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10 Summer Programs for High School Students in Illinois

Illinois is home to some of the world’s top universities from the University of Chicago, to Northwestern, to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne. So, we had our work cut out selecting the 10 best summer programs for high school students in the state. After a lot of consideration, here are our top 10 programs in the state. Check them out!


1. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s High School Summer STEMM Research Program–IDEA

If you want the chance to participate in authentic STEM research, this is a solid option. You will get the chance to learn about cancer immunology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, physics, quantum mechanics, bioengineering, electrical engineering, and more. You have to participate in upwards of 35 hours per week of research and learning, working alongside established researchers in engineering, computer science, and medicine. At the end of the experience, you get to showcase your research in a symposium. You will obtain greater confidence in your achievements and skills.


Application Deadline: April 5, 2023

Eligibility: Current 9th-11th graders (rising 10th-12th), located in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, or Wisconsin

Program Dates: June 14, 2023 – July 28, 2023

Location: The Grainger College of Engineering, Urbana, Illinois

Stipend: Amount not specified


2. Northwestern University’s Summer Playwriting Intensive

If you want to learn about the art of writing a play, check out Northwestern University’s Summer Playwriting Intensive course. You will get the opportunity to write your own play in a professional and educational environment. Every morning, you will work on their writing in a master class led by a professional playwright. In the afternoon, you get to participate in classes along with the NHSI Theatre Institute and a Television Pilot Class. Evenings will be filled with field trips to see Chicago theater, as well as film screenings and master classes with the NHSI Film Institute.


Application Deadline: April 30, 2023

Eligibility: Students must currently be in grade 10 or 11

Program Dates: June 25, 2023 – July 15, 2023

Location: Evanston, Illinois

Cost: $3750


3. UChicago Medicine’s ResearcHStart

ResearcHStart is a research opportunity for high achievers that are interested in cancer research. You will get the opportunity to work full time in the same laboratories as renowned researchers, gaining hands-on experience in areas at the forefront of the field: cancer immunology, bioengineering, experimental cancer therapeutics, cancer disparities and more. You get to receive access to ongoing mentorship from a network of university faculty, research professionals, program personnel and peers. You’ll also attend targeted career development and skill-building workshops in the course of the program.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close in late January.

Eligibility: High school juniors or seniors

Program Dates: Second week of June to first week of August. Exact dates are not specified.

Location: University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, Illinois

Stipend: $3000


SHE in Oncology is a virtual program for Chicago high school students interested in science and medicine. Over the course of two weeks, you will learn about and collaborate on a genetics-based research project, and patient case study project, to explore key facets of cancer science and care. You get to participate in daily faculty lectures, panel discussions, and skill-building workshops, in order to gain knowledge and experience in the field of Oncology.


Application Deadline: Admission to SHE is based on teacher nominations from participating Chicago high schools. For more information, please contact SHE@bsd.uchicago.edu.

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomore, junior or senior

Program Dates: Tentatively, the second half of July. The exact dates are not specified.

Location: Virtual

Stipend: $500


5. Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chemistry Summer Scholars

The Summer Scholar Program (SSP) is a program that will give you hands-on experience in the field of chemistry research. Research areas include (but are not limited to) bioanalytical chemistry, computational chemistry and biochemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, and medicinal chemistry related to energy and sustainability science, materials science, sensor science and technology, computational science, data science, bioanalysis, and health with real-world applications. You will be paired with a faculty adviser who will guide you through the research program, and you will have the chance to work in their research lab for a period of 8 to 10 weeks.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close in early March.

Eligibility: Rising 10th–12th graders (ages 14–17)

Program Dates: Begins on approximately May 15 (exact dates not specified)

Location: Illinois Tech, Chicago, Illinois

Cost: Free


If you are interested in pursuing a career in the field of law, or just curious about the daily goings-on of a legal professional, this opportunity is for you. The Saper Law Immersion Program will give you hands-on experience in the daily happenings of a law career, like negotiation. The program also prepares you for a career in law with writing exercises, field trips, and mock legal proceedings. Since Saper Law practices heavily in the areas of social media and digital technology, a key component of the exercises will involve entertainment, business, and internet related legal case studies. You will get to learn from established professionals in the field, and practice your own debate skills.


