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11 Free Summer Programs for High School Students in Maryland

If you’re a high school student located in Maryland and looking for free programs to build your skills over the summer, we’ve got you covered! Participating in a summer program will allow you to explore beyond the traditional classroom setting, cultivate new skills, and network with peers and mentors. 


Many universities and research centers in Maryland offer free or fully-funded summer programs, especially for talented high school students, as the high costs can be a deterrent for a lot of students. Fully funded programs can add a prestigious and professional touch to your college applications and help you create a strong portfolio! Beyond academics, these programs can also help you explore potential career paths and guide you in your future academic and professional endeavors.


Here are 10 of the best free summer programs for high school students in Maryland spanning various fields including business, STEM, art, hospitality, leadership, and more!


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!

Application Deadline: Varying deadlines based on cohort. The main summer deadlines are March 15, April 15, and May 15. The upcoming summer cohort deadline is June 26, 2024.

Dates: The summer cohort runs from June to August, the Fall cohort from September to December, the Winter cohort from December to February, and the Spring cohort from March to June. The upcoming summer cohort starts on July 15, 2024 (The program options range from 12 weeks to 1 year).

Cost: Full financial aid is available!


The Lumiere Research Scholar Program 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 psychology, physics, economics, data science, computer science, engineering, chemistry, international relations, and more. You can find more details about the application here!


Location: Virtual 

Application Date: May 21, 2024 for the summer cohort, and September 25, 2024 for the fall cohort 

Program Dates: 

  • Summer seminar - June 24, 2024 - September 2, 2024

  • Fall seminar - October 23, 2024 - February 19, 2025

  • Lab dates are flexible, but you must apply 4 weeks in advance.

Eligibility: High school students with good academic standing (>3.67/4.0 GPA) can apply. Most accepted students are 10th/11th graders! Only a couple of tracks require formal prerequisites, more details of which can be found here.


Horizon offers trimester-long research programs for high school students across subject areas such as data science, machine learning, political theory, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, and more! It is one of the very few research programs for high school students that offers a choice between quantitative and qualitative research! 


Once you select a particular subject track and type of research you’ll be paired with a professor or Ph.D. scholar (from a top university) who will mentor you throughout your research journey. You’ll work to create a 20-page, university-level research paper that you can send to prestigious journals for publication as a high school student. 


This program is a solid opportunity for you to pursue a research program in highly specialized fields, under the guidance of a top scholar. The program also provides a letter of recommendation for each student, as well as detailed project feedback that you can use to work on future projects and on college applications. Apply here!


Location: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Eligibility: Students are eligible to attend BRBT in the summer between their junior and senior year as well as their post-senior year summer. The applicants must live within Baltimore City limits and attend a Baltimore City Public School.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 9 - August 9, 2024 (5 weeks)

Cost/Stipend: No cost; The hourly pay rate is $15 per hour.


This competitive, paid program provides Baltimore City high school students with hands-on research in the field of quantitative biophysics. You’ll get to work at Johns Hopkins University five days a week for six weeks. You’ll work in a cohort with other high school students and undergraduates, conducting research in state-of-the-art laboratories. You’ll be mentored by graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty.


You’ll get to work in a high-tech teaching laboratory equipped with the latest in research instrumentation under the guidance of a full-time instructor. You’ll also spend time in the classroom to learn valuable concepts that form the foundation of your experiments. Your work will start with learning how to prepare reagents and materials and then move on to microbiology techniques and DNA protein engineering!


Location: Virtual

Eligibility: Rising 9th - 12th grade students can apply.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Dates: July 29 - August 2, 2024

Cost: Free


This virtual program, hosted by current Maryland Engineering students, was initiated through the RISE Program (the Clark School’s Leadership Academy) in partnership with the Women in Engineering Program. This program, designed for women high school students (rising 9th - 12th graders) but open to all gender identities, provides an introduction to engineering through the field of research. This week-long course is hosted online from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm and is designed to introduce high school students to the different fields of engineering and research. 


You will get to explore different engineering disciplines each day of the week as they learn about various engineering research labs at the University of Maryland. You will also learn how to read and write scientific research papers, participate in at-home friendly experiments, and engage with current Maryland Engineering undergraduate students.


Location: NIH main campus in Bethesda, MD.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be high school juniors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 should apply if their grades have shown steady improvement.

  • Live in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia within 40 miles of the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in January.

Dates: July 2 - August 1, 2024.

Cost/Stipend: No cost; $2,300 - $2,530 (monthly stipend before graduation)

$2,570 - $2,840 (monthly stipend after graduation).


Conducted by the National Institute of Health, the HiSTEP program offers internships in the areas of biomedical engineering and healthcare. The program aims to expand the pipeline of students interested in biomedical and healthcare careers by expanding opportunities for high school students. This program is for rising 12th graders from schools where 30% or more students participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. 


You’ll learn about research and healthcare careers through lectures, research group visits, networking events, small group discussions, and group projects. You will also receive guidance on the college application process, develop career readiness and leadership skills, and participate in a resilience and well-being program. Spanning over 5 weeks in Bethesda, MD, you'll delve into the scope of the scientific enterprise and the importance of biomedical research and other STEM-M careers. 


Location: University of Maryland, College Park, MD 

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors. Participants must be at least 15 and no older than 18 at the start of the program. Black and Indigenous students, other students of color, and/or students who have experienced economic hardship are strongly encouraged to apply!

Application Deadline: The deadline for TASS 2024 was January 3. Dates TBD for 2025!

