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12 Summer Programs for High School Students in Washington D.C.

If you're a high school student in and around Washington D.C., then you should take a look at this list of summer programs available around you. Summer is a great time to participate in programs that align with your interests and goals, whether that's diving into a specific academic subject, exploring potential career paths, or gaining experience in a particular field.

We covered programs across a variety of subject areas - paid and free options!

Application deadline: March 31, 2023

Eligibility: All high school students who are at least 6 years of age

Program dates: 8 weeks from mid-June to mid-August

Location: Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University

Fee: Free

Through this program, you will work full-time at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center on a project specifically in the field of cancer research. It is ideal for those who are looking for a research-focused program that includes hands-on laboratory work and guidance from professionals. You will also attend weekly seminars and learn from scientists who are conducting research in a number of fields, like tumor immunology, human cancer genetics, drug development, and health policy.

Application deadline: April 3, 2023

Eligibility: Sophomores, juniors, seniors, or graduating seniors who are between 15-18 years old

Program dates: Two weeks in June or July, depending on chosen course

Location: A university in Washington D.C.

Fee: $5,925 for residents, $5,325 for day students

Financial assistance: Limited financial aid is available on the basis of need and merit. Students can also apply for The Diverse Voices Scholarship which offers the full tuition amount

The School of The New York Times offers summer courses in several fields, from politics, law, and social activism to creative writing, journalism, and media. You will learn from reporters, editors, journalists, and other industry experts while following a curriculum that takes you outside the classroom as well. You can expect field trips, site visits, and special events, all while networking with a diverse set of peers.

Application deadline: March 17, 2023

Eligibility: Open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors

Program dates: July 15, 2023 – July 21, 2023

Location: American University

Fee: Free

While the location for this journalism program does vary from year to year, we’ve still included it on this list since it’s one of the more prestigious high school programs in the country. A six-day intensive course, the program offers exemplary training in the field of journalism. You will learn from professional journalists and media executives, develop multiplatform news packages and go on field trips. Emphasizing diversity in its cohort of 25-30 students, the program focuses on cross-cultural communication, journalism ethics, and leadership.

Application deadline: January 12, 2023

Eligibility: Current juniors and seniors who reside in one of the eligible locations

Program dates: 8 weeks during the summer, varies by location

Location: A 7-week internship in your local area followed by a week-long summit in Washington D.C.

Stipend: Paid (amount unspecified)

If you’re interested in the fields of leadership, public policy, and public services, then consider this program organized by the Bank of America. It consists of two parts — a 7-week paid internship with a non-profit/charitable organization and a fully funded 1-week Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. Along with learning social and business leadership skills, you will also get an understanding of how governments and non-profits work to meet community needs.

Application deadline: Varies as per internship. Applications for the summer internship open in December

Eligibility: All high school students who are U.S. citizens and enrolled in an accredited institution

Program dates: May to August for the summer internship. Fall and spring internships are also available

Location: Washington, D.C.

Stipend: Unpaid

This internship is a great way to get an understanding of how government agencies work, ideal for those who are interested in international policy. You will work in one of the Treasury Departmental Offices and there are options available for internships in the field of social sciences, management, or STEM. Analyzing and presenting data, researching academic literature, attending congressional hearings, and contributing to budget formulation and strategic planning — these are a few examples of the possible work you will engage in.

Application deadline: Closed for 2023, will open on December 15, 2023, for the following year

Eligibility: Rising seniors with high academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to the Hispanic/Latinx community

Program dates: July 2, 2023 – July 21, 2023

Location: George Washington University

Fee: Free

Focusing on the fields of leadership and community service, this is a highly selective, residential program where you will study and analyze the social, economic, and political elements of the Hispanic/Latino community. As a Caminos Scholar, you will attend lectures, engage in writing workshops and leadership training, conduct research, visit Congress/non-profit organizations, and work on a community project. By the end of the program, you will receive three college credits!

Application deadline: April 1, 2023

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Students from under-represented groups will be given priority.

Program dates: June 20, 2023 – June 29, 2023

Location: Howard University

Fee: Free

If you’re pursuing a career in pharmacy or other health professions, this residential summer program is an ideal choice. As a participant, you will attend lectures (in biology, chemistry, medical terminology, career exposure, and more) during part of the week and spend the rest of it working at Clinical Hospital Sites. The program has cohorts of only 20 students per year and the application process includes an interview, so keep in mind that it could be competitive.

Howard University also has the High School Summer Enrichment Programs hosted by the School of Business, which covers the fields of Accounting, Information Systems, Actuarial Science, and Entrepreneurship.

Application deadline: Unspecified

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors

Program dates: July 17, 2023 – July 21, 2023

Location: Catholic University of America

Fee: $995

This week-long residential program covers all the areas of engineering, from biomedical to electrical. The curriculum includes laboratory exercises, engineering design workshops, coding bootcamps, and prototyping work, all being taught by experts from the university faculty. The university also offers the Computational Biosciences Institute, for those who want a more focused program. Another notable program is the Experiences in Architecture pre-college program.

Application deadline: February 15, 2023

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors

Program dates: June 24, 2023 – July 29, 2023

Location: The SEGL residence in Washington, D.C.

Fee: $13,000

Financial assistance: Need-based financial aid is available

The SEGL is a school, with campuses in Johannesburg and London as well, that offers semester-long residential programs that hone students’ leadership and thinking skills. One of their programs is the summer institute in Washington D.C., where you will learn ethical and critical thinking by studying current events as case studies and develop leadership skills through debates and collaborative work. You will also work on three capstone projects — an ethical Credo, a collaborative policy document, and a business plan for a social venture project.

Application deadline: May 1, 2023, but applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis until spots are filled

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor

Program dates: July 10, 2023 - July 21, 2023, for the residential component, followed by a week of asynchronous online learning

Location: American University

Fee: $5,445 for residents and $3,465 for commuters

Financial assistance: Financial aid is available only for students from DC public and charter schools

The Community of Scholars program is a great program for students to do a deep dive into the fields of global affairs and international relations. It’s a hybrid program consisting of two weeks of regular classes followed by a week of online learning from home and a final assignment submission. Apart from studying the chosen course (there are three options), you will also use simulations like the mock National Security Council debate and visit places like the World Bank, embassies, government offices, and the Smithsonian. You will leave this program with 3 college credits!

Application deadline: NA

Eligibility: All high school students who have taken part in the Girls State/Boys State program

Program dates: July 22, 2023 – July 29, 2023, for Girls Nation, July 21, 2023 – July 28, 2023, for Boys Nation

Location: Washington, D.C.

Fee: Free

Girls State and Boys State are two separate programs meant for young, passionate girls and boys (respectively) to learn about leadership and government. Girls Nation and Boys Nation are the national counterparts of these programs, where two students from each state are selected and invited to spend a week in Washington, D.C. If chosen for this highly prestigious program (after a nomination and election process), you will take part in mock Senate sessions where you will draft bills, elect officials and pass the legislature. The only way to get to Boys/Girls Nation is to go through your state-level Boys/Girls State.

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. 

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 Ph.D. 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: Asian American Journalists Association logo



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