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8 College Programs for Middle School Students

If you're a middle school student interested in experiencing college life and exploring concepts beyond your school curriculum, this blog is for you! College programs will not only offer you a glimpse at college life but will also allow you to gain practical experience in your field of interest. With high academic standards, these programs can boost your profile for college applications, enhancing your future academic and career prospects.

Programs offered by renowned universities will allow you to learn from seasoned professionals, mingle with like-minded peers, and gain the prestige associated with these universities. Such experiences will also allow you to explore potential career paths in your chosen field and help you structure your extracurriculars in high school accordingly.  

To help you get started, we have compiled a list of 8 college programs for middle school students! 

Location: University of Pennsylvania campus, Philadelphia, PA

Cost: $650/student. A limited amount of need-based financial assistance is available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Program Dates: Usually over a week in the summer, typically late June. The 2024 camp took place from June 24 to June 28.

Eligibility: Current 6th to 8th-grade students in the Philadelphia area with a B average can apply.

Penn GEMS at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania is a week-long day camp aimed at middle schoolers in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, concentrating on areas such as bioengineering, nanotechnology, materials science, graphics, and computing. During the camp, you will participate in hands-on activities within applied sciences, technology, and engineering. Additionally, with faculty from around the world, there will be an emphasis on real-world problem-solving, collaborating with others to tackle complex issues, and improving self-efficacy. 

This program will offer you a unique college experience as you’ll get to connect with mentors and role models and engage in a wide range of activities that will improve your skills. Working with Penn professors and students, you will be privy to novel ideas and how they are relevant to humans.

Location: Duke University campus, Durham, NC 

Cost: One-week programs: $2,150 | Two-week programs: $4,700. The cost includes tuition, room, and board. A limited amount of financial assistance is available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in early April.

Program Dates: Multiple one and two-week sessions are available between June 16 and July 26, 2024.

Eligibility: Current 6th to 11th grade students can apply.

Duke’s Summer Residential Program promises an engaging college-like experience for students from various backgrounds. You can expect to find courses like aerospace engineering, mathematical logic and proofs, financial literacy, environmental art, animal cognition, and marine ecology. The courses are rigorous and completely engaging for those who are interested in these fields. You can check out the complete list of available courses here.

During the program, you’ll get to live in campus residence halls, enjoy their dining facilities, and visit significant locations throughout campus and the surrounding area. At Duke, you will be able to meet like-minded peers while understanding what college could potentially hold for you in the future. Not to mention the industry professionals, professors, and students you will be able to interact with throughout this program! 

Location: Virtual

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Program Dates: Summer Program: July 8–July 26, 2024 | Fall Semester Meetings: August 26–December 13, 2024 

Eligibility: Students in grades 6 or 7 who reside in and attend school in the United States can apply.

The Stanford Middle School Scholars Program aims to prepare students for a rigorous high school education with a three-week online summer course, and weekly online after-school meetings during fall. This program has especially been designed for those coming from low-income households. Courses range from a variety of disciplines, from the humanities to the sciences. This year’s courses include Democracy & Dissent, U.S. Social Movements through Graphic Novel, Media Literacy in the Post-Truth Era, and Real-Life Applications to Mathematics. 

This program aims to break the barriers of traditional learning and thinking. It also offers focused workshops in the fall semester which help students prepare for high school and apply to Stanford’s own High School programs and other similar courses. Along with the prestige, you will have access to other engaged learners and resources that can help you chart a bright future. 

Location: Harvard University campus, Boston, MA. 

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Program Dates: All programs take place between July 8 and August 9, 2024. 

Eligibility: Rising and current 6th-8th grade students who are enrolled on the Harvard Ed Portal (sign up here) can apply. 

The Summer Explorations at Harvard invites middle schoolers to explore niche topics and activities. You will be taught in methods that go beyond traditional teaching and learning for a week. Previous iterations have included courses in robotics, ceramics, bike workshops, biology, and theater. This year, the program is organizing a basketball workshop, ‘The Crimson Kids Hoops’ and ‘Harvard Museum of Natural History: Exploring Life on a Page’. You can check out the available courses here.

This program is best suited for those who are interested in the social sciences and wish to pursue a career in it. You will get to meet Harvard faculty and staff from various departments and also interact with those with similar preferences as yours. This is a great opportunity to bag the Ivy League learning experience.

Location: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Cost: $75 application fee; $895 for the commuter program (inclusive of lunch); $1,995 for the residential program (only for Session 2). Need-based scholarships are available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Dates: Session 1: July 8 to July 12, 2024 | Session 2: July 15 to July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Students in grades 7 or 8 can apply. Students must also submit test scores with their MST application.

The Mathematics, Science, and Technology program at Michigan State University (MST@MSU) is a one-week summer program for academically inclined middle school students interested in STEM. The program offers both commuter and residential programs where you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the subjects and get to participate in hands-on interdisciplinary research using tools of mathematics, science, and technology. You can check out the track options for both sessions here.  

The program covers various research topics such as: composing an original piece of music with and without technology, studying the basic techniques of mathematical proof and the logic behind them, or learning about whole-body integrative physiology (including how to test and document your findings). The program can be a deeply enriching experience for you as it aims to challenge the intellectual abilities of talented middle schoolers with rigorous and intensive coursework — further advancing your knowledge and interest in STEM subjects. It will also help you experience college life at MSU and connect with faculty mentors.

