MIT’s summer programs are an easy ‘yes’ because of the high-quality, rigorous academic experience that they provide. If MIT is your dream college, programs at MIT can be a good opportunity for you to test out ‘college fit’ and get to know MIT faculty, alumni, and current students personally.
While some of these programs are highly selective - thus being a strong boost to college applications - others are less selective. In general, MIT is unique by mainly hosting highly selective summer camps (compared to more open enrollment options at Harvard, Yale, UPenn, and Columbia).
Summer programs and good grades are not enough to get you into a great college.
Admissions officers are looking for spiky applicants who showcase a level of excellence in a specific area (both by having strong academics and by having projects that reflect that deep interest).
If you are looking to showcase academic rigor and creativity, consider a research project where you work 1-1 with a top Ph.D. If this sounds like something you’d want to explore, then check out Lumiere – which had 2100 students apply this past year! Our students work on research projects and papers in all STEM subjects ranging from computer science to biology. You can find the application form here.
10 MIT Programs for High School Students
1. Research Science Institute
The Research Science Institute (RSI) is considered the most prestigious summer program in STEM for high school students in the United States. It is highly selective, taking less than 5% of applicants from a very selective pool. If you are selected for it, however, you have more than a 50% chance of getting into a Harvard/Stanford/MIT level school - so it’s worth a shot if you have the academic background. RSI doesn’t have the restricted target applicant pool that MITES does (more on that below), so you may have a better shot with RSI if you have an extremely strong academic background in STEM. It’s open to students from all over the world, which makes it even more competitive!
This 5-week summer program selects 80 of the world's most accomplished high school students for an immersive STEM research experience. It is run collaboratively by Research Science Institute and MIT. The program combines on-campus coursework in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. You will experience the entire research cycle from start to finish, read the most current literature in the chosen field, draft and execute a detailed research plan, and deliver conference-style oral and written reports on your findings.
Pro tip: To give you an idea of how competitive the program is, it may be helpful to know that the program recommends that PSAT Math Scores be at least 740 or higher and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Scores be 700 or higher. ACT math scores should be at least 33 and verbal scores at least 34. Lower scores must be offset by strong indicators of mathematical, scientific, and academic potential exemplified in recommendations, high school grades, and science activities. But, if you’re not close to those scores, you’re probably not going to get in.
Some other information about RSI
Fee/ stipend: None
Application deadline: For 2023, the deadline is December 2, 2023. Apply here.
Program dates: July - August 2023 (tentatively, based on last year’s schedule)
Eligibility: High school juniors (international applicants are welcome) will be selected based on academic background.
The MITES Programs
If you are passionate about STEM and from a minority / underrepresented background then MIT Introduction to Technology, Engineering and Sciences (MITES) is for you! In fact, no conversation on MIT’s summer programs is complete without mentioning MITES - MIT’s initiative to advance access and equity in STEM.
If you have doubts about your eligibility, you should definitely check the
2. MITES Summer
This is a 6-week, residential program focused on increasing diversity in STEM. It is highly competitive and gives 80, talented high school juniors the opportunity to have an academically enriching experience in STEM.
You can expect to take five rigorous courses covering math, science (there will be select modules from a wide range of topics from Machine Learning to Architecture to Genomics), and humanities. You’ll also participate in lab tours and social events, and benefit from college admissions counseling.
Some other information about MITES Summer
Fee/ stipend: None. Students will have to arrange their own transportation to the MIT campus.
Application deadline: To be announced for 2023. Please keep checking here.
Program dates: late June through early August (based on previous year’s schedule)
Eligibility: High school juniors from minority backgrounds and other underrepresented segments of the population. Must be a U.S. citizen.
3. MITES Saturdays / SEED Academy
If you are in 9th to 12th grade and attend a Massachusetts public school, check out MITES Saturdays / SEED Academy. In fact, exceptional students as young as in 7th grade are known to be admitted in this academy.
Think of SEED Academy as a rigorous ‘extension school’ where you’ll supplement school learning through a hands-on instructional approach and increase your mastery of STEM subjects. You will also discover new academic and professional opportunities and gain exposure to a college environment.
