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10 Free Summer Programs for High School Students in New Jersey (NJ)

Summer is not just a break from school, it is a solid opportunity for you to expand your horizons, find new interests, and prepare yourself for future academic and personal success. In this article, we will explore many free summer programs for students who live in New Jersey- spanning a diverse array of disciplines from humanities to STEM fields. These programs offer more than just academic enrichment; they provide invaluable experiences, skill development, and personal growth opportunities. Continuing your education through summer programs not only keeps you engaged during your summer break, but also sets you up for a solid CV and college application. Admissions officers value applicants who go the extra mile to engage in a subject outside of the classroom, and work towards gaining advanced skills during the summer, rather than simply sticking to their academic schedule. 

The Governor's School of New Jersey in Engineering & Technology is an exclusive program that allows ambitious high school juniors the opportunity to study at Rutgers University's esteemed School of Engineering. Schools can nominate one applicant for every 325 members of their junior class to this competitive program as they only admit less than 100 students each summer. Offering both on and off campus opportunities, this summer program allows students a break from their four academic courses to visit 2-3 local corporations in order to glean insights into prospective career paths. 

This summer program is free of grades and official credits. As a participant, you will engage in collaborative endeavors and investigative undertakings, including workshops, corporate excursions, and interactions with esteemed faculty, industry professionals, and peers statewide- with the culmination of your experience being a comprehensive presentation or demonstration of you and your peers’ research projects on a STEM subject of your choice. 


Location: Rutgers University, NJ. 

Application Deadline: January 12, 2024. While this date has passed, this would be a great application to get ahead of for next summer. 

Program Dates: July 1st-25th, 2024.

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors living in New Jersey. 

The NJIT Provost Summer Research enterprise gives hands-on STEM project experience through faculty-centered grants and research centers to explore different STEM fields. The program's structure allows students to dive into a specific research project of their choice, under the guidance of a faculty advisor. You will experience the many stages of research, from the first stages of design, to hypothesizing and data collection, to analysis and finally presentation. 

For your research project, you will get to collaborate with your own research team of undergraduate students, graduate students and even postdoctoral researchers. At the end of your internship, you will get to present an electronic poster at the annual Summer Research Symposium and present on your project and its outcomes to faculty and their peers. 

Location: New Jersey Institute of Technology, NJ. 

Application Deadline: February 26th, 2024.

Program Dates: June 24th, 2024 - August 1st, 2024.

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors or seniors with an unweighted GPA of 3.75 or higher.

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory offers this opportunity to immerse yourself in the cutting-edge world of plasma physics at one of the nation's premier research institutions. This program is geared towards high school seniors who have both a strong interest, and academic proficiency, in plasma physics. These internships, offered during both the academic semester as well as during summer break, present a unique chance to collaborate with professionals in the field of plasma physics, fusion energy, and other related disciplines.

This program offers hands-on experience working on projects alongside the laboratory's esteemed research and engineering staff. Your time with the program will be full of diverse activities, spanning from experimental work to computational simulations while you hone your practical skills and gain valuable insights into scientific research methodologies. Internships are available during fall and spring semesters as well- during which you could receive academic credit. Applicants are encouraged to possess a strong background in physics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, engineering, as well as proficiency in computer languages and coding.

Location: Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, NJ.

Application Deadline: March 1st, 2024.

Program Dates: 8-10 weeks in the summer (Monday-Friday). Internship dates depend on the student’s school schedule. 

Eligibility: Applicants must be rising seniors in high school and are encouraged to possess a strong background in physics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, engineering, as well as proficiency in computer languages and coding.

Another Princeton University summer program that is geared more towards those proficient in humanities is the Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP), a prestigious opportunity designed for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. With this unique blended program, you will engage in dynamic online sessions in July and in-person sessions in August. These sessions, all led by distinguished journalists from across the nation, will provide you the opportunity to learn from individuals with true experiences in the field of journalism.

The residential phase is hosted on campus at Princeton University. You will be able to experience the authentic ivy league college experience by living in the university’s dormitories and attending workshops and lectures facilitated by seasoned educators and journalists. The curriculum covers different topics, including humanities, arts, culture, social phenomena, and history, while fostering a comprehensive understanding of journalism within its broader context. You will also be able to collaborate with Princeton college counselors to refine your college applications- an unparalleled experience! 

The program also extends beyond the classroom with visits to prominent news organizations such as The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg. You and your peers will get hands-on experience through an array of activities including coverage of professional sports events, local news reporting in the Princeton area, digital content creation, cultural event attendance, and investigative journalism. Your collective efforts will then culminate in the creation of The Princeton Summer Journal, a testament to the program’s unwavering commitment to journalistic excellence in reporting, writing, editing, and design.

Location: Online & on Princeton University’s campus. 

Application Deadline: February 15th, 2024.

Program Dates: Online workshops throughout July and a 10-day residential experience on Princeton's campus in early August. 

Eligibility: You must be a rising high school junior and must meet at least one of the socioeconomic conditions listed here can apply.

M.I.N.D.S. (Medical Internship Navigating Diversity and Science) is a six-week, paid internship program tailored for high school juniors and seniors from underrepresented or economically disadvantaged backgrounds who aspire to pursue a career in medicine. This summer program offers students an inside look into various medical disciplines, allowing students a preview of the multifaceted realm of healthcare professions.The program places an emphasis on hands-on learning through medical simulations and educational excursions, blending theoretical knowledge with practical exposure. 

