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20 Great Online Courses for High School Students

Exploring online pre-college courses is a great opportunity, especially if you have a deep passion for a particular subject. These courses allow you to enhance your knowledge, gain practical insights, and demonstrate your dedication, which can greatly benefit your college applications and future resumes.


Enrolling in online pre-college courses can significantly enhance your college applications by highlighting your commitment to academic excellence and practical expertise in your chosen field. Admission committees look for candidates who show a genuine passion for their chosen discipline.


Courses offered by well-known institutions or those with a history of producing successful students can carry substantial weight. However, regardless of the course's prestige, it's essential to emphasize your coursework, achievements, and the skills you've gained through online pre-college courses to effectively showcase your dedication to your chosen subject and your potential contributions to a college community.


What should I look for when choosing a course?

  1. Accreditation and Credibility: Look for institutions that are regionally accredited or have reputable national or international accreditation in the field of economics.

  2. Instructor Qualifications: Investigate the qualifications of the instructor who will be teaching the course. They should have a strong academic background in economics, ideally with a relevant advanced degree (such as a Ph.D.) or extensive professional experience in the field.

  3. Course Content and Structure: Review the course content and structure carefully. Make sure that the curriculum covers the topics that align with your learning objectives and goals and look for a course that is well-organized, with clearly defined learning objectives, assignments, and assessments.

  4. Interactivity and Support: Online courses can vary in terms of interactivity and support. Choose a course that offers opportunities for active learning, such as discussion forums, live webinars, or group projects, as these can enhance your understanding of economic concepts and foster collaboration with peers.


By carefully considering these aspects, you can make a well-informed choice that aligns with your academic and career goals.


Cost: Free

Eligibility: High School Students who are proficient in single variable Calculus and have experience with basic programming

Application Deadline: No deadline

Course Dates: Self-paced


MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is an initiative by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that provides free and open access to a wide array of high-quality educational materials, including lecture notes, assignments, and exams for a vast range of courses. One of the standout offerings in the OCW collection is the course titled "Thermodynamics and Climate Change." This course delves into the fundamental principles of thermodynamics and their direct application to the critical issue of climate change. It explores the intricate relationship between energy, heat transfer, and the Earth's climate system, offering students a comprehensive understanding of the science behind global warming and climate fluctuations. The course materials are exceptionally detailed, presenting a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical insights, and are designed to cater to a diverse audience, from seasoned scientists to interested learners looking to comprehend the science that underpins one of the most pressing challenges of our time.


Cost: $3050

Eligibility: Grades 9-11 at the time of application

Application Deadline: March

Course Dates: 11 days in either June or July


Stanford Precollege's Number Theory course is a captivating and academically enriching class offered by Stanford University, aimed at bright and motivated high school students who have a keen interest in mathematics. This course delves into the intriguing field of number theory, which explores the properties and relationships of integers and their prime factors. Students in this program have the unique opportunity to engage with this abstract branch of mathematics and delve into topics such as prime numbers, modular arithmetic, Diophantine equations, and cryptography. Through a combination of lectures, problem sets, and collaborative learning, participants not only develop a deep understanding of the theoretical aspects of number theory but also gain the practical problem-solving skills that are invaluable in many areas of mathematics and beyond.


Cost: $3,700 (4-credits) or $7,400 (8-credits) (Financial aid available)

Eligibility: Students aged 16-18 who Will graduate from high school and enter college in 2024, 2025, or 2026.

Application Deadline: January 10 (Early), February 14 (Regular), and April 10 (Late)

Course Dates: 7 weeks (June 22 – August 10, 2024)


Harvard Summer School's Individual and Social Psychology course offers an immersive and intellectually enriching experience for students eager to explore the intricate realms of psychology. This course delves deeply into the core concepts of both individual and social psychology, providing a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and its interaction with the social environment. With a strong emphasis on critical thinking and empirical research, students learn to critically analyze and interpret psychological theories and experiments. The curriculum covers an array of engaging topics, from cognitive processes and personality development to social influence and group dynamics. The interactive and discussion-oriented approach fosters dynamic learning, encouraging students to apply psychological principles to real-life situations and debates.


