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11 Programs for High School Students in San Diego, California

If you’re in high school in San Diego and planning to apply to college, you should consider participating in summer programs. Not only do these programs make for a fun summer schedule, but also reflect well on your resume and showcase your motivation towards learning!

San Diego has a wide array of programs to offer, conducted throughout the year, to enhance your education, allow you to explore various possibilities, explore different fields of study, and prepare you for your future academic pursuits.

In this article, we’ve detailed a list of 11+ programs for high school students in San Diego that not only provide valuable knowledge and skills but also offer a platform to connect with like-minded peers, mentors, and industry professionals.

Note: Please keep in mind the following information is for 2023, though dates tend to be similar from year to year.

Please note: This information is for the academic year 2022-23.

Application deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or above are eligible.

Program dates: The start dates are determined by the student’s coordinating center and research mentor; however, high school students must begin the program no later than June 6, 2022. All students are expected to have a minimum of eight weeks of research experience and can have a maximum of 10 weeks.

Location: Students choose where to research – local colleges, hospitals, schools, and private research labs. Students work with their coordinating center to identify and secure a research institution and research mentor.

Fee: Free

If you’re passionate about conducting research in biomedicine and related subjects, this program might be for you. This is a federally funded program that provides students from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to engage in hands-on research. At STEP-UP, you will be paired with experienced mentors and work on research projects at a renowned institution of your choice. You will gain practical laboratory skills, and learn about cutting-edge research techniques in fields such as biology, genetics, neuroscience, and more. In addition to research experience, you will receive mentorship, which you can access for up to 9 months after you have completed your research.

Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 

The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here

Location: Virtual


  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 

Application deadline: The application deadlines vary depending on the course and program schedule. Typically, applications close several weeks before the course starts.

Eligibility: Open to all high school students.

Program dates: 4-day workshops held across June and July for different courses. Students can choose more than one course, the dates don’t overlap.

Location: University of California, San Diego

Fee: Each course’s fees differ, ranging from $175 to $450.

Financial Assistance: Scholarships are available.

This program offers engaging workshops that cover a diverse range of subjects, including STEM fields like astronomy, biology, engineering, computer science, and robotics. In addition to the traditional STEM subjects, the program also offers workshops in areas such as environmental science, biotechnology, coding, data science, digital design, and psychology. Led by expert instructors and scientists, these hands-on workshops will allow you to explore your varied interests, develop critical thinking skills, and engage in collaborative projects. Most courses are conducted in person, with some online options.

Application deadline: This depends on the program dates, which vary and are spread throughout the year. When you visit the program site and click on the subject you wish to conduct your research in, you’ll also find that program’s specific dates.

Eligibility: Some programs are for 10-12th graders, while some are open to all high school students.

Program dates: All subject-specific courses are conducted at different time periods across the year. Visit the program site and click on the subject you wish to conduct your research in to see its specific dates.

Location: University of California, San Diego. A few programs will be online or hybrid.

Fee: Fees for each research course are in the range of $1500-$3000.

Financial Assistance: Scholarships are available.

This research program, spanning various academic disciplines, offers students the chance to work closely with renowned faculty members and researchers on innovative research projects, gaining hands-on experience and contributing to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields. Students can choose Bioengineering, Business Research for Innovation, Design, Growth, and Entrepreneurship (BRIDGE), Life Sciences, Marine Science, or Medicine to conduct their research in. Each of these are separate programs conducted throughout the year. As a participant in this program, you will attend lectures delivered by expert faculty and industry professionals, engage in laboratory work and data analysis, build your fundamental knowledge in your chosen subject area, and learn how to present your research.

Application deadline: May 26, 2023 (residential) | June 16, 2023 (online)

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to apply.

Program dates: July 9 - 29, 2023 (residential) | July 3 - 28, 2023 (online)

Location: University of California, San Diego (for the residential courses)

Fee: $1,500 (online course tuition) | $1,700 (online course tuition + online SAT prep course) | $5,700 (residential course tuition + housing) | $5,900 (residential course tuition + housing + online SAT prep course)

Financial Assistance: Scholarships are available.

This summer program is designed for high-achieving students who are keen to explore subjects like biophysics, programming, marine science, health, language, and more at the college level. Through engaging coursework, interactive discussions, and hands-on projects, you will dive into the subject area of your choice, learn the basics, and build your way to a final project. With this program, you have the opportunity to learn from UC San Diego faculty members and engage in intellectual discussions with peers who share your passion for learning.

Application deadline: Different for new students (applications open August 1, 2023) and returning students (registration closes on June 30 every year).

Eligibility: All students are eligible.

Program dates: Classes are held throughout the year. View their master calendar here.

Location: SDMC is yet to announce whether it will be in-person, hybrid, or online. If there is a physical location, it will be University of California, San Diego.

