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10 Physics Summer Programs for High School Students

If you are a high school student interested in physics, you should definitely check out these programs! Often hosted by universities with competitive undergraduate physics programs or distinguished research institutions, these programs will allow you to dive into advanced physics topics such as quantum mechanics, astrophysics, or thermodynamics, topics you wouldn’t typically learn about in high school classes. For students with busy schedules, these summer programs allow you to dive deeper into your studies without the usual distractions of a full academic load.


These summer programs can also greatly enhance your college applications by demonstrating your proactive effort to pursue your interests beyond the typical high school curriculum. Universities value initiative and a demonstrated passion for a specific field, so these programs will be especially helpful. Additionally, you will have the chance to form relationships with professors and participate in projects that could even lead to valuable recommendations!


Location: Virtual

Cost: $2800 USD- Individual Research Program (12 weeks ), $5400 USD Premium Research & Publication Program (16–20 weeks), $8900 USD Research Fellowship (6–12 months). All programs come with need-based financial aid.

Application Deadlines: Applications are open throughout the year for the four cohorts — they are due in February, May, September, and December. Currently, applications for the Summer Cohort close on May 12, 2024. Apply here!

Program Dates: Four cohorts run throughout the year, namely the spring, summer, winter, and fall cohorts

Eligibility: All high school students


The Lumiere Research Scholars Program offers a specialized Physics Track for high school students interested in pursuing advanced studies in astrophysics and engineering. Founded by researchers from Harvard and Oxford, the program provides students with the opportunity to engage in research projects ranging from 12 weeks to 12 months in duration. These projects are conducted entirely online, allowing students to work flexibly and dive into university-level research. Participants in the Physics Track work closely on a one-on-one basis with a distinguished Ph.D. mentor, aiming to produce a substantial research paper by the end of the program.


Key components of the Lumiere Research Scholars Program include individual sessions with world-class researchers and writing coaches, as well as workshops that cover various aspects of the research process. Depending on the selected track, students might also BThe curriculum is designed to build from initial topic selection through to the completion and presentation of research, culminating in the Lumiere Research Symposium, where students showcase their findings. 


Location: MIT

Cost: Free

Program dates: July - August

Application Deadline: December 13

Eligibility: Rising High School Seniors. It is recommended that PSAT Math Scores be at least 740 or higher and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Scores be 700 or higher. ACT math scores should be at least 33, and verbal scores at least 34. 


The Research Science Institute (RSI) hosted by CEE at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a prestigious opportunity for 100 of the world’s most accomplished high school students interested in physics and other sciences. Each summer, RSI participants engage in a rigorous six-week program that starts with a week of intensive seminars covering a wide array of topics, including physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and humanities. Additionally, RSI offers access to MIT’s extensive computing resources, enabling students to find current publications, model complex systems, and prepare scientific papers. The program’s evening lecture series includes talks by renowned science and technology leaders, including Nobel laureates and tech entrepreneurs.


The core of the RSI experience is a five-week research internship where students undertake individual projects under the guidance of experienced mentors from academic and research institutions. The program culminates in conference-style oral and written presentations. These presentations are evaluated by an external panel of scientists and corporate leaders from the Boston area, with exceptional projects receiving special recognition. 


Location: Princeton Campus

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: March 15

Program Dates: 5-6 weeks in June-July

Eligibility: Sixteen years old or more by June 15, 2024, and enrolled in high school


The Princeton Laboratory Learning Program (LLP) offers a great research experience for high school students interested in sciences and engineering, including physics. This full-time, free program immerses students in ongoing research projects under the close supervision of Princeton faculty and research staff. Examples of projects students might engage in include the development of piezoelectric soft robots, exploring bio-inspired robotics, and applying large language models to environmental sustainability. 


These projects represent a blend of engineering and natural sciences, with specific opportunities such as studying sustainable catalysis, innovating novel proteins with unique functions, and investigating photoredox-catalyzed cross-coupling of alkyl chlorides. Internships typically last 5-6 weeks during the summer and are structured around regular office hours without requiring evening or weekend commitments.