Cost: Free without a certificate and $50 with a certificate

Eligibility: Everyone is eligible to enroll in this course.

Application Deadline: Rolling Basis

Course Dates: Self-Paced (approx 10 weeks at 5-10 hours a week)


Harvard’s Principles of Economics on edX provides a comprehensive introduction to the fundamental principles of economics. This course is an exceptional opportunity for learners to delve into the world of economics with the prestige and expertise associated with Harvard. Through a blend of video lectures, assignments, quizzes, and readings, students gain insights into various economic concepts, including supply and demand, market equilibrium, consumer behavior, and macroeconomic principles like inflation, unemployment, and fiscal policy. The course typically features engaging content and valuable insights from Harvard's renowned faculty members, allowing students to grasp economic concepts and their real-world applications.


Cost: $3050

Eligibility: 9-12th graders who have completed at least one high school biology course

Application Deadline: March

Course Dates: July 10 - July 21


Stanford Precollege’s Investigations in Neuroscience is designed to serve as a first dive into neuroscience. You will examine the physics and chemistry underlying ion channels, and neurons, and how neurons create action potentials, which are the electrical pulses that send information down a neuron’s axon. This course will investigate these concepts through physical models of neurons and interactive online mathematical models of neurons and synapses. Next, you will apply this information to sensory and motor systems, supplemented by in-home experimentation. You will then analyze brain structure and function, focusing on learning, memory, language, communication, and other behavior. Finally, you will examine brain development and the question of brain gender, and investigate a variety of brain diseases and disorders. Students will research and present on the neurological disorder of their choice, relating the disease to problems with the ion channels and neurons that we studied at the start of the class.



Cost: Free without certificate and $199 with certificate (financial aid available)

Eligibility: Everyone is eligible to enroll in this course.

Application Deadline: Rolling Basis

Course Dates: Self-Paced


Entrepreneurship For All (Part I): The UC Berkeley Startup Guide for Students by Silicon Valley Insiders offered by BerkeleyX on edX is an invaluable resource for students and aspiring entrepreneurs looking to dive into the world of startups and entrepreneurship. Taught by experienced Silicon Valley insiders, this course typically provides a comprehensive guide to the entire startup process, from idea conception to launch and scaling. Students often gain insights into crucial aspects such as identifying market opportunities, developing business models, and crafting effective pitches. The course also typically covers real-world case studies and practical advice, drawing from the rich entrepreneurial ecosystem of Silicon Valley. It's designed to be highly engaging, including video lectures, readings, hands-on projects, and peer collaboration, allowing students to apply what they learn in a dynamic and interactive manner.


Cost: $6,500 (financial aid available)

Eligibility: 16-18 year old high school sophomore or junior

Application Deadline: November (Early) and January (Regular)

Course Dates: 2 Week Sessions


Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program is known for offering high-impact educational experiences to exceptional high school students from around the world. The "Economics, Politics, and Law" program at YYGS is an intellectually stimulating and prestigious offering. Students would delve into complex economic concepts, the dynamics of politics and governance, and the underpinnings of legal systems. The program typically featured engaging seminars, discussions, and workshops conducted by Yale's renowned faculty and experts in these fields, offering an unparalleled opportunity for young scholars to expand their horizons and deepen their understanding of the world's most pressing issues. Through interactive activities, group projects, and access to Yale's extensive resources, participants typically gained insights into how these domains intersect and shape the global landscape.


