22 Best Free Summer Programs for High School Students in 2024

Looking for free summer fun?
Updated:
April 2, 2024
8 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/2/24

Summer programs for high school students are incredibly valuable experiences, offering a chance to learn, grow, and explore new interests. And when these programs are free, they become even more accessible to everyone, regardless of financial circumstances. 

In this blog, we'll dive into 22 of the best free summer programs for high school students, highlighting the incredible opportunities they provide for students to expand their horizons and pursue their passions. 

Whether it's delving into STEM with programs like GirlsWhoCode's Summer Immersion Program or honing journalism skills through Princeton’s Summer Journalism Program, there's something here for every student eager to make the most of their summer break.

22 Best Free Summer Programs for High School Students

There are many free high school summer programs out there, such as GirlsWhoCode's Summer Immersion Program, Princeton’s Summer Journalism Program, and Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS). Let’s take a look at these summer programs and more. 

1. GirlsWhoCode’s Summer Immersion Program

Location: Virtual

Program Length: Two weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Open to all female and non-binary high school students

Start Date: June 14th, July 8th, July 29th

Application Deadline: Friday, March 22, 2024

GirlsWhoCode's program offers a two-week immersive experience for high school girls and non-binary students interested in STEM fields. 

Through coding workshops, projects, and mentorship, students develop technical skills and confidence in a supportive and inclusive environment. The program aims to bridge the gender gap in technology and empower young women to pursue careers in STEM.

2. Princeton’s Summer Journalism Program

Location: Online

Program Length: Six weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: High-achieving juniors from high school from low-income backgrounds

Start Date: July 26 

Application Deadline: Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Princeton's Summer Journalism Program provides a comprehensive 6-week experience for high-achieving juniors interested in journalism. 

Through a combination of lectures, workshops, and hands-on projects, participants gain practical skills and insights into the dynamic world of media and journalism. The program equips students with the tools and knowledge to pursue careers in journalism and related fields.

3. Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Program Length: Five weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Sophomores or juniors from high school from underrepresented communities

Start Date: Jun. 22 

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

SAMS offers a rigorous five-week program for high school students from underrepresented communities in STEM. 

Through immersive coursework, hands-on research projects, and academic development sessions, participants gain exposure to college-level material and cultivate their interests in mathematics and science. The program aims to foster a diverse community of future STEM leaders.

4. NYU's Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS)

Location: Manhattan, NY

Program Length: Three weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: High school students entering or in high school as of September 2024, living in select NYC boroughs or neighboring cities, demonstrated interest/motivation in STEM

Start Date:  July 15th

Application Deadline: April 14, 2024

NYU's CS4CS is a three-week program designed to introduce high school students to the exciting world of cybersecurity. 

Through hands-on workshops, lectures, and practical exercises, participants learn fundamental concepts and techniques in cybersecurity from industry experts. The program aims to inspire and empower students to pursue further studies and careers in this rapidly evolving field.

5. MIT’s Research Science Institute (RSI)

Location: Cambridge, MA

Program Length: Six weeks

Cost: $40 application fee with need-based refund; provides a $500 stipend

Eligibility: High school juniors only (U.S. and International)

Start Date: June - August 2024

Application Deadline: December 2, 2023

This highly competitive 6-week program is held at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It provides high school juniors from around the world with an unparalleled opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research in various STEM fields. 

Under the mentorship of leading MIT faculty and researchers, participants immerse themselves in intensive projects, culminating in a conference-style presentation where they showcase their findings to peers and professionals alike.

6. Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Virtual Research Training Program

Location: Virtual

Program Length: One to three weeks

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Open to all high school students (U.S. and International)

Start Date: Monday, July 8 to Friday, August 2, 2024

Application Deadline: Sunday, March 10, 2024

This program provides high school students with a one to three week virtual research experience focused on global health. Participants engage in research projects, workshops, and discussions led by experts in the field. 

The program aims to inspire students to pursue careers in global health and biomedical research while providing valuable skills and knowledge.

7. Stanford’s Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)

Location: Stanford, CA

Program Length: Eight weeks

Cost: $40 application fee with need-based refund; provides a $500 stipend

Eligibility: High School Juniors and Seniors, at least 16 years old, U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a green card

Start Date: June 10- August 1, 2024 

Application Deadline: February 24th, 2024

SIMR provides high school juniors and seniors with an immersive eight-week research experience at Stanford University. Under the guidance of Stanford faculty mentors, participants engage in cutting-edge biomedical research projects. 

