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10 Computer Science Courses for High School Students

Taking a computer science course beyond your high school’s offerings is a great way to build your skills and knowledge, expand your network, undertake practical and real-world projects, and learn from professionals. If you are keen on pursuing a computer science degree and career, consider signing up for a course offered by universities and reputed organizations.


This will give you a strong understanding of multiple avenues in the field so that you can figure out your interest area. Be it artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber security, software engineering, data science and analysis, graphics and visualization, or computational theory, the field of computer science has a lot to offer. Gaining practical experience in these areas will help you strengthen your university applications, boost your portfolio, and use your newly established skills in practical or research projects.


Before choosing a computer science course, make sure you opt for a renowned and established institution, such as a university’s pre-college program or its online course roster. Go through the course contents to ensure they offer what you wish to learn and confirm who the instructors are. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of 10 computer science courses for high school students that you can consider applying to.


Location: Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI or Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

Eligibility: Students in grades 7-11 with advanced CTY-level math scores

Application Deadline: May 3, 2024

Dates: June 23, 2024 - July 12, 2024 (session 1) | July 14, 2024 - August 2, 2024 (session 2)

Cost: Residential cost: $6,599, commuter cost: $5,799 (Roger Williams University) | Residential cost: $6,819, commuter cost: $5,999 (Loyola Marymount University). Financial aid is available, but the deadline has passed for 2024.


As part of its on-campus summer programs, Johns Hopkins University offers a Fundamentals of Computer Science course at two universities in the country. The course is prestigious and competitive, accepting only 18-20 people in its class. The course focuses on 3 major computer science areas:

  • Theory and Algorithms: This area explores algorithms, binary mathematics, computational theory, and Boolean algebra.

  • Hardware Systems: Hardware systems will teach you about the physical parts of computers, computer networks, computer architecture, and digital logic.

  • Software Systems: This area focuses on compilers, computer graphics, programming languages, and operating systems.

Through this knowledge, you will be able to solve problems by developing algorithms using programming languages, test algorithms, use data structures in programming, and make, test, and debug computer programs.


Location: Virtual

Eligibility: High school students and independent learners with knowledge of high school algebra, an aptitude for mathematics, and prior programming experience (recommended)

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the course begins.

Dates: May 29, 2024 - July 31, 2024 (9 weeks; 14-16 hours per week)

Cost: Free, with an optional upgrade available to receive a shareable certificate


MIT’s Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python is an instructor-paced course aimed at teaching students to write computer science programs to solve real-world analytical problems.


The course features lecture videos from MIT’s faculty, exercises, and problem sets using Python 3.5. The course will allow you to gain a brief understanding of various concepts in the field, such as computation, Python as a programming language, algorithms, testing and debugging, algorithmic complexity, and data structures. If you opt for the certificate upgrade, you will also receive unlimited access to the course materials, graded exams and assignments, and a certificate of completion.


Once you complete this course, you can move on to the Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science course to learn additional concepts.


Location: UCLA, Los Angeles, CA (commuter course)

Eligibility: High school students (9th to 12th grades)

Application Deadline: June 1, 2024

Dates: June 24, 2024 - July 12, 2024

Cost: $3,197 (financial aid available for California high school students)


UCLA’s Computer Science 30 is the primary course taught as part of the Computer Science Summer Institute (Introductory Track). This course is for students who do not have prior programming experience and wish to learn about computing through various applications. The course focuses on the Python programming language, using which you will learn the fundamentals of programming and computing. The main concepts highlighted here include the usage of common data types, the usage of common control structures, and functional decomposition.


You will work on homework assignments throughout the course while also taking a final exam at the end. In addition to lectures and coursework, you will attend seminars, lab tours, social activities, and a hackathon at the end of the course.


4. Veritas AI - AI Fellowship

Location: Virtual

Cost

  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline:

On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 


If you’re interested in a computer science course that lets you work on an independent research project under expert mentors, consider applying to Veritas AI! 


Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 


The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here


Location: Virtual

Eligibility: Grades 9-11 at the time of application with prior exposure to a computer programming language and a working knowledge of statistics

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: June 17, 2024 - June 28, 2024 (session 1) | July 08, 2024 - July 19, 2024 (session 2)

Cost: $3,050 (financial aid available)


Data science is a major subfield in computer science that requires programming, AI, statistics, and mathematics to extract and analyze data. Stanford University’s Introduction to Data Science is a selective course that teaches students about computer algorithms and the variety of models they can produce. In the course, you will use datasets from the natural and social sciences to find answers to real-world problems. For this, you will use machine learning techniques using R programming exercises.


