Feeling up for a challenge and want to put your computer science skills to the test? We have a list of the best CS competitions which will push you to innovate, solve compelling problems - all the while giving you a great platform to showcase your skills. Competitions are a great way to gain recognition in high school - see how you stack up against your peers nationally or globally!
They also look really good on your college applications (whether you win or not).
Thanks, but no thanks? Check out our piece outlining some of the best CS summer programs for high school students.
You can also check out our research programs which build key skills to help you perform your best in competitions and customize your learning pathway so that you can produce stellar research projects through mentorship by top PhDs – Lumiere – which had 2100 students apply this past year. Over 100 students do computer science research with us!
10 Best Computer Science Programs for High School Students
Eligibility: Must be a middle or high school student in a participating congressional district and must also be residents of such district. Teams may not have more than 4 members.
Prize: Winning apps are eligible to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building and featured on the House of Representatives' website. Winners are also invited to attend a reception on Capitol Hill and may be awarded additional sponsor prizes.
Registration: Open now for 2022. Register here.
Competition dates: Competition deadline is November 1, 2022
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives host this district-wide Congressional App Challenge for middle school and high school students. The idea of this competition is to encourage students to problem-solve for real-world challenges through coding.
Eligibility: Must be an elementary, middle or high school student. Please check if your school has registered for the competition.
Prize: Certificates and cash prizes (amount not disclosed).
Registration deadline: ACSL is now accepting registrations for the 2022-2023
contest year. The registration deadline is December 31, 2022.
During registration, contestants have the option to purchase previous year’s study materials.
Competition dates: There are multiple rounds of competitions. The current round closes March 5, 2023, at 11:59pm EST.
ACSL organizes computer programming and computer science contests for K-12 schools, organizations and local groups. Last year, over 700 teams in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia participated. ACSL offers multiple divisions, providing an appropriate challenge for students of varying ages and abilities. Each season is divided into four contests, testing students on fundamental concepts in computer science, ranging from Number Systems to Boolean Algebra to Digital Electronics. In the upper divisions, each contest also includes a problem to solve by programming using Python, C++ or Java.
Location: Virtual / to be announced.
Eligibility: Must be a high school student.
Prize: Opportunity to advance to IOI and other international olympiads.
Registration deadline: To be announced. Please go through the training opportunities.
Competition dates: Between March 25, 2023 and March 28, 2023 (tentatively, based on previous year’s schedule). To refer to the 2021-2022 competition schedule, please visit here.
This is the national round for the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). The IOI is one of five international science olympiads. The primary goal of the IOI is to stimulate interest in informatics (computing science) and information technology. UNESCO and IFIP are patrons.
The contest consists of 2 days of computer programming/coding and problem-solving of algorithmic nature. The International Olympiad in Informatics is one of the most prestigious computer science competitions in the world.
USA teams attending the IOI have shown steady and consistent improvement in their performance over the years, and the USA now regularly places among the top countries attending the IOI.
Note: Winners from this and other, similar national rounds attend the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).
Eligibility: Must be a middle school or high school student. Students in JROTC programs each have their own division.
Prize: Scholarship money (exact amount varies). Top teams will have all expenses covered for the final round in Maryland.
Registration: Registration for 2022-2023 has closed on October 5, 2022. For 2023-24, registration will open in April 2023.
There is a registration fee of $205 for Open Division high school teams with discounts for early registration by July 1, 2023.
Competition dates: From October 2022 to March 2023. Please see the schedule here.
CyberPatriot's National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is the world's largest cybersecurity competition and is open to all schools and approved youth organizations.
The competition puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Through a series of online competition rounds, teams are given a set of virtual operating systems and are tasked with finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities while maintaining critical services.
Eligibility: Must identify as female and be between 8 and 18 years old (there are divisions for different age groups). All students must identify as female, trans, nonbinary or gender nonconforming. Students who are assigned male at birth and self-identify as male cannot enter the competition. Teams are composed of 1 to 5 students. Students can only join 1 team. There is no limit on the number of mentors per team.
Prize: Awards of up to $30,000 are available in cash and prizes.
Registration:Registration: Opened on October 11, 2022, and the deadline is March 22, 2023. Register here.
Competition dates: Submission deadline is April 18, 2023. Please see the schedule here.