Cost: Free

Eligibility: High School Students who are proficient in single variable Calculus and have experience with basic programming

Application Deadline: No deadline

Course Dates: Self-paced


MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) offers an invaluable resource for learners around the world through their course, "Introduction to Statistical Physics." This course is anexploration of the principles that govern the behavior of matter and energy at the atomic and molecular levels. It provides a comprehensive understanding of statistical mechanics, offering insights into how macroscopic properties of systems emerge from the statistical behaviors of their microscopic constituents. The course materials, including lecture notes, problem sets, and additional resources, make it accessible to anyone with a passion for physics and a desire to explore the fundamental principles of the field. Whether you are a student seeking to expand your knowledge, a scientist aiming to deepen your understanding, or an enthusiast interested in the intricacies of the physical world, MIT OCW's "Introduction to Statistical Physics" is a valuable asset in promoting accessible and high-quality education.


Cost: $3,700 (4-credits) or $7,400 (8-credits)

Eligibility: 16-18 year old high school sophomore or junior

Application Deadline: January (Early) and February (Regular)

Course Dates: July - August or June - August


Harvard Secondary School Online Program’s "Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology" is an intellectually stimulating and academically rigorous course designed for high school students with a passion for the life sciences. This program offers an exceptional opportunity for students to explore the intricate world of molecular and cellular biology, providing them with a foundational understanding of the fundamental processes that underpin life. Through a combination of cutting-edge research, engaging lectures, and hands-on laboratory work (where applicable), students delve into topics such as DNA structure, protein synthesis, cellular respiration, and genetic regulation. Harvard's distinguished faculty and comprehensive resources ensure that participants receive top-tier instruction and a comprehensive curriculum. This course not only equips students with a solid knowledge of molecular and cellular biology but also fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success in the field. It's a valuable stepping stone for those considering careers in biology, medicine, or related disciplines, and it reflects Harvard's commitment to providing accessible and world-class education to aspiring young scientists.


Cost: $8044

Eligibility: High school sophomore or junior

Application Deadline: January 31

Course Dates: June 29 - August 4


The UPenn Online Precollege "Law and Society" course is a great opportunity for high school students interested in the intricate intersection of law and society. This program offers a comprehensive exploration of the fundamental principles of law, the evolution of legal systems, and their profound impacts on various aspects of society. Students delve into a range of captivating subjects, including legal theory, civil rights, criminal justice, and the sociopolitical dimensions of legal decision-making. Through a dynamic curriculum that combines rigorous coursework, engaging discussions, and practical case studies, participants gain not only a deep understanding of the legal field but also essential critical thinking and analytical skills. This course is ideal for those aspiring to pursue careers in law, social justice, or related fields.


Cost: $3,700 (4-credits) or $7,400 (8-credits)

Eligibility: 16-18 year old high school sophomore or junior

Application Deadline: January (Early) and February (Regular)

Course Dates: July - August or June - August


Harvard Secondary School Online Program's "The Culture of Capitalism" is an intellectually enriching course that delves into the multifaceted and ever-evolving landscape of capitalism. This program provides high school students with a unique opportunity to explore the historical, economic, and social dimensions of capitalism, analyzing its impact on societies and cultures worldwide. The course navigates through a rich tapestry of topics, from the origins of capitalism to contemporary global economic systems, and scrutinizes the ethical and philosophical aspects of capitalism, often fostering thought-provoking discussions about wealth, inequality, and social justice. Harvard's renowned faculty and resources ensure students receive top-quality instruction and access to cutting-edge research and academic material. "The Culture of Capitalism" equips students with a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding economic systems, fostering critical thinking skills and a deeper appreciation for the interplay between economics and society. This course not only prepares students for future studies in economics and related fields but also empowers them to be informed and engaged global citizens in an increasingly interconnected world. It reflects Harvard's commitment to offering high-caliber education to ambitious students seeking to broaden their horizons and engage with important issues in the contemporary world.


