Explore the brain, emotions, and senses from the perspective of a psychologist.

The Wake Forest Summer Immersion Psychology Institute is an unforgettable experience for high school students. Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Dive into the structure of the brain through hands-on dissection and learn about how illusions, emotions, and biases affect how we see and interact with the world. Can you really trust everything you see and hear? You’ll conduct your own observational study to get a more in-depth look at the world and the people around you.

At a Glance


2024 Dates: Week of June 9 – 14 (waitlist implemented) and week of June 16 – 21 (waitlist implemented)

Program Length: Sunday – Friday

Who Can Apply?: Current 9th – 12th grade students

Tuition: $3,000

Location: Winston-Salem, NC – Wake Forest University Campus

Online Immersion Program: Study online with Wake Forest anywhere, anytime, at your own pace.

*Courses carry no secondary school or college credit. Upon completion of the program, an official Wake Forest University Certificate of Completion will be awarded to all Psychology Institute participants.


What You’ll Experience

Topics Covered:

  • How Emotions Pervade our Daily Lives
  • The Disordered Brain
  • Sensation and Perception
  • The Magic of Neuroscience
  • The Psychology of Addiction

Hands-On Experiences:

  • Guided sheep brain dissection
  • Brain training and neuroplasticity
  • Conducting observational research
  • Sensory perception lab
  • Present team research findings

*Hands-on experiences are subject to change.


A Day in the Life

Typical Daily Schedule
  • 8:00 am – Morning Meeting and Breakfast
  • 9:00 am – Welcome from Dr. Waugh, Dr. Maffeo and Program Ambassadors
  • 9:30 am – Introduction to Psychology Design and Hypothesis Testing
  • 10:30 am – Psychology vs Common Sense
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Travel to the Mall to do Observational Study
  • 3:00 pm – The Psychology of Marketing
  • 5:00 pm – Debrief of the Day
  • 5:30 pm – Dinner
  • 6:30 pm – Evening Activities
  • 7:30 pm – Free Time
  • 9:00 pm – Prepare for Bed
  • 10:00 pm – Lights Out

*The “A Day in the Life” sample schedule is subject to change.


Meet the Academic Leaders

Christian Waugh

Dr. Christian Waugh

Academic Leader, Psychology Institute

Dr. Waugh received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology with a certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Michigan. There, he worked on topics related to resilience to stress and positive emotions. He then finished a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University, where he worked on topics related to emotion flexibility, depression, and resilience. A professor at Wake Forest University since 2010, Dr. Waugh and his ‘EmoLab’ investigate how people use positive emotions to regulate stressors and the temporal dynamics of emotional experiences using a wide array of methodologies including neuroimaging, psychophysiology, behavioral experiments and surveys in distressed populations.

Professor Masicampo Headshot

Dr. Melissa Maffeo

Academic Leader, Psychology Institute
Dr. Maffeo received her PhD in Neuroscience from Florida State University in 2012. During graduate school, Dr. Maffeo studied the neuroscience of development. Specifically, she investigated the effects of adolescent nicotine administration on mood-related behaviors in adulthood, as well as the effects of blocking sound sensation during auditory system development on brainstem auditory nuclei. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Maffeo conducted her postdoctoral training at Wake Forest Medical Center, where she was interested in pharmacological treatments for alcohol-withdrawal seizure. Dr. Maffeo then joined the faculty in the Wake Forest Psychology Department, where she teaches neuroscience to undergraduate students.