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8 Princeton Summer Programs That Should Be on Your List as a High Schooler

If you are a high school student looking to expand your academic portfolio, consider participating in a Princeton Summer Program! These will provide you with an immersive learning environment, allowing you to explore your academic interests, engage with distinguished faculty, and interact with like-minded peers from around the world. 

Participating in summer programs hosted by prestigious universities, such as Princeton, can also significantly enhance your college admissions profile. Admissions officers recognize the value of these experiences, appreciating the initiative and commitment students demonstrate by taking part in rigorous academic programs during the summer. The programs not only provide you with a taste of college life but also offer a chance to showcase your intellectual prowess and dedication to academic excellence. Moreover, the exposure to Princeton University's renowned faculty and resources can be an invaluable opportunity for you to gain insights into your chosen fields of study. 

Location: Princeton Campus

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: March 15

Program Dates: 5-6 weeks in June-July

Eligibility: Sixteen years old or more by June 15, 2024 and Enrolled in high school

The Princeton Laboratory Learning Program is a great opportunity for you to dive into the realm of scientific research and engineering. Unlike typical summer programs, this initiative offers a full-time and immersive research experience, providing a unique chance for you to actively contribute to ongoing projects in the sciences and engineering fields. Facilitated by Princeton faculty and research staff, you make real contributions to the projects, gaining valuable hands-on experience that goes beyond the confines of a traditional classroom.

One notable aspect of the program is its flexibility, allowing for customization of participation dates based on the schedules of research personnel and the specific requirements of the project. The internships typically span 5-6 weeks during regular office hours over the summer, ensuring a focused and dedicated learning environment. Importantly, the program prioritizes the quality of the research experience, with no evening or weekend activities, emphasizing a commitment to academic rigor.

The breadth of research opportunities within the Laboratory Learning Program is exemplified by projects such as "Machine Learning Methods for Power Magnetics Modeling" and "Chicken Embryos Lung Development." These examples showcase the diversity of projects available, spanning from cutting-edge technology applications to fundamental biological research. By participating in such projects, you not only gain exposure to advanced research methodologies but also contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their chosen fields. This firsthand engagement with real-world research not only enriches your understanding but also positions you favorably for college admissions, demonstrating a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific inquiry. 

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 hometown 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.

Location: Princeton Campus

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Students are selected to apply to become a PUPP Scholar during the spring of their freshman year of high school

Program Dates: Year long program and summer institute

Eligibility: Students must attend one of the following schools: Ewing High School, Lawrence High School, Nottingham High School (Hamilton, NJ), Princeton High School and Trenton Central High School and come from socioeconomic groups currently under-represented in major universities. Selection is prioritized for those who would be among the first generation in their family to attend a traditional, four-year college and those from families making less than $55,000 per year.

The Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP) is a great opportunity for low-income high school students, offering a year-round initiative that goes beyond traditional academic enrichment. The program is designed to provide you with a comprehensive set of skills, focusing on collaboration, presentation, listening, and debating skills. During the school year, you will engage in weekly enrichment sessions, creating a supportive environment that empowers you to develop both academically and personally.

As the school year transitions to a close, PUPP extends its impact through a transformative six-week Summer Institute. This intensive program covers a spectrum of courses ranging from writing and literature to personal development, math, and critical thinking skills. The Summer Institute serves as a platform for you to continue honing their abilities. One noteworthy aspect of the institute is the Research Symposium. This event allows you to showcase your research posters, shedding light on their work in science and sociology. The Research Symposium, featuring poster sessions and presentations, not only underscores the academic rigor of the program but also provides scholars with a unique opportunity to present their findings and insights. The program's emphasis on collaboration and presentation skills, coupled with the exposure to diverse academic disciplines, prepares you for success in college and empowers you to contribute meaningfully to their communities. 