Cost: Free

Eligibility: High School Students who are proficient in single variable Calculus and have experience with basic programming

Application Deadline: No deadline

Course Dates: Self-paced


MIT OpenCourseWare's "Introduction to Oscillations and Waves" is an excellent resource for high school students interested in physics or engineering. This open and free course provides a structured and in-depth exploration of oscillations and wave phenomena, making it a valuable supplement to high school curriculum. It offers a clear and concise presentation of complex concepts, making it accessible for high schoolers who want to deepen their understanding of physics or prepare for more advanced studies. The course includes video lectures, lecture notes, assignments, and problem sets, all of which serve as comprehensive learning materials. Mastering oscillations and waves is essential for a strong foundation in physics and can greatly benefit students in areas like mechanics, electricity, and optics. Moreover, it introduces students to MIT's rigorous academic standards and allows them to experience a taste of the college-level coursework. By engaging with this resource, high schoolers can enhance their knowledge, critical thinking skills, and overall academic preparedness for future studies in STEM fields.

Cost: $3,700 (4-credits) or $7,400 (8-credits)

Eligibility: 16-18 year old high school sophomore or junior

Application Deadline: January (Early) and February (Regular)

Course Dates: July - August or June - August\


Harvard Secondary School Online Program's course on "The First World War" is a captivating and academically enlightening exploration of one of the most pivotal events in modern history. It provides high school students with an opportunity to delve into the complex and transformative era of World War I, examining the political, social, and cultural dynamics that led to the conflict and its profound impact on the world. With a comprehensive curriculum and expert instruction, this course navigates through the causes, key battles, and consequences of the war, shedding light on its global repercussions and the birth of modern geopolitics. It encourages students to critically analyze primary source materials, fostering a deeper understanding of the multifaceted narratives surrounding the war. This course not only imparts historical knowledge but also enhances critical thinking and analytical skills, equipping students to engage thoughtfully with historical events and their contemporary relevance. Harvard's dedication to delivering outstanding education is evident in this program, which offers a compelling and intellectually stimulating learning experience for students eager to unravel the complexities of the First World War.


Cost: $4918 (3 weeks) or $5003 (4 weeks)

Eligibility: 16-18 year old high school sophomore or junior

Application Deadline: January

Course Dates: 3 weeks or 4 weeks in July


Brown Pre College Online's course, "Debating Democracy: Threats and Prospects," offers a dynamic and thought-provoking exploration of one of the most critical issues of our time – the state of democracy. Aimed at high school students, this program delves into the challenges and opportunities faced by democratic systems around the world. Participants engage in robust discussions, analyze case studies, and examine the complexities of contemporary political systems, addressing issues such as populism, polarization, civic engagement, and the role of technology in shaping political landscapes. The course not only equips students with a deeper understanding of democracy but also hones their critical thinking, debate, and communication skills. It's an ideal opportunity for young minds to grapple with real-world issues and explore the future of democratic governance.


Cost: $3028

Eligibility: One year of physics Algebra, Trigonometry Precalculus, and calculus are useful but not require

Application Deadline: January

Course Dates: 2 weeks in July


Brown Precollege's "Origins of the Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes" is an intellectually captivating course that takes high school students on a cosmic journey through the mysteries of the universe. This program delves into the fascinating realm of astrophysics and cosmology, exploring the origins and evolution of the cosmos, from the explosive birth of the universe in the Big Bang to the enigmatic phenomena of black holes. Students are exposed to cutting-edge research, theories, and scientific methodologies used to unravel the secrets of the universe, all under the guidance of experienced instructors. Through a blend of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities, participants develop a profound understanding of space, time, and the forces shaping the cosmos. The course not only fosters a deep appreciation for the wonders of the universe but also nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills, making it an ideal opportunity for those considering careers in astrophysics, astronomy, or related fields.


Cost: Up to $1795

Eligibility: Students aged 13 and up

Application Deadline: Rolling

Course Dates: 1, 2, and 4 Week Sessions


Georgetown University's Pre-College Online Program offers a compelling course on the US Political System that provides high school students with a comprehensive understanding of the intricate workings of American politics. This course is an exceptional opportunity for aspiring scholars and future leaders to explore the foundations of the US political system, including the Constitution, the three branches of government, the role of political parties, and the complexities of policymaking. Through engaging lectures, interactive discussions, and thought-provoking assignments, students gain profound insights into the democratic processes that shape the nation. The program benefits from Georgetown's rich academic tradition and its renowned faculty, who guide students through the nuances of political theory, public policy, and the contemporary issues facing the United States. By participating in this course, students not only expand their knowledge but also develop critical thinking skills and a deeper appreciation for the dynamics of American governance, preparing them for active citizenship and potentially inspiring future careers in politics and public service.


