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10 Humanities Summer Programs for High School Students

If you are interested in the humanities, these programs will offer a unique and enriching opportunity for you! These programs, which typically focus on areas like literature, history, philosophy, and the arts, provide an immersive educational experience. By participating in a humanities summer program, you will have the chance to delve deeply into subjects that intrigue you, guided by experts in the field!

Participation in a humanities summer program can also be a significant boost to your college applications. Colleges and universities are increasingly looking for students who demonstrate a passion for learning and the ability to think critically and creatively. Your experience in a summer program showcases your dedication to academic exploration and your willingness to challenge yourself beyond regular school curriculum. It also provides you with unique experiences and perspectives that can make your college essays and interviews more compelling. Not only will these programs enrich your high school experience, it will also set you apart as a well-rounded and intellectually curious applicant, making you more attractive to prospective colleges!

Location: Cornell University, University of Maryland, and University of Michigan

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: January 3

Program Dates: June 23-August 3

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors. Participants must be at least age 15 and no older than age 18 at the start of the program (June 23, 2024). Black and indigenous students, other students of color, and/or students who have experienced economic hardship are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS) is a remarkable opportunity for you if you are a sophomore or junior who is passionate about the humanities. This prestigious program, completely free of charge, offers a six-week summer educational experience that goes far beyond the typical classroom setting. The program’s philosophy centers around fostering critical thinking and building a strong, democratic community among its attendees. Telluride Association covers all associated costs, including tuition, books, room and board, field trips, and facilities fees, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder talented students from benefiting from this enriching experience. TASS not only provides you with an academic challenge but also surrounds you with a supportive community of like-minded individuals.

During your time at TASS, your days will be filled with rigorous academic engagement. Each weekday, you will participate in a three-hour, college-level class that encompasses a range of dynamic educational activities. These include stimulating discussions, small-group work, and lectures delivered by faculty experts. The curriculum is designed to challenge and expand your intellectual horizons, requiring you to engage with a variety of materials such as books, articles, films, and art. You will also have the opportunity to enhance your writing skills by composing essays throughout the summer, with the benefit of receiving constructive feedback from the instructor team. Outside of class, you and your fellow TASSers will collaborate to make democratic decisions about various aspects of your communal life. This includes planning group activities, organizing community service projects, managing a program budget, and fostering an inclusive community atmosphere. For a deep dive into TASS and tips for applying, check out this article!

Location: Virtual 


- Lumiere Individual Research Program - $2,800

- Lumiere Premium Research and Publication Program - $4,800 

- Lumiere Research Fellowship - $8,400 

Application deadline: Rolling, cohort-based.

Program dates: Varies 

Eligibility: High school students 

Established by PhDs from Harvard and Oxford, the Lumiere Research Scholars Program is a great opportunity for you if you want to dive into academic research in high school. As a participant, you will have the unique chance to work one-on-one with a PhD mentor, who will guide you through the process of developing an independent research paper. This mentorship is a core aspect of the program, offering personalized guidance and insight that is often unavailable in traditional classroom settings. Whether your interest lies in history, education, sociology, or law, Lumiere provides a platform for you to explore these disciplines deeply. The program encourages you to not only learn about your chosen field but also to contribute to it, fostering a sense of ownership and pride in your academic work.

The Lumiere Research Scholars Program not only enhances your understanding of a specific humanities discipline but also equips you with essential research skills. Through this program, you will learn how to formulate research questions, conduct thorough literature reviews, and develop arguments supported by evidence. Completing an independent research paper under the guidance of a PhD mentor not only bolsters your academic profile but also provides a tangible demonstration of your intellectual curiosity and capability. This can be particularly beneficial for college applications, where demonstrating a commitment to and capacity for advanced scholarly work can set you apart. Apply here!

Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!

Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas. The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 

You can explore all the options in humanities-oriented subjects here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 

Interns are offered one-on-one training in communication, time management and other such valuable skills and will also have the opportunity to attend group training sessions with other interns in their cohort. The virtual internship is usually 8 weeks long.

Location: Varies

Cost: In-person: $2,300 and Virtual: $800

Application Deadline: April 10

Program Dates: Varies

Eligibility: Students who are currently in their sophomore or junior year of high school are eligible to apply.

The Economics for Leaders program is a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, designed to deepen your understanding of economic principles in a real-world context. Through the use of simulations, the program offers experiential learning opportunities that bring economic theories to life, demonstrating their reliability and relevance in everyday scenarios. These simulations are not just educational but also engaging, allowing you to experience firsthand the dynamics of economic decision-making. Additionally, the program is led by outstanding economics instructors who are committed to fostering critical thinking about complex social problems. They encourage you to examine current national and international issues, promoting discussions that are not only intellectually stimulating but also pertinent to understanding the global economic landscape. This approach ensures that you not only learn economic concepts but also develop the ability to apply them critically to contemporary issues.

