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11 Philosophy Summer Programs for High School Students

While grades and standardized test scores certainly hold value when it comes to college admissions, it's often unique experiences and displaying your varied intellectual interests that can set your application apart. Pre-college summer programs in humanities subjects such as philosophy are a great way to do that!

In this article, we’ve listed the top 10 philosophy summer programs for high school students. These programs can offer experiences that will fuel your intellectual curiosity and show college admissions officers your commitment to exploring diverse fields of knowledge.

These programs will also help you develop your critical thinking and collaborative work skills, skills that can be cited in your resume, statement of purpose, as well as interviews with admissions officers.

Application deadline: Applications typically close by late spring.

Eligibility: Students in grades 11-12 can apply.

Program dates: July 3-21 (tentatively, based on previous years)

Location: Virtual.

Fee: $4,500

Financial Assistance: Need-based financial aid is offered.

The University of Chicago’s pre-college summer session is conducted in a number of programs. The Ethics in the Digital Age course, and the Introduction to the Philosophy of Life and Death course (open to students in grades 9-11) are offered as part of the Summer College program and the Summer Immersion program, respectively. These courses allow you to explore the subject philosophy as a beginner. Both courses will encourage you to dive into philosophical discussions, studying critical thinking, ethics, metaphysics, and other branches of philosophy under the guidance of experienced faculty. Please note, the Introduction to the Philosophy of Life and Death is a part of the in-person program. The fees for this course are $8,350, which includes housing and meals.

While the ethics course is an undergraduate-level college course, the second one is primarily for high school students. In Ethics in the Digital Age, you will study the philosophy of technology, and take a step back to reflect on today’s digital advances, by bringing together the work of philosophers, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists.

In the Introduction to the Philosophy of Life and Death, you will focus on how philosophy arises in response to problems in the conditions of human life, especially our mortality and the prevalence of social injustice.

Application deadline: April 10, 2024

Eligibility: Students who will graduate from high school and enter college in 2024, 2025, or 2026; and are at least 16 years old by June 22, 2024, and will not turn 19 years old before July 31, 2024, are eligible to apply.

Program Dates: 4-week session (July 14, 2024 - August 9, 2024) | 7-week session (June 22 - August 10, 2024)

Location: The 4-week session is residential, conducted at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. The 7-week session has residential, commuter and online options.

Fee: $75 application fee + 4-week residential - $7,700 | 7-week residential - $14,250 | 7-week commuter $7,600 | 7-week online $3,900

Financial Assistance: Need-based and merit-based scholarships are offered.

Harvard Summer School’s Secondary School Program (SSP) is a rigorous academic program for motivated high school students who want to take college courses and earn credit. Students can choose between the 4-week and 7-week session. While the 4-week program is residential (you’ll be staying on campus), the 7-week program has residential, commuter and online options. During the 4-week program, you will take one college-level course for 4 credits. During the 7-week program, you have the option of taking one or two courses, for 4 or 8 credits respectively.

Among the courses offered in the field of philosophy, some are Introduction to Political Philosophy, Human Ethics, and Ethics of Emerging Technologies. You can take a look at all the courses offered under this program here. These courses will introduce you to ethical theories, concepts in political philosophy, and contemporary moral issues. Through a series of lectures, seminars, and discussions, you will gain insight into the foundations of ethical and political thought and how these concepts shape our world.

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!

Application deadline: December 11, 2023 (early decision deadline) | January 16, 2024 (regular decision deadline). See all dates and deadlines here.

Eligibility: Students who are current high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors at the time of application, at least 16 years old at the start of the program, and no more than 19 years old by the last day of the program, can apply. Those applying must also not be matriculating into Stanford as a first year.

Program dates: June 22, 2024 - August 18, 2024

Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA. The program has both commuter and residential options.

Fee: $4,962 (Commuter, minimum 3 units) | $17,328 (Residential, minimum 8 credit-bearing units, which is typically 2-3 courses). Calculate your exact costs!

Financial Assistance: Merit-based and need-based tuition grants are offered.

