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12 Summer Programs in Irvine for High School Students

Irvine has a ton of summer opportunities that you can make the best of if you’re a high school student. Be it summer camps in Irvine, or summer research institutes that allow you to conduct independent research, this list has it all!

We’ve covered 12 of the best summer programs and summer camps open to high school students in Irvine, across STEM and non-STEM subjects, so make sure you check out each of these opportunities!

Please keep in mind the following information is for 2023 and dates for the following years will be at a similar time period.

Application deadline: February 10, 2023

Eligibility: All high school students (and a few 8th graders) who are residents of California and have a minimum GPA of 3.0

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

Location: University of California, Irvine

Fee: $4,770

Financial assistance: Partial and full scholarships are available

COSMOS is a prestigious STEM program for high school students in California. The four-week residential program will give you an immersive, hands-on experience with UCI faculty. You will choose one topic from a list of ‘clusters’ to study in-depth. The options include subjects like ‘The Use of Data Science in the Health Sciences’, ‘Sustainable Aviation Systems’, and ‘BioEngineering Your Brain’. Working in pairs or small groups, you will work on a specific project, conduct research and fieldwork as needed, and present it during a poster session at the end of the program.

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: February 23, 2023

Eligibility: Current 11th and 12th graders from Orange County high schools

Program dates: June 25, 2023 – August 5, 2023

Location: Cancer Research Institute, University of California Irvine

Fee: Free

Only 20 students are accepted to this six-week summer program, where you will engage in laboratory-based cancer research. Commuting from Monday to Friday, you will complete over 30 hours of lab work and develop an individual research project under the guidance of a mentor. The program culminates in a symposium where you will have the chance to present your research. It’s a selective program but beneficial to those interested in getting practical experience in a field of medicine. The UCI School of Medicine has several other programs for high school students as well, which you can find here.

Application deadline: February 28, 2023

Eligibility: All rising high school students

Program dates: July 8, 2023 – August 4, 2023

Location: California Institute of the Arts, Santa Clarita (about one hour from Irvine)

Fee: $4,250

Financial assistance: Available

Through this program, you can spend a month getting professional training in a field of the arts and even earn 3 units of college extension credit. The various options include animation, dance, film, music, visual arts, theater, and writing. Each of these has a differently structured curriculum but most include a balance of instruction, activities, field trips, and guest lectures. Every application requires you to submit a piece of your own work (for example, a short film for the film course, an audition video for the music course, and so on). As a graduate of this program, you will be named a California Arts Scholar.

Application deadline: March 16, 2023

Eligibility: High school students of at least 16 years of age

Program dates: June 5, 2023 – August 11, 2023

Location: City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte (About 45 minutes from Irvine)

Stipend: $4,000

This prestigious program is ideal for students interested in getting hands-on experience in biomedical research. The highlight of this program is that you get to select your own research project as per your interests. Previously, students have worked on topics like ‘Hydrogel-based delivery systems for therapeutic neural stem cells’ and ‘Anti-HIV therapeutics using the RNA interference cellular pathway’. Apart from the project, you will work as a member of a biomedical research team and attend weekly seminars and workshops. At the end of the program, you will submit a written report as well as present your research during a poster session.

Application deadline: April 4, 2022

Eligibility: Rising 11th and 12th graders who have a minimum GPA of 3.0

Program dates: TBD

Location: Chapman University, Orange (15 minutes from Irvine)

Fee: $3,500

Financial assistance: Scholarships of varying amounts are available

This residential program is offered by the university’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, which is listed as one of the top film schools in the world. Over the span of two weeks, you will study all the various aspects of filmmaking from cinematography to working with actors, but with an emphasis on how to use these tools for storytelling. Apart from attending lectures and workshops, you will also write, film and edit three short films in groups of five!

The curriculum strives to establish a fundamental introduction to filmmaking while also offering a taste of life as a college student. While the program did not take place in 2023, it should resume in 2024.