Location: Princeton Campus

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: March 1

Program Dates: 8-10 weeks Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, 40 hours per week

Eligibility: Be at least 16 years of age AND a graduating senior in high school when the internship begins. The internship begins the summer after you graduate. NOT the summer after your junior year; Be a United States citizen or permanent resident alien at the time of application

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) High School Summer Internship is great for you if you have a keen interest in plasma physics and fusion energy. This internship is tailored for high school students who have demonstrated both a passion for the field and a solid academic foundation in relevant subjects. Successful candidates are those who have taken courses in physics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, engineering, and exhibit a strong interest in exploring the complexities of plasma physics.

A key aspect of the internship is the emphasis on hands-on experience, whether in experimental or computational projects in plasma physics. Interns are given the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, gaining valuable insights into the practical aspects of their academic interests. The program recognizes the importance of coding and computer-aided design (CAD) skills in contemporary research, and thus, candidates with some experience in programming languages like Python or Java, as well as familiarity with CAD tools such as SolidWorks or AutoCAD, are particularly sought after.

The PPPL High School Summer Internship serves as a bridge between classroom learning and cutting-edge research. By exposing you to experimental and computational projects, the program not only deepens your understanding of plasma physics but also hones your problem-solving skills in a professional research environment. Furthermore, the internship allows you to interact with leading experts in the field, providing mentorship and guidance that can significantly impact your academic and career trajectories.

Location: Princeton Campus

Cost: $1850

Application Deadline: Winter 2023

Program Dates: June 26 to July 28

Eligibility: The program is mainly targeted towards high school students, but some college students may participate as well. Any student who is in high school (finished grade 9 by the time the program begins) can apply. In some exceptional cases, they have admitted some younger students, but that is rare.

The Program in Algorithmic and Combinatorial Thinking (PACT) allows you to explore discrete mathematics and algorithmic principles. The program starts with an in-depth study of topics in discrete mathematics, emphasizing systematic counting and methods of proof. You will be introduced to proof techniques such as induction and delve into basic graph theory, using these tools to establish and understand various theorems.

Complementing the discrete mathematics foundation, PACT exposes you to the intricate realms of combinatorics and probability. While probability is a familiar concept for many, the program elevates the discussion to a more theoretical and fundamental level, unraveling sophisticated ideas from basic principles. As you progress, you will cover set theory, advanced permutations and combinations, conditional probability, independent events, random variables, and the linearity of expectation. The problem sets for the probability section of the course are crafted to be both challenging and thought-provoking, pushing you to refine your instincts regarding the likelihood and independence of events.

In the latter part of the program, you will learn about algorithms. This phase introduces topics like asymptotic analysis, Big-O notation, and basic algorithms such as Euclidean GCD. The program's comprehensive approach ensures that you not only grasp theoretical concepts but also gain practical insights into algorithmic thinking and problem-solving.

A distinctive feature of PACT is the inclusion of guest lecturers who will expose you to various fields within computer science. Topics such as computational geometry, cryptography, the probabilistic method, and planar graph coloring are explored, offering a holistic understanding of the diverse applications and disciplines within the realm of computer science. By the end of the program, you will not only have a refined skill set in algorithmic and combinatorial thinking but also a broader appreciation for the multifaceted nature of computer science.

Location: Princeton’s Campus

Cost: $2600

Application Deadline: January 18

Program Dates: Five weeks on Monday through Thursday, with each class meeting every other day for 120 minutes. Students are in class from about 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Eligibility: You must be a freshman, sophomore, or junior in high school, You must have at least an overall “B” average in a competitive academic program and you must be in the upper quarter of your class.


The Princeton W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Institute offers three distinctive academies, including the Engineering, Leadership, and Pre-Med/Biological Sciences Academies. Each academy is designed to stimulate intellectual curiosity, foster critical thinking skills, and provide an immersive exploration of specific academic disciplines. The Engineering Academy is tailored to ignite interest in engineering careers among participants. The curriculum is carefully crafted to include integral courses in advanced mathematics and physics principles. Emphasizing analytical thinking and cooperative problem-solving strategies, students engage in courses such as "Intro to Engineering," "Math Modeling," and "Physics." The academy provides a comprehensive view of the engineering field, equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary for future success in STEM disciplines.

