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Boston Leadership Institute: Should You Do It?

If you’ve been looking up leadership opportunities for high school students, chances are that you’ve stumbled upon the “Boston Leadership Institute”. We’ve been asked about the Boston Leadership Institute numerous times, and we thought of putting together this piece to give you useful information about what to factor in when you’re considering the Boston Leadership Institute!

We'll give you a basic overview of the Boston Leadership Institute, its offerings, and the pros and cons.

But first….

Why should you attend leadership programs in high school?

Leadership programs can help you hone a range of positive qualities such as dedication, initiative, and teamwork. They can play a part in developing important skills like communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. But the ultimate question of ‘why’ you should attend won’t have a ‘one size fits all’ answer, it’ll really depend on your profile and overall inclinations.

One question you might want to ask yourself is…

Would attending a leadership program be helpful for college admissions?

Think of college admissions as a large puzzle, with many parts to it.

Do colleges want applicants who demonstrate leadership? Yes!

The important word here is ‘demonstrate’. So, while attending a leadership program can give you perspective and an immersive learning experience, it will not, by itself, show that you ARE a leader. That needs to be ‘demonstrated’ through the work that you undertake.

A good way of thinking of a leadership program is as a learning opportunity: it can enable you to build a network and translate your learnings back to something you are already doing or about to do.

There are some leadership programs such as American Legion Auxiliary Girls State and American Legion Boys State that are prestigious in themselves, but even in that situation, demonstrated leadership would be important. For instance, to get into these programs, you must demonstrate some form of leadership already.

Remember that leadership programs are just one aspect of a well-rounded college application. Admissions officers will also consider factors such as academic performance, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, essays, and standardized test scores (ok, maybe not this one).

Let’s dive into the Boston Leadership Institute!

The Boston Leadership Institute - An Overview

Based in Greater Boston, the Boston Leadership Institute (BLI) has been hosting summer programs for high school students since 2011. The BLI was founded by Dr. Jane Bybee, and is known for its STEM programs for high school students. The BLI welcomes over 2000 students each year for its multiple subject tracks, and has received a mixed set of reviews from parents and students on platforms (which we’ll cover later in the blog). It offers two main types of programs - one-week courses and three-week courses. The BLI is considered a solid summer experience for students who wish to delve into a subject. Here's a quick overview of these programs, pros and cons, and the different subjects you can pick up as a BLI participant.

Pros and Cons of the Boston Leadership Institute

We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons of the various programs offered by the BLI, so that you can make a sound decision for your pre-college summer activities.


  1. Subject Availability: BLI offers a good mix of STEM subjects such as Biology, Forensics, Medicine, and Math. If you’re curious about pursuing high-level education before college begins, BLI’s STEM programs are a great place to start.

  2. Difficulty Level: Since the program only offers 1-week and 3-week sessions, they do not delve too deeply into the subject. This makes it a great option for beginners who aren’t sure about their choices of college majors right after high school, or are looking for a quick introduction to a certain subject.

  3. Program Structure: The subjects that the BLI offers aren't offered in too much depth, and are beginner-friendly for the most part. The BLI also requires you to participate in engaging lectures, group activities, and discussion sessions. You also have the chance to network with peers based in and around Boston.

  4. Program Duration: Unlike other summer programs that usually span across 2-3 months, BLI offers 1-week and 3-week programs. This makes sure you can try out one or more programs, if you wish to explore, or take up other activities in the summer after the completion of your program!


  1. Not considered prestigious: Compared to highly competitive, fully-funded programs for high school students, the BLI is a paid summer program, and will probably not be considered a very prestigious addition to your resume. While you can cite your learnings and parallel research while applying to college, simply participating in the BLI program(s) won’t be as prestigious as other programs (such as Texas Tech University’s Anson L. Clark Scholars Program, Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR), and MIT’s Research Science Institute (RSI))

  2. Fixed location: The program is only held in Boston, so unless you’re based in and around Boston/can undertake a daily commute to the program location, you should look for programs that are held online. While BLI does offer residence, you will have to bear the cost for that separately. There are 3 courses offered online in the 3-week program, but you can’t expect in-person lab work or in-person projects and experience via these.

  3. Depth of Programs: If you’re looking for a deep dive into a certain subject, BLI’s programs don’t offer as much of a deep-dive as other upper-level online courses/research project may. For an introduction to a subject, you can consider BLI, but the program focuses more on breadth than depth.

  4. Cost: BLI charges a fee for each course and does not provide any funding or stipend. You should have a talk with your guardians, counselor(s), and if cost is a barrier, apply for fully funded programs with a much more competitive application process. The one-week program costs $599, while the 3-week program costs $2200. Additionally, you have to pay $699 per week if you opt for the residential program.

  5. Mixed public Reviews: The BLI hasn’t received very many glowing reviews on platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, Glassdoor, Teen Summer Camps in recent years, and while some participants praise some of its STEM facilities and programs, the program doesn’t boast of many positive public reviews.

One-Week Programs at Boston Leadership Institute

The one-week courses are BLI's most popular offering, simply because they let you engage and immerse yourself in a subject of your choice in a week, which lets you experiment with more subjects in a shorter period of time. If you're unsure of which subject might fully pique your interest, opting for a one-week course is the best plan of action for you! Apart from engaging lectures, group activities, and discussion sessions, you also learn and interact with your fellow program participants - which makes for a great learning and networking opportunity in high school.

Here are a few of the programs offered in one-week course slots.