The Stanford Summer Session, with a wide range of course options for high school students, is an 8-week intensive academic experience designed to augment your academic journey and prepare you for college. Through this program, you will have the opportunity to explore your interests in various disciplines, including philosophy. mong the courses offered in the field are Free Will & Moral Responsibility, Introduction to Formal Methods in Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion and Ethics and Politics of Public Service. With rigorous coursework taught by Stanford faculty and researchers, you will hone your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and develop your knowledge in the field of philosophy. The program's environment fosters intellectual growth, encourages creativity, and cultivates a sense of independence.

Application deadline: This information is not available at the moment. Check for updates here.

Eligibility: All high school students, including rising freshmen, are eligible.

Program dates: In 2023, the camp was held June 5-9. Students can expect similar program dates for 2024.

Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

Fee: $325. This includes instruction, lunches, materials, and facilities.

Financial Assistance: A small number of need-based scholarships are available.

The Dialectic: Philosophy Summer Camp is a week-long intellectual exploration designed for high school students. During this immersive experience, you will engage in thought-provoking questions, group discussions and instructive sessions, all structured around the camp’s theme for the year. In 2023, the camp was focused on the pervasive impact of technology under the theme "Technology: Friend or Foe?". Students discussed and learnt about the role of technology in our lives, contemplated its effects on well-being, hidden influences on actions, and self-perception.

During the camp, you will work closely with ASU's graduate students, drawing from diverse fields, including Philosophy of Technology, Social and Political Philosophy, Psychology, Behavioral Economics, and traditional Philosophy of Well-Being. This unique program not only fosters deep philosophical inquiry but also provides students with a glimpse of college life, as they dine on campus, participate in intellectual discussions, and explore the daily routines of college students.

Application deadline: In 2023, applications opened on January 18, and were accepted on a rolling basis. The last date to apply was May 12, 2023. Students can expect similar dates for the 2024 session.

Eligibility: Some courses are open to all high school students, while some are open only to rising 9th and 10th graders.

Program dates: Courses are conducted as part of a program, and each program has several session dates. It’s advisable you check the dates for your preferred courses.

Location: Most courses are held on campus at Brown University, Providence, RI, with the exception of a few that are conducted in a hybrid mode or online.

Financial Assistance: Brown Pre-college offers a few need-based scholarships.

Brown University’s Pre-College programs are designed for students keen to explore the challenges and opportunities of college, including academics and social life. While Brown Pre-College currently offers over 300 programs, 33 of them focus on philosophy and independent research fields. Some of these include: Law, Ethics and Democracy, The Intersection of Physics and Philosophy, Ethical Questions of the Information Age, Introduction to Philosophy, and The Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness. To see all the available courses, click here. You can choose the Philosophy filter when viewing the courses. These courses will either be part of the Summer@Brown, Summer@Brown Online, or STEM for Rising 9th and 10th Graders programs, all under the Brown Pre-College umbrella. While all these are non-credit programs, they offer an insight into college academics, and a chance to deep dive into a subject before you pursue it further in college. From understanding human emotions and ethics, to asking questions about our governing bodies, these courses will ignite your curiosity as you build your intellectual skills.

Application Deadline: There is no information available on this at the moment.

Eligibility: High school students entering their junior or senior year in Fall 2024 are eligible.

Program dates: July-end to mid-August (tentatively, based on previous years).

Location: Portland State University, Portland, OR Fee: $220

Financial Assistance: Full scholarships are offered on a need basis.

In this summer camp, students will develop critical thinking and academic writing skills in a discussion-based, interactive format. You will work on a major project with a university faculty member. Topics that will be covered in the camp include political philosophy, applied ethics (environmental ethics, animal ethics), philosophy of science, philosophy of art, indigenous philosophy, and the history of philosophy. Students who successfully complete the camp will receive 4 credits for Introduction to Philosophy at Portland State University. Introduction to Philosophy transfers directly to most higher education institutions. As a camp participant, you will have access to the Portland State University Library.

Application deadline: There is no information available on this at the moment. Check here for updates.

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible.

