25 Best Pre-College Summer Science Programs For High School Students | Best College Reviews (2022)

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Search Programs Featured Online Schools 25 Best Pre-College Summer Science Programs for High School Students 25. Minority Introduction to Science and Engineering (MITES) 24. Perimeter Institute's International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP) 23. Pre-Medical Institute at Washington University in St. Louis 22. Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists 21. Research Apprenticeship in Biological Sciences (RABS) at Cornell University 20. Research Experience for High School Students (REHSS) at Vanderbilt University 19. Research in the Biological Sciences (RIBS) at University of Chicago Featured Online Biology Programs 18. Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) at Boston University 17. Research Science Institute (RSI) at MIT 16. Research Scholar Program for High School Students at Stony Brook University 15. Monell Science Apprenticeship Program 14. STEM II at Brown University 13. Stones and Bones Paleontology Program at University of Chicago 12. Summer@Brown 11. Summer Academies at Penn Featured Online Schools 10. Summer Academy for Mathematics & Sciences at Carnegie Mellon 9. Summer in the City at Barnard College 8. Summer Internship in Biomedical Research (SIP) 7. Summer Science Institute at Carleton College 6. Summer Science Program Experience Featured Online Engieering Programs 5. Summer Scholars Program at Notre Dame 4. UChicago Immersion 3. Vanderbilt Summer Academy 2. Veterinary Medicine Programs 1. Yale Young Global Scholars Featured Online Undergrad Programs More Best College Reviews Resources FAQs Videos

Updated May 27, 2022 | Staff Writers

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Whether you're trying to beef up your college application, are looking to test out a potential college major or career, or just want something more to do besides laze around and binge Netflix, pre-college summer programs are a great way for high school students to spend their summer.

That's why we went on a search for the very best science programs available to high schoolers. We searched hundreds of programs, looking for unique opportunities at the most impressive places, and found these: the 25 Best Pre-College Summer Science Programs for High School Students.

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25 Best Pre-College Summer Science Programs for High School Students

25. Minority Introduction to Science and Engineering (MITES)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wants to see more minority students enter the fields of science and engineering, so each summer it hosts the prestigious Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) program. The rigorous six-week program is the perfect intro to these fields, offering students fun, fellowship, a taste of college, and classes on such topics as calculus, biochemistry, and physics, to name but a few.

Where: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, genomics
How Much: The cost of transportation to and from MIT
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24. Perimeter Institute's International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP)

Budding Einsteins and would-be Dr. Sheldon Coopers will find both valuable instruction and inspiration at the Perimeter Institute’s International Summer School for Young Physicists. Students will hear from some of Perimeter’s top researchers on such timely topics as superstring theory, quantum computing, and dark matter before taking part in hands-on labs and mini-courses. Participants will even have the chance to tour various research facilities and work with leading international theoretical physicists.

Where: Perimeter Institute, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Physics
How Much: $500 CDN (includes tuition, room & board, and activities)
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23. Pre-Medical Institute at Washington University in St. Louis

Students intent on attending medical school will love this three-week Pre-Medical Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. The program is designed to build off students’ already strong foundation in the sciences, and exposes them to such medical topics as forensic psychology, nutrition, trauma surgery, pediatric medicine, emergency medicine, and physical and occupational therapy, among others.

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Where: Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Pre-Med
How Much: $5,585 (includes tuition, room & board)
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22. Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists

Mathematics is an integral part of science, and Boston University’s Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists is the perfect summer program for aspiring and motivated students to hone their math skills. They’ll team up with other students, research mathematicians, counselors, and visiting scientists for a typical day of number theory lectures, seminars, independent and group work and research, hands-on experiments, and plenty of fun activities.

Where: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Mathematics
How Much: $6,600 including room and board (though thanks to the support of sponsors, last year’s students were asked to only pay $4,600)
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21. Research Apprenticeship in Biological Sciences (RABS) at Cornell University

While dozens of great programs exist for those students looking for an introduction or intermediate-level course in biology, not very many exist for those who are serious and ambitious when it comes to research science. Enter: the Research Apprenticeship in Biological Sciences at Cornell University. Known as RABS, this unique program allows serious, research-oriented students to work with some of Cornell’s leading professors and post-doctoral fellows on an investigative project. The program is intensive, as students may often spend 40 or more hours per week on a research team. At the end of the six-week course, students prepare both an oral presentation and a written report suitable for publication.


Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Biology
How Much: $12,825 (includes tuition and room & board)
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20. Research Experience for High School Students (REHSS) at Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is one of the most prestigious research universities in the country, and come summer, high school students can join the fun with the Research Experience for High School Students (REHSS) pre-college program. This intense six-week program immerses students into the life of a research lab. Though students attend weekly breakout sessions with faculty or graduate students, most of the time is spent working on an independent research project under the mentorship of a Vanderbilt faculty member.

