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15 Best Free Summer Programs for High School Students

We know that cost can be a barrier to summer programs. That’s why we've compiled a list of some stellar programs that are completely free of charge (some even provide a stipend!). Programs range from highly selective to less selective and range from STEM programs to the humanities.


TLDR;

  • Free programs from Ivy Leagues and other top colleges

  • In-person and online options

  • Programs in STEM, Media, Leadership, Cybersecurity and more

  • Opportunities for students from all over the world

  • Receive stipends and other benefits

Looking for something else? Here are some of our other blogs with other opportunities available for high school students! 15 Virtual Research Opportunities for High School Students, and 15 Research Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students in 2022.


If you’d like 1: 1 mentorship from the brightest PhDs in the world, consider applying to our research program - Lumiere! We have full financial aid from low-income backgrounds!


15 Best Free Summer Programs


1. MIT’s Research Science Institute (RSI)


Subject areas: STEM

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

Stipend: The program provides a $500 stipend

There is a $40 application fee with a need-based refund

Application deadline: December 2, 2022, for the 2023 program

Program dates: June - August 2023

Program selectivity: Extremely High (<5%)

Eligibility: High School Juniors only (U.S. and International)


RSI is a 6-week, highly selective research program for high school students in STEM. This program is hosted at MIT and accepts about 80 students each year. Here, students work with a Boston-based researcher on an independent project and present their research to the broader community in a conference style at the end of the program. In 2019, there were about 1600 applicants for 80 spots or around a 5% acceptance rate for the program. Students should have extensive research experience to be competitive for this program. International students will need to check on their specific country eligibility!


2. Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS)


Subject areas: Leadership, Democracy and Service

Location: Cornell University, University of Maryland, and University of Michigan

Application deadline: January 4, 2023.

Program dates: 6 weeks, June 25 – August 5, 2023

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors from all backgrounds; focused on providing this opportunity for students of color and/or of disadvantaged backgrounds

TASS offers 2 programs, including TASS-CBS (Critical Black Studies) and TASS-AOS (Anti-Oppressive Studies). The program is hosted at multiple universities and aims to prepare young minds to become critical thinkers, leaders and contributors of society and the larger world. If you’re interested in history, literature, politics, and art from people of African descent, do check out this program!

3. NYU's Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS)


Subject areas: Cyber Security

Location: New York University (Manhattan, NY)

Application deadline: April 13, 2023

Program dates: 3 weeks, July 11 - July 29, 2023

Program selectivity: Medium

Eligibility: Applicants must be entering or in high school as of September 2023. Living in one of the five New York City boroughs or smaller neighbouring cities such as Jersey City, Newark, or Hempstead. Should have demonstrated interest/are highly motivated in STEM as shown in essays and application. The program is open to all students, but historically they have taken primarily female-identifying students in the program.


This 3-week full-day summer program provides an introduction on the fundamentals of cybersecurity and computer science. The aim of this program is to educate and empower a new generation of engineers in an inclusive environment that breaks down barriers that have historically led to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM.


4. Lumiere Foundation Breakthrough Scholar Program


Subject areas: Multidisciplinary

Location: Virtual

Application deadline: January - May

Program dates: 12 weeks, June - August

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: This program is open to all high school students. (US. and International)


The Lumiere Breakthrough Scholar Program is a 1-1 research opportunity run by the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation. In our flagship program, we pair talented high-school students with world-class PhD mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project. At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll learn about the cutting edge of your field and develop an independent research paper.

5. Princeton’s Summer Journalism Program


Subject areas: Journalism

Location: Online

Application deadline: February 23, 2023 (based on previous year's schedule)

Program dates: 6 weeks, June 26 -August 4, 2023 (based on previous year's schedule)

Program selectivity: Open enrollment

Eligibility: Applicants must be high-achieving juniors from high school, and from low-income backgrounds

PSJP is an opportunity for students interested in any form of journalism. The program offers a mix of virtual and residential opportunities including weekly lectures and workshops taught by program alumni and journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Politico, Sports Illustrated, and CNN, among other media outlets.

Students also participate in weekly discussion groups, covering a variety of topics, and attend seminars about the college admissions process.

6. Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)


Subject areas: STEM

Location: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

Application deadline: March 15, 2023

Program dates: 5 weeks, July 1- August 5, 2023

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: Applicants must be sophomores or juniors from high school, and from underrepresented communities


This program by Carnegie Mellon University is for high school from underrepresented backgrounds who want to earn college credit while "developing mastery of fundamental ideas in higher-level collegiate math and science." Classroom training, hands-on research projects, and professional and academic development courses are all part of SAMS. Students engage in a rigorous curriculum taught by Carnegie Mellon University faculty.

7. Stanford’s Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)


Subject areas: Biology, chemistry, medicine

Location: Stanford University campus (Stanford, CA)

Stipend: The program provides a $500 stipend.

There is a Fee: $40 application fee with a need-based refund. Application deadline: Tentatively December 15, 2022 (based on the announcement on the website)

Program dates: 8 weeks, 13 June - August 4, 2023

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: High School Juniors and Seniors. At least 16 years old when the program begins. Living in the U.S. and U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a green card.