Through laboratory work, data analysis, and scientific communication, students gain invaluable skills and insights into the field of medicine and research.

8. Simons Summer Research Program

Location: Stony Brook, NY 

Program Length: Six weeks 

Cost: Free, but students are responsible for transportation/dining costs if commuting or residential costs if dorming on campus.

Eligibility: Must be a current junior and at least 16 years old by the program start date.

Start date: July 1 - August 9, 2024

Application Deadline: February 7, 2024

Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY, hosts the Simons Summer Research Program, which provides high school juniors with the opportunity to conduct research projects alongside Stony Brook faculty mentors. Throughout the program, students hone their skills and present their work at the end. Keep in mind that nomination by your school is required for participation.

9. USC’s Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement

Location: Los Angeles, California

Program Length: Four weeks

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Students residing and attending high school in Los Angeles County

Start Date: Monday, June 17 –Friday, July 19, 2024

Application Deadline: Friday, March 22, 2024

USC's Annenberg Youth Academy offers a transformative four-week program for high school students in Los Angeles County. Through a blend of lectures, workshops, and hands-on projects, participants explore the intersection of media and civic engagement. The program aims to empower students to become informed and engaged citizens through media literacy and critical thinking skills.

10. Texas Tech University’s Anson L. Clark Scholars Program

Location: Lubbock, TX

Program Length: Six weeks 

Cost: Free; provides a $750 stipend

Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 17 years old, graduating in 2024 (U.S. and International)

Start Date: June 16, 2024 to August 1, 2024

Application Deadline: February 15, 2024

The Clark Scholars Program offers a dynamic six-week research experience for high school students across disciplines. Through hands-on research projects, seminars, and field visits, participants gain exposure to the research process and explore their academic interests. The program aims to cultivate a community of future scholars and leaders in academia and beyond.

11. National Youth Science Camp

Location: Monongahela National Forest, WV

Program Length: Three weeks

Cost: Free

Eligibility: High school junior or senior.

Start Date: June 29 - July 20, 2024

Application Deadline: February 29, 2024

At the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp), students enjoy a diverse program featuring STEM lectures, interactive studies, outdoor adventures, and artistic expression. They also get the unique opportunity to meet congressional members in Washington, DC, fostering both learning and personal growth.

12. NYU’s Democracy Scholars

Location: New York, NY

Program Length: Three weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Open to all high school students

Start Date:  July 7, 2024 - July 27, 2024

Application Deadline: April 14, 2024

The NYU Democracy Scholars program is a tuition-free opportunity for high school seniors in New York City. Led by NYU professors, students explore political philosophy and social justice through seminars focused on critical thinking and leadership skills. 

They receive support with college applications throughout their senior year. Preference is given to first-generation students from public high schools, and the program is only open to NYC residents.

13. Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Research Scholars (TUBERS)

  • Location: Medford, MA
  • Program Length: Six weeks
  • Cost: Free; housing not provided.
  • Eligibility: Must be 16 years old by the start of the program.
  • Start Date: July 5 - August 18, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Typically in April

In Tufts University's six-week Biomedical Engineering Research Scholars (TUBERS) program, students delve into biomedical research, gaining hands-on experience guided by mentors. They develop practical skills, participate in science competitions, and expand their knowledge, preparing for future studies and careers in the field.

14. USC’s Bovard Scholar Program

Location: Virtual

Program Length: Three weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: High-achieving juniors from high school from low-income backgrounds

Start Date: July 15-August 3, 2024 

Application Deadline: January 12, 2024 

USC's Bovard Scholar Program offers a 3-week virtual experience for high-achieving juniors from low-income backgrounds. 

Through mentorship, workshops, and college preparation activities, participants gain valuable insights and guidance on the college admissions process. The program aims to empower students to pursue higher education and achieve their academic and career goals.

15. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s Recruitment & Training for Under-Represented Populations (RTURP) Program

Location: Baltimore, MD

Program Length: Eight weeks

Cost: Free

Eligibility: At least 17 years old, high school or college students

Start Date: TBD

Application Deadline: February 1, 2024

NIDA's RTURP program provides high school and college students with an 8-week research opportunity focused on drug abuse. Participants engage in hands-on research projects and receive training in research practices and methodologies. The program aims to increase diversity in the field of drug abuse research and inspire the next generation of scientists.

16. Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS)

Location: Ithaca, NY

Program Length: Six weeks 

Cost: Free

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors from all backgrounds; focused on providing this opportunity for students of color and/or of disadvantaged backgrounds

Start Date: June 23, 2024 - August 3, 2024

Application Deadline: January 3, 2024

TASS offers a unique 6-week intellectual experience at multiple universities. High school juniors and seniors delve into discussions on critical issues such as leadership, democracy, and service. 

Through seminars, workshops, and collaborative projects, participants explore diverse perspectives and develop critical thinking skills while forging lasting connections with peers from diverse backgrounds.

17. NYU’s Applied Research In Science and Engineering (ARISE)

Location: Manhattan, New York 

Program Length: 10 weeks 

Cost: Tuition-free

Eligibility: High school students in New York City, currently in their 10th or 11th grade, who possess impressive academic achievements and a passion for STEM subjects.

Start Date: June 3, 2024 - August 9, 2024

Application Deadline: March 5, 2024

NYU Tandon's ARISE program offers high schoolers a chance to do real scientific research. With help from NYU teachers, students learn about different STEM fields. They also practice presenting their research at the end of the program. It's a great way to learn and improve important skills.

18. Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP)

Location: Remote

Program Length: 10 weeks 

Cost: Free, but there is a $25 application fee.

Eligibility: Students must be 15 or older by the program start date for remote internships and 16 or older by the program start date for in-person or hybrid internships.

Start Date: June 18 - August 9, 2024

Application Deadline: February 4, 2024

At George Mason University’s Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP) students delve into research with experts in fields like astronomy, forensic science, and robotics. They explore projects from renewable energy to drug discovery. Plus, students may publish their work or present it at conferences, boosting their academic achievements.

19. The Anson L. Clark Scholars Program

Location: Lubbock, TX 

Program Length: Seven weeks 

Cost: Free, including on-campus meals, room/board, and weekend activities. Students will also receive a $750 stipend.

Eligibility: Students must be 17 years of age by the program start date.

Start Date: June 16 - August 1, 2024

Application Deadline: February 15, 2024

The Anson L. Clark Scholars Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, offers a unique opportunity for high school students to engage in practical research. 

During the program, students work closely with mentors on a research project of their choice, spanning various disciplines like natural sciences, mathematics, and the humanities and fine arts. It's a chance to gain hands-on experience and present findings at the end.

20. Wistar Fellowship in Biomedical Research

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Program Length: One month

Cost: Free; students receive a $1,000 stipend.

Eligibility: At least 16 years old and completed at least one high school science course.

Start Date: July 10 - August 3, 2024

Application Deadline: March 31, 2024

The Wistar Fellowship in Biomedical Research, located in Philadelphia, PA, offers a hands-on research experience for students interested in biomedical sciences. 

Participants work on research projects and gain valuable skills under the mentorship of professionals in the field. The program aims to provide opportunities for students to explore biomedical research regardless of their prior experience.

21. High School Senior Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP)

Location: Research groups are located on all NIH campuses.

Program Length: Varies

Dates: Varies

Cost: Free; students receive a stipend.

Eligibility: Must be 17 years or older by June 15, 2024, and a current junior or senior in high school. If under 18 by June 15, 2024, must live within 40 miles of the NIH campus.

Application Deadline: February 16, 2024, at noon ET.

The High School Senior Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allows high school students to engage in biomedical, behavioral, and social studies research. 

Participants work on research projects alongside NIH professionals and present their findings at the end of the program. It's a valuable opportunity to delve into scientific research and gain practical experience.

22. Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)

Location: Stanford, CA

Program Length: Eight weeks 

Cost: Free; stipend varies based on need.

Eligibility: Must be 16 years or older by the start of the program and a current junior or senior in high school.

Start Date: June 10 - August 1, 2024

Application Deadline: February 24, 2024

SIMR, the Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program, offers diverse STEM research opportunities. Students collaborate with Stanford faculty, gaining hands-on experience and valuable skills. Through real-world projects, they develop insights for their academic and professional paths.

Whether exploring immunology or bioengineering, SIMR offers a dynamic environment for students to contribute to scientific exploration and personal growth.

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