one-week residential programs|for high school students|to earn college credit|grounded in scriptural principles

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Covenant College Summer Institute

We have decided to cancel the 2020 Summer Institute due to low registration and the uncertainty that the COVID-19 situation presents for families as they make travel plans. While we are disappointed that we cannot host you this summer, we are excited to return with the 2021 Summer Institute.

The Covenant College Summer Institute offers one-week residential programs for motivated high school students to earn college credit. These courses are hosted on Covenant College's campus and taught by Covenant College professors. Admission is competitive, and rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are encouraged to apply..

In addition to earning college credit, participating in the Summer Institute will give you a taste of a Covenant College education. Mornings will be filled with rigorous and engaging academic instruction by Covenant faculty. You may continue your class discussion over lunch each day in the Great Hall with your classmates and professor in a more informal setting.

Afternoons will build on the morning's instruction with studying, group work, or research in the library with the support of current Covenant College students serving as teaching assistants.

After dinner in the Great Hall, you will have opportunities to experience different aspects of residence life at Covenant through a variety of planned activities.

The entire Summer Institute experience - from the classroom to the residence hall - is grounded in Scriptural principles, reminding and challenging students to live out the reality of Christ's preeminence in all things.



Students have the option of studying one of the courses listed below, each taught by Covenant professors. Each class will be made up of no more than ten students.

The Art of Place | Prof. Jeff Morton

The subject of place is not a neutral one. Whether we recognize it or not, we all come from somewhere and are presently in a place. In this experiential class we will explore the subject in an art studio context informed by social and critical theory, and theological and Christian thinking about place.

While walking the campus of Covenant College, making maps and notational drawing, and through the act of photography and journaling, we will ask the simple question: where do we belong?

The Language of Nature: How Do Plants & Animals Communicate? | Dr. Heath Garris

Have you ever walked in the forest and thought it was unbearably quiet, but with some stillness you noticed a chorus of bird and insect songs? To us these sounds are foreign. (Some are convinced they are beautiful, others not so much.) To the creatures that produce them, they represent a necessary component of daily life. In fact, much of what we see and hear in nature is masterfully effective communication; we just aren't the intended recipients.

This course is a survey of plant and animal communication, with an emphasis on field-based methods and foundations in scientific inquiry. Students will gain experience in interpreting and identifying communication from plants, birds, bats, and insects and form a basis for understanding the multi-modality of communication in nature.

The Nature of Language: Who talks funny? | Dr. Nola Hecker

No two people speak in exactly the same way. There are differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, word meaning, grammar rules, and more. In fact, not only do different people speak differently, but even individual people change the way they speak in different contexts. This course focuses on the social aspects of language variation and analyzes how we use language to help express our identities and interpret the identities of others. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to the ways that language intersects with a variety of social categories like gender, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, and religion.

Knowing Our Own Minds | Dr. Carole Yue

Our conscious and unconscious beliefs about how our minds work drive many of our behaviors. For example, our ideas about memory influence how we study, interpret eyewitness testimony, and even how we argue. However, many of our beliefs are inaccurate and can cause us to make bad decisions or miscommunicate without even realizing it.

This course will consider some of our basic beliefs about how our minds work and how we can use psychological science to improve our understanding of ourselves and the people around us.


Jeff Morton, MFA, BFA

Jeff Morton

Prof. Jeff Morton will teach "The Art of Place." Prof. Morton has been a professor of art at Covenant College since 2000. He also serves as the art department chair. He holds an MFA from Yale University and is one of two recipients of a 2016 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee State Arts Commission. An accomplished painter with influences found in 17th Century Japanese folding screens, Prof. Morton specializes in various interpretations of landscape in the form of large color-field canvases and small obsessive drawings. Prof. Morton has exhibited his works regionally and nationally, most recently at the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga.

Nola Hecker, PhD

Nola Hecker

Dr. Nola Hecker will teach "The Nature of Language." Dr. Hecker is an associate professor of linguistics at Covenant College, as well as the faculty advisor for the Covenant College Linguistics Club and Speech & Debate Society. She holds a PhD from Stanford University. While fascinated by many aspects of human language, she is most interested in the areas of child language development, psycholinguistics, lexical semantics, and sociolinguistics. She is also particularly interested in understanding how religious beliefs and doctrinal commitments influence Christians' language attitudes, as well as how beliefs about language influence how Christians view God and their fellow image bearers.

