Looking for a productive, engaging way to spend your summer? Or teenager programs near me, Summer programs are a great option. Here is a full list of free summer programs for high school students
These enriching experiences cover a variety of themes and topics, allowing you to take college-level courses, pursue a passion, or explore a prospective career.
Sometimes, these programs can be a bit pricey. But we’ve rounded up 25 summer programs for high school students that are entirely free.
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25 Free Summer Programs for High School Students
1. Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS)
Dates: July 12–July 30, 2021
Location: New York University (NYU)
Application deadline: April 12th, 2022
Cybersecurity is one of the most important (and lucrative) fields in our modern world. Through this program, high school students learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity and computer science at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. The mission is to “[break] down barriers that have historically led to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM.”
Students who live in New York City or a neighboring city, are highly motivated in STEM, and in 9th-12th grade as of September 2022 are invited to participate.
2. Sadie Nash Summer Institute
Dates: July 5–August 13, 2022
Location: Online (there may also be optional, in-person activities)
Application dea2line: April 12th, 2022
Through this program, self-identified young women and gender-expansive youth currently attending high school, living in New York or Newark, NJ, explore their leadership potential while participating in a community with other “Nashers/.”
Students take courses in society, identity, social justice, and other courses to build critical thinking skills. They also attend workshops and field trips, while meeting accomplished leaders.
3. NYUSPS Aspire
Dates: August 1–6, 2022
Application deadline: April 6th, 2022
Rising high school juniors from underrepresented communities who will be first-generation college students may participate in this college prep and mentoring program hosted by NYU. Beginning with a one-week college immersion intensive, which includes classes and workshops, in the summer, the program continues to offer support to participants throughout the rest of high school.
You’ll attend workshops about the college application process, standardized testing, essay writing, and financial aid to help you prepare for college.
4. Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement
Dates: June 16–July 7, 2022
This three-week Academy gives high school students a taste of college through freshman-level courses in media and journalism. 28 students are selected from areas surrounding the University of Southern California (USC) to participate in the program.
During AYA, students will hone their skills in public speech, debate, critical thinking, writing, multimedia production, interviewing, and more, as well as explore careers in media and journalism.
Students also have the opportunity to learn about USC and meet the school’s scholars who are advancing issues of race, gender, and ethnicity in communication and journalism.
5. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program
- Round 1: June 21–July 2, 2022
- Round 2: July 12–July 23, 2022
- Round 3: August 2–August 13, 2022
Open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors, the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program teaches girls and nonbinary students computer science skills necessary to prepare for a career in tech. Participants will also learn about tech jobs and meet professionals in the field.
No prior computer science experience is required. Eligible students in the U.S. may receive a $300 needs-based stipend.
6. Summer Academy for Math and Science
- Part 1: July 6 – August 6, 2022
- Part 2: August 8 – August 14, 2022
- Part 3: August – December
SAMS is an opportunity for students from underrepresented communities in the U.S. to learn about STEM fields, including math, biology, and physics. Students take courses, engage in projects, and receive mentorship from world-renowned faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.
In Part 1, students participate in two online seminars and complete a project under the guidance of a STEM faculty member or graduate student.
They also receive guidance on navigating the college admissions and financial aid processes, as well as meeting in groups aimed at fostering student success.
During Part 2, students attend workshops, meet with alumni, students, and leaders, and complete and present their projects at the SAMS Symposium.
Students continue the experience in Part 3, in which they explore STEM majors and receive mentorship and academic support.
7. Research Science Institute (RSI)
Dates: six weeks during the summer, for rising high school seniors
Location: Cambridge, MA
The prestigious RSI takes place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) every year. Through the program, students learn theory in the classroom while gaining hands-on experience in science and technology research.
Participants experience the entire research cycle from start to finish. You’ll review current literature in their field, create a research plan, and present your findings through written and oral reports, all under the guidance of widely respected professors
8. USC Bovard Scholars
Dates: July 11–31, 2022
Location: the University of Southern California campus
As a Bovard Scholar, you’ll live on the USC campus, getting a taste of college life while learning in a rigorous curriculum.
You’ll also receive hands-on support and mentorship from a coach who will guide you through the college admissions process, assisting you with your applications and essays.
Scholars will take part in career self-assessments and small group activities. Additionally, they’ll attend lectures and hear from special guest speakers.
Throughout the admissions process, your Admissions Coach will continue to work with you and offer assistance
9. National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp)
Dates: June 28–July 21, 2022
Formerly a residential camp, NYSCamp is currently online and continues its goal of educating and bolstering rising leaders. Two delegates are selected from each state and the District of Columbia, and international delegates are sometimes chosen to participate as well.
The program features world-class lectures, directed studies, and seminars with STEM professionals who are making an impact on their fields and the world. Past presenters have included Neil deGrasse Tyson, John Nash, Neil Armstrong, and Julie Robinson.
10. Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS)
Dates: June 20–July 23, 2022
More than 90 students local to Pomona College are selected to take part in PAYS. Rising sophomores through rising seniors from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups prepare for admission to highly selective colleges and universities through this program.
Students take Math & Critical Inquiry courses taught by Pomona faculty and electives taught by TAs. Students also participate in cultural events, workshops, and projects.
11. Princeton Summer Journalism Program
Students interested in journalism should consider PSJP. Currently virtual, the program includes weekly lectures and workshops taught by program alumni and journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Politico, Sports Illustrated, and CNN, among other media outlets.
