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10 Pre-College Summer Programs for International Students

Pre-college programs can be your window into college life – they are educational experiences that offer students the chance to explore their interests in specific subjects or areas, gain essential skills, and maybe even earn some college credit! So if you’re planning to do your undergrad at a US-based university, it’s a good idea to consider a pre-college program over the summer.


If you’re still deciding on your major or haven’t narrowed down your top university choices, a pre-college summer program can help. Especially with figuring out whether a certain field is the right fit for you! Not to mention, the US is home to some of the most prestigious and renowned institutions, and many of them offer pre-college programs for high school students across the globe.


Not only will a pre-college program give you a headstart and prepare you for college, but it also looks great on your resume and college applications. It shows admissions officers that you’re motivated and driven and that you put in the added effort to pursue your interests and passions. So, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best pre-college programs open to international students. Let’s dive in!


Location: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. This is a residential program, housing is mandatory!

Cost: $5,550 (includes tuition, housing, and meals) + $75 application fee.

Financial Assistance: Unfortunately, financial aid is currently only available for US citizens. Eligibility: Students entering grades 11 and 12 can apply. International students should check the guidelines here before applying.

Application deadline:  January 10, 2024 (early application) | February 14, 2024 (regular application) |  April 10, 2024 (late application)

Duration/dates: Session I June 23–July 5, 2024 | Session II July 7–19, 2024 | Session III July 21–August 2, 2024


Harvard, one of the top Ivy League schools, is known for the research opportunities and diverse programs it offers its students. The Pre-College Summer School program is a two-week on-campus program designed to give high schoolers a glimpse of college life. 


Per session, you can choose 1 of 30 available college-level non-credit courses, which cover subjects in STEAM, business, humanities, business and economics, and sociology, among other fields, taught by Harvard-affiliated instructors. If you are interested in more than one course, you can apply for multiple sessions. Each course will typically have 12 to 18 students, who are expected to be in class for 3 hours every day, engaging in discussions and presenting their research. Beyond the classroom, students will spend 2 to 4 hours on homework and the remainder of their time on social and co-curricular activities like field trips, college readiness workshops, and low-key events like dance lessons or talent shows. At the end of the program, you will get a Harvard transcript. You can also get a written evaluation from the course instructor, which is a great addition to your college application.


Location: Virtual

Cost: $3,050. Any additional study materials for specific courses will not exceed $100.

Financial Assistance: Financial aid is offered.

Eligibility: School students in grades 8–11 can apply. International students can check FAQs here.

Application deadline: March 29, 2024

Duration/dates: Session 1 June 17–June 28, 2024 | Session 2 July 8–19, 2024


Another top Ivy League school, Stanford University, offers this Pre-College Summer Institutes. This is a 2-week virtual program, open to high school students across the world, that focuses on intensive study in one online course through in-depth academic exploration. This is an enrichment program, it does not provide college credit. 


You will get to choose 1 out of 60 courses ranging from business, philosophy, and creative writing, to social sciences and STEM subjects. During the program, students will meet with renowned instructors for two hours every day from Monday–Friday for live online classes. Additionally, students will get to engage in out-of-class learning assignments designed for their chosen course. Seminars, workshops, and activities are also available to students in their free time. At the end of the program, students get a written evaluation and a Certificate of Completion. 


Note: Before applying to the course, ensure that you can make arrangements to meet the technical requirements.


Location: Online, commuter, or residential opportunities are available. On-campus courses conducted at Brown University campus, Providence, Rhode Island.

Cost: $2,816–$9,870 based on the length and type of program. Check cost details here.

Financial Assistance: Unfortunately, financial aid is currently only available for US citizens.

Eligibility: All high school students can apply.

Application deadline: May 10, 2024

Duration/dates: June 23, 2024–July 26, 2024


Brown University’s Summer@Brown is a 1- to 5-week pre-college program. It is meant for high school students who want to get a taste of college-level academics without the pressure of grades and credits. You can enroll in multiple courses out of 300 available courses spanning subjects in STEM, literature and creative writing, business, economics, social sciences, and arts. Check out the complete course catalog here. You can also opt for course-based research experiences, which will involve proposing, designing, and conducting your own research projects.


For each course, you will typically be in class for three hours every day five days a week. You are supposed to put in three additional hours of out-of-class work on your own or with other classmates. Courses also involve class discussions, group work, and individual study. You will get a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course and if you complete a 2-week or longer course will get a Course Performance Report as well. 