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 prestigious seven-week summer research program designed for twelve highly qualified high school juniors and seniors. Hosted by Texas Tech University, this program attracts gifted students from across the nation and worldwide, offering them the chance to collaborate with faculty in academic and health science settings. The Clark Scholars Program includes weekly seminars, discussions, and field trips. Selection for this competitive program is based on academic achievements, teacher recommendations, and the clear articulation of career objectives, with past participants showcasing exceptional credentials such as average SAT scores in the 99th percentile.


Students in the Clark Scholars Program can choose from a variety of research areas. For those interested in physics, the program provides research opportunities in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering, where projects focus on cutting-edge topics like nanotherapeutics, image-guided surgical interventions, and microwave/millimeter-wave sensing. Other areas of research include Nutritional Sciences, Biology/Cellular & Microbiology, Computer Science, Neurobiology, History, and Chemistry, each with its own specialized focus ranging from virtual reality in computer science to macrophage responses in neurobiology.


Location: Virtual. Lectures will be held via video chat.

Cost: None.

Application Deadlines: May 1st, 2024

Program Dates: July 8 - July 26, 2024

Eligibility:

  • Preference will be given to first-generation students, students from underrepresented backgrounds in physics, and 11th-graders!

  • Must be female or gender minority students in 9th to 11th grade at the time of applying.

  • Applicants from all around the world are welcome to apply.


The Stanford Program for Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in Physics (SPINWIP) is a virtual summer outreach initiative for high school girls, particularly first-generation students and those from underrepresented backgrounds in physics. Hosted by the Stanford Physics Department and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, this three-week program is designed to spark interest in physics through a series of interactive online sessions. Participation is completely free, and the program requires no prior knowledge of physics or coding. Throughout the program, participants will engage with cutting-edge topics in fields such as quantum physics, quantum computing, astrophysics, and cosmology, while also learning to code in Python.


SPINWIP includes lectures from Stanford professors and researchers, practical coding exercises, and project-based learning in small groups led by Stanford undergraduates. In addition to the academic curriculum, the program offers college planning and career development workshops. By the end of the program, students will be equipped with basic Python coding skills, a foundational understanding of quantum mechanics, and insights into advanced physics topics such as the mechanics of lasers, dark matter, and extrasolar planets. 


Location: These internships are offered across NASA facilities, along with several virtual options.

Cost: Free

Application deadline: January (Fall session) | August (Spring session) | October (Summer session)

Program dates: These internships are offered in 3 sessions – Fall (16-week program, from late August or early September to mid-December) | Spring (16-week program, from mid-January to early May) | Summer (10-week program, from late May or early June to  August).

Eligibility: Internships are available for full-time high school students who meet a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement.


NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) offers paid internships for high school and college-level students interested in fields related to science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration. You will contribute directly to NASA’s missions and work alongside experienced professionals in a real-world setting. Interns may choose to work either full-time or part-time and have the flexibility to work from a NASA center, facility, or remotely from home or a dorm. 


Interns at NASA OSTEM are mentored by research scientists, engineers, and professionals from various fields, gaining invaluable practical work experience. This experience not only enhances their resumes but also strengthens their readiness for a career in STEM fields. NASA offers three internship sessions annually, providing multiple opportunities for students to join and engage with their teams throughout the year. Positions such as those in Composite Model Fabrication and Materials and Processes Lab Engineering Support Office exemplify the range of roles available.


Location: MIT

Cost: Free

Program dates: 6 weeks - Late June to Early August

Application Deadline: February 1

Eligibility: High school juniors; underrepresented, underserved, and first generation students are especially encouraged to apply.


The MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science) Summer Program at MIT is a six-week, on-campus experience where you will engage in five rigorous courses covering math, science, and humanities. You will take specialized electives focusing on real-world STEM applications such as Machine Learning, Architecture, Genomics, and more. These areas often go beyond what is typically covered in high school curricula. In addition to academic enrichment, the program includes lab tours, social events, and comprehensive college admissions counseling.


