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12 Summer Programs for High School Students in Tennessee

If you’re a high school student, summer is probably the best time to explore a new opportunity, dive deeper into an existing interest, and expand your horizons.

Tennessee, with its vibrant academic landscape and diverse range of institutions, offers an array of summer programs across subject areas. In this blog, we’re sharing a selection of 11 summer programs in Tennessee that has something for everyone!

Great Summer Programs for High School Students in Tennessee

Application deadline: April 7, 2023

Eligibility: Open to rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students that are 16+. Prior lab experience is not a must.

Program dates: June 12, 2023 - June 23, 2023

Location: Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)

Fee: Free. Housing is not provided, and students will be responsible for their own transportation.

This program offers an opportunity for aspiring scientists to engage in hands-on lab research and gain valuable insight into biomedical research. You will have the chance to work alongside distinguished faculty members and experienced researchers in state-of-the-art laboratories. You will be actively involved in real-world research projects, exploring diverse areas such as genetics, neuroscience, molecular biology, and more. The Vanderbilt Summer Academy offers a range of pre-college programs for high school students in several subject areas. Some are free, some are not - scholarships and financial aid options are available.

Application deadline: April 30, 2023

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors are eligible to apply.

Program dates: June 18, 2023 - June 30, 2023

Location: Rhodes College (Memphis, Tennessee)

Fee: $2400 ($2200 Early decision tuition)

Financial Assistance: Need-based financial aid is available.

This program offers a stimulating experience for students who want to hone their writing skills and explore their creative expression. Within a versatile curriculum, students will take part in writing workshops, discussions, and collaborative activities led by experienced faculty and renowned authors. The program will take you across genres and help you build skills like refining storytelling techniques to exploring personal voice and style. Another writing program that you can consider is the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference.

Application deadline: April 1, 2023

Eligibility: Students in high school are eligible to apply.

Program dates: June 18, 2023 - June 25, 2023

Location: Rhodes College (Memphis, Tennessee)

Fee: $1800 ($1500 Early bird discount)

Financial Assistance: Need-based financial aid options are available.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in law, then this program can help you build a better understanding of what that entails and some foundational skills. You will develop critical thinking, public speaking, analytical, and legal advocacy skills. Throughout the program, you will attend workshops, and seminars, and engage in simulated trial experiences led by experienced faculty and legal professionals. You will also learn about trial procedures, case preparation, witness examination, effective argumentation, and the ethics of the legal profession.

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. 

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: May 12, 2023

Eligibility: Rising 9th to 12th graders are eligible to apply.

Program dates: June 4, 2023 - June 30, 2023

Location: College of Engineering, Tennessee State University (Nashville, Tennessee)

Hybrid (3 weeks residential, 1 week online)

Fee: Free. A $200 deposit is required, and will be refunded once the student completes the program.

This program is about all things transport-related. With hands-on lab work, field trips, and presentations by professionals from the field, this program will give you a great overview of the current innovations, best practices, and foundational skills for this dynamic field. The program will include coursework in computing, mathematics, and physics, and will cover air, land, and sea transportation.

Note: The Tennessee Governor’s School (Department of Education) offers several programs, in various fields, hosted at various universities, of which we've listed a few below. All programs offered via the TN Governor's School are free.

Application deadline: January 17, 2023

Eligibility: Rising junior and senior students, currently enrolled in Tennessee‘s public and private high schools, are eligible to apply if they either rank at the top of their high school class in performance/capability or are highly talented in the field.

Program dates: June 4, 2023 - July 1, 2023

Location: Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville, Tennessee)

Fee: Free.

Students with an interest in business, entrepreneurship, and innovation must consider this program. It can be their first step towards learning the ways of the business world and how to excel in it. The curriculum will cover marketing, finance, management, and entrepreneurship. Students will participate in interactive workshops, team projects, and hands-on activities that foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills.

Application deadline: January 17, 2023

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors with an unweighted, cumulative GPA of 3.4/4.0 or higher are eligible to apply. Applicants must have completed two years of high school-level laboratory science and must

have completed Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry (or their equivalents) by the end of the school year.

Program dates: June 4, 2023 - June 24, 2023

Location: Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville, Tennessee)

Fee: Free

GSET is designed for high school students who have a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. This immersive program will allow you to explore emerging technologies and gain hands-on experience in disciplines like robotics, cybersecurity, and 3D printing. You will engage in workshops, interactive projects, and collaborative team challenges led by experienced faculty and industry professionals.

Application deadline: January 15, 2023

Eligibility: 10th and 11th graders currently enrolled in Tennessee's public, private, and home schools are eligible to apply.

Program dates: May 28, 2023 - June 30, 2023

Location: East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tennessee)

Fee: Free. Dorms, tuition, and meals are provided. Students must bear a minimal cost for personal purchases during field trips, purchases from the campus bookstore, and for drinks and snacks.

This program aims to deepen interest and knowledge of biology and mathematics through a range of contemporary biological and mathematical subjects. You will be engaged in the scientific method via hands-on research experiences, field trips, seminars, lectures, and other activities centered on mathematics, statistics, and biology. The program works with ETSU’s undergraduate science and mathematics program, research laboratories, and local schools.

You can also consider the Governor’s School for Computational Physics hosted by Austin Peay State University.

Application deadline: January 15, 2023

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors who attend a school in the state of Tennessee are eligible to apply.

Program dates: June 4, 2023 - July 1, 2023

Location: University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, Tennessee)

Fee: Free. Accommodation options available.

This is another immersive STEM program by the Governor’s School. It will train you for advanced study, laboratory experience, and research in modern science and mathematics through scientific reasoning. You will be exposed to contemporary research areas in science and engineering through a series of guest lectures. You can earn college credit while they’re at it!

You can have a look at HITES12 and eVOL10 offered by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Tickle College of Engineering) as well.

Application deadline: January 15, 2023

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply.

Program dates: June 10, 2023 - July 1, 2023

Location: University of Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee)

Fee: Free. Students are required to cover transportation costs.

This program is tailored for students passionate about global affairs, cultural exploration, and international relations. Students will gain a deeper understanding of international issues, diplomacy, and cultural diversity through a comprehensive curriculum that covers a wide range of topics, including politics, economics, history, and global citizenship.

Application deadline: January 13, 2023


Program dates: May 27, 2023 - June 23, 2023 (Tentative)

Location: The University of Tennessee Martin (Martin, Tennessee)

Fee: Free.

This program is for agriculture, agribusiness, and environmental science students. you will engage in hands-on learning, field trips, and interactive workshops as you learn about a wide range of topics - from crop science to animal science, from sustainable agriculture to agricultural economics. You will participate in laboratory experiments, explore modern farming techniques, and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the agricultural industry.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research and would like to do it from the comfort of your home, 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: Rhodes College logo



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