During this program, students collaborate with Stanford faculty and researchers to conduct medical research. Students select one of eight study fields and are then allocated to a lab where they will be mentored one-on-one.

8. USC’s Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement


Subject areas: Media and Communication

Location: University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Application deadline: November 27, 2022

Program dates: 4 weeks, June 19 - July 14, 2023

Program selectivity: Medium

Eligibility: Students must reside and attend high school in Los Angeles County


This program offers high school students an insight into freshman-level college courses in media and journalism. Additionally, they provide college advising and college essay preparation to all students. Each year, 28 students are selected from various parts of Los Angeles County to attend.


9. Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Virtual Research Training Program


Subject areas: Global health

Location: Virtual

Application deadline: April 2023 (based on previous year's schedule)

Program dates: 1-3 weeks, typically, in July but may vary depending on the program.

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: This program is open to all high school students (US. and International)


Students can become familiar with research and gain hands-on experience, as well as increase their knowledge of global health. They will also participate in workshops on college readiness and career exploration. The program has both online and in-person components.

10. Texas Tech University’s Anson L. Clark Scholars Program


Subject areas: Multidisciplinary

Location: Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)

Stipend: The program provides a $750 stipend

Application deadline: February 13, 2023

Program dates: 6 weeks, June 18 - August 3, 2022

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 17 years of age by the program start date, and should graduate in 2023 or 2024 (U.S. and International)

The Clark Scholars Program is a 6-week long comprehensive research program, giving students the opportunity to conduct research in practically every field, from accounting to dance to philosophy and everything in between. One-on-one research with academics, as well as weekly seminars, discussions, and field visits, are all part of the curriculum. With just 12 students selected each year, the Clark Scholars Program is very competitive. Applicants must be 17+ by the program start date. The program offers a stipend of $750. The application for this year closes on February 16th.

11. NYU’s High School Program


Subject areas: Multidisciplinary

Location: New York University Campus. Some courses are available virtually

Application deadline: April 2023 (based on previous year's schedule)

Program dates: Typically, in July but may vary depending on the program

Program selectivity: Open enrollment

Eligibility: This program is open to all high school students.

These programs range from 1-12 weeks and span an array of subject areas. The programs offer immersive academic experiences for high school students to understand fundamental concepts and strengthen their research skills through such learning.


12. USC’s Bovard Scholar Program


Subject areas: STEM

Location: Virtual

Application deadline: January 13, 2023

Program dates: 2 weeks, typically, in July but may vary depending on the program

Program selectivity: Open enrollment

Eligibility: Applicants must be high-achieving juniors from high school, and from low-income backgrounds

If you’re someone who is seeking a program that helps your transition from school to college, this program is for you. This program will be beneficial for students who are seeking an insight into college life and receive mentorship from coaches who will guide you through your college admissions process.

13. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s Recruitment & Training for Under-Represented Populations (RTURP) Program


Subject areas: STEM

Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus (Baltimore, MD)

Application deadline: March 1, 2023

Program dates: Typically, in July but may vary depending on the program.

Program selectivity: High

Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 17 years old and high school or college students

The Recruitment & Training Program for Under-represented Populations is an intramural program that provides training opportunities for students who are interested in the scientific basis of drug abuse. The program prioritises students from under-represented communities, who attend classes and learn research practice as part of the Intramural Research Program (IRP).


14. UC Irvine’s Math ExpLR Summer Research Program


Subject areas: STEM

Location: UC Irvine campus (Irvine, CA)

Deadline to apply: Tentatively March for 2023 (based on previous year’s application).

Program dates: June - July

Program selectivity: Moderate

Eligibility: Released with the new application

Math ExpLR is a 6-week mathematical biology program. In this program, students will be paired with undergraduates and collaborate on a computational biology research project with a principal investigator. There will also be weekly skill development events, such as how to deliver presentations or how to write math on the computer.

15. GirlsWhoCode’s Summer Immersion Program


Subject areas: STEM

Location: Virtual

Application deadline: April 2023, (based on previous year’s application)

Program dates: 2 weeks, typically, in July but may vary depending on the program

Program selectivity: Open enrollment

Eligibility: This program is open to all female and non-binary high school students

Girls Who Code’s mission is to bridge the gender gap within the field of technology. This program will offer students learning experiences that combine hands-on projects and networking opportunities with women in tech. While they admit students from all backgrounds, half of their participants are from underrepresented groups. This includes girls, women and non-binary folks who are Black, LatinX, and from low-income households.


One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in a selective, structured research program, consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, an online high school program for students founded by Harvard and Oxford researchers. The program pairs you with a full-time researcher to develop your own independent research project, in any discipline of your choice. Last year over 2100 students applied to 500 slots in the research program! You can find the application form here.


Are you seeking more diversity of programs and options? Read some of our blogs to learn more about opportunities like 15 Writing Competitions for High School Students and other location specific programs like 15 Summer Research Opportunities in India for High School Students.



Dhvani (the-one-e) is a program manager at Lumiere, in addition to being a dialogue facilitator, entrepreneur and boxer. She has a passion for all things education, community building and problem solving.


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