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9 Humanities Pre-College Programs You Should Check Out as a High Schooler

While we’ve covered multiple opportunities for STEM students, pre-college programs in humanities offer an excellent opportunity for high school students to work on their portfolio and engage with their subject outside of the classroom. 

Pre-college programs, specifically, offer an opportunity to engage with college-level academics, campus life, and research projects, all before joining college as a freshman! 

We’ve listed 8 of the best humanities pre-college programs for high schoolers that are prestigious, engaging, and comprehensive, that can offer unique and academically enriching experiences. 

Brown University’s summer program offers over 300 non-credit courses for high school students to choose from, both online and on campus, including a large number of humanities courses.

The humanities offerings include topics under Literature, Writing and Communications, Psychology and Social Sciences, Political Science, Philosophy and History, Visual Creative and Performing Arts, and more. You’re sure to find something that piques your interest from the wide array of choices! One factor that makes Summer@Brown unique is that it doesn’t set a rigid schedule, leaving it up to the students to best manage their time between academics and extracurriculars, as they prepare for college.

Cost: Varies according to the number of courses and their duration. Some financial aid is offered.

Eligibility: Students who are completing 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, and are between the ages of 14 to 18 years old by June 16, 2024.

Application Deadline: May 10, 2024

Location: Brown University campus, Providence, Rhode Island

Program Dates: June 23 to July 26, 2024

Blending online workshops, lectures, and a residential institute, Princeton’s Summer Journalism Program provides a holistic learning experience for those passionate about journalism.  A highly selective and prestigious program, PSJP admits only up to 40 students in its annual cohort. It offers high achievers from low-income families a free residential journalism and college prep program where they will study politics and current affairs, learn from Princeton professors and journalists, and collaborate with a college advisor. Students will take part in a summer intensive that includes virtual and on-campus workshops and lectures led by program graduates and journalists from publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Politico, and CNN, among others.

The program will conclude with its 10-day residential program, at the end of which students will publish the Princeton Summer Journal. The website provides last year’s publications that interested students can go through.

We’ve covered this program in detail here!

Cost: No cost

Eligibility: High school juniors living and intending to pursue college in the United States with a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5 out of 4. Applicants must also meet one of the socioeconomic criteria listed here.

Application Deadline: February 15, 2024

Location: Online and on campus in Princeton, New Jersey

Program Dates: Online workshops commence in July and culminate in a 10 day residential experience on campus in early August

This is a non-credit, academically rigorous 2-week pre-college program. It is conducted only on campus, and doesn’t offer an online option. While there are multiple course options available, those keen on humanities can consider these options Speech, Writing, and Literature, Law, Politics, Philosophy, Race, Gender and Ethics, among others.   

In this program, you can expect to be academically challenged, as you develop your skill set in your chosen field, and build a strong foundation. You will be taught by Harvard faculty and get a glimpse into college life on campus. This is one of the most prestigious programs you can consider, especially if you want to explore your potential major!

Cost: $5,550 + $75 application fee. Some financial aid is offered.


  • This program is open to rising juniors and seniors. Those applying must be June 22, 2024, and must not be turning 19 years old before July 31, 2024.

  • Additionally, eligible applicants will graduate from high school and enter college in 2025 or 2026.

Application deadline: January 10, 2024 (early deadline) | February 14, 2024 (regular deadline) | April 10, 2024 (late application deadline)

Location: Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) 

Program dates: Session 1 - June 23, 2024 - July 5, 2024 | Session 2 - July 7-19, 2024 | Session 3 - July 21, 2024 - August 2, 2024

As a participant of the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, you get the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with a PhD mentor and develop an independent research paper with the help of their expertise and guidance, in a field or subject of your choice.

This entirely virtual program has been developed by Harvard and Oxford PhD candidates, and lets you choose from a variety of program structures across various fields of study. If you wish to deepen your knowledge of a particular discipline and strengthen your research capabilities, then this is the program for you!

