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10 Biology Pre College Programs You Should Check Out

Pre-college programs in biology are great opportunities for you to dive into the world of biological sciences. These programs are tailored to provide a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of biology, from cellular processes and genetics to ecology and environmental science. Participating in such a program shows college admissions committees that you have a proactive approach to your education and a strong commitment to the field of biology. These programs often include hands-on laboratory work, field research, and interactions with professionals in the field.

Engaging in a pre-college program in biology allows you to develop critical thinking, analytical problem-solving, and effective communication skills. The experience gained from working on projects, whether in a lab or in the field, can form the basis of a compelling narrative in your college application essays. You can share your experiences and insights, and how they have shaped your interest in biology and your academic goals. This can set you apart from other applicants, showcasing your passion for biology and your readiness for college-level coursework. 

For more biology programs, check out our blogs on programs in biology and research opportunities in biology

Location: Harvard University Campus

Cost: $5,300

Program Dates: 2 weeks in June or July

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: High School Students

In Harvard's Pre-College Molecular Oncology course, you will dive deeply into the molecular pathways and biomolecular techniques used in cancer research labs. This course is tailored for students who already have a background in cancer biology and are looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of laboratory experiments. Starting with a brief review of cancer as a disease, the course then dives into the intricacies of molecular pathways prevalent in oncology, as well as specific molecular techniques used in research. This exploration is facilitated by examining specific histological and biochemical tools that have made these advancements possible. You'll dive into the biomolecular techniques developed to monitor cell cycle progression, DNA replication, and gene and protein expression, gaining insights into the mechanics of cancer at a molecular level.

The concluding part of the course is particularly engaging, as it involves a problem-based learning case. This case is designed to help you understand how biomolecular techniques influence cancer medicine, providing a practical context to the theoretical knowledge you've gained. Throughout the course, you will review basic cell biology properties, such as cell division, DNA replication, and cell death. In addition, you will receive a solid introduction to oncogenesis, covering more complex topics like proto-oncogenes, oncogenes, and the relationship between tumors and their environment. This includes a focus on the metastasis process, angiogenesis, and the role of the immune system in cancer. Crucially, the course also covers the main laboratory molecular biology techniques used in labs worldwide, offering a comprehensive view of the tools and methods at the forefront of cancer research. 

Location: Virtual

Cost: $5,250

Program Dates: January 2 - 19

Application Deadline: December

Eligibility: Rising Juniors and Seniors

If you have an interest in biology and potentially a career in medicine, law, or related health and legal fields, Cornell Online Pre College's course in Biomedical Terminology is a great opportunity for you. This course offers an in-depth study of the Greek and Latin word elements that form the backbone of specialized terms in these disciplines. By learning the meanings of these elements and the rules of word formation, you'll acquire the ability to decipher and understand complex terms that you'll encounter in your future studies. This skill is particularly beneficial for students like you who are considering pre-law, pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-veterinary, or other health and legal career paths.

The skills you develop in this course go beyond rote memorization; they involve a deeper comprehension of how language in scientific and legal fields is structured and evolves. This understanding will not only serve you well in your future academic pursuits but also enhance your analytical and communication skills, crucial for any field of study. 

Location: Online

Cost: $3,050

Program Dates: June 17 - June 28 or July 8 - July 18

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: 9-12th grade students

Stanford Online Pre College Topics in Bioscience is a great course for you if you are passionate about biology and its related fields. You’ll dive into the vast array of subject matter encompassed by biomedical sciences, including biology, anatomy, physiology, and more. This comprehensive course is structured to provide you with a strong foundation in these areas, essential for pursuing a successful career in diverse fields such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, and epidemiology. Your learning will not be confined to theoretical concepts; the course content is directly linked to real-world applications, as exemplified by the study of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Throughout the course, you will explore intricate biological processes such as gas exchange in the lungs, the cardiovascular system's response to varying levels of oxygen, and the transformation of genetic material into proteins. A significant focus of the course is on the relationship between mRNA and vaccine development, a topic of immense relevance in the current medical landscape. This will give you insights into the cutting-edge techniques used in vaccine development and genetic research. Additionally, the course introduces you to vital epidemiologic and clinical research methods foundational to human subjects research. Your engagement with the course material will be diverse and interactive, involving live lectures, asynchronous assignments, small group learning activities, and a collaborative group project. 

