Our Programs

Smithsonian Student Travel  |  All Programs

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex and includes nineteen museums and galleries in Washington, D.C., plus the National Zoo. Smithsonian Student Travel uses these resources as the core of its programs, giving students a look behind the scenes and taking advantage of Smithsonian’s reach worldwide.

Smithsonian Student Travel programs extend from the mission of the Smithsonian—to increase and diffuse knowledge so we can better understand and celebrate the world around us. Ultimately, scientific understanding, cultural awareness, and global perspectives enable us to change the world for the better.

This same purpose drives our adventurous and educational summer programs for high school students.

Each program focuses on a unique and relevant topic related to Smithsonian Institution assets, ranging from culture to technology, conservation to social justice. By diving deep into their chosen theme, students gain a deeper understanding of our common past, actively participate in the present, and develop the tools to shape the future. 

Group of students posing in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Explore the Past

Each of our programs takes full advantage of the Smithsonian’s resources, from the exhibits and artifacts of its museums to the leading experts and researchers at cultural and research institutions around the world.

Group of students under rock formation on bank of river

Experience the Present

Alongside curious and like-minded peers, students aren’t just passive participants, but active leaders. Through engaging hands-on activities, immersive exploration, and fun adventures, the past comes alive. Students deepen their knowledge and understanding of the world we share.

group of three students smiling and making a presentation

Shape the Future

With a more robust understanding of the culture, location, and program theme, students gain the tools necessary to become active and invested global citizens. With gained confidence, students will be able to shape the future.

Smithsonian On Campus

On Campus programs are based in Washington, D.C., home to most of the Smithsonian’s renowned museums, cultural centers, and research facilities. These one-week programs allow students to focus on a seminar of their choosing, and to explore that theme through the Smithsonian lens. Students interested in exploring multiple themes in a summer can link two or three weeks together. Along with visits to museums and conversations with experts, students have opportunities to explore the nation’s capital, play frisbee on the National Mall, visit Congress, ride bikes through Rock Creek Park, and much more.

Seminar topics include storytelling, politics, air and space, social justice, wildlife conservation, technology and innovation, art, entrepreneurship and more. For a full list of seminar topics and descriptions, click here.

Students live in dorm-style accommodations for the duration of the program, alongside like-minded peers and trip leaders. Individual seminar sizes are around 14 students, but there is ample opportunity to interact with the larger Smithsonian campus community outside of seminar time. On Campus programs are available to students completing 8-12th grades.

Click here to learn more about our D.C. On Campus program and available seminars for summer 2021.

Smithsonian Student Journeys

Student Journeys are themed traveling programs with itineraries in the U.S. and abroad. Ranging from 14 to 24 days, students engage with their program theme while gaining a deeper understanding of the history, culture, cuisine, language, and environment of their destination. Every day the group participates in hands-on, experiential, and educational travel while building close bonds with their fellow travelers. Discuss climate change with local researchers at the in Iceland, visit the archives with curators of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, or talk with an astronaut at the Jackson Space Center in Houston. Knowledgeable trip leaders make these experiences engaging and fun, and local experts provide a level of insight only Smithsonian Student Travel can offer. Within a structured environment, students take ownership over their experience while working on independent projects of their choosing. By the end of a program, participants are more closely engaged with a place, allowing them the opportunity to become better global citizens and advocates for the future of their world.

Smithsonian Student Journeys are made up of roughly 18 students and two group leaders, and are available to students completing 8th-12th grades. Depending on the destination, program themes include aerospace, social justice, climate change, Indigenous cultures, art, wildlife conservation, and more.

Click here to find destinations and themes that match your interests for summer 2021.

Next Steps

Questions? Call us at (866) 870-2350 or click below to request more info. Ready to join us? Start your application today!