As a participant, you'll also earn your CPR/BLS Certification, a vital credential essential for every aspiring medical practitioner. Through M.I.N.D.S. students will also get to learn about the social factors of healthcare and how environmental factors, social standing, and educational access can influence health outcomes. A focal point of the program involves the conception and implementation of a research endeavor centered on health disparities prevalent in New Jersey.

Location: Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, NJ 

Application Deadline: May 1st, 2024. 

Program Dates: 6 weeks, July-August. 

Eligibility: Financially disadvantaged high school juniors and seniors.

The Summer Entrepreneurship and Business Academy (SEBA) hosted by Stockton University School of Business offers an opportunity for local high school students to immerse themselves in the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and business management before beginning their careers in the workforce. Throughout your time at the academy, you and your peers will delve into a diverse array of business topics including accounting, finance, marketing, and more. You will also engage in a high-stakes business plan competition evaluated by esteemed faculty, advisory board members, and industry leaders.

SEBA is a week-long program with an itinerary full of entrepreneurial endeavors, networking, and enlightening field trips. Designed for rising high school juniors and seniors, this academy provides a holistic experience that fosters both personal and professional growth as participants will not only enhance their knowledge, but also gain firsthand insight into undergraduate life by living on campus. During your time with SEBA, you and your business team will forge partnerships and collaborate on developing innovative business ventures. At the end of the program, teams will present their business plans, vying for the chance to win cash prizes – $500 for the 1st Place Team, $300 for the 2nd Place Team, and $200 for the 3rd Place Team.

Location: Stockton University, Galloway NJ. 

Application Deadline: In the past, the application deadline was June 17th. 

Program Dates: July 14th-20th, 2024. 

Eligibility: Must be a high school sophomore or junior.

The Think Like an Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TLAE) is a non-residential educational program tailored for rising high school juniors and seniors. Throughout the program, you will learn about the intricacies of entrepreneurship while earning 3 college credits (equivalent to a full college course), which will be applicable at Rowan University or transferable to other institutions.

You and your peers will confront real-world challenges faced by today’s entrepreneurs, ranging from business models and customer engagement to financial analysis, and venture pitching. During the entirety of this program, students are assigned to teams and tasked with addressing one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while still learning each day about  diverse subjects such as design thinking, prototyping, financial analysis, and effective storytelling. At the end of the academy, you and your team will present a pitch and showcase your innovative solutions to a distinguished panel of industry judges. 

Location: Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ. 

Application Deadline: June 2nd, 2024. 

Program Dates: June 24th-27th, 2024. 

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors. 

The Laboratory Learning Program is a prestigious research experience tailored for high school students passionate about the sciences or engineering. This opportunity offers students the chance to engage in and contribute to ongoing research projects under the close mentorship of Princeton faculty and research personnel. The program has flexible participation dates to align with the schedules of research personnel and project requirements though they typically span 5-6 weeks during regular 'office hours' over the summer. This means interns can dive into their chosen research area without evening or weekend obligations. 

It is important, however, to note that the Laboratory Learning Program differs from traditional summer camps in that it does not provide housing, transportation, or entertainment. LLP students are not eligible for Princeton University housing leasing or subleasing but this free summer program is still an unparalleled opportunity for high schoolers to immerse themselves in scientific inquiry and engineering innovation on one of the most prestigious campuses in the world. This highly competitive program attracts a large pool of applicants, typically receiving over 700 submissions. 

Location: Princeton University’s campus in Princeton, New Jersey. 

Application Deadline: March 15th, 2024. 

Program Dates: Research activities take place during normal business hours daily. Most opportunities require a commitment of at least 5 weeks during the summer. 

Eligibility: Must be 16 years old by June 15th, 2024. 

Discover valuable hands-on experience through the Mercer County department's esteemed summer internship program. This program, available for high school and college students, offers a paid opportunity to cultivate practical skills and gain real-world insights essential for academic success and professional growth. With a diverse range of internship positions available across various departments, including Administration, Boards & Authorities, Constitutional Offices, and more, you and your peers can explore your interests while contributing to meaningful projects.

Throughout the program, you will engage in career-oriented activities curated by the Mercer County Office of Personnel. These activities aim to teach you new techniques, refine existing skills, and guide you and your peers in exploring potential career trajectories in public administration. 

Location: Mercer County, NJ 

Application Deadline: April 30th, 2024.

Program Dates: High school students can begin their internship at the end of their school year, which typically occurs at the end of June. The last day for all students in the summer internship program is the Friday before Labor Day weekend.

Eligibility: Students who are at least 15 years old and either live or study in Mercer County can apply.

The Explorers Program, a transformative initiative offered by the Newark Museum, is designed to equip Newark-area high school students with the essential skills and self-confidence needed for college, career, and life readiness by drawing upon the Museum's rich collections, resources, and expertise. This program places an emphasis on self-discovery, pushing students to find their passion and strengths while honing skills as public speakers, educators, researchers, and leaders. 

As an Explorer, you will get to engage in a variety of enriching experiences, including working within different Museum departments, where you'll lead projects, and gain invaluable real-life experience across various job roles and fields of study. Additionally, you'll partake in workshops focused on leadership development, public speaking, team-building, and work on multiple projects rooted in STEM learning principles.

Location: Newark Museum, NJ.

Application Deadline: June 1st, 2024.

Program Dates: Orientation begins in October.

Eligibility: You must be a rising freshman, sophomore, junior attending a Newark school or residing in Newark.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I 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.

Mandy Brenner is a current junior at Harvard University. She is concentrating in History and Literature and loves to read and write in her free time.

Image Source: NJIT logo



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