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10 Free Summer Programs for High School Students in 2024

We know that summer programs can be expensive. That’s why we’ve put together this list of competitive programs that are completely free (some even provide a stipend!). Some of these programs are more selective than others and they range from STEM programs to the humanities.

 

Summer programs are a great option for high schoolers because they give you a lot of time to focus on the program itself and its workload, instead of trying to balance the program with your school-year activities. Free summer programs are also prestigious because they are fully funded (which means they’re competitive!) Admissions officers are looking for students who are not only at the top of their class, but also possess an advanced set of skills, which you can demonstrate by getting into a free summer program!

 

Without further ado, here are 10 free summer programs for high school students that are accepting applications in 2024!

 

Application Deadline: Varying deadlines based on cohort. The main summer deadlines are March 15, April 15, and May 15.

Duration: Options range from 12 weeks to 1 year.

Location: Remote — you can participate in this program from anywhere in the world!

Eligibility:

  • You must be currently enrolled in high school

  • Students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement. (Note. students have an unweighted GPA of 3.3 out of 4)

  • No previous knowledge of your field of interest is required!

Program Dates: Summer cohort runs from June to August, Fall cohort from September to December, Winter cohort from December to February, Spring from March to June. Applications for the summer cohort are now open!

Cost: Full financial aid available!


The Lumiere Inclusion Foundation enables students to participate in Lumiere’s Research Scholar Program with financial aid! The latter is a rigorous research program tailored for high school students. The program offers extensive 1-on-1 research opportunities for high school students, across a broad range of subject areas that you can explore as a high schooler.


The program pairs high-school students with Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project. At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll have developed an independent research paper! You can choose research topics from subjects such as applied math, computer science, AI, and more. You can find more details about the application here!


Subject areas: Arts, Sciences, and Humanities

Location: Washington DC and one of 18 cities in the United States and Puerto Rico

Stipend: $2,350 upon completion of the program

Application deadline: This year the application was extended to April 22, 2024, but it’s usually due April 15th

Program dates: Vary by individual, but the program consists of a five-week commitment

Program selectivity: Highly selective, only 24 participants accepted

Eligibility: Must be a graduating high school senior, GPA of 3.25 or higher, full-time enrollment in a degree-seeking program at an accredited college or university for fall 2024

 

The Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) is a national preparatory and leadership program that fosters the next generation of community-conscious Latino leaders via the Smithsonian Institution and its resources.

 

The program consists of a week-long seminar in Washington DC and a four-week internship at a museum or cultural institute at one of 18 locations around the country and Puerto Rico. You do not need to be Latino, Latina, or Latinx to apply and you do not need to speak Spanish! Meals and accommodations and round-trip travel for the DC portion of the trip are covered by the program, but students are responsible for all expenses during their internships, so it’s worth selecting an internship location close to home if possible.

 

During Washington Week, students participate in workshops and learn from preeminent Latinx scholars and leaders. It’s primarily a learning week with a heavy focus on academics and is conducted at the Smithsonian Institute.

 

During the four-week internship, students can expect to work at a partner institution where they’ll gain valuable work experience in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Students also participate in community outreach events to promote childhood literacy. In fact, a major focus of the internships is community impact.

 

One of the big benefits of this program is access to the YAP Alumni Network. The goals of this network are to keep students engaged and to connect them with future career and leadership development opportunities. 


Subject areas: STEM

Location: George Mason University, fully remote, hybrid (determined by faculty mentor)

Stipend: Unpaid, but the program is free (there is a $25 application feed)

Application deadline: Usually the end of January

Program dates: Varies by year, mid-June to mid-August (8-week program)

Program selectivity: Moderately competitive

Eligibility: High school or university students and students must be 15 or older for remote and hybrid programs and 16 or older for “wet-lab” programs

 

The ASSIP program is nationally known and provides intensive research opportunities. One of the major benefits of this program is the 1:1 ratio of students to mentors. Another benefit is the wide variety of disciplines covered under the larger STEM umbrella. There are internships available in specialties like nanoscience, oceanic science, astronomy, mathematical modeling, and more. In fact, ASSIP provides internships in upwards of 20 STEM specialties.

