Best Summer Programs For High School Students - List + Guide

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Updated:
February 13, 2024
8 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 2/14/24

College summer programs are a great way to stand out on college applications and find a productive use for your summer. You’ll be surprised by the vast amount of opportunities. 

From time to time, you may hear about college summer programs, like internships and various camps that open applications to students. However, you may not know which summer programs are the best or when to apply. Consider the following if you’re looking for college summer programs for high school students.

If you know what kind of college major you want to follow or what kind of experience fits your interests, you’re not far from finding the best summer programs for you to attend. 

Here, we cover the best summer programs to help you get a jump start on your search. We’ll discuss deadlines, when to apply, and the best programs to help you build your candidacy for college!

Best Summer Programs for High School Students & Deadlines

There are a ton of teen-oriented programs out there, with a lot to offer. Below is a list of the best summer programs with open application windows. 

These programs have been organized by academic areas, providing you with rich and diverse educational opportunities. Categorizing the programs this way allows you to delve into a broader spectrum of knowledge and encourages you to explore new subject areas! 

Science Programs

Does a STEM research program with hands-on experience in various fields, from chemistry, physics, and biology to subjects not taught as commonly in high schools, like robotics, medicine, and research, sound interesting? If you dream of a science-based career path, the following programs could influence your future. 

1. Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program

The Summer Science and Engineering Program at Smith College, or SSEP, provides a unique medicine-based curriculum with prospectives on women’s health for students interested in learning more about research on the topic.

  • Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
  • Deadline: Rolling Deadline
  • Program Date: July 6–19, 2024 and July 21–August 3, 2024
  • Cost: $4,745 for Two Weeks, $8,082 for Two Weeks
  • Age Range: High School Students

2. Research Scholars - Bioengineering Broad Overview and Techniques

The Research Scholars - Bioengineering Broad Overview and Techniques at UC San Diego program share the bio-lab environment with high school students. Students interested in the new mechanics behind bioengineering and related fields should apply. 

  • Location: La Jolla, California
  • Deadline: Rolling Deadline
  • Program Dates: June 10 - June 14, 2024, Jun 17 - Jun 28, 2024 and Jul 15 - Aug 9, 2024 
  • Cost: $1,300 to $2,900
  • Age Range: 10th-12th Grade (Minimum age of 14 for Online)

3. Rising Researchers

As a strong choice for a science program, Rising Researchers pairs students with a mentor for a one-on-one experience to learn about analysis and advanced-level research. Students will work towards building their virtual research presentation.  

  • Location: Online 
  • Deadline: Rolling Deadline
  • Program Date: 10 weeks of Programs
  • Cost: $4,900
  • Age Range: Rising 9th Grade to College

4. Boston Leadership Institute: Neuroscience Research

Boston Leadership Institute’s Neuroscience Research program will teach students about the human neural systems and provide a detailed look at the pathways and components of the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and somatosensory systems. 

  • Location: Greater Boston Area, Massachusetts
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: July 15–August 2
  • Cost: $1,797-$2,200
  • Age Range: Eighth to 12th grade

5. Hofstra: Summer Science Research Program

Hofstra University's Summer Science Research Program provides high school students the opportunities for scientific research guided by professionals in the fields of science and mathematics.

  • Location: Hempstead, New York 
  • Deadline: March 29
  • Program Date: July 8-August 16
  • Cost: $2,000
  • Age Range: 10th and 11th grade

Business Programs

Are you a student and aspiring young entrepreneur with great ideas but needing the knowledge to start and run your own business? Any of the following business programs will teach you the basics from some top experts from major American business schools.

1. Camp Business

Camp Business at Drexel University teaches the students the basics of American business from a university perspective. Note that this program is competitive based on your high school transcript. However, based on your performance during the internship, you have a chance of winning scholarships. 

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Deadline: Rolling Deadline
  • Program Date: July 9-14 (Commuter) July 16-21 (Residential)
  • Cost: $950 for Commuters, $2,000 for Residence
  • Age Range: High School Students

2. Entrepreneurship Academy

Entrepreneurship Academy at Georgetown University applies many business ideas, like market research, prototypes, and business management, at a level that a high school student can understand. While this program has a competitive application, it will help you start a business major.

  • Location: Washington, D.C
  • Deadline: Rolling Deadline
  • Program Date: June 16-29
  • Cost: $5,575
  • Age Range: Rising Ninth Grade to 12th Grade

3. Beta Bowl

Beta Bowl takes the leadership ideas presented in a high school beta club and applies them to business and entrepreneurship. As a virtual program, you’ll take on outcome-focused curriculums with chances for one-on-one training. Students who have participated have gone on to great colleges with scholarships. 