Cost: $1750 per credit (3 credits)

Eligibility: Current high school juniors and seniors

Application Deadline: Rolling

Course Dates: January 2-9


Cornell Precollege's course "DEA 1112 Change-making: Designing Healthy and Hospitable Environments" is an inspiring and innovative program tailored for high school students passionate about design, sustainability, and creating positive change. This course goes beyond traditional design concepts and delves into the essential aspects of crafting environments that promote health, sustainability, and human well-being. Students engage in a dynamic curriculum that encourages critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving, as they explore topics like architecture, urban planning, and sustainable design. Through interactive discussions and hands-on projects, participants learn how to tackle real-world challenges related to creating spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also environmentally responsible and conducive to human health. This course equips young minds with the skills and knowledge to become change-makers and advocates for healthier, more sustainable environments.


Cost: $1950

Eligibility: Current high school juniors and seniors

Application Deadline: March

Course Dates: June 24-July 4


Johns Hopkins Online Precollege's "Anatomy, Physiology, and Disease" is an exceptional course designed to provide high school students with a comprehensive understanding of the human body's intricate systems, their functions, and the fundamental mechanisms of disease. This program offers an engaging and in-depth exploration of anatomy and physiology, laying the groundwork for students to grasp the complexities of health and wellness. Participants learn about the structure and function of various organs and systems, as well as the underlying principles of health and disease. Through a combination of lectures, hands-on laboratory work (where applicable), and interactive discussions, students gain insights into the factors influencing human health and the mechanisms of various diseases. This course not only equips aspiring healthcare professionals and future scientists with foundational knowledge but also fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills crucial for success in the field of medicine and related disciplines.


Cost: $1750 per credit (3 credits)

Eligibility: Current high school juniors and seniors

Application Deadline: Rolling

Course Dates: January 2-9


Cornell Precollege’s PLBIO 2100, or Medical Ethnobotany, is a fascinating and interdisciplinary course that delves into the relationship between plants and human health. This program explores the rich and diverse world of ethnobotany, focusing on the traditional knowledge and use of plants for medicinal purposes in various cultures worldwide. Students in this course examine the history, cultural significance, and ecological aspects of medicinal plants, as well as their modern applications in healthcare and pharmacology. Through engaging lectures, fieldwork, and hands-on projects, participants gain a deep appreciation for the intricate connections between nature and human well-being. PLBIO 2100 not only equips students with a profound understanding of the interplay between plants and medicine but also fosters critical thinking and scientific inquiry, making it an ideal choice for those interested in botany, ethnobotany, or healthcare-related fields.


Cost: $1950

Eligibility: Current high school juniors and seniors

Application Deadline: March

Course Dates: July 10 - July 21


Johns Hopkins Online Precollege's "Applications of Chemistry in Medicine" is a cutting-edge and intellectually stimulating course tailored for high school students interested in the intersection of chemistry and healthcare. This program offers a deep dive into the crucial role of chemistry in the development of medical treatments, diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals. Students are exposed to a dynamic curriculum that explores the principles of organic and biochemistry and their applications in understanding diseases, drug design, and the mechanisms behind various medical interventions. Through engaging lectures, laboratory experiments (where applicable), and interactive discussions, participants gain hands-on experience and insights into how chemistry plays a pivotal role in the advancement of modern medicine. This course not only equips students with a foundational understanding of the subject but also fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills, making it an ideal choice for those aspiring to careers in healthcare, pharmacology, or medical research.


Bonus -

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 would like to dive further into research, another way to stand out on applications and resumes, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business!


Image Source: Harvard University seal

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