 

During their internships, students can expect to use cutting-edge equipment, develop scientific writing skills, participate in discussion forums and meetings with role models as well as their mentors, and combine creative skills with an eye to innovative research. Student/mentor work may also be published in scientific journals and presented at academic conferences.

 

Subject areas: STEM, History

Location: Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

Stipend: $750

Application deadline: Varies by year, but usually mid-February

Program dates: Generally mid-June to the beginning of August

Program selectivity: Highly selective, only 12 students are accepted

Eligibility: Applicants must be 17 by the program start date and should participate the summer before or after their senior year

 

This program is an intensive 7-week summer research program with a focus on hands-on, practical research. The research disciplines vary from year to year, but generally focus on STEM subjects, though it is open to almost any area of academia.

 

The program covers on-campus meals, on-campus room and board, and weekend activities. Students do have to pay for their travel to and from the program location, personal expenses, and medical expenses. Students should expect to work closely with faculty on specific research projects and to attend weekly seminars, participate in discussions, and go on field trips.

 

Subject areas: Science and medicine

Location: Stanford University campus, San Francisco Bay Area, California

Stipend: No stipend is provided for this program

Application deadline: Usually mid-March

Program dates: 5 weeks usually from the end of June to the end of July

Program selectivity: Moderate to high, the program only admits 24 students

Eligibility: Must be low-income, first-generation high school juniors who live in Northern California

 

This program is an immersive, on-campus experience centered around the health sciences and medicine. Students are mentored by medical professionals, faculty, and university students. Students can expect to attend lectures, participate in professional development workshops, make key connections at Stanford Medicine networking events, and hone research skills on a public health disparities research project.

 

Students are also placed in hospital internships where they can apply the skills and knowledge they acquire in the classroom portion of the program. They do hands-on laboratory work and actively participate in patient interaction. The goal of the internships is to provide exposure to the various health and medical professions.


This program is a good fit for students who are interested in the medical field, but don’t have a lot of family experience with university education or programs.

 

Subject areas: Engineering

Location: University of Washington

Stipend: No stipend is provided

Application deadline: Varies from year to year

Program dates: This program is a five-day introduction to engineering that normally starts at the end of June and runs each week until the end of July

Program selectivity: Low to moderate selectivity

Eligibility: Must be a high school sophomore or junior during the current academic year. Must attend high school in the greater Seattle area. Students from underrepresented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply

 

This program offers an introduction to engineering, so it’s a good fit for students who are interested in the field, but need more experience. It runs from 10am to 4pm each day, so even though it’s only five days long in total, it’s still immersive. The program is hands-on and students should expect to work on engineering design challenges, work with university engineering students and faculty, and research how different engineering disciplines make an impact. Students are responsible for their transportation to and from the UW Seattle campus.

 

Like the Stanford medical program, this one is a solid fit for students who might be new to the college experience or to engineering as a field. It doesn’t offer quite the boost to your CV as some other programs simply because it’s on the short side and it’s not as competitive, but if you just need to build up your foundation and make connections, it’s a great summer program to start with.

 

Subject areas: Science and Engineering

Location: Multiple locations around the country

Stipend: Yes, but varies by internship location and duration

Application deadline: Rolling deadlines based on location. The application opens in December each year, so this is the time to check for locations and deadlines

Program dates: Varies by location, but always during the summer

Program selectivity: Competitive

Eligibility: Must be a current high school student, additional requirements based on location. Some locations require that applicants be military-connected

 

This program allows you to work closely with university faculty and Department of Defense professional scientists and engineers. The internships take place in a university research lab or in a US Army Research Laboratory and Center.

 

Students can expect to spend a significant amount of time in the lab, and the program emphasizes learning STEM culture as much as exposing students to high-tech equipment and cutting edge research techniques. Interns receive formal mentorship and multiple opportunities to learn from other STEM practitioners, which is great for networking. The program also provides office hours with more advanced interns, webinars, and workshops.

 

The program provides a stipend, but meals, transportation, and housing are not provided.