Application Deadline: July 21, 2023

Eligibility: All High school students

Program Dates: July 31, 2023 - August 4, 2023

Location: Saper Law Offices in River North, Illinois

Cost: $500


The Neubauer Phoenix STEM Summer Program is a summer program for ambitious high school students interested in advanced STEM research. You will get the chance to participate in a hybrid program that combines a virtual mathematics course with one week of learning on the UChicago campus. After successfully completing the online, virtual preparatory mathematics course, you will be invited onto campus for hands-on research for one week. You will hear lectures from UChicago faculty and alumni in molecular engineering, mathematics, computer science, and other fields, and tour the campus to look at professional laboratories.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close in early March.

Eligibility: Applicants should be at least 15 years of age and be a current high school junior enrolled in a high school in the United States.

Program Dates: July 23, 2023 - July 28, 2023

Location: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Cost: Free


Exploring Solutions to Global Problems: Climate, Energy & Sustainability is a week-long enrichment program designed to prepare you for a career in climate and energy policy. You will get the chance to participate in rigorous discussion-based classes, readings, lectures, and collaborative hands-on projects. You will also learn about pressing current issues in climate and energy from leading faculty in the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the Becker Friedman Institute, and the Climate Impact Lab. You will also be exposed to the kinds of opportunities available in a large urban center for academic work and professional development through activities that showcase the city of Chicago.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close in early March

Eligibility: Applicants should be at least 15 years of age and be current high school sophomores and juniors enrolled in a high school in the United States.

Program Dates: July 23, 2023 - July 28, 2023

Location: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Cost: Free


9. UChicago’s Voltage Scholars Program

If you are interested in economics, consider this course. The University of Chicago offers you the chance to participate in a course on UChicago’s distinctive approach to the field of economics. You will also meet with UChicago admissions counselors to learn about highly selective college admissions and attend sessions to prepare for future careers in the field of economics.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close in early March

Eligibility: Applicants should be at least 14 years of age, currently in 10th grade, and enrolled in high school in the United States.

Program Dates: June 11, 2023 – June 13, 2023

Location: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Cost: Free


The Illinois Chamber Music Festival is a great option if you are a musician looking to better your craft in a professional environment and pursue a career in music. You also get the chance to attend daily chamber music coachings, rehearsals, masterclasses, elective studies, and performances by students and faculty. You receive intensive chamber music training too. Other studies and activities include music history and theory, musical theater, conducting, international dance, and tennis.


Application Deadline: April 21, 2023

Eligibility: All High school students

Program Dates: July 9, 2023 - July 29, 2023

Location: Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois

Cost: $950 Tuition fee, and an additional ~$1000 for room & board and meals.



If you’re an ambitious high school student intending on pursuing a career in art, the SAIC Summer Institute is a great option. You get to attend classes and work in the studio all day—allowing you to really experience what it is like to be an artist, designer, or writer. You will learn from university faculty and practicing artists, designers, and scholars, many of whom teach in the undergraduate program. You get the chance to prepare a competitive portfolio for college admission and receive expert guidance from the undergraduate degree program admissions counselors. The program also offers college credits!


Successful completion of the program waives the portfolio requirement for admission to SAIC's undergraduate program. A large number of ECPSI students also receive top merit scholarships to SAIC’s undergraduate degree program.


Application Deadline: May 1, 2023

Eligibility: Ages 15-18

Program Dates: There are several sessions across the summer, you can check the website for more information.

Location: School of the Arts University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Cost: $1785 - $7140 (cost varies depending on course credits)


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

Cost

  • $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. 






One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program


If you are passionate about research then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that 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: Stock image


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