Location: Yale University campus, New Haven, CT

Cost: $75 (This amount includes tuition for classes, transportation to and from field trips, and lunch provided by the state of Connecticut). Financial aid is available.

Application Deadline: Applications are typically due around mid-to-late February.

Program Dates: Usually held for six weeks between late June and August. The dates for this year’s summer program are June 24–August 2, 2024.

Eligibility: Rising 6th to 9th grade students who are currently studying in New Haven public and parochial schools can apply.

The Ulysses S. Grant Foundation is an academic summer program for talented and motivated middle school students in New Haven so they can acquire the academic preparation and skills they will need to enter and succeed in college and excel in their current school environment. This program is an academic excursion for those who are interested in the humanities. Each class has around 8-15 students. Yale has designed these courses specifically to intrigue those who wish to explore niche aspects of the humanities. Previous courses have been concerned with history, creative writing, investigative studies, and more. 

This program is designed to equip you with the skills you will need to succeed in college. This will be done through various teaching formats and tasks in the courses. You will also have a chance to engage in activities like debates, sports, and performing arts. Field trips are also organized for the students. The prestige associated with the college and the Foundation is only one of the many things you can look forward to at Yale. 

Cost: Around $3,099 to $6,819, depending on the course selected. A limited amount of need-based financial assistance is available.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Program Dates: Multiple three-week sessions available between June 23 and August 9, 2024. 

Eligibility: Students in grades 5–12 can apply for this program. 

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth’s on-campus summer courses bring together advanced learners from around the world to explore the arts and sciences, bioethics, engineering, public health, and more. The program is not limited to residential scholars, it accepts day scholars as well. It is a residential program for middle schoolers.

It is held at various college campuses in the summer where students are offered a wide range of programs they can enroll for. These include Discovery Sampler, Academic Explorations, Young Students Program, and Intensive Studies. Each of these paths facilitates different opportunities based on your needs. You can check out the complete list of available courses for 6th-8th graders here.

You can take college-level classes and deep-dive into subjects not offered in school, meet students from various backgrounds, and connect with certified instructors. This program will help you in figuring out what you wish to pursue in the future.

Location: Stony Brook University, Long Island, NYC

Cost: $650 program fee; financial aid is available.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates: July 15–July 25, 2024

Eligibility: Students entering grades 7–9 in September 2024 can apply.

Stony Brook University’s Science Exploration Program is a prestigious program for middle schoolers with a passion for science and research. This academic program aims to complement your science curriculum at school and stimulate your thinking, research, and experimentation. The program is centered around laboratory work, but it will also include activities such as reading, computer research, writing, and group projects.

  • Seventh graders will hone their laboratory skills through experiments in physics, chemistry, microbiology, and ecology. 

  • Eighth graders will delve into biology, chemistry, biotechnology, and environmental chemistry, using case studies to explore complex concepts such as Cholera and Bioremediation, all within the framework of homeostasis and environmental interactions. 

  • Ninth graders will focus on biology and research skills, working in groups to investigate botany, microbiology, genetics, and molecular biology. 

As only 24 students per grade level are accepted into the program, students are expected to be curious and hardworking. These experiences will introduce and reinforce skills and concepts that will prepare you for high school science coursework. This program will also help develop your problem-solving skills by working through instructions both in a group and independently.

Location: Columbia University campus, New York, NY 

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April. 

Program Dates: July 8–August 2, 2024

Eligibility: Students must be:

  • Enrolled in Grades 7–12.

  • New York State Residents or Permanent Residents residing in the state.

  • Economically disadvantaged, or Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Alaskan Native, or American Indian; and will benefit from academic enrichment.

The State Pre-College Enrichment Program (S-PREP) is a free high school and college preparatory program designed for 7th - 12th grade students who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine or related STEM fields. The program aims to facilitate students from historically underrepresented communities or economically disadvantaged backgrounds to participate and flourish in STEM careers in the future. The program has two sessions: one in the summer, and the other held over the academic year. 

The program offers enrichment courses to prepare students for success in math and science. Courses include Anatomy, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Brain & Cognitive Science, Ready for PreMed, Physics, Psychology, Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Statistics. In addition, the program offers PSAT (summer), and SAT (academic year) preparation courses. Aside from the prestige associated with the host university, the program offers useful resources and workshops about college preparation, career development, college & academic counseling services, field trips, and college tours. This offers a good headstart to your trajectory in high school and after. 

One more option - The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program

The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is a program for middle school students to work one-on-one with a mentor to explore their academic interests and build a project they are passionate about.  Our mentors are scholars from top research universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Duke, and LSE.

The program was founded by a Harvard & Oxford PhD who met as undergraduates at Harvard. The program is rigorous and fully virtual. We offer need-based financial aid for students who qualify. You can find the application in the brochure

To learn more, you can reach out to Lumiere's Head of Partnership, Maya Novak-Herzog, at or go to our website.

Multiple rolling deadlines for JEP cohorts across the year, you can apply using this application link! If you'd like to take a look at the cohorts + deadlines for 2024, you can refer to this page!

Tamanna Parikh is an alum of Ashoka University. She studied Psychology and English at Ashoka and will be joining the University of Pennsylvania as a graduate student. She plans on studying behavioral science and specializing in decision theory at Penn.

Image Source: UPenn logo



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