Model Congress gives students a chance to engage in a role-playing simulation of the United States Congress. Such events are hosted by the Congress itself, Rutgers University, American International College, Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, The College of William and Mary and Harvard.
These simulations range in complexity from the government-sponsored Model United States House of Representatives, hosted on Capitol Hill and featuring six Congressional committees to Harvard's simulation featuring both the House and Senate, various committees therein, the Supreme Court, and offshoots in San Francisco, Europe and Asia. North Carolina has a program similar to Model Congress called North Carolina Youth Legislative Assembly, and Arkansas has one called the Arkansas Student Congress on Human Relations. The mock assembly models the North Carolina General Assembly and Arkansas General Assembly but also uses parliamentary procedure and Robert's Rules of Order.
Awards are available for outstanding delegates, both in committee and in full session. Often, debaters call winning the highest award in a committee or full session "gaveling", and some exceptionally skilled debaters may "double gavel", or win the top award in both committee and full sessions.
American International College's Model Congress Program is the longest-running program of its kind in the United States.
The first model Congress was called United States Intercollegiate Congress. It was organized by Dr. Douglas Hilton Carlisle and representative from the South Carolina Student Legislature. The first session was held in Washington D.C. in July 1990. Students met in the Sam Rayburn Office Building. Representatives attended from the South Carolina Student Legislature, North Carolina Student Legislature, Maryland Student Legislature, Washington Intercollegiate Student Legislature, Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature, North Dakota Intercollegiate Student Legislature and Illinois Student Senate.
The University of Pennsylvania hosted an intercollegiate Model Congress conference on November 6–7, 2010. Yale University soon followed with a conference on April 23, 2011. The circuit is gradually expanding. World Youth Model Congress, organized by college and high school students from South Korea, is the first of its kind to be held in North-East Asia.
Certain High schools in New York, specifically the Nassau and Westchester county area, participate in a competitive debate league known as United Model Congress (UMC). These nine schools get together 8 times during the school year and debate over various pieces of mock legislation just as an actual legislative body would. The schools involved (also known as delegations) are
- Long Beach High School
- East Meadow High School
- Lawrence High School
- Oceanside High School
- Herricks High School
- George W. Hewlett High School
- Seaford High School
- New Rochelle High School
- Wantagh High School
Wantagh and Seaford are considered one delegation known as Tri-District, or "Tri-D" for short.
New Rochelle Model Congress is America's oldest Model Congress and is celebrating its 50th anniversary during the 2013-2014 school year.
Students in the Model Congress Club at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School established an annual Model Congress conference known as Walker Model Congress. The first conference was in 2012 and has hosted several hundred delegates from high schools and middle schools nationwide. It is entirely student-lead and run with a staff of approximately 100 people.
For many years, Model Congress was only limited to high school students to participate. In November 2010, the University of Pennsylvania hosted the first ever intercollegiate conference, followed by a conference by Yale University in April 2011. Penn and Yale followed with second conferences in 2011-2012, along with Columbia University and Trinity College. Cornell University is planning to host its first annual conference in Spring 2013. The intercollegiate circuit uses the same general rules as high school competitions held by host schools and is rapidly expanding as high school students seek and outlet to continue their participation in Model Congress while in college in ways other than hosting conferences for high school students.