Where: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Varies
How Much: $1,500 (includes tuition only)
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19. Research in the Biological Sciences (RIBS) at University of Chicago

University of Chicago’s Research in the Biological Sciences is an intensive four-week pre-college summer program designed to introduce students to a variety of research techniques in the fields of molecular biology, microbiology, and cellular biology. The whole program revolves around lab time and projects, though some lectures are included in the curriculum to provide background and introduce exciting new concepts. Each course ends with the students presenting results of their independent project.

Where: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Biology
How Much: $11,400 (includes tuition for two courses, room & board, Student Life Fee)
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18. Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) at Boston University

Some of the brightest minds in science teach at Boston University, making the university’s Research in Science & Engineering program a top choice for ambitious students looking for just the right summer science program. Over the course of six weeks, students can take part in either an internship (tackling research projects under the mentorship of a BU faculty member) or a practicum (conducting group research under the guidance of a BU instructor). With either choice, students can be sure they are participating in one of the best summer science programs available for high school students.

Where: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
How Long: Six Weeks
Specific Subjects: Research science, Engineering
How Much:Between $7,515 and $7,745 depending on chosen meal option (includes all fees, tuition, and room & board)
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17. Research Science Institute (RSI) at MIT

It’s not often high school students get to experience the entire research cycle from start to finish. But that’s exactly what participants do during the five-week Research Science Institute that is sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education and held each year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In addition to hands-on research with accomplished professors, students will read up on the most current literature in their field, draft detailed research plans, and deliver a conference-style oral report.

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Where: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
How Long: Five weeks
Specific Subjects: All research topics
How Much: No tuition
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16. Research Scholar Program for High School Students at Stony Brook University

The Garcia Center at Stony Brook University in New York hosts an intensive seven-week pre-college summer program that combines formal instruction with independent research opportunities. Students design an original research project, then work closely with Garcia Center faculty and staff who provide necessary guidance and mentorship. Unlike most programs, which end after a certain amount of time, this unique program encourages its students to continue work on their projects even after the official end of the summer program by entering their research projects in national competitions, writing and publishing about their work, and even seeking patents.

Where: Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
How Long: Seven weeks
Specific Subjects: Various
How Much: $2,100 (includes lab usage fee only)
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15. Monell Science Apprenticeship Program

This unique opportunity offered by the Monell Center is actually an internship. Available to both high school students and undergrads, the program pairs participants up with full-time researchers to offer the extraordinary opportunity to take part in hands-on research training, learn to communicate in a professional scientific environment, and — of course — to increase appreciation of the chemical senses — all while earning a weekly salary. Past interns have taken part in research on cloning olfactory receptors, investigating flavor preferences of infants, and studying air quality, to name a few.

Where: Monell Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
How Long: Seven weeks
Specific Subjects: Varies
How Much: This internship provides an hourly wage, however interns are responsible for their own room and board
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14. STEM II at Brown University

Science-minded students are invited to “define, investigate, excel” in this rigorous two-week program designed as an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a challenging and structured college environment. Students participate in a variety of hands-on activities, includes structured STEM experiences, and take on a project that they’ll present to their instructors, peers, and family. Specific science-themed classes include DNA Science and Biotechnology, Unravel the Mysteries of Human Diseases in a Worm!, The Secret Lives of Animals: A View into their Brains and Behaviors, and Introduction to Neuroscience, among others.

Where: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Anthropology & Sociology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Medical & Health Studies, Neuroscience, Physics, Physical Science, Psychology
How Much: $4,391 (including tuition, room & board, course materials)
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13. Stones and Bones Paleontology Program at University of Chicago

Experience in paleontology as a high school student is not an opportunity that presents itself every day, especially when it’s through a university as widely respected as the University of Chicago. But actual hands-on experience with “stones and bones” is exactly what students will get over the course of this unique, but totally intense, four-week program. The program begins in the labs of Chicago’s Field Museum, where students will learn how fossils are collected and analyzed. Students will learn such important concepts as evolutionary biology, fossil preparation, fossil description, and proper illustration, before heading to Wyoming to take part in the ongoing Field Museum expedition at the Green River Formation.

Where: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois and Wyoming
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Paleontology
How Much: $11,400 (includes tuition for two courses, room & board, Student Life Fee, and transportation between Chicago and Wyoming)
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12. Summer@Brown

The Summer@Brown pre-college summer program is a unique opportunity for students to experience life on an Ivy League campus while immersing themselves in subjects they love — all without the stress of grades and credits. Students participating in the program will live on campus, take part in a full calendar of campus events and activities, and choose from more than 200 non-credit courses. Examples of science-themed courses available include Live Like it’s 3000 BC: Introduction to Experimental Archaeology; Understanding Illness: Ethnography, Narrative, and Graphic Medicine; and Introduction to Medicine: Do You Want to Be a Doctor?, among many others.