The Boston Leadership Institute's most popular programs are offered under the umbrella of Science Programs and involve a beginner-level introduction to the field of your choice, such as forensics, polymer chemistry, and marine biology, as well as a Crime Scene Investigation program for high school students!

Past participants praise these programs for their structure, beginner-level course material, as well as hands-on activities that make a week's learning experience enriching and rewarding.

Here are a few of the programs offered at BLI for this summer (2023) that you can consider.

Keep in mind that since these only span a week, it won't be possible for you to take a deep dive into any of the subjects. However, they are a great way to experiment with various subjects, explore your own interests, and engage with faculty in the field - an exercise that can give you an edge while applying to and attending college.

CSI Boston - July 17 – 21, 2023

Forensics -

Session 1: June 19 – 23

Session 2: July 31 – August 4

Forensics True Crime -

July 24 – 28

Marine Biology -

Session 1: July 17 – 21

Session 2: July 24 – 28

Planetary Science -

July 31 – August 4, 2023

Polymer Chemistry -

June 26 – 30, 2023

Physics of Space:

Session 1: June 26 - 30, 2023

Session 2: August 7 - 11, 2023

For a complete list of programs, feel free to check out the Boston Leadership Institute's webpage on one-week science programs.

Complete with lecture sessions, group activities, and end-of-program projects, the BLI's Math and Statistics programs are suitable for any high-school student interested in math and its applications in the real world, as well as pursuing a college career in economics, math, or statistical research.

BLI currently offers one course, named Sports Statistics

Session 1: June 26 - June 30, 2023

Session 2: July 24- July 30, 2023

Session 3: August 7- August 11, 2023

Here are a few one-week course offerings in the field of biomedicine, for more such programs, check this section out!


June 19 - 23, 2023

June 26 - 30, 2023

July 17 - 21, 2023

July 31 - August 4, 2023

Primary Care:

July 31 - August 4, 2023

Reconstructive Surgery:

June 26 - 30, 2023

Sports Medicine:

June 26 - 30, 2023

July 24 - 28, 2023

Three-Week Programs at Boston Leadership Institute

As opposed to the one-week programs, the three-week programs offer an opportunity for high school students to study the subject of their choice at an advanced level. The three-week courses include extensive lab work, group discussions, as well as subject-specific projects. Here are a few of their popular three-week offerings, you can check out a complete course catalog here.

Astrophysics -

July 3 - 21, 2023

Biological Research -

Session 1: June 26 - July 15, 2023

Session 2: July 17 - Aug 4, 2023

Biotech Research Remote -

Session 1: July 5 - 15, 2023 | 11:00 am- 4:00 pm EST on Zoom

Session 2: July 25- Aug 5, 2023 | 11:00 am- 4:00 pm EST on Zoom

Chemistry Research -

July 3 - 21, 2023

Forensic Science -

June 26 - July 14, 2023

Marine Biology-

July 17 - Aug 4, 2023

Mars Mission-

June 26 - July 14, 2023

Neuroscience Research-

July 17 - Aug 4, 2023

Biomedical & Surgical Research -

Session 1: June 26 - July 14, 2023

Session 2: July 3 - 21, 2023

Session 3: July 17 - Aug 4, 2023

Remote: July 11 – July 22, 2023 | 11:00am- 4:00pm EST on Zoom

Cardiology & Internal Medicine

July 17 - Aug 4, 2023

Emergency Medicine

June 26 - July 14, 2023

Neurosurgery Research

June 26 - July 14, 2023

Oncology Research

June 26 - July 14, 2023

Veterinary Medicine

July 10 - 28, 2023

Pediatrics & Neonatal Medicine-

July 11 - 29, 2023

Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Surgery-

July 3 - 21, 2023

Finance Research -

Session 1: June 26- July 14, 2023

Session 2: July 10 - 28, 2023

STEM Entrepreneurship -

Session 1: June 26-July 14, 2023

Remote: Aug 1– 26, 2023

Boston Leadership Institute - How Much Does It Cost?

The tuition cost for the one-week program is $599 per course, and the residential cost is $699 per week.

The tuition cost for the three-week day program is $2200 per course, and the residential cost is $2097 for three weeks.

The cost for the remote program is as follows -

Competitive-admissions remote programs: $1200

Introductory remote programs: $599

The Boston Leadership Institute: Our Review

As you've seen above, the BLI offers 30+ courses spanning across one-week and three-week formats.

Keep in mind that these are all paid programs, and do not have an application process. While this does make it more accessible for high-school students that are looking for some academic enrichment over the summer in and around Boston, this does not reflect as strongly on your resume as programs like RSI, SIMR, and MITES Summer do.

We’ve already covered that the reviews are mixed.

If you can set aside resources for an academic summer experience that isn't too competitive, intensive in terms of course curriculum, and gives you a rough idea of the discipline you've opted for, you might want to give BLI a shot.

You can opt-in for the one-week programs, as they are shorter, give you a better idea of the subject in a smaller amount of time, and cost less than their three-week counterparts.

However, if you are looking for something more intense (especially given that leadership is demonstrated), one way of doing that can be to undertake an advanced research project. These projects can speak to your caliber as a scholar and be scaled into passion projects.

One way to showcase leadership is to do an advanced research project of your own. If you are passionate about research, then you should check out the Lumiere Research Scholars Program, a competitive research program for talented high school students. You can find out more about Lumiere and the various subject tracks it offers 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: BLI logo



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