The curriculum of the Economics for Leaders program is structured around 10 key topics, each taught in the context of 5 Economic Reasoning Propositions (ERPs). These ERPs include crucial themes such as Economic Growth and Scarcity, Opportunity Cost, Open Markets, Markets in Action, and Labor Markets. Additionally, you will explore the dynamics of Incentives, Innovation, and the Role of Institutions, delve into the significance of Property Rights, and understand the complexities of Government, Money & Inflation, and International Markets. The program is also somewhat selective, with approximately 25-40 students accepted at each site, depending on specific campus restrictions. This small class size ensures personalized attention and an intimate learning environment where you can engage deeply with the material and your peers. For a deep dive into EFL, check out this article!

Location: Online and in-person

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: February 15

Program Dates: A multi-week, hybrid summer intensive beginning with online workshops in July and culminating in a 10-day residential experience on Princeton's campus in early August

Eligibility: Be a junior in high school at the time of application, Live in the United States and intend to attend college here, Have a minimum unweighted grade point average equivalent to a 3.5 out of 4.0, Have an interest in journalism, Meet at least one of the socioeconomic conditions listed here

The Princeton Summer Journalism Program is a great way for you to dive into the world of journalism, blending online workshops, lectures, and a residential institute to provide a multifaceted learning opportunity. Throughout the month of July, you will engage in online sessions with distinguished journalists from across the country, immersing yourselves in the intricacies of the field. These workshops not only cover essential journalistic skills but also include discussions on current events, ensuring that you stay informed about the ever-evolving landscape of news and media.

An integral aspect of the program is the residential institute, where you move from your hometowns to Princeton University. This immersive experience involves staying in University undergraduate dorms and attending workshops and lectures conducted by renowned educators and journalists. The curriculum takes a liberal arts approach, encompassing discussions on humanities, arts, culture, social events, and history, enriching students' contextual understanding of journalism. Moreover, you collaborate with college counselors to advance components of your college applications, highlighting the program's commitment to both journalistic excellence and academic preparation. 

The hands-on nature of the program is exemplified by a myriad of activities. You witness journalism in action through visits to major news organizations like The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg. They cover professional sports events, report on news in the Princeton area, produce digital content, attend cultural productions, and even undertake investigative reporting. The culmination of their efforts is the creation of The Princeton Summer Journal, a student-authored newspaper that reflects their collective dedication to reporting, writing, editing, and design. For a deep dive into this program, check out this article!

Location: Texas Tech University

Cost: Free

Application deadline: February 15 

Program dates: June 16 to August 1

Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 17 years of age by the program start date, and should graduate in 2023 or 2024. International students are eligible to apply.

The Anson L. Clark Scholar Program is a highly selective and enriching opportunity for you if you have a deep interest in the humanities. This intensive seven-week summer research program, designed for twelve highly qualified students, offers a chance to immerse yourself in advanced research. History and economics are two of the key research areas you can explore, allowing you to delve into topics that resonate with your academic interests. As a participant, you will engage in independent research under the guidance of expert mentors, gaining valuable experience in academic inquiry and research methodology. This program is more than just an academic exercise; it's a journey into the depths of historical events and economic theories, where you can contribute your own insights and perspectives. 

In this program, you will find yourself among a small, select group of peers who share your passion for learning and discovery. The program's focus on history and economics will enable you to explore the interconnectedness of these disciplines, understanding how historical events have shaped economic systems and vice versa. You will have access to resources and tools that support your research, offering a glimpse into the world of professional scholarship. Additionally, the experience gained through this program will be invaluable in your college applications and future academic pursuits. For a deep dive into this program, check out this article!

Location: Washington DC

Cost: Free, Paid hourly stipend 

Program dates: 8 weeks (June - August)

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: Current high school juniors and seniors 

The Bank of America Student Leaders Program is a great opportunity for you if you have an interest in the humanities and community service. This program provides more than just an educational experience; it offers a practical, hands-on approach to learning about social issues and leadership. As a participant, you will be engaged in a paid eight-week internship with notable nonprofits such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity. This experience allows you to contribute meaningfully to community projects while gaining real-world insights into how nonprofit organizations operate. 

In addition to the hands-on internship experience, the Bank of America Student Leaders Program also includes participation in the national Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. This summit is a unique feature of the program, offering you an insider's view of how nonprofits, governments, and businesses collaborate to meet local needs. During the summit, you will interact with peers from across the country, engage in workshops, and listen to speakers from various sectors, providing you with a broader perspective on community service and leadership. You will learn about the complexities of policy-making, the intricacies of community engagement, and the critical role of collaboration in addressing societal issues. For a deep dive into this program, check out this article!

