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Summer Programs at Harvard for High School Students

Harvard runs a set of well-run summer programs that you could consider. In this post, we outline what programs exist at Harvard over the summer, their rigor, and how prestigious they're considered in the admission office.

Are Harvard Summer Camps prestigious?

To start, it’s important to note that Harvard does not provide preferential treatment to students who go to Harvard Summer Camp in the admission process. The two organizations are separate and the admission office and the summer camp don’t overlap.

While Harvard University has been considered a highly prestigious institution for higher education, its summer camps are significantly less prestigious. Essentially, if you have the money to pay to go, then you can get in.

The value isn’t in the program itself, it’s in the courses you take, how you perform in them, and how they relate to your story. If you’re interested in studying data science, then taking three summer camps in a row around data science would show your commitment and depth in the field. This is valuable - but going to a summer camp at Harvard, alone, isn’t.

One other option to consider is writing a research paper - we help do that at Lumiere. Last year, 2100 students applied to our program.

Below are the main Harvard Summer School programs. They’ll give you a sense of what opportunities exist at Harvard and which ones to choose!

What is it?

This program gives you a quick taste of college life at Harvard. You’ll live in a dorm, interact with peers, make new friends, and attend courses (without the pressure of formal grades). While the academic component is light, it’s not entirely absent. During these two weeks at Harvard, you will attend class and participate in college readiness workshops, team-building activities, and a variety of social events.

The pre-college program offers 30 courses, which span the following categories of Business, Leadership, STEM, Race, Gender, Ethics, Speech, Writing, Literature, Psychology, Medicine, Public Health, Law, Politics, Philosophy, History, and more!

Cost and Timings

  • Program Cost: $5,300 + $75 application fee (limited scholarships available)

  • Program Length: 2 weeks, 3 sessions to choose from

    • Session 1: June 26-July 8

    • Session 2: July 10-July 22

    • Session 3: July 24-August 5

  • Application Deadline: May 11, 2022

  • Location: Residential

  • No college credit

Here are some sample courses they offer:

  • Economics | Digital Media: Society, Culture, and Economics

  • Journalism | Writing Articles, Podcasts, and Essays in a State of Emergency

  • Psychology | Stereotypes, and Attitudes

Think of this as a college-fit test rather than something which will enhance your activity list or scholar profile.

What is it?

This is a level above the Pre-College program in terms of how much of a taste of college life it’ll give you. Compared to the two weeks, this is a seven-week session.

One big difference is that there are over 200 courses for students to choose from, for full college credit. Another differentiator is that these classes are also attended by university undergraduates - which can make for an interesting opportunity to get a deeper insight into Harvard and college at large.. This will definitely be a more academically rigorous experience and, if you pick your courses strategically (in line with your intended major), you can have something substantial to show for it.

Cost and Timings

  • Program Cost: $3,300–$13,200 + $75 non-refundable application fee (financial aid awards available)

  • Program Length: 7 weeks, June 18 – August 6, 2022

  • Application Deadline: January 26 (early) // March 2 (regular) // May 1

  • Location: Online, commuting or residential

  • College credit

Here are some sample courses they offer:

  • Animal Transgenesis: A Laboratory Primer on Genetics

  • Problem-solving and Project Design

  • Connecting to the World Through Chemistry

What is it?

This is, more specifically, an academic enrichment program designed for high school students, covering the fields of Business, Coding, Politics and Law, and Pre-Medical studies. This program is not officially run by Harvard College, but is run by students at Harvard who make up the Harvard Student Agencies (a student-run company). Each of these programs contains engaging lectures, keynote speeches from professionals in the field, field trips, and a final project presentation. Additionally, the academies are uniquely positioned to foster connections between high school students and Harvard undergraduate mentors.

Cost and Timings

  • Program Cost: $500 for online; $1000 for in-person

  • Program Length: 5 days, multiple session dates

  • Application Deadline: Varying for online; May 15, 2022 for in-person

  • Location: Online and in-person

  • No college credit

  • Entrepreneurship (online)

  • Management (in-person & online)

Attending this academy can be useful for you if you are planning a passion project on the lines of building a company ground up and then scaling it, or contemplating a career in consulting. It covers a lot of important business fundamentals right from market sizing to pricing strategies. You will analyze business models from different industries and take an expansive look at various markets.

  • Introduction to Python (in-person & online)

  • Introduction to Web Development (online)

In this program, you can learn either the fundamentals of coding through the course or foundations in web development. This course is a good fit for you if you are looking to get a glimpse into the world of coding.

  • American Politics (online)

  • Pre-Law (in-person & online)

The academy will cover all things politics and deep dive into its core principles - including theory, campaign management, and international relations. You will collaborate with peers on a policy project, and share presentations of this research at the end of the program. This is an excellent foundation course for you if you are interested in law, governance, political science, or international relations (to name a few).


  • Foundations of biology & chemistry (in-person & online)

  • Human anatomy and systems of the body (in-person & online)

This program gives high school students passionate about medicine a thorough introduction to the pre-med curriculum and emergency room patient care. Take an introductory class on “how to be pre-med”, or sign up for a chance to step into the shoes of a doctor and learn to diagnose patience.

We hope you enjoyed our overview of Harvard summer programs for high school students. It was a difficult task to narrow down this list—and we’re sure that you will find a program that is perfect for your needs! Just remember that finding the right fit can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to reach out for more information about any of these programs.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in a selective, structured research program, consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by Harvard and Oxford researchers. The program pairs you with a full-time researcher to develop your own independent research project, in any discipline of your choice. Last year over 2100 students applied for 500 slots in the research program! You can find the application form here. Our founders also came from Harvard College - they know those summer programs well!

Are you seeking options beyond Harvard? Read some of our blogs to learn more about opportunities like 10 Best Research Mentorship Programs and other location-specific programs like 15 Summer Research Opportunities in India for High School Students.

Dhvani (the-one-e) is a program manager at Lumiere, in addition to being a dialogue facilitator, entrepreneur, and boxer. She has a passion for all things education, community building, and problem-solving.



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