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8 Best Humanities Programs for High School Students

If you are interested in the humanities, these programs will offer a unique and enriching opportunity for you! These programs, which typically focus on areas like literature, history, philosophy, and the arts, provide an immersive educational experience. By participating in a humanities summer program, you will have the chance to delve deeply into subjects that intrigue you, guided by experts in the field!

Participation in a humanities summer program can also be a significant boost to your college applications. Colleges and universities are increasingly looking for students who demonstrate a passion for learning and the ability to think critically and creatively. Your experience in a summer program showcases your dedication to academic exploration and your willingness to challenge yourself beyond regular school curriculum. It also provides you with unique experiences and perspectives that can make your college essays and interviews more compelling. Not only will these programs enrich your high school experience, it will also set you apart as a well-rounded and intellectually curious applicant, making you more attractive to prospective colleges!

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

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: January 3

Program Dates: June 23-August 3

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors. Participants must be at least age 15 and no older than age 18 at the start of the program (June 23, 2024). Black and indigenous students, other students of color, and/or students who have experienced economic hardship are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS) is a remarkable opportunity for you if you are a sophomore or junior who is passionate about the humanities. This prestigious program, completely free of charge, offers a six-week summer educational experience that goes far beyond the typical classroom setting. The program’s philosophy centers around fostering critical thinking and building a strong, democratic community among its attendees. Telluride Association covers all associated costs, including tuition, books, room and board, field trips, and facilities fees, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder talented students from benefiting from this enriching experience. TASS not only provides you with an academic challenge but also surrounds you with a supportive community of like-minded individuals.

During your time at TASS, your days will be filled with rigorous academic engagement. Each weekday, you will participate in a three-hour, college-level class that encompasses a range of dynamic educational activities. These include stimulating discussions, small-group work, and lectures delivered by faculty experts. The curriculum is designed to challenge and expand your intellectual horizons, requiring you to engage with a variety of materials such as books, articles, films, and art. You will also have the opportunity to enhance your writing skills by composing essays throughout the summer, with the benefit of receiving constructive feedback from the instructor team. Outside of class, you and your fellow TASSers will collaborate to make democratic decisions about various aspects of your communal life. This includes planning group activities, organizing community service projects, managing a program budget, and fostering an inclusive community atmosphere. For a deep dive into TASS and tips for applying, check out this article!

Location: Virtual 


- Lumiere Individual Research Program - $2,800

- Lumiere Premium Research and Publication Program - $4,800 

- Lumiere Research Fellowship - $8,400 

Application deadline: Rolling, cohort-based.

Program dates: Varies 

Eligibility: High school students 

Established by PhDs from Harvard and Oxford, the Lumiere Research Scholars Program is a great opportunity for you if you want to dive into academic research in high school. As a participant, you will have the unique chance to work one-on-one with a PhD mentor, who will guide you through the process of developing an independent research paper. This mentorship is a core aspect of the program, offering personalized guidance and insight that is often unavailable in traditional classroom settings. Whether your interest lies in history, education, sociology, or law, Lumiere provides a platform for you to explore these disciplines deeply. The program encourages you to not only learn about your chosen field but also to contribute to it, fostering a sense of ownership and pride in your academic work.

The Lumiere Research Scholars Program not only enhances your understanding of a specific humanities discipline but also equips you with essential research skills. Through this program, you will learn how to formulate research questions, conduct thorough literature reviews, and develop arguments supported by evidence. Completing an independent research paper under the guidance of a PhD mentor not only bolsters your academic profile but also provides a tangible demonstration of your intellectual curiosity and capability. This can be particularly beneficial for college applications, where demonstrating a commitment to and capacity for advanced scholarly work can set you apart. Apply here!

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!

Location: Varies

Cost: In-person: $2,300 and Virtual: $800

Application Deadline: April 10

Program Dates: Varies

Eligibility: Students who are currently in their sophomore or junior year of high school are eligible to apply.

The Economics for Leaders program is a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, designed to deepen your understanding of economic principles in a real-world context. Through the use of simulations, the program offers experiential learning opportunities that bring economic theories to life, demonstrating their reliability and relevance in everyday scenarios. These simulations are not just educational but also engaging, allowing you to experience firsthand the dynamics of economic decision-making. Additionally, the program is led by outstanding economics instructors who are committed to fostering critical thinking about complex social problems. They encourage you to examine current national and international issues, promoting discussions that are not only intellectually stimulating but also pertinent to understanding the global economic landscape. This approach ensures that you not only learn economic concepts but also develop the ability to apply them critically to contemporary issues.

The curriculum of the Economics for Leaders program is structured around 10 key topics, each taught in the context of 5 Economic Reasoning Propositions (ERPs). These ERPs include crucial themes such as Economic Growth and Scarcity, Opportunity Cost, Open Markets, Markets in Action, and Labor Markets. Additionally, you will explore the dynamics of Incentives, Innovation, and the Role of Institutions, delve into the significance of Property Rights, and understand the complexities of Government, Money & Inflation, and International Markets. The program is also somewhat selective, with approximately 25-40 students accepted at each site, depending on specific campus restrictions. This small class size ensures personalized attention and an intimate learning environment where you can engage deeply with the material and your peers. For a deep dive into EFL, check out this article!