Every year, girls across the globe step up to solve problems in their community with technology through Technovation Girls. More than 39,000 girls from over 100 countries have created apps to solve community problems.
Location: Hosted in different cities every year.
Eligibility: Must be living in the U.S. and attending their last year of secondary school (regardless of citizenship). Students who are U.S. citizens living abroad may also qualify.
Prize: Scholarships and prizes of close to $3.1 million.
Registration: 2023 Application closed on November 9, 2022. The 2024 application will open June 1, 2023, and close in early November 2023.
Competition dates: March 8, 2023, to March 15, 2023. For the entire schedule, please see here.
Regeneron STS is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science competition for high school seniors, providing an important forum for original research that is recognized and reviewed by a national jury of professional scientists. The competition is for individual participants only.
7. Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) | Certain CS-related categories
Location: Hosted in different cities every year.
Eligibility: Must be in grades 9-12 or equivalent must compete in an Intel ISEF affiliated science fairs around the world and win the right to attend the Intel ISEF.
Prize: Scholarships and prizes of close to $5 million are available for winning teams in 22 science categories.
Registration: Different deadlines depending on the target affiliated fair. Please find the list here. Registration for 2023 may not have opened.
Competition dates: May 2023 (tentatively, based on 2022 schedule)
ISEF is a program of Society for Science & the Public (the Society) and is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Only about 1,800 students qualify from over 10,000 applicants from over 75 countries. Contestants are selected from regional, district, and state ISEF affiliated fairs. Related to computer science, the competition categories include: Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Engineering Mechanics (Mechanical Engineering), Mathematics, and Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Location: Germany (for 2023)
Eligibility: Age group 1: 10 - 13; Age group 2: 14-20. A team consists of two to four members. For detailed eligibility criteria, please see here.
Prize: Varying amounts of prize money.
Registration: Deadline to register for 2023 is November 14, 2023. Register here.
Competition dates: June 24, 2023 - June 25, 2023. Detailed schedule is available here.
RoboRAVE is an international competition in which self-designed robots made by students compete against each other. This event focuses on having fun while learning, sharing and teamwork. It is an international competition with participation open not just for groups from the region but from the entire world. Founded in Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA), RoboRAVE is hosted in many countries on five different continents.
Eligibility: Only high school students living in the U.S.
Prize: $1,000 prize money to implement the project. Additionally, if the situation permits, finalists are invited to a four-day all-expenses paid trip to MIT's campus, where they tour labs, present their research to MIT students and faculty, and hang out with members of the THINK team.
Registration:Registration: Registrations for 2023 are open now and close by January 01, 2023.
Competition dates: January 2023. For the entire schedule, please visit here.
Rather than requiring students to have completed a research project before applying, THINK caters to students who have done extensive research on the background of a potential research project and are looking for additional guidance in the early stages of their project. The program is organized by a group of undergraduates at MIT.
Location: Hosted in different cities every year.
Eligibility: Must be in grades 7 to 12. Detailed eligibility criteria are provided here.
Prize: Trophies and certificates. Details of any other prizes are not known.
Registration: To be announced for 2023-24.
Competition dates: To be announced for 2023-24.
The Technology Student Association invites middle and high school students who have a proven aptitude in STEM to participate in various challenges. Activities include coding, data science and analytics, virtual reality and game design - to name a few.
If you are really feeling up for a challenge, brace yourself for the next competition because you’ll be up against a lot of college students for this one!
Eligibility: Must be 16 or older. You’re welcome to imagine any solution that you’re passionate about but must include a Microsoft Azure component and take into consideration diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Maximum four (4) members per team
Prize: Each winning team is awarded $100,000, as well as mentorship from Microsoft experts and grant money.
Registration + submission deadline: December 2022, please register here.
Be sure to complete the student-focused trainings to help you through the competition!
Competition dates: After the submission, there are multiple rounds. The schedule is available here.
The Imagine Must be in grades 7 to 12. Detailed eligibility criteria are provided competition seeks to honor the most innovative, accessible, ground-breaking, and appealing software built with Microsoft tools and technology.
The Competition may be structured differently based on the country/region you are
representing. Please make sure to read your local country/region competition rules.
An excellent complement to competitions – Lumiere Research Scholar Program
Competitions go hand-in-hand with great research skills and projects. Great research skills often groom you to problem-solve during competitions and, they both look really good on college applications for entirely different reasons!
If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.