Application deadline: February 28, 2023 (Students are accepted on a rolling basis so it’s best to apply earlier)

Eligibility: All high school students

Program dates: June 22, 2023 – August 17, 2023

Location: Children’s Hospital in Orange County, Orange (15 minutes from Irvine)

Fee: Free (Support might be available for low-income students to cover transportation and housing)

Organized by the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), this high school internship is ideal for students interested in a career in healthcare. Research areas include nanomedicine, robotics, genomic medicine, medical devices and more. Through the course of the program, you will shadow multiple physicians, attend hands-on clinical workshops, participate in the AI in Medicine journal club, and present a research project/abstract for an invention in healthcare. Students with the top presentations could win the opportunity to present their work at AIMed: Artificial Intelligence in Medicine conferences in December.

Application deadline: March 31, 2023

Eligibility: All high school students

Program dates: June 12, 2023 – August 31, 2023

Location: University of California, Irvine

Fee: $3,995 - $9,495 depending on program type

Financial assistance: Scholarships are available

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the Gifted and Talented Institute (GATI) present this program in STEM which focuses on Biology, Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, and Medicine (BEAM). The curriculum looks at improving research and innovation skills through lab-based experiences, by studying topics like mechanical/chemical engineering, aerospace engineering, neurobiology, and more.

The program includes online and in-person components, but you can choose your preference from three different program types. Depending on the one you pick, you are eligible to earn up to 4 college credits. UCI x GATI also offers a program in Game Science Entertainment Technology.

Application deadline: January 12, 2023

Eligibility: Current 11th and 12th graders who are legally authorized to work in the USA

Program dates: Varies as per internship but it will take place during the summer

Location: Internship in Orange County, CA followed by a one-week summit in Washington, D.C.

Stipend: Paid

This program includes an 8-week paid internship with a local non-profit organization (Orange County is one of the eligible areas) which is then followed by a fully funded 1-week Summit in Washington, D.C. You can expect to learn a lot about the needs of a community, how to meet them, and the role of government and public policy in the same. The summit will offer a unique opportunity to network as well. This is a reputed leadership program that will not only hone your skills but also enhance your resume. For these reasons, it is a competitive option with an acceptance rate between 5 and 8 percent.

You can check out our deep dive on the piece here!

Application deadline: Not specified but should be sometime in early June based on previous dates

Eligibility: All high school students

Program dates: One week in July

Location: Concordia University

Fee: $1,250 for US residents, $1, 850 for international students

Financial assistance: Limited scholarships are available

During this one-week residential program, you will learn the basics of business and entrepreneurship through a combination of theory and activities. The program will cover everything from budgeting and market research to customer acquisition and investor presentations. You will be mentored by successful entrepreneurs and develop a real business plan in groups of 3-4 students.

The focus of this program is on the process of planning and launching your own business. A competition on the final day will award the team with the best business plan a $1,500 prize! While the program did not take place in 2023, it should resume in 2024.

Application deadline: June 19, 2023

Eligibility: Students between the ages of 11 and 17

Program dates: June 26, 2023 – June 30, 2023

Location: University of California, Irvine

Fee: $1,099

A MUN camp is a great way to hone your debate and leadership skills while learning about global issues and public policy. The program includes 3 interactive simulations, public speaking labs, and lessons on a number of topics like researching solutions, building alliances and understanding the UN. On the final day, you will represent a country during a simulation on climate change, debate the issue and write a resolution with the other participants.

Here is a bonus option for those of you looking for a longer summer program:

Application deadline: April 15, 2023

Eligibility: All high school students

Program dates: TBD, but the program should begin in the last week of May and go on till the mid-July

Location: Concordia University Irvine

Stipend: Unpaid but you can apply to become a student employee and work paid hours

Financial assistance: Free or discounted campus housing may be available

This is an 8-week internship program that offers students the opportunity to engage in multidisciplinary research in the liberal arts. The primary focus will be on a particular domain and options can include subjects like art, chemistry, engineering, ecology, rhetorical theory, public health and more. As a participant, you will aid your advisor in data collection, lab work and fieldwork. Additionally, you will attend group discussions with other interns every week and present your research/independent project at the end of the program. You can even earn college credit!

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: COSMOS logo



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