This program will be commitment-heavy since you’ll meet on MIT’s campus eight times per semester during the fall and spring. Each session starts at 10 A.M. and ends at 3:30 P.M. You’ll take 2 courses each semester - 1 from each of the following streams:
Academic Mentoring Seminar (AMS) – this course explores non-technical skills that are important to student success in college and beyond (ex. Communication, organization & executive functioning, self-advocacy).
A hands-on STEM project course – this course topic changes each semester. Examples include Civil engineering, Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, and an Engineering Design Capstone.
You’ll also be expected to do about 2 hours of homework each week and maintain impeccable attendance. You can continue to remain enrolled in this program till you graduate high school!
Some other information about SEED Academy
Fee/ stipend: None.
Application deadline: Early January 2023. Please apply here.
Program dates: February 2023 onwards.
4. MITES Semester
If you are a high school senior, check out the MITES Semester, a six-month hybrid STEM.
During this course, you will take one intensive project-based STEM course and a core course in either Calculus, Physics, Computer Science, or Science Writing & Communication.
Past project courses have included astrophysics, computational biology, geospatial Data analysis, design thinking, embedded systems, neuroscience and connectomics, machine learning, robotics, thermodynamics, and climate change
Some other information about MITES Semester
Fee/ stipend: None.
Application deadline: February 2023. Please apply here.
Program dates: June 2023 onwards till December 2023 or January 2024 depending on start date.
Pro tip: At the end of any MITES program, you will receive a written evaluation from your instructor, outlining strengths and growth areas, as well as highlighting your contributions to the class. This can be great supplemental material for college applications!
5. Beaver Works Summer Institute
While RSI is more theoretical and research-oriented, if you love building things and applying knowledge (you guessed it, much like a Beaver!) then the Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) is for you.
This program is committed to providing the depth and experience of these project-based courses.
Take, for example, “Serious Games and Artificial Intelligence” - you will work on tactical routing for self-driving ambulances. This will require you to build an analysis framework in Python to study the technical, moral, and strategic opportunities that new technologies present to that application. There will also be an emphasis on learning the practical tools and skills for working on a professional software development team.
Then there’s “Embedded Security and Hardware Hacking” which will introduce you to several security topics with a focus on threats that are especially concerning for embedded systems. These topics include embedded software security, cryptographic protocol attacks, JTAG and UART probing, side-channel analysis and fault-injection, and hardware Trojans.
This program consists of two components: an online course from January to May open to all interested students and a four-week summer program from July 1 to August 1 for a select group of students.
The online course will provide the background for the summer course, during which you will perform security assessments of multiple implementations of an embedded system: a wireless home door lock. Teams will compete to see who can find and fix the most security flaws in these systems.
These were just a few of the many awesome courses available at BWSI!
Some other information about BWSI
Fee/ stipend: None
Application deadline: March 15, 2023
Program dates: July 1, 2023 - July 28, 2023, vary slightly depending on the type of course.
Eligibility: Students must be in high school with a demonstrated aptitude for STEM.
6. Women’s Technology Program
Next on our list is the Women’s Technology Program (WTP) because STEM needs diversity and representation to thrive!
This is a 4-week summer academic and residential experience where 20 female high school students explore engineering through hands-on classes that are taught by female MIT graduate students, labs, and team-based projects.
Typically, students focus on either Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) or Mechanical Engineering (ME) but the availability of the streams changes year-on-year. For instance, in 2023, only the ME stream will be available.
The topics taught will include solid materials, fluid mechanics, idea generation, and system design and manufacturing. You will learn to use SolidWorks, a 3-dimensional solid modeling program, and use this to design mechanical systems. All this will be supplemented with math modules to help you understand the nuances of the ME topics (you’ll work extensively on Matlab, a numerical computing package widely used by mechanical engineers).
A key objective of the program is to enable you to work on 2 capstone projects: one that concentrates on the analytical and modeling work essential to effective engineering, and one that concentrates on designing and building machines for a specified task.
Some other information about WTP
Fee/ stipend: None
Application deadline: January 15, 2023 (based on previous year’s schedule)
Program dates: June 2023 - July 2023
Eligibility: This program is women focused. Applicants must be juniors in high school.
