The program was established in 1987 as the Alabama Honors Academy at Samford University and patterned after Governor’s schools in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, and Kentucky. In January 1988, Alabama’s governor designated the Alabama Honors Academy as The Alabama Governor’s School. Thus, Alabama became the 24th state to have this nationally recognized school. The Alabama Governor’s School provides academic, creative, and leadership experiences for a limited number of rising high school juniors and seniors who have demonstrated exceptional ability and achievement in their studies. Students must show high intellectual and creative potential.

The Alabama Governor’s School is a member of the National Conference of Governor’s Schools.


The Alabama Governor’s School is located on Samford University’s campus in Birmingham, AL. The program covers a period of thirteen days and will be held June 16-28, 2024. Students are housed in Samford residence halls and have meals in the university cafeteria.


Each student takes one morning and one afternoon seminar which focus on hands-on, experiential learning. The seminars are taught by leading academic, business, and community experts in their fields. The program includes classes, seminars, workshops, self-directed studies and projects in a variety of subject areas from a) the natural sciences, b) the humanities, c) the social sciences and d) the fine and performing arts.

The program includes field trips in and around Birmingham, recreational activities, team-building experiences, talent night and a dance.

A Typical Day

Each day begins early and features a full schedule of classes and recreational activities. Students engage in intensive work in a variety of areas of interest. To the extent possible, the seminars incorporate exposure to current theory and extensive “hands-on” experience or field work.

Guest speakers will challenge and inspire participants as they address national and international issues, as well as creative and practical experiences. Evenings are filled with competitive games, recreational outings and program favorites like the talent show. Although all Governor’s School activities are built on a common framework, each element has its own individual character and focus that allows for spontaneity and flexibility, creating a program that is a little bit different every day.

Alabama Governor’s School students will also have the opportunity to examine options for future personal, intellectual and professional development. Interspersed throughout the schedule are numerous opportunities for relaxing and for just talking with gifted and talented peers, faculty and staff.


Morning and afternoon seminars make up the academic core of Alabama Governor’s School. Each student will select one morning seminar that will meet every morning, Monday-Friday, and one afternoon seminar that will meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday. While the seminar topics vary from year to year, here you will find descriptions of seminars from previous years that will give you an idea of the type of courses that are typically offered.

Morning Seminars

Arts Experience

The arts experience seminar brings students from all over Alabama with the purpose of exposing them to the variety of cultures and technique found in the locations such as the Birmingham Museum of Art.


Through numerous field trips, the Business Seminar provides students with ample opportunity to experience first-hand the intricacies of modern management.

Health Care

The Health Care class gives students a chance to learn about the reality of work in modern health care through field trips and job shadowing.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Students of the Lights, Camera, Action class learn how to write, shoot and edit a video package with the help of seasoned professionals.

Magazine Publishing

Students of the magazine publishing class work as a team to produce a memory book commemorating their shared AGS experiences. They learn writing, design and editing skills while planning and organizing the year’s publication. The instructors’ intention is to give each student a “real world” journalistic experience from the initial planning to the final execution of the AGS magazine.

Research Science

Students of Research Science are encouraged to ask questions, make connections, and combine their knowledge of various subjects in order to form research questions and solve them.

Sky is the Limit

The Birmingham Radio Control Association will take you on a journey through airplane history(military and commercial), engineering(mechanical and electrical), basic to advance airplane flight characteristics, Space/NASA modern technology & history, EDF Jets (electric), and turbine RC jet planes field trips. Are you ready to ‘feel the need for speed’?

Afternoon Seminars

Digital Marketing

Students will explore digital marketing strategies and tools, including websites, social media, paid advertising, email, and more, equipping them to understand modern marketing careers.

Global Citizenship

In Global Citizenship, students are given an opportunity to broaden their outlook on the world through lectures and discussions.

Health Professionals

Through simulations and laboratory experiences, students will be introduced to a variety of disciplines and specialties within the health professions including physical therapy, physician assistant studies, speech language pathology, and exercise science.

Humor and Literature

What makes us laugh? What does that say about ourselves and our society? Explore different cultures and how they employ humor in various literary works, including satire, farce, lyric, narrative, cartoon, and other mediums. We will study how different types of humor work to political, cultural, and even spiritual ends. You will have a chance to create your own amusing works. The course aims to be serious and hilarious simultaneously.


Utilizing discussions, simulations, guest speakers and field trips, participants will examine definitions and models of leadership. Explore and apply skills of leadership using real world problems and examine historical and current leadership examples in sport, music, education, politics, and business.


