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8 Ivy League Summer Programs for Middle School Students

Attending an Ivy League summer program, especially as a middle schooler, provides an excellent opportunity for you to get a headstart and immerse yourself in an environment that encourages academic excellence alongside brilliant peers and renowned experts.

The Ivy League represents a group of eight prestigious, world-renowned universities in the United States, known for their academic rigor and distinguished faculty.

Participating in an Ivy League University’s summer program gives you an opportunity to explore interests that you would like to pursue in high school while challenging yourself to excel academically. This experience will help you achieve holistic growth, by helping you meet like-minded individuals from around the country and getting a glimpse of the journey that lies ahead of you.

To help you get started, we have compiled a list of 8 Ivy League summer programs open to middle school students.

The Ulysses G. Grant Foundation at Yale University is a rigorous 6-week summer program for highly motivated middle schoolers looking to challenge themselves academically. The goal of the program is to help students get a headstart by equipping them with the academic skills necessary for them to excel in college. Curated and taught by undergraduate professors at Yale, the curriculum boasts a unique curriculum that is split between two academic disciplines – Humanities and Investigations. Within Humanities, you will be able to choose courses like Race and Identity through the Arts, the Philosophy of Living, and the Fundamentals of Music. Within the Investigations stream, you will be able to choose courses like Community Building through Sustainability, Government Spending and Ethical Consumption, and Architectural Explorations.

Location: Yale University campus

Cost: $75 (scholarships available)

Program Dates: June 24, 2024, to August 2, 2024

Application Deadline: February 23, 2024

Eligibility: Rising 6th to 9th grade students currently studying in New Haven

Penn GEMS at the University of Pennsylvania is a week-long summer program for middle school students looking to enter the STEM workforce in the future. With a focus on topics such as bioengineering, nanotechnology, materials science, graphics and computing, the program aims to inspire middle schoolers to use engineering to change lives while receiving mentorship from field experts. The curriculum is thoughtfully designed to emphasize real-world challenges and the methods that can be used to solve them. This program is the perfect next step for middle schoolers looking to boost their skill set by adding an Ivy League experience.

Location: University of Pennsylvania campus

Cost: $650

Program Dates: June 24 to 28, 2024

Application Deadline: March 4, 2024

Eligibility: Philadelphia-area middle school students in 6th, 7th or 8th grade

The State Pre-College Enrichment Program (S-PREP) at Columbia University is a preparatory program specifically designed for students interested in medicine and related STEM fields. Supported by the New York State Education Department, the purpose of the program serves to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in STEM fields and professions. The program is competitive and offers courses in subjects like Calculus, Statistics, Biochemistry, and Brain & Cognitive Science. As an added bonus, students participating in S-PREP become eligible for the Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia (BRAINYAC) program as well as the HICCC Cure Program in the future. 

Location: Columbia University campus

Cost: None

Program Dates: July 8, 2024, to August 2, 2024

Application Deadline: May 15, 2024 

Eligibility: Students must be:

  • Enrolled in Grades 7 to 12

  • A New York State Resident or a Permanent Resident residing in the state.

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

The STEM for Rising 9th and 10th Graders at Brown University is the perfect opportunity to deep-dive into STEM disciplines with peers from across the country and esteemed Brown faculty. The program is designed to give you exposure to hands-on team research projects, experiments and design-build challenges. Courses are offered across STEM disciplines and the curriculum is designed to include rigorous academic content and laboratory or field exercises. The final deliverable for the 2-week program includes a research or design project that can serve as a focus for future academic work. As a part of this program, participants will have the chance to interact with current Brown students and learn from the work that they are doing. By placing a focus on the project through in-depth learning, the program takes off the pressure of formal grades. 

Location: Brown University campus

Cost: $5,498

Program Dates: July 14 to 26, 2024

Application Deadline: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until courses reach capacity

Eligibility: Students completing grades 8 to 9, ages 13 to 15 by June 16, 2024

The NYS 4-H Animal Science Programs are hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the prestigious Cornell University. The mission of the program is to connect the youth to hands-on learning opportunities within biology and veterinary studies. With a holistic curriculum that prioritizes collaboration, self confidence, and leadership skills, alums of this program are better equipped to market themselves and enter the competitive workforce. While this program does highlight upskilling through caring for animals, it is a valuable program to be a part of even if you are not particularly interested in veterinary studies. By participating in this program, you will have an opportunity to connect with youth from diverse backgrounds and learn from esteemed educators. 

Location: Cornell University campus

Cost: None

Program Dates: June 2024

Application Deadline: Applications accepted on a rolling bases

Eligibility: Current middle school students 

The International Summer School at Yale University is a 3-week residential program designed specifically for international students to experience academic life at an Ivy League institution. During the program, students are required to choose one Academic and one Elective option. The Academic offerings include Business & Entrepreneurship, Creative Writing, Debate, English Language, and Study Skills. The Elective offerings include Film, Outdoor Leadership, Photography, Tennis, and Theatre. In order to accommodate students from as many backgrounds as possible, places in the program are limited to only 10% of any one nationality. This program is a unique opportunity for competitive middle schoolers to combine learning, creative enrichment, and cultural exposure, and differentiate themselves from their peers. 

Location: Yale University campus

Cost: $8,900

Program Dates: July 14, 2024, to August 4, 2024

Application Deadline: May 1, 2024

Eligibility: Current 13 to 18 year olds

The Pre-College Summer Residential Program at Duke University is designed to provide students with an unforgettable academic experience. With course offerings across STEM and Humanities, there is something offered for every student. For middle school students, the program offers courses like aerospace engineering, mathematical logic and proofs, financial literacy, environmental art, animal cognition, and marine ecology. With a curriculum that prioritizes innovation and upskilling, as part of this program you will have access to seasoned, professional instructors and mentors. As an added bonus, you will also be able to build connections with peers from all around the world and interact with current PhD students and industry experts. 

Location: Duke University campus


  • One-week programs: $2,150

  • Two-week programs: $4,700

Program Dates: 

  • One-week programs: June 30, 2024, to July 5, 2024 or July 21 to 26, 2024

  • Two-week programs: June 16 to 28, 2024 or July 7 to 19, 2024

Application Deadline: April 1, 2024

Eligibility: Current 6th to 11th grade students 

Summer Explorations at Harvard University offer middle school students the opportunity to go beyond the classroom and challenge themselves academically through collaboration, hands-on activities and design thinking. With unique courses such as ‘I Spy Science,’ ‘Arts-Rageous,’ and ‘Crimson Goes Green!,’ the summer explorations allow students to explore the creative components of arts at Harvard. One of the most prestigious universities, even among the Ivy League’s, the opportunity to spend your summer at the Harvard campus will prove to be an unforgettable one. You will have the chance to learn from renowned on-site educators as well as several field trips that put into context the topics covered in the program. Whether you are interested in hip-hop archives, Whether you are interested in hip-hop archives, chemical nano-materials, or the inner workings of a solar panel — there is something for everyone. 

Location: Harvard University campus

Cost: None

Program Dates: July 10, 2024, to August 4, 2024

Application Deadline: Applications accepted on a rolling bases

Eligibility: Current 6th to 8th grade Harvard Ed Portal member (or Ed Portal eligible) who meets the age/grade requirements. Ed Portal eligible children will be required to sign up for a free Harvard Ed Portal membership.

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 our Head of Growth, Khushi Malde, 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!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. 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: Ivy League logo


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