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Summer Opportunities at Stanford for High School Students

Stanford has a diverse set of programs for high school students. Some of these run year-round and some exclusively during the summer. In this post, we’ll cover a range of opportunities available at Stanford during the summer.

These opportunities can be a bit hard to process since they are scattered, so we’ll summarize the different options in this blog!

Stanford’s currently running two summer programs - 1) Summer Sessions, Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes, and 2) Specialized STEM opportunities.

How to choose the right program for you at Stanford?

While it may be tempting to experience each of Stanford’s offerings for high school students, here are a few things you should consider before choosing a program that’s right for you and your goals.

What are you looking to gain from your program?

Think through some of these questions and scout programs based on your answers:

  • Is it to experience college life at Stanford?

  • Is it to gain exposure and experience in the field of research in various STEM subjects?

  • Do you wish to take up certain college-level courses and experiment with subjects before applying to college?

For instance, if it’s only the last point that you’re inclined towards, you may want to limit how much you spend by taking the online version of courses you find interesting or target for-credit courses!

How much time are you willing to commit?

If you’ve got a packed schedule during the school term as well as your summer break, you should select a program that runs exclusively in the summer for a week or two. If you’re looking for an immersive program that exposes you to college-level academics, you can opt for month-long programs.

Are there any cost-based constraints?

Some of these programs (such as SIMR) offer a stipend, while the others are tuition-based, with additional residential costs. The ones which offer a stipend or are free tend to be highly selective or have eligibility constraints (such as being open to students from underrepresented backgrounds). Overall, cost is one factor you should discuss with your guardians/guidance counselor before applying to any of these programs.

What is the difference between Stanford Summer Session and Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institute?

The Stanford Summer Session is open to students currently enrolled in high school, undergraduate, and graduate degrees, as well as international students and students in their gap year are welcome to apply. The program includes multiple courses that you can take for official Stanford University credit, and work toward academic immersion, earning an official Stanford Transcript at the end of the program.

On the other hand, Stanford’s Pre-Collegiate Summer Institute is only open to high school students who are looking for a rigorous academic, social, and extracurricular experience on Stanford’s campus, as pre-college students. You are also expected to work with renowned instructors and engage in programs that interest and excite you.

Stanford Summer Sessions

This program combines academics and other activities to give you a taste of life at Stanford. You can choose from over 80 courses, and some provide college credit as well!

These span a variety of STEM and non-STEM subjects such as Computer Science and Engineering, Creativity and Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Social Sciences and Humanities, etc.

You can take a wide range of courses. Take, for example, the course on cultural and social anthropology where you explore vividly written ethnographic cases that show how anthropological approaches illuminate contemporary social and political issues in various cultural sites.

We would advise that you use good reasoning to pick courses - such as upskilling yourself toward an intended major or taking a specific course to help you strengthen a research paper you are working on. Just taking a course from Stanford in itself won’t score you big points in college admissions!

Location: Stanford University campus (Stanford, CA) *

Cost: Fee - Commuter, taking a minimum of 3 units: starts at $4,926. Living on campus, taking a minimum of 8 units: starts at $15,875.

Program dates: 24th June - 26th August 2023

Deadline: Early Decision 1: 30th Nov. 2023; Early Decision 2: 31st Jan. 2023; Rolling Admission: 1st May 2023

Eligibility: Current sophomores, juniors, or seniors. At least 16 years of age when the program begins. Must not be matriculating into Stanford as a first year.

The Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes is a virtual program that focuses on intensive study in one online course through in-depth academic exploration. They do not provide college credit.

You will have a lot of options to choose from - Bioscience to Business, Physics to Philosophy, and Creative Writing to Computer Science.

Upon completion of the course, receive a Certificate of Completion.

Here is our top pick.

Location: Virtual

Cost: $3,050 (approx.)

Program dates: July 10, 2023 - July 21, 2023

Deadline: March 15, 2023

Eligibility: Current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Also open to students in 8th grade on a case-by-case basis.


Another great summer program for students who can’t attend programs at the Stanford Campus, this Online Math and Physics allows you to take advanced college-level courses and earn credit!

Specialized STEM Programs

These are specialized programs that follow a seminar or project-style of learning. Most of these run during the summer, but you may find an exception or two.

Some of these are quite competitive and highly prestigious (such as SIMR, which has an acceptance rate of <3%) and some are more welcoming (such as the Advanced Science Exploratory Program - this one is also completely free!). Please see the entire list of options available here.

Other Summer Programs at Stanford (Miscellaneous)

A three-wheel residential program that is open to high school sophomores and juniors, this program explores the field of humanities under the guidance of mentors and professors.

Stanford University Mathematics Camp welcomes high school students to immerse themselves in advanced-level math and work on projects, interact with mathematicians, attend classes, and overall, engage in intensive study of math, before college!

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. We run cohorts throughout the year. You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

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.



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