 

Subject areas: Libraries and museums, writing, public speaking, and public programming

Location: Library of Congress, Washington DC, hybrid

Stipend: No

Application deadline: Usually early spring, but varies by year

Program dates: Usually mid-June to mid-July

Program selectivity: Moderate

Eligibility: Current high school students aged 16 or older

 

This internship is designed specifically for students who want to work with primary sources. Applicants are expected to come into the program with strong research and writing skills. The program lasts 4-weeks and interns are expected to be available 10am-330pm for training, workshops, and peer groups. You’ll need to be in the DC area and able to go to the library one day a week.

 

You can expect to learn about the Library of Congress, help with the Center for Learning, Literacy and Engagement development, and create content to support family and youth engagement. This internship is unique because of the level of public engagement. You’ll also produce content for interpretive guides for young audiences, research collection materials for items on display in exhibits, advise on program models for teens at the Library, and contextualize information and present it in verbal or written formats.

 

This internship is a solid fit for students who want to hone their public speaking skills and put their research and writing skills to work. One of the huge benefits is that you’ll produce tangible and quantifiable work, almost like building a research portfolio.

 

Subject areas: Law

Location: Chicago

Stipend: No

Application deadline: Rolling deadline

Program dates: Rolling dates

Program selectivity: Competitive

Eligibility: Academic excellence and interest in public service. You do NOT need to be a city resident to volunteer. Must be a high school or college student.

 

Technically, this volunteer program appears to be open year-round, but it would be a great summer opportunity. The program is free and allows high school students to work closely with a large legal organization. The Department of Law is focused on public service and volunteers can expect a challenging and rewarding experience.

 

One of the major goals of the volunteer program is to give students an opportunity to get a realistic picture of law and public service. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate an interest in public service in your application, but you can expect to gain valuable insights on legal experience by working on complex and diverse legal projects. You can also expect to conduct research and analysis, shadow attorneys and law students, and see the legal system at work first-hand.

 

The Chicago Department of Law is one of the largest law firms in the country and covers all types of legal issues from criminal prosecutions to federal civil rights litigation to real estate transactions. You can expect to work hard during this internship and to make valuable connections, but also expect to work independently.

 

This might not be a great fit for students who are looking for 1:1 mentorship ratios or who want a classroom-oriented summer program experience. But if you’re confident in your research skills, have a willingness to learn on the job, and are passionate about law, this could be a great fit for you.

 

Subject areas: Foreign languages

Location: Fort Meade, Maryland

Stipend: Varies by education level

Application deadline: Applications accepted between September 1 and October 31

Program dates: 12 weeks from mid-May to mid-August

Program selectivity: Highly selective

Eligibility: High school seniors at least 16 years of age

 

All of the NSA internships, scholarships and co-ops are paid, with the salary based on education level. Their summer program is called the Gifted and Talented Language Program. This program requires applicants to come to the internship with aptitude in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Farsi, or Arabic. Students should expect to spend a lot of time working with their foreign language and gaining valuable work experience.

They also offer a school year work study program that runs from September to August and covers a wider variety of fields.

 

Both internships are much more work focused than academic and students are expected to come to their programs with a high aptitude in their field, making them a great fit for students who have a clear vision for what they want, an interest in government work, and a strong drive to work relatively independently.

 

Subject areas: Biomedical research

Location: Seattle, WA

Stipend: No

Application deadline: Applications accepted from the beginning of January to mid-March

Program dates: Varies by year, but usually the beginning of July to the beginning of August (4-week program)

Program selectivity: Competitive

Eligibility: Rising juniors, seniors, or graduating seniors who have not yet applied to college are eligible to apply. Applicants should also demonstrate a strong interest in a medical science field and students from underrepresented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

 

This in-person program is led by PhD-level scientists and educators and is focused on immersing students in a research laboratory environment. Students can expect to learn about biochemistry, immunotherapy, gene editing, and infectious diseases. The program also provides career workshops and exploration and college readiness prep. Stipends are available to offset transportation and meal costs, and the program is intended for students who live within commuting distance of Seattle.

 

The program has a stronger focus on hands-on research and work experience than classroom time, but still provides a lot of support from instructors through supplemental lectures and workshops. You should expect to treat this internship like a full-time job and spend roughly eight hours a day at the hospital, five days a week for four weeks. Finally, you are expected to complete a group research project and presentation.


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.


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