Cost: Multiple programs ranging from $2800 to $8400. Some financial aid is available

Eligibility: All high school students from anywhere in the world

Application Deadline: There are 4 cohorts (You can apply here!)

  • Fall 2023: August 27th, 2023

  • Winter 2023: November 26th, 2023

  • Spring 2024: January 14th, 2024

  • Summer 2024

  • Early Admission: February 18, 2024

  • Priority Admission: March 17, 2024

  • Regular Admission 1: April 14, 2024

  • Regular Admission 2: May 12, 2024

Location: Virtual

Program Dates: 12 weeks starting from when you and your mentor start the project, with a few other duration options available.

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: 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.

Ladder Internships is a selective program that pairs students with startups and nonprofits around the world for virtual internships. The startups range across a variety of industries, and you can select which field you would most love to dive into. The program curriculum is tailored for high school students, offering a balance between academic enrichment and practical skill development. 

Interns will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup you’re working with, and present your work at the end of their internship. You will work with your manager from the startup, with a Ladder Coach who will serve as a second mentor. Interns will receive 1-1 training in communication, time management, and other skills, and will attend group training sessions with other interns.

Some of the humanities offerings include sustainability, business and marketing, media and journalism and more. You can explore all the options here on their application form

Tip: Here’s a detailed review of this program! 

Cost: Programs start at $1990. Financial aid available. 

Eligibility: Students willing to work for 10-20 hours a week for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students.

Application deadline: Multiple deadlines throughout the year.

Location: Virtual

Program dates: 8-week programs with multiple cohorts throughout the year. 

Offering both in-person and online options to domestic and international high school students, Yale’s Summer Session provides cutting-edge and academically rigorous undergraduate programs in the field of humanities. 

The 2024 course list will be updated in March 2024, but you may look through the 2023 syllabus here – you can expect this year’s offerings along the same lines. Courses on offer in the past have covered subjects like anthropology, african american studies, archeology, drama, economics, english, ethics, and education studies, among others.

Cost: Varies according to course enrollment. Some financial aid is offered.

Eligibility: Students entering senior year of high school or freshman year of college

Application Deadline: May 3rd and June 7th for online students, April 3rd and May 8th for residential students.

Location: On campus or online.

Program Dates: May 27, 2024 - June 28, 2024 | July 1, 2024 - August 2024

TASS is one of the country’s most selective summer programs for high schoolers, with an acceptance rate of less than 5%. This 6-week program focuses on creative thinking, problem-solving, community building, and academic enrichment. As a TASS participant, you will attend lectures, discussion sessions, team-building activities, and work on group projects with your fellow participants. The program expects you to dedicate 3 hours of college-level classes a day, and also exposes you to activities such as planning community service projects, and spending from a fixed program budget for the same. 

This educational experience covers all costs including tuition, room and board, field trips, and books, ensuring socioeconomic and cultural diversity in their cohort. 

Here’s everything you need to know about TASS!

Cost: Free

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors who are at least 15 years of age and not older than 18 by June 23, 2024.

Application Deadline: January 3

Location: Cornell University, Maryland University, and Michigan University

Program Dates: June 23 to August 3

A highly selective and coveted summer program, Texas Tech’s Anson L. Clark Scholar Program is a seven-week long summer research intensive that  offers twelve bright students a chance at conducting hands-on advanced research. 

If you have a keen interest in the humanities, and especially in economics or history, this program is built for you. You will learn everything that goes into independent research, from deciding on your research methodology to understanding the symbiotic relationship between historical events and economic systems. This program is carefully crafted to nurture curious minds, and is sure to add prestige to your college applications in the future.

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Students, both domestic and international, must be graduating high school in either 2023 or 2024

Application Deadline: February 15

Location: Texas Tech University

Program Dates: June 16 to August 1

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are looking to start your own research journey with 1-1 mentorship from a top PhD, check out the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. 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: Brown Pre-College logo


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