  • Location: Online 
  • Deadline: Rolling Deadline
  • Program Date: 4-12 weeks (programs start every month)
  • Cost: $797-$3,997 (All Virtual)
  • Age Range: High School Students

4. Wake Forest University: Finance and Investing Institute

The Wake Forest Summer Immersion Program Finance and Investing Institute teaches high school students how investing works. They learn about investments – stocks, bonds, and mutual funds/exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: To be announced
  • Cost: $2,800
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade

5. University of Tennessee: Supply Chain Management Summer Program

The University of Tennessee’s Supply Chain Management Summer Program is a six-day program designed to introduce under-represented high school students to the field of Supply Chain Management. 

  • Location: Knoxville, Tennessee 
  • Deadline: March 29
  • Program Date: July 7-12
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

Engineering and Tech Programs

Do you see a bright future for yourself working for the tech industry? Check out some of the best summer tech programs for high school students.

1. BlueStamp Engineering

BlueStamp Engineering wants students seeking to elevate their high school education with experience in engineering to create a professional portfolio.

  • Location: San Jose, California
  • Early Deadline: April 30th, Late Deadline: May 31st
  • Program Date: 2-6 weeks (Multiple programs)
  • Cost: $4,900 for In-Person, $2,200 for Virtual Participation
  • Age Range: Rising 9th to 12th grade

2. Terp Young Scholars

Terp Young Scholars at the University of Maryland provides high school students with the chance to take a college class for three hours of credits that fit into any of the technology-based majors to get a preview of what their courses are like. 

  • Location: Online and College Park, Maryland
  • Deadline: May 1st, but with a Rolling Deadline
  • Program Date: July 8-26
  • Cost: $1,500-$2,500
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

3. MIT: Introduction to Technology, Engineering and Science (MITES)

MIT’s Introduction to Technology, Engineering and Science program provides opportunities for students from diverse and underrepresented groups to learn about STEM. 

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts 
  • Deadline: February 1
  • Program Date: June to August
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: Seventh to 12th grade

4. Johns Hopkins University: Engineering Innovation Pre-College Programs 

Johns Hopkins University’s Engineering Innovation Pre-College Programs allows students to experiment, design, create, and learn to think like an engineer. 

  • Location: Online and Baltimore, Maryland
  • Deadline: May 17
  • Program Date: Multiple programs running from June to August
  • Cost: $3,575
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade

5. Tufts University Pre-College: Engineering Investigations

Tufts University’s Pre-College Engineering Investigations program provides students with an overview of many different disciplines within engineering to broaden their understanding of the field.  

  • Location: Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Deadline: May 1
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions from July to August 
  • Cost: $4,000-$5,500
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

Math Programs

Are you a student with a passion for mathematics and a desire to explore its applications beyond the classroom? These math programs offer a unique opportunity to dive into that world. Check out these programs if you’re interested. 

1. Awesome Math: Summer Math Program

The Awesome Math Program offers an immersive three-week online experience tailored for exceptionally gifted students worldwide.

  • Location: Online 
  • Deadline: May 28
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions starting in June and ending in August
  • Cost: $1,175-$1,475
  • Age Range: Sixth to 12th grade

2. Programs in Mathematics for Young Scientists: Summer Program

PROMYS is a six-week summer mathematics program designed for highly motivated high school students, selected with care from across the U.S. and around the world

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Deadline: March 1
  • Program Date: June 30–August 10
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

3. University of Michigan: Math and Science Scholars Program

The University of Michigan’s Math and Science Scholars Program introduces high school students to research in the sciences and math. 

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: Multiple session from June to August
  • Cost: To be announced
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

4. Carnegie Mellon University: The Summer Academy for Math and Science

Carnegie Mellon University's Summer Academy for Math and Science allows students to develop a deeper understanding of STEM via traditional classroom instruction and hands-on projects.

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Deadline: March 1
  • Program Date: June 22 to August 3
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: 12th grade

5. University of St. Andrews: Summer Academic Experience

The University of St. Andrews’s Summer Academic Experience program is located in the United Kingdom, so it’d be a great overseas trip to attend! Participants have the opportunity to explore a subject of their choice (including math), simultaneously honing their academic research and writing skills.

  • Location: St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: July 6-27
  • Cost: £6,000
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

General Academic Programs

If you’re someone who doesn’t know which fields of study they're interested in, these general academic programs are right for you!

1. High School Honors

Boston University’s High School Honors Program gives students the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and learn about new subjects while earning college credit. 

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Deadline: Until the program is filled
  • Program Date: June 30 to August 9
  • Cost: To be announced
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

2. Carleton College: Summer Liberal Arts Institute Pre-College Program

Carleton College’s Summer Liberal Arts Institute Pre-College Program offers students an immersive summer learning experience while also earning college credit.