The Leadership Academy focuses on cultivating the development of leaders and scholars in the social sciences and humanities. Through an exploration of critical issues like social problems, public policy, and social theory, students gain valuable insights into the complexities of leadership. Emphasis is placed on self-knowledge, analytical thinking, and cooperative problem-solving. Courses in this academy include the "Seminar on W.E.B. Du Bois," "Race & Social Stratification," and "Contemporary Issues in the Middle East." The Leadership Academy provides a holistic understanding of leadership principles, preparing students to engage with societal challenges. The Pre-Med/Biological Sciences Academy is dedicated to fostering a well-rounded cohort of scientists and researchers in the fields of science, medicine, and information-driven technology. The curriculum emphasizes the interconnectedness between scientific, mathematical, and technological problem-solving strategies. Popular among students aspiring to focus on sciences and medicine in college and professionally, this academy offers courses such as "Anatomy & Physiology," "Intro to Neuroscience," and "Molecular Biology." Participants receive a comprehensive introduction to the sciences, preparing them for future endeavors in these dynamic fields. These academies within the W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Institute not only provides you with a deep dive into your chosen disciplines but also instills critical skills and knowledge that will serve you well in your academic and professional journeys. 

Location: Chauncey Conference Center

Cost: $250

Application Deadline: February 25

Program Dates: July 7-13

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors

The James Madison Seminar on the Principles of American Constitutionalism program at Princeton University allows you to explore the fundamental questions surrounding equality and liberty in American political life. This intellectually stimulating program delves into the rich tapestry of American history, examining the evolving meanings and interplay of these core principles from the nation's founding to the present day. You will engage in a rigorous examination of primary sources, fostering a deep understanding of the philosophical foundations that underpin the American constitutional system.

Throughout the program, you will grapple with essential questions: What do equality and liberty mean in the context of American political philosophy? How do these principles relate to one another, to political power, to the law, and to the private sphere of civil society? The exploration of these questions is rooted in a careful analysis of primary sources, including seminal texts such as The Federalist and Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. By delving into these foundational works, you gain insights into the intellectual underpinnings that have shaped American governance and political thought.

The program's emphasis on primary sources and basic texts from American history ensures that you engage directly with the ideas and perspectives that have shaped the nation's constitutional development. This immersive approach enables you to trace the historical evolution of key principles, providing a nuanced understanding of how notions of equality and liberty have been interpreted and redefined over time. The program not only equips you with a deep understanding of foundational texts but also encourages you to analyze, question, and debate the enduring principles that continue to shape the American political landscape.

Location: Princeton’s Campus

Cost: Varies per camp

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: Varies per camp

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12

Since the early 1990s, Princeton has hosted over 70 camps and clinics annually. Set against the backdrop of the university's picturesque and historic campus, located in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey, these camps provide a unique opportunity for you to receive specialized training in your chosen sports.

The camps cater to a wide array of sports, covering disciplines such as Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Field Hockey, Football, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Rowing, Rugby, Soccer, Squash, Softball, Strength and Conditioning, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Water Polo, and Wrestling. The diverse range of offerings ensures that athletes with varied interests and skill sets find a program that aligns with their passion and goals.

Participants in the Princeton Sports Camps experience life on a prestigious university campus, residing in the same dormitories used by Princeton students during the academic year. The immersive nature of the camps extends beyond the training sessions, as campers enjoy meals in various dining facilities around the campus, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. One notable aspect of these sports camps is the direct involvement of Princeton University's varsity coaches. Each camp is directed by these experienced coaches, supported by additional expertise from college coaches and players hailing from different parts of the country. This coaching lineup ensures that participants benefit from top-tier instruction and guidance, enhancing their skills and understanding of their respective sports.

One bonus opportunity - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to further expand your academic portfolio, 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: Princeton University logo


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