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The Top Summer Programs for High School Juniors and Sophomores

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Colleges and universities across the country offer programs for high school students who are eager to gain more experience in their chosen field. Most of these programs take place over the span of four to six weeks during summer break.    

Sure, attending one of the following programs will definitely add some texture to your college applications and give you fodder for your Common App essay, but we encourage you to drop that kind of thinking when applying. Instead, think about why you want to attend, how you want to develop your skills, and where this program will help you go. Regardless of whether a summer program can help you cinch an acceptance at a prestigious institution, it can be an incredibly valuable learning and growth opportunity. You can explore your academic area of interest without a huge commitment, meet like-minded peers, get a feel for college life, and discover what appeals to you in a college setting.

STEM Programs


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

Program Dates: June 21-August 8

Application Deadline: March 1

Attendance Fee: $3,800 

Essay Requirements: 2 essays of 400-600 words

Information: The Michigan State University High School Honors Science/Engineering/Mathematics Program (HSHSP) is a seven-week, intensive summer research program for motivated high school students interested in science, engineering, and mathematics.


Stanford Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

Program Dates: June 20-July 8 and July 18-August 5

Application Deadline:  March 15

Attendance Fee: $3,250

Information: SUMaC is a three-week online program in which rising high school juniors and seniors explore mathematics and develop as mathematicians. SUMaC offers two courses, “Abstract Algebra & Number Theory” and “Algebraic Topology.” Applicants can indicate their preference on their application.


The Ross Mathematics Program

Program Dates: June 15-July 27 at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus; Ohio, and June 19-July 29 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Application Deadline: March 31

Attendance Fee: $6,000

Information: The Ross Mathematics Program is an intensive summer experience designed to encourage motivated pre-college students to explore mathematics. Each program (in Ohio and Indiana) will accept about 60 bright students between the ages of 15 and 18.


Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS) at BU

Program Dates: July 3-August 13

Application Deadline: March 15

Attendance Fee: $5,500

Essay Requirements: Brief responses

Information: PROMYS is a six-week summer residential program held on the campus of Boston University for approximately 80 motivated high school students (i.e. the next generation of scientists).


The Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) 

Program Dates:  July 5-July 29

Application Deadline: Mid-February

Attendance Fee: Free with a $100 enrollment deposit

Essay Requirements: 1 essay of 300-500 words, 1 essay of up to 1,000 words 

Information: SAMS is a four-week summer program for high school juniors interested in developing a deeper understanding of STEM via traditional classroom instruction, hands-on projects, and sustained engagement with faculty and staff mentors. This year, SAMS will take place in-person at Carnegie Mellon University.


The Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook

Program Dates: June 27-July 29

Application Deadline: February 18

Attendance Fee: Free excluding dining costs

Essay Requirements: 7 short responses

Information: Simons Fellows, who must be nominated by an official at their high school, can expect to be matched with Stony Brook faculty mentors, join a research group or team, and assume responsibility for a project. Attendees conclude their apprenticeship by producing a written research abstract and a research poster. 


General Academic Programs


The Anson L. Clark Scholar Program at Texas Tech

Program Dates: June 20-August 3

Application Deadline: February 16

Attendance Fee: Free

Essay Requirements: Four essays of 2,000 characters, one essay of 1,500 characters

Information: The Anson L. Clark Scholar Program is an intensive seven-week summer research program that accepts just 12 high school seniors and juniors each year. Participants can research any academic area offered at Texas Tech University.


NYC Summer Academy from the School of the New York Times

Program Dates: June 5-17, June 19-July 1, July 3-15, July 17-29

Regular Decision Application Deadline: April 4

Financial Aid Deadline: February 22

Attendance Fee: $6,420

Essay Requirements: Short answer questions

Information: NYC Summer Academy provides participants with an immersive environment in which to investigate, explore, and learn about their passions and interests. Academic and nonacademic components of the program are integrated to form a holistic approach to enrichment.


Leadership and Business Programs


Wharton Global Youth Programs

Program Dates: Sessions vary

Application Deadline: April 7

Attendance Fee: $6,599 – $9,000

Essay Requirements: 1 short answer, 1 essay of 200-300 words, and 1 essay of 300-400 words

Program Selection: Essentials of Entrepreneurship, Essentials of Finance, Essentials of Innovation, Leadership in the Business World (LBW), Data Science Academy, Sports Business Academy, Moneyball Academy, Management & Technology Summer Institute (M&TSI) 

Information: The Wharton Global Youth Programs aim to educate and inspire pre-collegiate students to explore business practices and analyze the world’s complex challenges in an Ivy League environment. 