  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Deadline: March 11
  • Program Date: July 6–26
  • Cost: $4,500
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

3. University of the Pacific: Pre-college Summer Programs

The University of the Pacific: Pre-college Summer Programs offers students a personalized learning environment and hands-on experience in various academic fields. 

  • Location: Stockton, California
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: Two sessions starting June 2 and June 16
  • Cost: $3,500
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade 

4. Boston Leadership Institute: Three-Week Programs

The Boston Leadership Institute three-week programs offer students many opportunities to learn in many disciplines. 

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions from June to August
  • Cost: $2,200-$4,297
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

Journalism Programs

If you’re interested in storytelling and current events, explore your passion for journalism through these excellent programs. They’re designed to equip aspiring writers, reporters, and communicators with the essential skills needed in today's world. 

1. Alabama Scholastic Press: Multicultural Journalism Program

The University of Alabama’s Multicultural Journalism Program offers hands-on learning experiences for high school students with a passion for journalism and student media.

  • Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 
  • Deadline: April 1
  • Program Date: Will be announced
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: Ninth to 11th grade

2. Loyola Marymount University: Journalism Workshop

The Loyola Marymount University: Journalism Workshop will teach students how stories are discovered and written, the best ways to capture images on a phone, and how to use audio in stories and podcasts.

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Deadline: March 15
  • Program Date: June 23-July 6
  • Cost: $5,800
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

3. National Student Leadership Conference: Journalism

National Student Leadership Conference’s Journalism program provides students with the opportunity to learn about journalism through hands-on learning and gain industry insight.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions from June to July
  • Cost: $3,995
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade

4. New York University: Urban Journalism Workshop

New York University’s Urban Journalism Workshop will receive hands-on instruction from NYU faculty and the opportunity to report and produce their own multimedia stories.

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Deadline: To be announced
  • Program Date: July 15-24
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

5. University of North Carolina: Carolina Sports Journalism Camp

The University of North Carolina’s Sports Journalism Camp offers students the chance to immerse in sports journalism through sessions. 

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Deadline: April 1
  • Program Date: June 26-28
  • Cost: $600-$1,500
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

Humanities/Social Sciences Programs

Are you a student-driven by a curiosity about the intricacies of culture, history, and social structures? These programs will help fuel and feed that curiosity.

1. Colorado Student Leaders Institute

The University of Colorado’s Student Leaders Institute allows students to reside at the university during the month of July and earn three college credit hours in Social Studies.

  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Deadline: February 28
  • Program Date: Beginning of July
  • Cost: $400
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

2. High School Diplomats

High School Diplomats is an eight-day program at the University of Virginia that offers 20 American students the chance to partake in academic and social activities, fostering lasting connections with 20 Japanese peers of the same age. 

  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Deadline: January 15
  • Program Date: July 19-28
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: 10th and 11th grade

3. University of Notre Dame: Leadership Seminars

The University of Notre Dame’s Leadership Seminars host academically talented students who show impressive leadership within their communities and allow them to earn one college credit. 

  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Deadline: January 22
  • Program Date: July 20-31
  • Cost: $210
  • Age Range: 12th grade

4. University of Virginia: Summer Language Institute (SLI)

The University of Virginia’s Summer Language Institute (SLI) offers students an eight-week course where they can learn a language. 

  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: June 17 to August 9
  • Cost: $5,472+
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

Performing Arts/Visual Arts Programs

Unleash your creativity and ignite your passion for the arts with these exciting programs. These programs foster creativity and skill development, which is great if that’s something you want to pursue in college. 

1. Belmont University: Theatre Summer Camp

Belmont University’s Theatre Summer Camp is a week-long program led by university instructors and local professionals. Throughout the program, students will delve into vocal and physical communication, text analysis, stage combat, and improv.

  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: June 10-14
  • Cost: $450
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade

2. Carnegie Mellon: Pre-College Summer Programs - Music

Carnegie Mellon University’s Pre-College Summer Program for Music mirrors the initial weeks of Carnegie Mellon's freshman undergraduate School of Music curriculum. The program includes private studio lessons, participation in major performing ensembles, and dedicated music support courses.

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Deadline: March 1 
  • Program Date: June 22 to August 3
  • Cost: To be announced
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

3. Columbus College of Art & Design: College Preview

Columbus College of Art & Design’s program allows students to experience life as a college student enrolled in an Art and Design program. They’ll receive lectures and partake in workshops to enrich their knowledge of the field.

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Deadline: May 28
  • Program Date: July 7-27
  • Cost: $3,600
  • Age Range: 10th to 12th grade

4. Indiana University: Animation Camp

Indiana University’s Animation Camp teaches students to create digital animations for film, television and video games. 