This course will equip you with the technical skill and ability to analyze various datasets through coding and scientific approaches. This online course includes daily 2-hour classes, online office hours, assigned readings, pre-recorded online lectures, group work, and more.


Location: Columbia University, New York, NY or online

Eligibility: High school students with little-to-no experience in coding/programming

Application Deadline: Deadlines vary based on the dates you choose.

Dates: Numerous dates are available in summer (June-July) and fall (September-December).

Cost: Varies based on session dates and length. You can find relevant information here. No financial aid is available, except for a few need-based scholarships for NYC commuter programs.


Columbia University’s Data Science and Machine Learning 1 is an introductory course offered as part of its pre-college program. The course aims to teach students about the foundations of both data science and machine learning to allow them to use a combination of the two in their careers.


The curriculum includes an overview of data science and machine learning, including their real-world applications. You will further get a chance to learn introductory coding and machine learning algorithms using Python as a programming language. Through this course, you will become adept at presenting and analyzing data efficiently.


This is an extremely prestigious and selective course, with all its sessions accepting only 20-25 students in each class. Social events, clubs, tours, activities, and college preparation support are also offered beyond this course.


Location: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Eligibility: Rising sophomores to rising seniors who are at least 15 years old and have a minimum 3.0 GPA

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 7, 2024 - July 27, 2024

Cost: $8,500. Financial aid is not available.


The Engineering Summer Academy at Penn (ESAP) is the University of Pennsylvania’s 3-week summer program offering multiple courses for students to sign up for. The class sizes are small with an instructor-to-student ratio of 1:19 to encourage discussion, mentorship, network building, and collaboration. Computer science is one of the courses in this program, intended for students with minimal experience in the field.


The course seeks to introduce students to practical programming as well as the theoretical foundations of computer science concepts. You will learn techniques like abstraction, loops, modularity, objects, arrays, and classes using programming languages. Apart from classes and lectures, lab sessions, tours, seminars, and projects are also included in the course. You will work on group projects with peers and present the results at the end of the course.


Location: Virtual

Eligibility: High school students (and all other interested learners)

Application Deadline: None

Dates: Flexible and self-paced program

Cost: Free

Princeton University’s online course—Computer Science: Programming with a Purpose—is provided on Coursera for students who wish to learn the foundations of computer science and programming.


The course introduces students to basic programming concepts like variables, arrays, conditionals, loops, inputs, and outputs. It then moves on to functions like recursion, code reuse, performance, and modular programming. Finally, the course offers an introduction to object-oriented programming, emphasizing abstract data types, creating data types, and programming languages. Students will learn computing and programming concepts using Java as the primary language.


The course is taught by Princeton University faculty—Robert Sedgewick and Kevin Wayne using their book, Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Note that this course does not provide any certification.


Location: Virtual

Eligibility: High school students and other computer science beginners

Application Deadline: None

Dates: 12 weeks (self-paced)

Cost: Free to audit with an optional upgrade of $219 to add a verified certificate


Harvard University’s course, Introduction to Computer Science, is available to audit on edX. The course seeks to introduce students to computer science and programming by developing an understanding of computational and algorithmic thinking and programming problems. Taught by Harvard faculty David J. Mann, the course teaches concepts like abstraction, data structures, software engineering, security, web development, encapsulation, algorithms, and resource management.


This course will familiarize you with languages like Python, C, SQL, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, using which you can solve problem sets in areas like biology, gaming, finance, cryptography, and forensics. You can also develop and present a final programming project to your peers. You will become eligible for a certificate if you earn a good score on 9 problem sets.


Location: New York University, New York, NY

Eligibility: NYC high school students in grades 9-11

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 15, 2024 - August 9, 2024

Cost: Free


NYU’s Cyber Security for Computer Science (CS4CS) is a 3-week course that introduces students to the fundamentals of computer science and cybersecurity. This is a selective course accepting only around 20 students.


Through this course, you will learn about topics like cryptography, steganography, “white-hat” hacking, digital forensics, privacy, and data usage. Further, you will learn to use software tools and techniques to detect threats, investigate their origins, use ciphers to protect computer networks, and develop coding skills. The course also emphasizes behavioral science to understand and reduce the chances of phishing scams and identity theft.


In addition, you will participate in a program called Irondale to improve communication and public speaking skills.


One other option

If you’re interested in pursuing research in fields like computer science or AI, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs 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. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


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.


Image Source: Johns Hopkins University logo

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