Held from late June through early August, the MITES program schedule is packed with classes, recitations, workshops, and tours during weekdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Evenings and weekends are reserved for social events, homework sessions, and exploring the Greater Boston area. One of the key benefits of the program is the provision of room and board at no charge, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder participation. At the end of the summer, each student receives a detailed written evaluation from their instructors, highlighting their strengths, areas for growth, and overall contributions to the class. This evaluation is invaluable as supplemental material for college applications, helping students stand out in the competitive admissions process.


Location: Carnegie Mellon University

Cost: Free

Program dates: Six weeks from June to August

Application Deadline: March 1

Eligibility: High school juniors who are at least 16; Underrepresented and underserved students are especially encouraged to apply.


The Carnegie Mellon University Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) features a rigorous curriculum led by Carnegie Mellon’s distinguished faculty and staff. SAMS Scholars benefit from both traditional classroom instruction and hands-on projects. 


SAMS is structured in two parts: a virtual jumpstart session and a six-week in-person Pre-College program. The initial virtual component focuses on skill-building necessary for the subsequent residential phase, which includes full-day courses and meetings. During this time, students engage in Quantitative and Computational Skill seminars, participate in writing workshops aimed at college application preparation, and work on STEM-related projects under the guidance of faculty and graduate students. The program also includes workshops, mentorship meetings facilitated by the Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion, and interactions with university leaders and alumni. The academy culminates in a day-long Symposium featuring student presentations and a Closing Awards Ceremony.


Location: Virtual

Stipend: Non-Paid

Program dates: End of June to Mid August

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: Must be currently a high school junior or senior in the 2022-2023 school year (i.e. 11th or 12th grade at the time of application) OR a full-time CC student (within first three years of CC)


Stanford's Summer Internship program for 2024 is aimed at high school and early community college students with a passion for research. You will be involved in diverse research projects that leverage their existing interests and skills while introducing them to new scientific and academic areas. These projects are mentored by an experienced team comprising students, faculty, and staff from the Stanford Compression Forum. The themes covered include information science, engineering, arts, linguistics, psychology, biology, neuroscience, computer science, technology, philosophy, and design.


The Stanford Summer Internship program aims to fulfill several key objectives: it seeks to provide young scholars with an opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research within an academic setting, thereby enhancing their understanding and enthusiasm for scientific inquiry. Additionally, the program introduces participants to the vast range of research topics within engineering and related disciplines. An important aspect of the internship is its emphasis on the integration of humanities and human elements into STEM research.


Location: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Cost: $5,500 program fees including use of academic facilities, on-campus housing, on-campus meals, extracurricular trips, and student supervision. Not including the $75 application fee, travel to/from campus, airport transfers, gym access, class materials, medical expenses, and laundry.

Application Deadlines: February 15, 2024

Program Dates: July 6 — July 27, 2024

Eligibility:

  • High school students.

  • Minimum 3.3 high school GPA.

  • TOEFL scores required are 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT), or 600 (PBT), an IELTS score of 7, and a Duolingo English Test (DET) score of 120.


The UPenn Experimental Physics Research Academy is an immersive, fully residential program for high school students with an interest in physics. This academy delves into key areas of physics, including mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum dynamics, and astrophysics. Through a structured series of lectures, activities, and projects, students are encouraged to move beyond merely memorizing equations to developing a deeper understanding of the principles and causal relationships governing physical phenomena


Alongside technical skills, the curriculum at the Experimental Physics Research Academy also includes broader educational themes such as the philosophy of science, experimental design, educational pathways, and the ethics of science. Each week, students attend research talks by Penn faculty members, providing insights into cutting-edge research and specializations within the university. These sessions include interactive Q&A periods, allowing students to inquire about specific details and explore potential areas of interest. The program is directed by Peter Harnish, an experienced educator with a background in both theoretical and experimental physics who is passionate about teaching and actively involved in various educational programs.


Another great option - The Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing research in physics or related fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs 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. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


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!


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