• Horizon Academic Program Details


    Horizon Academic is an online research program that connects exceptional high school students from around the world with top university professors. The program's capstone project is a 20-25 page research paper aimed to equip high schools students with the practical knowledge and research writing skills needed to excel in their future academic careers. Horizon uses a unique combination of small group classes (with an average class size of 4 and a maximum size of 6), office hours, writing clinics, and, of course, independent research.

    Choosing a Research Topic

    Students may choose to research any one of the pre-approved topics provided by their respective professor. Alternatively, students may choose to develop a completely original research topic that best connects with their personal interests. Our professors and teaching assistants work closely with students to formulate original research topics that are relevant to course material and ambitious enough to ground a 20-25 page research paper.


    Horizon scholars strive to produce a carefully crafted academic essay throughout the course of a 15 week trimester. Students have the option to apply for Spring, Summer, or Fall trimesters.


    Note: The Summer trimester follows a more compact schedule of 10 weeks.

    • Timeline






















    • Course Structure

      Plenary Workshop with Senior Advisor:

      We begin each trimester with an orientation session for all Horizon scholars with our Senior Advisor, Dr. Robin Lewis, former Associate Dean of Columbia University. Dr. Lewis’s workshop focuses on how students may best use their time with their professor, norms and common practices in academia, and how to best conduct “scholarship with purpose," developing research topics that have real policy implications for a wider global or local community.

      Orientation with HARP Program Coordinator:

      Our second orientation activity is a comprehensive overview of how to use our unique teleconferencing software and online submission systems, how to best uphold research ethics and academic honesty, and how to navigate the transition from writing shorter to longer form essays.

      Group Class with Professor:

      Fourteen times throughout the trimester, each cohort of Horizon scholars meets together for either a group class or office hour session led by their professor. Group classes often involve class discussion of suggested readings, peer review sessions, and in-class debates and simulations.

      Discussion & Office Hours with Teaching Assistants:

      Three times throughout the trimester, each cohort of Horizon scholars meets together for a discussion session led by their teaching assistant. Students may also book up to 3 individual office hour sessions with their TA in order to solicit additional feedback about their paper. All Horizon teaching assistants are either MA, MS, or Ph.D. candidates.

      Writing Clinics:

      At Horizon Academic, we aspire to provide the best possible training and mentoring to students as they navigate their research projects. To that end, Horizon offers online writing clinics to assist with general writing and composition, allowing class time to focus on the substance of each scholar’s research. Writing assistants identify stylistic, grammatical, and other procedural areas through which students may improve their draft papers.

    • Assessment

      Rather than evaluating the work completed by scholars in a vacuum, Horizon Academic uses a holistic evaluation system that measures a scholar's level of motivation and effort (attendance and class participation), desire and capacity to improve work through assessments of several stages of editing, as well as an assessment of their finished work.

    • Frequently Asked Questions

      What is the acceptance rate of Horizon Academic?

      During the 2017-2018 academic year, Horizon Academic had an average acceptance rate of 26%.

      What is the expected time commitment?

      In addition to the 20 hours of classes and office hours completed throughout the course of the trimester, students should expect 3-5 hours of reading and preparation time prior to meeting with their professor.

      How long does the program last?

      The program's Fall and Spring trimesters span 15 weeks.


      Please Note: The Summer trimester follows a compacted schedule of 10 weeks In order to accommodate different summer holidays across the world.

      Does Horizon require prior research experience?

      Horizon does not require that students have prior research experience. Our faculty, as well as our writing advisors, work closely with students on learning the fundamentals of academic research and writing.

      How does Horizon schedule classes?

      Since our professors and students are located around the world, and we strive to ensure that classes are scheduled at flexible and mutually convenient times.

      How are online classes conducted?

      All online sessions are conducted using advanced video-conferencing software that offers scholars an experience similar to a small seminar or face-to-face meeting. Students and faculty can see, hear, talk, and text chat with each other. Our platform also allows for screen-sharing so that students can view texts, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other visual aids.

      How do you choose course dates?

      We select our program dates with the schedules of busy high school students in mind and time the ending of each trimester to avoid conflicts with final exams.

      How do you choose course times?

      Because our instructors and students are based in many different time zones across the world, each class time is carefully considered in order to maximize the convenience of all students. The timing of each course cohort is different, so please reach out to us if you are curious about what time during the day or evening a particular class will be offered.