Location: Online and in-person

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: February 15

Program Dates: A multi-week, hybrid summer intensive beginning with online workshops in July and culminating in a 10-day residential experience on Princeton's campus in early August

Eligibility: Be a junior in high school at the time of application, Live in the United States and intend to attend college here, Have a minimum unweighted grade point average equivalent to a 3.5 out of 4.0, Have an interest in journalism, Meet at least one of the socioeconomic conditions listed here

The Princeton Summer Journalism Program is a great way for you to dive into the world of journalism, blending online workshops, lectures, and a residential institute to provide a multifaceted learning opportunity. Throughout the month of July, you will engage in online sessions with distinguished journalists from across the country, immersing yourselves in the intricacies of the field. These workshops not only cover essential journalistic skills but also include discussions on current events, ensuring that you stay informed about the ever-evolving landscape of news and media.

An integral aspect of the program is the residential institute, where you move from your hometowns to Princeton University. This immersive experience involves staying in University undergraduate dorms and attending workshops and lectures conducted by renowned educators and journalists. The curriculum takes a liberal arts approach, encompassing discussions on humanities, arts, culture, social events, and history, enriching students' contextual understanding of journalism. Moreover, you collaborate with college counselors to advance components of your college applications, highlighting the program's commitment to both journalistic excellence and academic preparation. 

The hands-on nature of the program is exemplified by a myriad of activities. You witness journalism in action through visits to major news organizations like The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg. They cover professional sports events, report on news in the Princeton area, produce digital content, attend cultural productions, and even undertake investigative reporting. The culmination of their efforts is the creation of The Princeton Summer Journal, a student-authored newspaper that reflects their collective dedication to reporting, writing, editing, and design. For a deep dive into this program, check out this article!

Location: Various cities

Cost: $2000

Program dates: Six weeks 

Application Deadline: April

Eligibility: High School Students

The ABA's Judicial Intern Opportunity Program is an exceptional opportunity for high school students to intern with federal or state judges across the United States. This program aims to promote diversity and inclusivity in the legal profession by encouraging talented students from all backgrounds to explore careers in law. Participants get hands-on experience in a court environment, observe trials, and engage in legal research. As an intern, you'll have the unique privilege of working directly with judges and their chambers, experiencing the judicial system from the inside. You'll have the opportunity to engage in legal research, writing, and observe court proceedings, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the legal process and invaluable practical skills.

The JIOP is best for those who are genuinely committed to pursuing a career in law, specifically those interested in working within the judicial branch of government. This program offers a golden opportunity to get your foot in the door of the legal profession, build a network of legal professionals, and gain the kind of real-world experience that can be instrumental in shaping your legal career. 

Location: University of Southern California Campus

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: March 31

Program Dates: June 17 – July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Students must reside and attend high school in Los Angeles County to be eligible to apply

The University of Southern California's Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement (AYA) is a transformative four-week summer intensive that is perfect for you if you have a keen interest in sociology and a passion for exploring the intersection of media, communication, and civic engagement. AYA brings together 26 talented students from the local communities surrounding USC's University Park and Health Science Campuses, offering you an immersive academic experience that mirrors first-year college-level courses. The program fosters a deep conceptual understanding of the vital role that media communications and journalism play in shaping civic-minded thought leaders and innovators.

AYA's curriculum is carefully crafted to enhance your skills in various domains, including writing, critical thinking, public speaking and debate, multimedia production, interviewing, and ethnography. These competencies are not only valuable for academic success but also essential for thriving in the 21st century. You will gain exposure to USC Annenberg's undergraduate programs, services, and potential careers in media and journalism, providing you with a comprehensive view of your future academic and professional pathways. Additionally, you will have the unique opportunity to engage with USC Annenberg's innovative scholars who are at the forefront of advancing critical issues related to race, gender, and ethnicity in communication and journalism communities of practice. AYA will empower you to become media-savvy, civic-minded individuals equipped to contribute meaningfully to your communities and to address pressing social issues through the lens of communication and journalism. For a deep dive into this program, check out this program!

Location: Stanford Campus

Cost: $8,250

Application Deadline: February 1

Program Dates: 3 weeks 

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors

The Stanford Summer Humanities Institute is a great opportunity for you if you are passionate about sociology and want to dive deeper into the humanities, immersing yourself in fields of inquiry that are often beyond the scope of standard high school curriculum. One of the program's distinctive features is its emphasis on original research projects. During the third week, you will collaborate closely with Stanford professors, graduate students, and writing mentors to create your own research projects, fostering a sense of academic independence and critical inquiry. This hands-on experience allows you to explore sociological topics of your choice, encouraging you to engage deeply with the subject matter and apply your knowledge in a meaningful way.

A course within this program is "Racial Identity in the American Imagination." This course delves into the complex and ever-relevant topic of racial identity in the United States, examining its evolution throughout American history. You will explore a diverse range of historical, legal, and literary texts and films to analyze the ways racial identity has been experienced, represented, and contested. The course engages with major historical transformations that have shaped our understanding of racial identity, providing a comprehensive view of the sociological dimensions of race in American society. The Stanford Summer Humanities Institute empowers you to cultivate your research skills, deepen your understanding of complex societal issues, and gain valuable insights into the humanities, ultimately preparing you for future academic and professional pursuits in sociology and related fields. For a deep dive into this program, check out this article!

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: TASS


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