Location: OnlineCost: $1,750 per credit + $75 application fee

Financial Assistance: Financial aid is offered. 

Eligibility: High school students aged 15 and above can apply. International students can check English language requirements here.

Application deadline: May 5, 2024. Applications will open in late January.

Duration/dates: Session 1 June 3–21, 2024 | Session 2 June 24, 2034–July 12, 2024 | Session 3 July 15, 2024–August 2, 2024 | Six-week session June 24, 2024–August 6, 2024


Cornell University’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) offers pre-college online summer courses to help high schoolers around the world get a head start on college. As a student in this program, you can earn 3 to 8 credits, which are generally transferable toward a degree at Cornell or elsewhere, and you’ll get a Cornell transcript upon completing the program. 


You can choose between a 3-week and a 6-week session, and you will have to choose from over 100 undergraduate Cornell courses in architecture and arts, social change, business, hospitality, international relations, health, science and technology, veterinary medicine, and more. These online courses are conducted via the web-based learning system Canvas and involve interaction with the instructor and other participants via email, discussion boards, chat rooms, video conferences, and/or phone.


Location: Commuter program held at Columbia University’s Morningside Campus, New York, NY. Housing is not provided.

Cost: $2,376 per point (3 points is typically equal to 1 course)

Financial Assistance: There is no information available on this at the moment.

Eligibility: Students in grades 11 or 12 can apply. International students can check the application requirements here.

Application deadline: April 1, 2024

Duration/dates: Session A May 20, 2024–June 28, 2024Session B July 1, 2024–August 9, 2024


In this pre-college program, students enroll in university courses to earn credit alongside undergraduate students. The program is designed to prepare students for both college and their future careers through coursework and college preparation workshops. You can choose from a variety of college-level courses, from math and computer science to economics and psychology. You can enroll in no more than 6 points during the program. Classes will be held on campus and you should be prepared to dedicate two to three hours of study outside class for every hour spent in class. During the course, you will get academic advice to prepare for a rigorous college life.


Columbia University also offers other high school programs that you can explore here! Some of these are academic enrichment programs - you’ll learn without the pressure of grades or credits.  


Location: Online or Residential (University of Pennsylvania campus, Philadelphia, PA)

Cost: $13,444 for 1 credit, $15,950 for 1.5 credits, $18,456 for 2 credits, and $20,962 for 2 credits (residential) | $8,044 for 1 credit and $13,056 for 2 credits (online)

Financial Assistance: There is no information on financial aid for international students.

Eligibility: Students in grades 10 and 11 can apply. International students can check the FAQ here.

Application deadline: January 31, 2024

Duration/dates: July 2—August 10, 2024


The University of Pennsylvania, another one of the Ivy League colleges, offers several summer programs to high schoolers around the world. Its pre-college program is offered in two formats: residential and virtual. Both options let high school students earn college credits and a corresponding University of Pennsylvania transcript. 


You can check the course catalog here to choose from diverse areas of study, ranging from calculus to ancient Rome. In the residential program, students enroll in on-campus courses alongside UPenn undergraduates. They can choose from the following options: One college-credit course unit (or c.u.—academic credit defined by the University of Pennsylvania), Biology 101 with lab (1.5 c.u.), two college-credit courses (2 c.u.), and Biology 101 with lab and a second college credit course (2.5 c.u.). International students who require visa sponsorship to attend the residential program must enroll in a minimum of 1.5 c.u. In the online program, students have to enroll exclusively in online courses and participate from home alongside other Penn undergraduate students. They can choose between one college-credit course (1 c.u.) and two college-credit courses (2 c.u.).


In both formats, class size in both formats is typically small. The courses are taught by UPenn faculty, staff, and visiting scholars over two to five classes every week, Monday through Friday. The course will involve homework, research papers, midterms, and finals.


Location: Carnegie Mellon University Campus, Pittsburgh, PA

Cost: $13,326 for two courses (residential) | $6,722 for one course and $10,259 for two courses (commuter)

Financial Assistance: There is no information on financial aid for international students.

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors at least 16 years of age (at the start of the program) can apply. International students should check the application guidelines here.