Location: Johns Hopkins University 

Cost: $1,950

Program Dates: June 24 - July 4, July 8 - July 18, or July 22 - August 1

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: All High School students are eligible

The Introduction to Experimental Design in Biology course at Johns Hopkins University is an incredible opportunity for you if you have an interest in biology and want to dive deep into the realm of scientific research. This course addresses the fundamental question of what it means to "design" an experiment. You'll learn how scientists plan experimental approaches to test specific hypotheses and provide informative results. The course will challenge you to think critically about the entire process of conducting an experiment – from selecting the most suitable analytical methods for a given question to deciding which samples to include in the analysis. Additionally, you'll explore the different types of variables that could influence the outcomes of your experiments. Emphasis is placed on planning your experimental approaches and setting up experiments that include appropriate controls, ensuring that you understand the principles behind reliable and valid scientific research.

Moreover, the course offers hands-on experience with various techniques used in molecular biology labs. You'll learn and apply standard techniques such as gel electrophoresis, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), and gene expression analysis. This practical experience is invaluable, as it provides a realistic insight into the day-to-day work of a biologist and equips you with essential skills for your future studies and career in the field. By participating in this course, you're not just gaining a deeper understanding of experimental design; you're also developing skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and data analysis

Location: Yale Campus

Cost: $6500

Application Deadline: January 10

Program Dates: June 23 - July 5, July 7 - 19, and July 21 - August 2

Eligibility: At least 16 years old, A current sophomore or junior (or any international equivalent), and a first-time participant

The Yale Young Global Scholars: Innovations in Science & Technology (IST) program is a great opportunity for you if you have an interest in biology and STEM fields. As a participant, you will delve into an extensive array of scientific disciplines including physics, molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry, astronomy, engineering, neuroscience, immunology, psychology, and earth science. This program is not just about learning individual scientific subjects; it's about understanding the interdisciplinary applications of these fields, ranging from the nanoscopic to the astronomical scale. 

In this program, you are challenged to think and examine the world through the lens of a scientist. You will gain exposure to a wide array of topics across biological, physical, and applied sciences, encouraging you to build a comprehensive understanding of these areas. The session is designed to develop your critical thinking and analytical skills, essential tools for any aspiring scientist. Furthermore, a significant focus is placed on collaboration and teamwork. This approach underscores the importance of working collectively in the scientific community, training you to become an impactful scientist who can work effectively in teams. Among the sample seminar offerings are 'Design Thinking for Innovation: Creating Solutions That Make a Difference' and 'Quantum Mechanics: What on Earth Does it Actually Mean?'. 

Location: Online

Cost: Up to $1,795

Program Dates: 1, 2, and 4 Week Sessions

Application Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students aged 13 and up

The Georgetown Pre College Online Program in Biology provides you with multicellular frameworks that form the basis of life. This program is designed to go beyond the information presented in textbooks, giving you an understanding of how scientists discover new things about cells and how they organize and relay this knowledge. You will uncover the sources of cellular information and delve into the process of scientific discovery, learning how knowledge about cells is gathered, analyzed, and shared. 

The program covers the basics of cells and their structures, allowing you to recognize the wide diversity of cell functions and structures. You will apply basic principles of chemistry and physics to explain the limitations on the size and shape of cells, gaining a holistic understanding of cell biology. The course also delves into microscopy, a crucial tool for seeing and studying cells. You will learn about different types of microscopes commonly used by biologists, their functions, and how to choose the appropriate microscope for various scientific inquiries, while also understanding their limitations. The program also covers recent discoveries that have significantly altered our understanding of cell organization, particularly the roles of biomolecular condensates in cellular functions and disease states. You will gain insights into the core chemistry and physics principles underlying molecular interactions in water and their implications in medicine. 

Location: Brown University

Cost: $7038

Program Dates: June 26 - July 14

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: All high school students

In Brown University’s Pre College course on Genetics, Epigenetics, and Human Behavior, you will have the opportunity to explore the fascinating and rapidly evolving field of behavioral genetics. This course offers an overview that encompasses a range of intriguing topics such as personality, substance abuse, mental health, and sexuality. You will be introduced to the latest research findings in these areas, particularly those emerging from the Departments of Psychiatry and Public Health at Brown University. This course provides a unique platform to explore how genetic and environmental factors interplay to shape human behavior, offering insights into some of the most debated and intriguing questions in the field of psychology and genetics.