Telluride Association Summer Seminars (TASS) in Critical Black Studies and Anti-Oppressive Studies 

Program Dates: June 26-August 6

Application Deadline: January 5

Attendance Fee: Free 

Essay Requirements: 1 essay submitted after interview

Information: The Telluride Association Summer Seminars (TASS) are free six-week educational experiences for high school sophomores and juniors. Students may apply for additional financial aid for travel costs and to replace earnings from summer jobs. 


Notre Dame’s Leadership Seminars 

Program Dates: July 16-27

Application Deadline: January 24

Attendance Fee: Free with a $150 enrollment fee

Information: Leadership Seminars is a competitive, 10-day program on Notre Dame’s campus for students who demonstrate leadership within their communities. Approximately 120 students are admitted to Leadership Seminars each year and are eligible to receive one transferable college credit upon completion of the program. The three seminars this year are Global Issues: Violence and Peace in the Modern Age, The Environment: Science, Policy, Ethics, and The Power of Investing: Financial Literacy and the Miracle of Compound Interest.


The Young Women’s Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington

Program Dates: June 5-8, 8-11, 12-15, or 15-18

Application Deadline: April 15 

Attendance Fee: Free (excluding transportation to/from IU and personal costs) 

Essay Requirements: 3 short essays

Information: The Young Women’s Institute is a selective program for women finishing their junior year of high school (rising seniors) to build leadership skills, prepare a real-world business case project, and connect with like-minded peers.


Entrepreneurship Summer Program for High School Students by LaunchX

Program Dates:  June 20-July 22

Early Application Deadline: December 20

Final Application Deadline: February 28

Attendance Fee: $5,980

Information: LaunchX’s Summer Program invites young entrepreneurs to learn from industry experts and leverage course materials in order to create products and launch actual startups. 


Media Programs


The Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP) 

Program Dates: July 29-August 8

Application Deadline: February 28

Attendance Fee: Free

Information: The Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP) is a 10-day residential journalism and college prep institute for high achieving high school juniors from low-income backgrounds.


JCamp Presented by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

Program Dates: July 23-29

Application Deadline: March 31

Attendance Fee: Free

Essay Requirements: 2 essays of 250 words or fewer, 1 optional essay

Information: JCamp is a six-day training camp that brings together culturally diverse students to learn from journalists and media executives. Participants receive hands-on training and produce multiplatform news packages. This year’s JCamp will take place at the University of Southern California (USC). 


The Cronkite School’s Summer Journalism Institute

Program Dates: June 19-July 1

Application Deadline: April 8

Attendance Fee: Free

Information: The Cronkite School’s Summer Journalism Institute invites high school students to participate in hands-on experiences in broadcast and digital journalism. Attendees will spend two weeks reporting and writing stories, producing newscasts, and creating multimedia content. 


Creative Writing and Art Programs


Oxbow Summer Art Institute

Program Dates: June 18-July 31

Priority Application Deadline: January 1

Attendance Fee: $16,000 (limited scholarships are available)

Essay Requirements: 1 essay of 300 words

Information: The Oxbow School is a program in Napa, California that focuses on interdisciplinary art studies (sculpture, printmaking, new media, and painting) for high school sophomores, juniors, seniors, as well as post-grads. The hands-on academic experience is also offered as a gap semester program. 


Iowa Young Writers’ Studio

Program Dates: June 12-25 (Session 1), July 10-23 (Session 2)

Application Deadline: February 6

Attendance Fee: $2,500

Essay Requirements: Parent Statement, Student Questionnaire, and a 300-word essay

Information: Iowa Young Writers’ Studio is an immersive creative writing program held at Iowa City’s University of Iowa. A student can choose between poetry, fiction, creative writing, playwriting, or TV writing as their core course, which they will focus on throughout the two weeks. The program is also offered as a six-week online course twice a year.


Unterberg Poetry Center Young Writers Workshop

Program Dates: July 11-28

Early Application Deadline: April 8

Application Deadline: June 6

Attendance Fee: $2,400

Writing Requirements: One document of up to 2,500 words of original work (poems, short stories, a scene, etc.)

Information: Unterberg Poetry Center Young Writers Workshop is led by some of NYC’s top writing teachers, ensuring students will further their creative and technical skills as blossoming writers. Not only do students hone in on their craft, but they are exposed to the professional field of writing, learning the ins and outs of having a writing career.

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