Students also participate in weekly discussion groups, covering a variety of topics, and attend seminars about the college admissions process.
12. Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)
Date: six-week summer program
TASP is canceled in 2022
TASP is a prestigious, six-week program that brings together talented high school juniors from around the world to participate in seminars, engage in educational and social activities, join group discussions, attend lectures, go on field trips, and more. Students also have the chance to plan activities for their time outside of the classroom.
13. Harvard College Secondary School Program
Dates: June 19 – August 6
Harvard’s Secondary School Program is a 7-week program where students can take online classes in a variety of subjects taught by Harvard faculty.
While the program is remote, you’ll get the chance to connect with students from across the country and get a taste of college academics.
To be eligible, you must be graduating and entering college between 2021-2023. You must be between the ages of 15 and 19. There is no minimum GPA requirement, but the program requires your transcript and counselor’s report. Standardized test scores are optional.
14. Facebook Summer Academy
Dates: June 21 – July 30
Facebook Summer Academy is a virtual six-week program for students who reside in East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, North Fair Oaks, Redwood City, or San Francisco (at either Mission High School or John O’Connell High School).
During the program, students learn about coding, web development, and various careers in the tech industry.
Applicants do not need to have previous work experience but are recommended to have extracurricular experience. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and be sophomores in high school to apply. One letter of recommendation is required.
15. Kelley School of Business Young Women’s Institute
Dates: June 7-11
Cost: Free, admission is highly selective
The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is a leading business school in the U.S. The Young Women’s Institute is a competitive program where young women from across the U.S. engage in case study workshops and learn more about various opportunities in business.
Applicants must have above a 3.5 GPA, fill out an online application with short essays, and provide a resume and transcript.
16. IDTech Teen Academy
Dates: June 14-25, June 28-July 9, July 12-23, July 26-August 6, August 9-20
IDTech provides different summer programs for students who already have some knowledge of coding and want to further their skills.
There are three separate programs—one is a hackathon for app development, the other is a Python and machine learning course, and there is also a C++ and AI course. Classes are guaranteed to be small, with the average size being 5 students
17. Iowa Young Writers Studio
Dates: June 13-26 and July 11-24 or a 6-week program from June 13-July 27
The Iowa Young Writers Studio, hosted by the University of Iowa, is a premier summer program for high schoolers interested in creative writing. Students have the option to choose from two programs either a summer program (2 weeks) or courses through the university (6-week program).
For the 2-week program, the application requires a writing sample, statement of purpose, letter of recommendation, and transcript. For the 6-week program, a statement of purpose, letter of recommendation, and transcript are required. All applicants must have a GPA of above 3.0.
LaunchX is a program for high school students who want to learn how to design and develop a successful startup.
The program invites guest speakers who have owned their own startups to discuss the process.
Although the program requires a transcript, LaunchX admits applicants based on their initiatives and desire to learn rather than just their GPA and test scores.
19. Foundation for Teaching Economics Student Programs
The Foundation for Teaching Economics’ mission is to educate students about economic theories and how they apply in a real-world setting. The Foundation provides programs at universities across the country that are virtual or in-person.
20. USC Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement
The USC Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement is a free program for students from Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and San Diego County.
During the program, students will learn about the vast array of careers in communication and media and have guest lectures from distinguished faculty in the field.
To apply, a transcript, resume, two essays, a letter of recommendation, and a headshot are required.
21. The Summer Science Program
The Summer Science Program is a competitive online experimental science program for high school students interested in biochemistry and astrophysics.
Students engage in research and listen to faculty guest speakers about their chosen subject. Applicants must have taken certain classes in school in order to be eligible for the program. Test scores, transcripts, and an online application form are required for consideration.
22. Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement
Admission fee: free
The Annenberg Youth Academy is a highly selective program where students learn about writing, public speech and debate, critical thought, and other subjects related to communication, with a focus on mass media and journalism.
23. Carnegie Mellon University’s Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)
Admission fee: free
SAMS is a program focused on teaching scientific topics to its attendees. Topics include biology, mathematics, and physics. The program is a great introduction to a potential career in STEM
24. NYU Tandon School Computer Science for Cyber Security
Admission fee: free
Cybersecurity is a hot topic nowadays, so if you have an interest in computers and are curious about the world of ethical hacking, cryptography, and cybersecurity, you should absolutely apply for this program
25. GirlsWhoCode Summer Immersion Program
Admission fee: free
This is a bit of an outlier compared to other programs on this list because it focuses on girls. It is held by a non-profit whose mission is to empower women to enter technology jobs.
There you have it, a list of the best free summer programs for high school students. No matter what you want to do, you’ll find something that catches your interest on this list.
Remember, always start with your goals. Do you want to explore a topic? Or are you actively looking to improve your knowledge in a specific field? Are you looking to strengthen your eventual college application?
You’ll want to answer all of these questions before applying for any summer program. Some students are looking for a more casual experience, while others are all about future academic success. There is no right or wrong answer in this case. It’s your life. Make your own choices.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do this summer 2022 high school?
Participate in a specialized high school program, take a college class, and find a summer program at a local school or community college.
Can incoming freshmen take summer classes?
If your college offers a summer session to incoming freshmen, taking a class is a great opportunity to settle into campus before your entire class shows up in the fall.