Best STEM Summer Programs for High School Students

August 19, 2022
Why STEM Matter for High School StudentsBest STEM Summer Programs for High School Students


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Are you looking for the perfect STEM summer program? Well, look no further! This article will explore why STEM matters and cover what you need to know about some of the best STEM summer programs for high school students. 

Pre-college summer programs are always a stellar addition to a college application. These programs are designed to help you explore your interest areas in-depth, offering a fun summer experience with like-minded individuals. 

If you’ve been searching for the best STEM summer programs for high school students, read on to learn more about some of your options!

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Why STEM Matter for High School Students 

STEM education provides students with the skills and experiences they need to excel in a continually changing world. STEM-related courses help develop or hone these necessary skills: 

According to the U.S. Department of Education: “If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers can understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students' skills, content knowledge, and literacy in STEM fields is essential.” 

Learning more about STEM and gaining or building on these skills can help you become a more well-rounded thinker, scientist, mathematician, engineer, or anything else you want to become.

Best STEM Summer Programs for High School Students

With so many summer programs for high school students available each year, how do you pick which one is best for you? Besides considering location, program length, and cost, the program's overarching learning outcomes and content are most important. 

These are just some of the best STEM summer programs for high school students available. 

MIT Research Science Institute (RSI)

RSI participants attend college-level classes and gain hands-on research experience. The program is open to high school juniors and encompasses "advanced theory and research in mathematics, science, and engineering." 

MIT also has many other prestigious STEM summer programs for high school students, including: 

Boston University: Research in Science and Engineering (RISE) 

RISE is another one of the best STEM summer programs for high school students. High school juniors will conduct university laboratory research to advance their STEM knowledge and skills. There are two tracks to the program: Internship or Practicum.

Learning outcomes of the program include "a better understanding of the scientific process, research ethics, how to read a research paper, how to present independent research, and how to network in the science and engineering fields."

Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

SUMac is an online program open to high school sophomores and juniors. This program is all about advanced mathematics: participants will learn through lectures, guided research, and group problem-solving. 

The online program allows students to “explore current lines of mathematical research, the historical development of important areas of mathematics, and applications across scientific disciplines.”

The Summer Science Program (SSP)

The Summer Science Program, an independent nonprofit, currently offers six programs for students, offered on-site at various campuses. Participants will complete an actual research project within their designated team.

SSP emphasizes that these programs are not for learning about science but for doing science.

Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS) 

PROMYS was founded in 1989 and today is held on campus at Boston University. This program is for any highly motivated high school student who has completed their first year. PROMYS participants begin each day with a Number Theory lecture but also learn from the following activities: 

PROMYS strongly encourages underrepresented groups in STEM to apply. This can include students who are female, Black, Latino/a, or belong to another underrepresented group. 

Program Length: Six weeks 

Tuition Cost: $5,500

Number of Students: Approximately 80 

Michigan State High School Honors Math, Science, and Engineering Program (HSHSP)

Founded in 1958, HSHSP is the oldest program of its kind in the country. The program's goal is for its participants to "live and breathe" research in a higher education environment. Participants learn about the research process and the "right kind of social context for such knowledge and expertise to flourish." 

The program's primary goal is not to produce award-winning research projects (although that does happen) but to provide enrichment opportunities to students to learn about STEM and even make some great friends along the way. 

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) 

SIMR is an internship program for high school juniors and seniors. Participants conduct hands-on research as part of the program, and selected students have eight research areas to choose from: 

Participants conduct research under one-on-one guidance at a top-class lab at Stanford University. 

Final Thoughts 

STEM summer programs for high school students are excellent extracurriculars to consider if you're looking for a fun and inspiring activity to do this summer. These programs provide you with the tools to explore STEM and become a well-rounded, critical thinker. 

As a bonus, any of these best STEM summer programs for high school students would make stellar additions to your college application. Whether you’re shooting for a seat at an Ivy League school or want to give your college profile some differentiation, a STEM summer program may be the right option for you!

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