Fee: Free

SDMC is a program designed to foster a deeper appreciation for mathematics and cultivate problem-solving skills. Led by experienced mathematicians and educators, SDMC aims to reach high-achieving mathematics students in San Diego to provide them with instruction and help them develop a broad and deep understanding of how to solve problems. If that sounds like something you’d be up for, consider signing up. With carefully curated activities and lectures on weekends and after school on weekdays at SDMC, you will be exposed to engaging mathematical concepts and encouraged to think critically and creatively. SDMC will cover topics such as binary math, octal math, sequences, linearity, quantum mechanics, and more. You will also have the opportunity to prepare for and participate in competitions such as the San Diego Math League, Caltech Harvey Mudd Mathematics Competition, Harvard MIT Math Tournament, and the Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad.

Application deadline: February 10, 2023

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12, who excel in mathematics/science, and are attending a California high school are eligible to apply.

Program dates: July 9, 2023 - August 4, 2023

Location: University of California, San Diego (residential)

Fee: $40 application fee + $4,570

Financial Assistance: Financial aid is available for California residents.

COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science) is a highly regarded summer program for talented and motivated students who have a keen interest in STEM subjects. During the program, you will engage in intensive, hands-on coursework and research projects in various STEM disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. You will identify and develop a research topic specific to your area of study for your final research project, for which you will have access to university resources including teaching laboratories and libraries. Since you will be living on campus, this program offers an all-rounded window into college academic life.

Application deadline: Applications are currently open, and there is no information available on the deadline.

Eligibility: 9-11th graders, who will be the first in their families to graduate from college, are eligible. Students entering 12th grade can consider the College Apps Academy.

Program dates: Activities and sessions part of this program are conducted throughout the year, after school, on weekends, and in the summer.

Location: Different activities are conducted in different locations.

Fee: Free

Reality Changers is a non-profit organization that supports low-income students through mentoring, tutoring, and college preparation. The College Town program focuses on building a strong foundation of academic, personal, and community-building skills. As a part of the program, you will receive one-on-one tutoring, go on field trips and college visits, participate in public speaking workshops, and more. You will also have the opportunity to join a 3-week residential camp at University of California, San Diego, a coding camp, be a part of SAT and ACT prep courses, find internships, and receive job training.

Application deadline: February 24, 2023

Eligibility: Students who will be 15-19 years old in June 2023 (enrolled in 9th12th grade) can apply.

Program dates: Session 1 (June 19 - 30, 2023) | Session 2 (July 10 - 21, 2023).

Location: Rady Children’s Hospital - Center for Healthier Communities, San Diego

Fee: $2800

This 2-week summer program introduces students to medicine and healthcare careers through interactive workshops and shadowing opportunities. During the program, you’ll learn about a wide range of possibilities in healthcare, get hands-on experience through multiple skills-clinics, listen to experts speak about key topics in medicine, and make connections with future colleagues. Apart from classroom instruction, learning tools will include clinical experiences and simulations, and mentorship.

Three-weekend sessions are also available: Working as a Physician’s Assistant, Becoming a Professional Nurse, and Mental Health Matters in Medicine.

Application deadline: November 1, 2022

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible.

Program dates: November 2022 - April 2023

Location: San Diego Museum of Art (in-person and online)

Fee: Free

This program is an opportunity for students to take on a leadership role at the museum and lend their voices to new and existing programs. Students work with the museum staff and their peers to share ideas, develop programming, and participate in program evaluation with the education department at the museum. Meetings are held monthly. This program encourages you to use works of art from the museum collection to evoke empathy and foster creative connections. You will collaborate with your peers to design a hands-on activity and/or art-making project, in line with art and empathy. You will also share your inputs and feedback on museum programs and prototypes.

Application deadline: March 28, 2023

Eligibility: Highly motivated students in high school who will be at least 16 years old before the internship begins can apply.

Program dates: June 5, 2023 - August 11, 2023, OR June 19, 2023 - August 25, 2023

Location: Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA. There are housing options.

Fee/Stipend: Free, unpaid.

This 10-week internship at Scripps Research is located in La Jolla, just 20 minutes away from San Diego. The program brings together 40 talented and motivated students (high school, undergraduate, graduate, and professional) from across the country for an immersive research and college-level research preparation experience. During it, you will learn about current topics in translational science, such as the genetic basis for common and complex traits and diseases in humans. You will also study design and analysis procedures relevant to translational research, including genomic/genetic association studies. You will observe the steps of proposing, designing, undertaking, and analyzing clinical trials. At the end of the program, you will present a scientific concept to your peers and mentors. Based on your interests, you will be assigned a primary mentor for the program who will guide and advise you. While it is unpaid, school credit or transcript notation is awarded and is required for your research training and participation.

A few 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 high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 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: University of California, San Diego logo


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