media. In addition to print, students will learn video, audio and photojournalism as well as various forms of digital storytelling. They also will be given the opportunity to learn coding.

What kinds of articles will I write?

Students will write a wide range of articles from news stories to opinion pieces to features. The length of assignments varies.

Daily life

What is the daily schedule?

Class usually begins at 9 a.m. Throughout the day, students attend lectures, labs and workshops on a wide variety of journalistic subjects.

What are the housing and meal accommodations?

Students live at East Fairchild, Northwestern’s Communications Residential College. Meals at a dining hall are included in tuition. Vegan, gluten-free and kosher options are available.

Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum

Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum

Is there free time?

As long as students manage their assignments, they have free time to explore Evanston or relax on campus. On weekdays, classes are held in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. Students meet with their assigned instructors on Saturday mornings and there is often a social activity on Saturday evenings. The program offers optional “clubs” on Sunday afternoons and mandatory classes on Sunday evenings.

How much money should I bring?

Spending money is at the discretion of students and their families. While tuition covers field trips and all meals in a university dining hall, most students spend money to eat out on occasion as well as to buy such things as clothing, snacks and toiletries.

Can I leave campus?

Students can walk to downtown Evanston to shop and go to restaurants. There also are weekly field trips to Chicago to visit media outlets and sightsee.

What should I pack?

The weather generally will be warm, but be prepared for cool days as well. Bring T-shirts and pairs of shorts and a few pairs of long pants. Classes go on, rain or shine, so a raincoat and/or umbrella are essential. Sunscreen is also useful. The program usually sponsors a dance party called the “Cherub Prom,” so clothing for that would be appropriate. The program provides every student a computer in the journalism building, which is immediately east of the residence hall. Still, some students bring a laptop computer, but it is not essential. In addition, bring the usual school supplies as well as a flash drive, audio recorder and, if you have them, headphones.

Photo by Brian Meller

Photo by Brian Meller

Can I practice sports during the program?

The Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, an athletic facility on campus, is available for a fee. Students can also run or exercise on their own around campus. Basketball and tennis courts are at various locations on campus and there is a beautiful jogging path along Lake Michigan, just a few hundred feet from the residence hall.

Will I be able to attend religious services?

There are many religious centers on campus for multiple denominations. Upon arrival, students may request contact information for these centers. Time is available on the weekends so that students may attend services.

Other information

Who made this website?

This website was created by the 2016 cherubs during the last week of the program.

Any other questions?

Send an email to the program director, Prof. Roger Boye, at r-boye@northwestern.edu.