Governor's School West Natural Science professor Charlie Pate

This is how I wish high school were, and how I hope college shall be. The exposure to new ideas and emphasis on enrichment, not evaluation, are phenomenal and effective.

—2003 Governor’s School alumnus



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About Governor’s School


Governor's School

The Governor’s School of North Carolina is a six-week summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students, integrating a broad scope of academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses on each of two campuses. Focusing on the open-ended, collaborative exploration of cutting-edge ideas and concepts in each field of study, the curriculum does not offer traditional class credit, tests, or grades.

Founded in 1963, the Governor’s School is the oldest statewide summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students in the nation, serving as a model for several programs nationwide. Over its nearly five decades of existence, the program has grown and diversified, and now accepts up to 300 rising seniors and juniors at each of two campuses: Governor’s School West at Salem College in Winston-Salem, and Governor’s School East at Meredith College in Raleigh.

Governor’s School: An Engine For Growth and Learning

• Over 100 programs in 28 states have been modeled after the original Governor’s School concept Terry Sanford developed for North Carolina.

• 97.5 percent of students responding to exit surveys agree that Governor’s School was an extremely impactful educational experience.

• Research by The Clearing House reveals that Governor’s School students posted significant gains over six weeks in cognitive growth, moral development, and abstract/global thinking compared to accepted students who did not attend.

• Candidates for the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program, the oldest collegiate merit scholarship program in the US, frequently cite Governor’s School as a seminal experience in their educational development. In fact, over 28 percent of eligible Morehead Scholars have attended Governor’s School since the School’s inception in 1963.


Funded in part by the General Assembly of North Carolina, the program is jointly administered by the Public Schools of North Carolina, the State Board of Education, and the Department of Public Instruction through the Exceptional Children Division. A Board of Governors, appointed by the State Board of Education, acts as an advisory body.

Visit the Governor’s School main webpage for more information on the program’s curriculum, faculty, and selection process. You may also visit the Governor’s School Alumni Association to learn more about the School’s extensive alumni network.


Past and Present


For nearly fifty years, the Governor’s School has been a critical component of youth educational enrichment in North Carolina. Hundreds of students attend every year to share and discover new realms of knowledge. Until recently, they have been able to be a part of this experience at no expected cost to them. The Governor’s School is proud to provide each of its attendees a high-quality curriculum with minimal overhead; offering this opportunity to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds is one of its core objectives.

However, in the wake of a state budget crunch in 2009, it was decided for 2010 and future sessions to charge tuition of $500 per student in order to cover operating costs no longer funded by the state. As a result of this and other cuts, fewer students were able to attend in 2010 – down 25 percent to 600 attendees from the normal 800.


A New Challenge


In June 2011, state funding for Governor’s School was cut completely, leaving administrators with a $1.3 million budget gap and casting the future of the program in serious doubt.

As Governor’s School would most likely not survive after one year of closure, the Governor’s School Foundation immediately resolved to raise the necessary funds to keep the program running in 2012.

Read more about the budget crisis and initial reactions throughout the state:

Raleigh News and Observer front page article on future of Governor’s School

Daily Tar Heel reports on Governor’s School and other education programs eliminated from budget

News 14 Carolina covers 2011 students’ efforts to save GS