  • Location: Bloomington, Indiana
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: July 8-12
  • Cost: Day camp option: $600, overnight: $800
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade

Pre-Med Programs

Pre-med programs are a great way to jumpstart your future in the medical field if that’s your goal! These programs look good on a college application and can help you with learning the basics of the field. 

1. Envision: National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine

The Envision: National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine Program lets students discover and partake in hands-on medical experience in the medical field. 

  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Deadline: Until full
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions from June to July
  • Cost: $4,195-$4,245
  • Age Range: 10th-12th grade

2. Georgetown University: Medical Academy

Georgetown University’s 1-Week Medical Academy introduces students to the field of medicine where they’ll explore topics ranging from human anatomy, physiology, radiology, and more. 

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Early Deadline: January 31
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions from June to July
  • Cost: $2,750-3,549
  • Age Range: Ninth to 12th grade

3. Stanford Institutes of Medicine: Summer Research Program

The Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) is an eight-week initiative inviting high school students from diverse backgrounds to engage in research.

  • Location: Stanford, California
  • Deadline: February 24
  • Program Date: June 10 to August 1
  • Cost: Free
  • Age Range: 11th and 12th grade

4. University of Missouri: Mini Medical School

The University of Missouri’s Mini Medical School program will attend sessions with clinical and research specialists, participate in social activities to network, and learn about the field of medicine. 

  • Location: Columbia, Missouri
  • Deadline: March 17
  • Program Date: Multiple sessions in June
  • Cost: $650
  • Age Range: 12th grade

As you can see, there are a number of summer pre-college opportunities for teens out there. If any of these programs appeal to you, consider applying now!

Pros and Cons of Attending a High School Summer Program

Considering whether to attend a high school program? Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Pros

  • Academic Enrichment: These programs often offer challenging and exciting courses that let you explore your academic interests.
  • College Prep: Some programs are held on college campuses, offering you the opportunity to include them in your school application and actively prepare for college.
  • Skill Development: Beyond academics, these extracurriculars offer the opportunity to learn important life skills like leadership and teamwork.
  • Networking: You'll meet peers who share your interests, which can lead to future opportunities.
  • Resume Boost: Participating can enhance your college application and show your commitment to learning. Ivy League schools, in particular, are looking for students who are passionate about learning and who seek out opportunities for growth. These activities are a great way to stand out from the crowd. 

Cons

  • Cost: Many programs are pricey, and scholarships can be competitive.
  • Time Commitment: Some programs require a significant time commitment, limiting other summer activities.
  • Competitiveness: Application processes can be fierce, leading to potential rejection.
  • Pressure: Striving to excel can create stress, so it's important to find balance.
  • Limited Availability: Not all students have easy access to these programs.

In short, high school pre-college programs offer valuable experiences but consider the costs, time, and competitiveness before making your decision. 

When to Apply for College Summer Programs

College summer programs are a great way to jumpstart a college education and find recognition for future scholarships. Just like summer jobs, so long as you apply and meet all the requirements, you’ll have a chance to be considered. However, when researching which programs have potential, it’s essential to consider deadlines and when is best to apply.

Most of the best summer educational programs for high schoolers run by universities start accepting applications in the fall of the year before the program starts–with deadlines typically falling in late April. Some programs also have rolling applications extending beyond the deadline. If you’re thinking of applying, now’s the time. 

If you plan on taking any standardized tests, research when the ACT or SAT dates and deadlines fall before you sign up. If you plan on signing up for any of these college programs, build your study plans beforehand with the dates in mind. The SAT and ACT show their summer testing dates well in advance.  

FAQs: Summer Programs for High Schoolers

Below are some common questions about summer programs for high school students. Keep reading to learn more. 

1. When Is the Latest I Can Apply for a College Summer Program?

The latest you can apply to a college summer program will ultimately depend on each program’s deadline. Some programs will accept applications a few weeks before the scheduled program starts, but it’s best to apply early to increase your chances of getting in. 

2. When Should I Start Applying for Summer Programs?

You should start applying as soon as the summer program opens up their applications. This will give your application a better chance for review as you’ll have less competition earlier on in the application process. 

3. What Is the Difference Between a Summer Program and an Internship?

College summer programs allow students to explore their interests, develop skills, and engage in work-study within a college setting. 

Some programs even offer college credits to high school students and allow them to experience college life. An internship for high school students is work experience that is typically unaffiliated with a college that helps students gain skills within a specific field.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a way to spend a productive summer and get a taste of college life, try applying to available summer programs for high school students. You may figure out what you want to do with your life or find out what path you’ll want in engineering, science, or tech industries you never knew were possible. 

Best of luck!

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