Dates: 6 weeks, between June to August. The 2024 program sessions will run from June 23 to August 3.

Cost: Free


If you’re a sophomore or junior with a passion for the liberal arts, the Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS) offers an exceptional opportunity. This prestigious, six-week program is entirely free and focuses on fostering critical thinking and building a supportive community. TASS covers all costs, ensuring financial barriers don’t hinder talented students. 


Expect rigorous academic engagement with three-hour daily classes led by expert faculty, including discussions, group work, and lectures. You’ll also hone your writing skills through essay assignments. Beyond academics, TASS encourages democratic decision-making in communal activities, fostering an inclusive environment where like-minded individuals thrive. For a deep dive into TASS and tips for applying, check out this article!


Location: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD (Virtual options are also available).

Eligibility: Students who are high school juniors or seniors with a minimum 2.8 GPA in the Washington-Baltimore area, at least 15 years old by June 1, and U.S. citizens can apply

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Dates: June 25 - August 22, 2024 (summer session) | September-May (academic year session) (Dates TBA).

Cost: Free


The ASPIRE program pairs high school students with staff members of the laboratory and allows them to work on a collaborative project, solve problems, and learn technical and interpersonal skills. ASPIRE offers both in-person and virtual experiences, with virtual internships being 100% online apart from in-person onboarding, equipment returns, and troubleshooting.


Interns will be asked to choose their area of interest while applying, but are not allowed to select their mentor or the project they want to work on. Students interested in pursuing medicine may opt for the biology internship to receive relevant projects. However, the biology placements are highly competitive and are more focused on biological and biomedical research than pure medicine.


Location: University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Eligibility: The applicant must:

  • Be a rising senior (must have completed 11th grade by June 2024).

  • Be able to commute to the University of Maryland campus.

  • Have a 3.2 GPA with no C’s in math or science courses.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 8 - August 2, 2024

Cost: Free


The ESTEEM Research Mentoring Program (Engineering Science and Technology to Energize and Expand Young Minds) and the Summer Engineering Research (SER)-Quest is an intensive 4-week research-focused program sponsored by the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering. It’s engineering-focused and intensive. 


During the program, you’ll get to conduct an engineering research project, study engineering concepts in the classroom, develop a research proposal, complete a literature search and review, receive college preparation and career readiness training, and meet with undergraduate and graduate students who study engineering. This program is full-time, five days a week for four weeks.


Location: Baltimore, MD

Eligibility: Applicants must be US citizens currently enrolled in high school. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are eligible to apply. Applicants must come from households with collective incomes below 200% of the federal poverty limit.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in December of the previous year.

Dates: June 17 - August 9, 2024

Cost: Free 


The Summer Academic Research Experience (SARE) Program provides students with a challenging, enriching, and personally rewarding summer experience. SARE provides its scholars with a unique exposure to modern scientific research, combined with additional tutoring to fortify academic skills. The 2024 program is commuter-only.


At Hopkins, you’ll get to engage in biomedical research while participating in rigorous courses in scientific writing and analysis, mathematics, and bioethics. You’ll commit to making daily progress - personally, professionally, and academically – as you hone your critical thinking skills and practice basic laboratory techniques. You can expect regular assignments designed to develop your knowledge and skills. You’ll be awarded a stipend for your efforts after completing the program.


Location: Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

Eligibility: Students preparing to enter the 12th grade or approved for high school graduation can apply. High school graduates who plan to begin studies in the fall at Morgan's School of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences are also eligible.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: June 17 - July 26, 2024

Cost: Free


The Summer Academy of Actuarial and Mathematical Sciences (SAAMS) Program is a rigorous academic enrichment program designed to foster excitement among high school students in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, and Computer Science. This pipeline program is within the Department of Mathematics. The SAAMS program aims to help increase the number of students who will enter mathematics and actuarial science fields. You’ll get to investigate various careers in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, and Computer Science, obtain exposure to the rigorous academic environment that is characteristic of these disciplines, acquire important time management and study skills, and also work on your critical thinking, and civic awareness, team-building, and leadership abilities.


During the program, you’ll attend Mathematics, Actuarial Science, and Computer Science classes. You’ll also attend program-related field trips and professional development sessions. Applicants are selected through a competitive application and interview process, and applicants accepted into the SAAMS program are rewarded a stipend.


Location: Columbia, Howard County, MD

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older by the program start date or in the School to Apprenticeship (youth apprenticeship) program and 16 years old with parental consent.

  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent, or be a dual-enrolled high school senior.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: Vary depending on the opportunity (Opportunities are available during the summer).

Cost/Stipend: No cost; Students receive a stipend.


HCC’s Hospitality Management Apprenticeship Programs offer a holistic approach to professional development, combining academic instruction with practical experience and industry partnerships to equip apprentices with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities necessary for a successful career in hospitality management. In these "earn-as-you-learn" programs, you will gain a solid academic foundation, essential business and technical knowledge, and on-the-job experience to work as an entry or mid-level manager in hotels, restaurants, resorts, or other facilities that provide food and beverage service or accommodations.


The Hospitality Management Apprenticeship Programs offer two occupations: Food Service Manager and Hotel and Lodging Manager. The Food Service Manager apprenticeship program provides training to become a Chef, Kitchen Manager, or Back House Manager. The Hotel and Lodging Manager apprenticeship program will teach apprentices skills to become an Event Manager, Hospitality Manager, or Hotel and Lodging Manager.



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: Lumiere logo

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