7. Summer Science Program
If you have a budget to spend for a great summer program and would like to try out MIT-hosted courses in different locations across the U.S., then the Summer Science Program (SSP) is a great choice for you. While this is still a competitive program, given that there is a fee component, there is a slightly better chance of a candidate being selected (if they are non-financial aid applicants).
This 6-week program is co-sponsored by MIT and offered at locations in Colorado, New Mexico, and Indiana. The curriculum is organized around a central research project in either Astrophysics, Biochemistry, or Genomics. In the Astrophysics program, each team of three students determines the orbit of a near-earth asteroid (minor planet) from direct astronomical observations. In the Biochemistry program, each team designs a small molecule to inhibit an enzyme from a fungal crop pathogen. In the Genomics program, each team builds a bioreactor to stimulate the evolution of antibiotic resistance in E. coli, then analyzes its DNA for mutations.
Pro tip: A lot of participants of this program eventually find their way to MIT for undergraduate studies!
Some other information about SSP
Fee/ stipend: There is a program fee of up to $7,950, but generous need-based financial aid is available for a majority of the participants.
Application deadline: For 2023, they will open in mid-December. Please keep checking here.
Program dates: July-August 2023 (tentatively, based on previous year’s schedule)
Eligibility: open to current high school juniors (and a few truly exceptional sophomores) who have completed the pre-requisites by summer, and will be at least 15 years old, but not yet 19, during the program. International students may also apply.
8. Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers
If you have other plans during the summer and would love a condensed experience, then the Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE) is a great choice!
This is a 2-week summer workshop held at MIT and the Lincoln Laboratory. It is focused on teaching students how to build small radar systems. Participants will be challenged to build a Doppler and range radar by using creative problem-solving strategies, all the while collaborating with highly talented scientists and engineers. Even if you are not targeting a pure-play engineering major, knowledge of radars comes in very handy in a lot of other majors and professions (marine biology, shipping, aviation - to name a few!).
Some other information about LLRISE
Fee/ stipend: None
Application deadline: For 2023, the applications will begin in January, 2023 (tentatively, based on previous year’s schedule)
Program dates:June 29 – July 17, 2023 (tentatively, based on previous year’s schedule)
Eligibility: High school juniors (completing their junior year) and U.S. Citizens. Persons from underrepresented groups including are strongly encouraged to apply.
Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering and Science for High School Students
If you are particularly passionate about math, then the Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering and Science for High School Students (PRIMES) is for you! There are 2 ways of engaging with PRIMES - if you live within driving distance from Boston then you can check out MIT PRIMES for an immersive research mentorship in math, computer science and computational biology.
Mathroots is a program under the MIT PRIMES. It is a 14-day summer program for promising high school students from underrepresented backgrounds or underserved communities who are interested in exploring creative topics in mathematics. You will learn creative problem-solving in math and get introduced to techniques of mathematical proof.
Some other information about Mathroots
Fee/ stipend: None
Application deadline: Applications for mathroots 2023 will be available in early 2023. Please check here. It will likely be due by March 2023.
Program dates: June 24, 2023 - July 8, 2023 (tentatively, based on previous year’s schedule)
Eligibility: U.S. citizens or attending high school in the US (before the last year of high school). Students from underrepresented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.
10. PRIMES USA
MIT PRIMES prefers students living within driving distance from Boston, so if you are still stoked about PRIMES, try the pan U.S.A programs under PRIMES USA.
There is an entrance test for this program, and it requires you to solve at least 50% of the questions correctly (please refer to point 3 on the linked page). PRIMES is highly selective and so you should be doing regular math related competitions or at a similar math level if you want to be eligible for this type of camp.
It has a similar structure to MIT PRIMES in terms of a project-based focus and modules on proof-based math, creative problem-solving, but in addition to this, there is a focus on submitting projects for appropriate competitions as well.
Pro tip: If you’ve qualified for any Olympiad or attended a summer school, be sure to mention that because it gives you a significant advantage.
Some other information about PRIMES USA
Fee/ stipend: None
Application deadline: November 30, 2023
Program dates: To be announced
Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors.
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.