Application deadline: International applications are due on February 1, 2024, and the regular application deadline is March 1, 2024

Duration/dates: June 22, 2024–August 3, 2024 


This is a 6-week on-campus program that allows students to earn college credit in an academic setting that mirrors the first year of college. Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-College Summer Session offers approximately 30 courses from academic disciplines across the university, such as science, humanities, social science, computer science, engineering, and technology applied to the arts. Courses are typically similar each year, so you can check last year’s course list here. On completion of a course, you will receive college credit at Carnegie Mellon University, which is transferable to other institutions that accept CMU college courses for credit. Students living on campus must be enrolled in two courses throughout the entire 6-week summer program. Those living at home and attending classes on campus (commuters) can choose between one and two courses. It is important to note that working on two courses in 6 weeks will be as rigorous as completing a full-time undergraduate course.


Location: Online and on-campus (Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, Baltimore, MD) options are available.Cost: $6,065 (residential) | $4,660 (commuter) | $1,950 (online)

Financial Assistance: Scholarships are offered. Whether they’re open to international students has not been clarified.

Eligibility: Students in grades 10–12 with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher can apply. International students can check the admissions guide here before applying.

Application deadline: None

Duration/dates: 

  • Residential program dates: Session 1 June 24, 2024–July 4, 2024 | Session 2 July 8–18, 2024 | Session 3 (July 22, 2024–August 1, 2024

  • Commuter program dates: Session 1 June 24, 2024–July 4, 2024 | Session 2 July 8, 2024–July 18, 2024 | Session 3 July 22, 2024–August 1, 2024

  • Online program dates: Session 1: June 24, 2024–July 5, 2024 | Session 2 July 8, 2024–July 19, 2024 | Session 3 July 22, 2024–August 2, 2024

In this two-week program, you will get to learn from Johns Hopkins’ instructors in the course of your choice in medicine, neuroscience, or psychology to build college-level knowledge and skills, enhance your college application, and earn academic credit (1 credit per program). If you choose the on-campus program, either residential or commuter, you will be expected to attend instructor-led morning lectures followed by afternoon outings, presentations by guest speakers, and other social and educational activities outside the class. Or, you could choose the self-paced online program which is primarily conducted asynchronously; however, the instructor can schedule live interactions. You will be expected to spend about 15 hours per week toward the completion of the program. Some courses will have specific prerequisites, so consider exploring the on-campus course catalog and the online course list before applying.


Location: Virtual and on-campus (University of California, Berkeley campus, Berkeley, CA)

Cost: 

Financial Assistance: Financial aid is available for on-campus programs.

Eligibility: All high school students of ages 16–17 can apply.

Application deadline: March 11, 2024 (Residential and Computer Science Academy program) and June 3, 2024 (Virtual and Commuter tracks)

Duration/dates: Online and Commuter Tracks start from June 16, 2024 (Course lengths can vary) | Residential program dates: Session C June 17, 2024–Aug 9, 2024, and Session D June 30, 2024–August 9, 2024 | Summer Computer Science Academy June 16–28, 2024


University of California, Berkeley offers 4 pre-college summer sessions: Summer Virtual Track, Summer Residential Track, Summer Commuter Track, and Summer Computer Science Academy. All options are open to domestic and international high school students. In the virtual, commuter, and residential tracks, you get to take college-level courses and earn credits alongside other UC Berkeley students. The course topics range from arts, humanities, and social sciences to STEM. You can check the course catalog here and use filters to narrow down your search. 


The Computer Science Academy is a shorter, non-credit program, consisting of two weeks of rigorous coding curriculum. You will learn coding, computer science concepts, collaborative programming, and problem-solving. The Academy is based on the introductory computer science course that UC Berkeley undergraduates take. During the session, you will get to take on unique coding challenges daily using Snap!—a visual programming language. You should check the eligibility criteria, program description, and fee structure for each track before applying.


Location: University of Chicago Campus, Chicago, IL

Cost: $8,600, which includes housing and meals. While the program does offer a commuter option, it’s only open to students who live in the Chicago area.

Financial Assistance: Full and partial financial aid is available.

Eligibility: High school students over 14 years old can apply. International students can check the FAQ before applying.

Application deadline: January 18, 2024

Duration/dates: Session 1 June 17, 2024–July 5 | Session 2 July 10, 2024–July 26, 2024


This 3-week University of Chicago Pre-College program is open to both domestic and international students. The Immersion program offers students undergraduate-level courses, in which they will get to learn from faculty, researchers, and other professionals through workshop discussions, research projects, and other hands-on activities. You can choose from a variety of courses, including creative writing workshops, introductory STEM courses, and those covering theories of economic policy, philosophy, and free expression. You get the opportunity to explore a topic of interest in detail.



A few other pre-college programs you can consider:



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in building a university-level research project this summer, you could 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.


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: Harvard University logo


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