By examining the controversial Greek story of Medea, students examine both the legal and historical controversies of this ancient tales in the scope of today’s situations.


While almost every student took pictures during their two weeks at the governor’s school, the students of the Photography class were able to raise their skills to the next level by acquiring the knowledge needed to get the most out of their cameras.

Walk on the Wild Side

Adventures in Walk on the Wild Side incorporate all our senses: taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight. We will walk on the Wild Side to experience nature by walking through thickets and streams, hills, and valleys, and have glimpses of animals large and small. We seek places of wilderness, laboratories of animals native to Alabama, and sites of urban renewal. From Henry David Thoreau, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

Eligibility, Selection, Enrollment, etc.

Alabama Governor’s School students are drawn from all parts of the State of Alabama. They share a common desire to explore academic and intellectual topics and to engage in creative pursuits at a level and pace not always possible during the regular school year. Courses are different from typical high school curricula in format, content and method.

Grades or Credit

Neither grades nor academic credit is given at the Alabama Governor’s School. All students who complete the program successfully receive a certificate attesting to their participation.

Participant Expectations

Students are required to attend and participate in classes, guest speaker presentations, recreation and other selected activities. Optional programs will be indicated on the master schedule.

Assignments may include the keeping of journals, the preparation of essays and position papers, library research, extensive reading, and laboratory, and other projects. Some subject concentrations involve field studies, rehearsals, preparation of exhibits, participation in public performances, or production of a video, magazine, or yearbook. Every participant should be prepared for extensive mental exercise. Alabama Governor’s School Scholars will find their participation to be one of the most challenging and stimulating learning experiences they have had.

Program Eligibility

Rising high school junior and seniors (current sophomores and juniors) who are residents of Alabama are eligible to attend, if they are identified by their schools as academically and/or creatively talented.

Selection Process

Eligible students may be nominated by their principal, head-of-school, counselor, community leader or themselves. A counselor at each high school receives information and application materials and can advise students concerning local procedures. High schools are urged to widely advertise the Alabama Governor’s School and the opportunity it represents. Nominations are made based on criteria provided by the Alabama Governor’s School. Individual students who are interested in the program should contact their principal, head-of-school or guidance office for further information.

Once nominated, students will be selected to participate based upon the student’s application, information supplied by their school and the student’s academic and character references. Students, their parents and their schools are advised of the results of the selection process.  


The Alabama Governor’s School enrolls approximately 100 students this year.

Program Fees

Students pay a nonrefundable fee of $25 at the time of application. This fee will be waived for students who are eligible for an ACT or SAT fee waiver. Counselors should email with the student's fee waiver information. Students who are selected for the program and accept their position will pay a $1000 program fee that covers the cost of tuition, room, board and activities. The actual cost of the program is just under $2000 per student but is supplemented by Samford University and a number of generous businesses, industries, foundations and individuals.

Financial Aid

If the student’s family is unable to pay the full amount, the student is encouraged to seek assistance from church, civic, business or corporate sources in the student’s local community. Limited, needs-based financial assistance is available through the Alabama Governor’s School to supplement family and community resources. The application fee may be waived for students who are eligible for free/reduced lunch programs or who qualify for a fee waiver for ACT or SAT testing. Please contact

Each student must provide funds for incidental and personal expenses, stationery supplies, and transportation to and from the school. In some cases, specific seminar supplies may have to be provided by the student.


The Alabama Governor’s School students are assigned to Residence Halls on the campus of Samford University. Meals are provided in the University Dining Hall.


Students may use its beautiful campus for running but are not permitted to use Samford’s workout facilities. Scheduled recreation activities are planned as a part of the program.

Services Available to Students

Residence hall counselors, campus public safety officers, and other support services are available throughout the program.

Leaves of Absence from the School

The Alabama Governor’s School is concentrated and intensive. Classes, guest speakers, performers, film programs, sports and social activities and a number of special events are scheduled for the course of the program. Absences overnight or from scheduled activities, except in extenuating circumstances, are strongly discouraged. Students accepting selection are expected to register at the beginning of the program, remain in residence for the duration, and participate in the concluding ceremonies.

Student Responsibilities

As voluntary members of a learning community that seeks to establish a high moral and ethical standard for its common activities and that chooses to emphasize values studied in its curriculum, participants are expected to show respect at all times for the rights of others and to conform to the code of behavior as outlined in the Student Handbook of Samford University.

Further Information

Further information may be obtained by emailing