Heath Garris, PhD

Heath Garris

Dr. Heath Garris will teach "The Language of Nature." Dr. Garris is an assistant professor of biology at Covenant College, as well as curator and advocate for the Covenant College BioInventory. He holds a PhD in integrated bioscience from the University of Akron and is passionate about teaching environmental science to Covenant students. He believes that environmental stewardship is a calling worthy of Christ's followers who are earnestly seeking to be His agents in the redemption of all creation. In his research, he addresses questions that require ecological knowledge to solve long-term challenges for creation.

Carole Yue, PhD

Carole Yue

Dr. Carole Yue will teach "Knowing Our Own Minds." Dr. Yue has been teaching at Covenant College since 2014, and she teaches a variety of experimental and cognitive courses in the psychology department. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on the mechanisms and educational applications of human learning, memory, and metacognition.

Residence Life

In addition to learning from Covenant professors, students will live in a Covenant College residence hall, dine in Covenant’s Great Hall, and experience a taste of Covenant’s campus life.

Current Covenant students will serve as resident assistants in the residence hall, and will host fun activities each evening. Summer Institute participants will also have group devotions together several times throughout the week.

While the summer experience isn't exactly the same as a student's experience during the regular academic year, over the course of your week in residence on campus you will become more familiar with what life is like for Covenant students and better understand the value of a Covenant education.



Application Process

Admission to the Summer Institute is competitive, and rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school with a weighted GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible.

There are four steps to apply for admission:

  1. Submit a completed application.
  2. Submit a 200-250 word essay to explain why you are interested in participating in Covenant College's Summer Institute. Please describe how your interest in the subject matter of your preferred course has been shaped by your family, church, and/or broader community.
  3. Submit a current high school transcript.
  4. Pay a $15 application fee. Make checks payable to Covenant College with the student's name and "Summer Institute" in the memo line.

Applicants may submit application materials by email to, by fax to 706.820.0893, or by mail to Covenant College Summer Institute, 14049 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain, Georgia 30750.


The total investment to enroll in Covenant College's Summer Institute is $1010.

The cost is composed of the following:

Tuition for one hour of college credit

Housing in a Covenant College residence hall

Meals in Covenant College's Great Hall

Residence life activities


Students should plan to arrive and check in on Sunday, July 19, 2020, between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

Bedding (pillow, sheets and blanket or sleeping bag) for an extra-long twin bed, towel, clothes, shoes for outdoor activities, rain jacket, swimsuit (optional), toiletries, laptop (recommended), Bible, pen and paper, and perhaps a little spending money for snacks or merchandise from the College bookstore.

No, we will provide all of the reading material you will need for your class once you are on campus.

No, simply come curious and ready to engage!

Parents are welcome to drop off students during the check-in time and pick up students during the check-out time. The remainder of the program is limited to students, in order to facilitate focused attention on coursework and as close to a Covenant College student experience as possible. We will offer a campus tour, as well as meetings with admissions counselors, on Friday afternoon for any family members who would like to sign up.

You may drive here but may not use your car while the Summer Institute is in session. You will be able to park your car in a campus parking lot.

Students will live in a Covenant College residence hall just like current Covenant students do. While the buildings are co-ed, each hall is limited to either men or women. A current Covenant College student will serve as a resident assistant on each hall throughout the Summer Institute, interacting with and assisting students. When you check in, you will be given an access card that will allow you to enter your residence hall during the week, as access is limited to residents and staff.

Yes, WiFi will be available for all Summer Institute participants.

Current Covenant students will serve as your teaching assistants in the afternoons and as your resident assistants in the residence halls and during evening activities. You will have opportunities to talk with them about their experiences as students at Covenant.

The program concludes at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, July 24, 2020, and students should check out of the residence hall between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday. A late-check-out penalty will apply for anyone who checks out after 5:00 p.m.

Yes, admissions counselors will be available from 3:00-5:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and we encourage interested students to meet with them at that time. Parents are also welcome to participate in these meetings.

Yes, students and their families are invited to take a campus tour between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon, at the conclusion of the program.

Yes, you are welcome to apply for admission in consecutive summers. The Summer Institute is intended for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. While we can't provide a guarantee, as admission is competitive, it is possible to attend for three summers and earn three college credits. We expect to offer new courses in future summers.

Contact Us

Do you have questions that we haven't answered here? We'd be glad to help.

You are welcome to contact our admissions staff with questions about any aspect of the Summer Institute.