Program dates: In 2023, the camp was held July 11-14. Students can expect similar dates for 2024.

Location: Oakland University, Rochester, MI

Fee: $200 (day camp option) | $650 (overnight option). This includes meals, activities, snacks, and (for overnight campers) housing.

Financial Assistance: There is no information available on this.

Oakland University Philosophy Camp, organized by the university’s department of philosophy, is a week-long intellectual experience that brings together young students and philosophy professors to talk about important questions in philosophy. Since 2018, the camp has provided students with a short but rigorous program that helps them build skills in the short-term and further their philosophical reading and development in the future. During the day, you will engage in a variety of activities, such as reading, conversing, group discussions and lectures, and in the evening, a few ‘Socratic’ activities, such as campfires, scavenger hunts, tree climbing.

The camp's main goal is to provide students with a hands-on, engaging experience that will help them develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills. The camp’s theme in 2023 was ‘Turtles All the Way Down’, where students explored the attempt to ground their knowledge, attempted to understand the origins of things, and tried to get at first principles (for any number of philosophical subjects).

Application deadline: Applications typically open in February, and are accepted on a rolling basis.

Eligibility: All high school students, including rising freshmen, are eligible.

Program dates: Session 1 (June 10-14, 2024) | Session 2 (June 24-28, 2024)

Location: Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Fee: $350

Financial Assistance: Need-based financial aid is offered.

The Philosophy and Critical Thinking (PACT) Summer Camp, conducted by the department of philosophy at Ohio State University, offers students an insightful introduction to the world of philosophical thought. It's designed to introduce students to philosophy through learning experiences that are rigorous, engaging, and fun. During the camp, you will form a community of inquiry to reflect on issues you care about, practice critical thinking skills, and tackle some of the biggest questions in philosophy today.

In 2024, the camp will be conducted with two session options, each with a different theme. The theme for session 1 is Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence, where students will give into hows and whys of artificial intelligence, debate its ethics and potential threats to humanity. The theme for session 2 is Science, Faith and Reality, where students will dive into concepts such as whether science can answer every question, whether faith can be rational and so on.

Application deadline: April-end (tentatively, based on previous years) Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors in high school (and rising college freshmen) are eligible. Program Dates: In 2023, the camp was held July 17-21. Students can expect similar dates for the 2024 session. Location: Stanford University, CA. This is an in-person day camp. There are no residential or virtual options. Program Cost: $450 Financial Assistance: There is no information on this. There is a 20% discount for signups and full payments before March 31.

The Zephyr Institute is a non-profit academic center that supports Stanford University students, scholars, and young professionals. The institute’s Zephyr Philosophy Camp is an annual week-long philosophy summer day camp with Dr. Molly Oshatz, a Senior Fellow and Director of High School Programs at the institute’s Center for the Study of First Principles.

The camp, focused on Ethics and Happiness, will urge you to ask questions – “What ought we to do, and what will make us happy?” Students will read short texts in various branches of ethics, including utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, and apply these ethical theories to specific ethical issues, including the ethics of war, global economic justice, and human enhancement. You will also consider what understanding of yourself and your purpose each theory implies. The camp concludes with a discussion and debate about ethics and happiness. “What is happiness, and does doing what is good and right make us happy?” This camp is perfect for beginners.

Application deadline: Mid-April (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12 are eligible.

Program dates: A week-long camp that is typically held June-end (based on previous years).

Location: Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

Fee: $100

Financial Assistance: Some scholarships are available.

The VCU Summer Camp in Philosophy, conducted in-person by the university’s department of philosophy faculty on the Richmond campus, offers high school students an opportunity for intellectual exploration and personal growth. It is designed for students interested in asking big questions, keen on building new perspectives to see the world in a different way. During the camp, you will spend your time diving into a range of activities that will introduce you to the field of philosophy. With games, theatrical dialogue, group presentations, sessions with guest speakers, and a scavenger hunt, you will learn to ask thought-provoking timeless questions, look at things in a new way, and create a community for yourself.

Bonus programs that you can also consider:

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online program for students 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.

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: Stanford logo


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