Location: Various cities

Cost: $2000

Program dates: Six weeks 

Application Deadline: April

Eligibility: High School Students

The ABA's Judicial Intern Opportunity Program is an exceptional opportunity for high school students to intern with federal or state judges across the United States. This program aims to promote diversity and inclusivity in the legal profession by encouraging talented students from all backgrounds to explore careers in law. Participants get hands-on experience in a court environment, observe trials, and engage in legal research. As an intern, you'll have the unique privilege of working directly with judges and their chambers, experiencing the judicial system from the inside. You'll have the opportunity to engage in legal research, writing, and observe court proceedings, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the legal process and invaluable practical skills.

The JIOP is best for those who are genuinely committed to pursuing a career in law, specifically those interested in working within the judicial branch of government. This program offers a golden opportunity to get your foot in the door of the legal profession, build a network of legal professionals, and gain the kind of real-world experience that can be instrumental in shaping your legal career. 

Location: University of Southern California Campus

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: March 31

Program Dates: June 17 – July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Students must reside and attend high school in Los Angeles County to be eligible to apply

The University of Southern California's Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement (AYA) is a transformative four-week summer intensive that is perfect for you if you have a keen interest in sociology and a passion for exploring the intersection of media, communication, and civic engagement. AYA brings together 26 talented students from the local communities surrounding USC's University Park and Health Science Campuses, offering you an immersive academic experience that mirrors first-year college-level courses. The program fosters a deep conceptual understanding of the vital role that media communications and journalism play in shaping civic-minded thought leaders and innovators.

AYA's curriculum is carefully crafted to enhance your skills in various domains, including writing, critical thinking, public speaking and debate, multimedia production, interviewing, and ethnography. These competencies are not only valuable for academic success but also essential for thriving in the 21st century. You will gain exposure to USC Annenberg's undergraduate programs, services, and potential careers in media and journalism, providing you with a comprehensive view of your future academic and professional pathways. Additionally, you will have the unique opportunity to engage with USC Annenberg's innovative scholars who are at the forefront of advancing critical issues related to race, gender, and ethnicity in communication and journalism communities of practice. AYA will empower you to become media-savvy, civic-minded individuals equipped to contribute meaningfully to your communities and to address pressing social issues through the lens of communication and journalism. For a deep dive into this program, check out this program!

Location: Stanford Campus

Cost: $8,250

Application Deadline: February 1

Program Dates: 3 weeks 

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors

The Stanford Summer Humanities Institute is a great opportunity for you if you are passionate about sociology and want to dive deeper into the humanities, immersing yourself in fields of inquiry that are often beyond the scope of standard high school curriculum. One of the program's distinctive features is its emphasis on original research projects. During the third week, you will collaborate closely with Stanford professors, graduate students, and writing mentors to create your own research projects, fostering a sense of academic independence and critical inquiry. This hands-on experience allows you to explore sociological topics of your choice, encouraging you to engage deeply with the subject matter and apply your knowledge in a meaningful way.

A course within this program is "Racial Identity in the American Imagination." This course delves into the complex and ever-relevant topic of racial identity in the United States, examining its evolution throughout American history. You will explore a diverse range of historical, legal, and literary texts and films to analyze the ways racial identity has been experienced, represented, and contested. The course engages with major historical transformations that have shaped our understanding of racial identity, providing a comprehensive view of the sociological dimensions of race in American society. The Stanford Summer Humanities Institute empowers you to cultivate your research skills, deepen your understanding of complex societal issues, and gain valuable insights into the humanities, ultimately preparing you for future academic and professional pursuits in sociology and related fields. For a deep dive into this program, check out this article!

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 (YYGS) session on Politics, Law, & Economics (PLE) is an enriching program designed for high school students like you, who are eager to explore the complex realms of economics, government, and law. This session is specifically aimed at students interested in understanding a variety of economic theories, the values and practices of government, and legal frameworks from both historical and comparative perspectives. As a participant, you will engage in an in-depth study of topics such as public policy, human rights, market regulation, governance structures, international policy, and the dynamics of conflict and cooperation across borders. By exploring these areas, you will gain insights into how economic, legal, and political systems have evolved and how they continue to shape our world, providing a solid foundation for any future study or career in these fields.

During the PLE session at YYGS, you will find yourself developing critical thinking and analytical skills that are essential for a nuanced understanding of social systems and contemporary global issues. The program encourages you to examine present-day challenges through the lenses of economic, legal, and political theory. This interdisciplinary approach is a key feature of the session, allowing you to draw on various perspectives to build a comprehensive understanding of the topics within the session theme. For instance, you might find yourself grappling with questions like what types of resistance movements lead to lasting political change, or how innovations in social media are reshaping protest movements today. Another critical area of exploration could be the challenges in tackling criminal economic activities that cross international borders, and how policymakers can design effective solutions to these issues. 

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to further enhance your applications, 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: TASS


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