The course is structured to maximize your learning experience by using real examples from both clinical settings and laboratory research. This approach not only enriches the learning process but also conveys the excitement and multitude of career opportunities available for clinician scientists. You will develop a foundational understanding of basic genetic concepts and learn how to apply these to the study of behavior, an area that offers tangible and engaging insights. The teaching methods employed in this course are designed to cater to all learning styles, ensuring that you remain engaged and absorbed throughout the program. This includes a mix of discussions, hands-on laboratory work, teamwork, and individual research projects. 

Location: Tufts Medford Campus

Cost: Commuter: $5,000, Residential: $6,500, Materials Fee: $100

Application Deadline: May 1

Program Dates: July 7 – July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Entering grades 11-12 or a Spring 2024 high school graduate

The Tufts Mini Med School: Careers in Medicine program is a great opportunity for you to study alongside faculty and experts from one of the nation's leading medical schools, Tufts University School of Medicine. Throughout the intensive program, you embark on a multifaceted journey into the world of medical sciences, gaining valuable insights into the rigors and intricacies of medical education and practice.

The curriculum of Mini Med School is thoughtfully structured to provide a holistic understanding of medical and health-related topics. Through engaging lectures, interactive medical case studies, and hands-on training, you begin to experience what it's like to study and work in the field of medicine. One of the program's highlights is the series of field trips to the Tufts Medical campus, where you visit the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center and engage in hands-on activities within the anatomy lab. These experiences offer a glimpse into the practical aspects of medical training and patient care. 

Mini Med School also places a special emphasis on two critical areas in medicine: infectious diseases and immunology. These topics are at the forefront of healthcare today, and you delve into them through in-depth study, including medical microbiology lab sessions and infectious disease-focused medical case studies. By exploring the importance of appropriate treatment and cutting-edge solutions being developed by researchers, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the field of medicine. Mini Med School goes beyond the classroom by facilitating question and answer sessions with admissions staff, medical doctors, professionals from various health-related fields, and current medical students. These interactions provide invaluable insights into medical school and the diverse career options available within the realm of medicine and health sciences.


Location: Online

Cost: $3050

Eligibility: Grades 10-11 at the time of application

Application Deadline: March

Course Dates: 2 weeks in either June or July

Enrolling in the Stanford Pre College Investigations in Genetics program is an exciting opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the captivating realm of genetics. This program is meticulously designed to offer high school students like you a comprehensive exploration of the fundamental principles and cutting-edge developments in the field of genetics. Guided by accomplished faculty and researchers, you will embark on a journey through the intricacies of genes, heredity, and genetic variations. 

Through a blend of engaging lectures, hands-on laboratory experiments, and thought-provoking discussions, you will acquire a profound understanding of genetic processes, DNA structure, and the role of genetics in various aspects of life, from health to evolution.

You will be able to approach questions such as: What role does genetic mutation and regulation play in disease manifestation? How can we understand the composition of the microbiome, and what insight it can provide regarding disease states? 

Location: Tufts Medford Campus

Cost: Commuter: $4,000, Residential: $5,500, Materials Fee $200

Application Deadline: May 1

Program Dates: July 7 – July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Entering grades 10-12 or a Spring 2024 high school graduate

The Tufts Lab Science Investigations: Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) program allows you to dive into the complex and pressing issue of AMR and antibiotic stewardship. The program's focus on AMR is particularly relevant, given the alarming statistics that underscore the severity of this global health challenge. With the potential for drug-resistant diseases to surpass major causes of human death, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, by 2050, the importance of addressing AMR cannot be overstated. As a student researcher in this program, you will have the unique privilege of immersing themselves in the world of AMR research, working towards a deeper understanding of the problem and its far-reaching implications.

What sets this program apart is its holistic approach to the issue of AMR, rooted in the One Health perspective, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, and the environment. As part of the STEM Research Institute, you will have the opportunity to engage with experts from a wide range of fields, gaining insights from engineers, social scientists, biomedical scientists, veterinarians, physicians, drug developers, epidemiologists, healthcare policy experts, and environmental scientists. Working together at the Tufts Levy Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (CIMAR), you not only explore the scientific aspects of AMR but also gain a comprehensive view of the social, environmental, and policy dimensions that contribute to the issue. 

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to dive further into research in biology, another way to stand out on applications and resumes, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 

Image Source: Harvard University seal


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