Where: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
How Long: One to four weeks
Specific Subjects: Anthropology & Sociology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Medical & Health Studies, Neuroscience, Physics & Physical Sciences, Psychology
How Much: $2,125 to $6,764 per course, depending upon length of course and housing needs
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11. Summer Academies at Penn

Summer Academies at Penn are intensive, three-week programs that combine hands-on application with scientific theory. Students participating in these Summer Academies can choose from a variety of science-themed research programs, then spend the summer using Penn’s cutting-edge technology, participating in innovative lab experiences, and learning from some of the best Ivy League professors and researchers in the country.

Where: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Biomedical, Chemistry, Experimental Physics, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Social Justice
How Much: $8,699 (residential tuition), $7,499 (day student)
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10. Summer Academy for Mathematics & Sciences at Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon offers a top-ranked Summer Academy for Mathematics & Science. The six-week program is specifically designed for those students who come from backgrounds underrepresented in the fields of natural science (ethnic minority students, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, first-generation college students, etc.). Classes on mathematics, physics, computer science, and SAT preparation are all offered, and are taught by Carnegie Mellon instructors.

Where: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science
How Much: No tuition, though students spend an average of $200 on personal and recreational activities
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9. Summer in the City at Barnard College

Barnard College, a women’s liberal arts school, gives female high school students the unique opportunity to spend four weeks taking college-level courses while experiencing what it’s like to live in a place as vibrant and active as New York City. Students choose two four-day-a-week classes from a long list of options that include The Exploration of Space, Introduction to Neuroscience, Psych 101, and many more.

Where: Barnard College, New York, New York
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Astronomy, Environmental Science, Neuroscience, Psychology, STEM, Technology
How Much: $7,900 (residential), $4,700 (Commuter)
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8. Summer Internship in Biomedical Research (SIP)

The chance to work side-by-side some of the world’s leading scientists isn't an opportunity that comes along every day, but that’s exactly what students will experience by participating in the National Institute of Health’s Summer Internship in Biomedical Research. Internships usually begin in May or June and last a minimum of eight weeks. The opportunities vary widely and include a hands-on introduction to scientific training, independent research and career instruction, and an advance research program during which students work in a research group.

Where: Maryland, North Carolina, Montana, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Michigan
How Long: Minimum of eight weeks
Specific Subjects: Varies
How Much: Stipends are provided, but participants are responsible for their own room and board
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7. Summer Science Institute at Carleton College

Students participating in Carleton College’s Summer Science Institute don’t just learn about science, they “do science!” The three-week program, which is led by Carleton faculty members and students, includes a fun and informative hands-on component during which students design a collaborative research project, gather data, run experiments, and then present at the Institute’s final research symposium.

Where: Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Science
How Much: $3,895 (includes tuition, all materials, room & board, activities and excursions)
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6. Summer Science Program Experience

This prestigious pre-college summer science program (co-sponsored by MIT, University of Colorado Boulder (pictured), Caltech, and New Mexico Institute of Technology) provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a central research project in either astrophysics or biochemistry. In the astrophysics program, teams observe various astronomical patterns to determine the orbit of a near-earth asteroid, while in the biochemistry program, teams design a small molecule that can inhibit an enzyme from a fungal crop pathogen.

Where: Colorado, New Mexico, or Indiana
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Astrophysics, Biochemistry
How Much: $6,950 (includes tuition, transportation to the program, room & board, and supplies). Thanks to generous donations, last year every participant was able to attend the program for free.
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5. Summer Scholars Program at Notre Dame

Those looking to experience life at a prestigious university like Notre Dame can look no further than the Summer Scholars program. Scholars choose from a lengthy list of interesting programs of study, then enjoy two intense weeks of coursework — though plenty of free time is also included so as to experience what life is really like on a college campus. Some examples of programs from which participants can choose include Archaeology: Exploring the Foundations of Notre Dame, Astronomy: Investigating Our Universe, Life Sciences, and so much more.

Where: University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Archaeology, Astronomy, Global Health, Life Sciences, Psychology
How Much: $3,500 (includes tuition and housing). Some programs also require a lab fee of $150.
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4. UChicago Immersion

The University of Chicago has been called one of the top ten universities in the world, so you can be sure their pre-college summer programs are some of the best available. In UChicago Immersion, students dive into life on the Chicago campus. They take an actual undergraduate-level course, receive personalized attention from faculty members, and participate in labs and other hands-on activities. Course options include Biotechnology for the 21st Century, Contagion: Infectious Agents and Emerging Diseases, and The Physics of Stars, among others.

Where: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
How Long: Three weeks per session
Specific Subjects: Biotechnology, Psychology, Contagious Diseases, Neuroscience, Biological Sciences, Physics
How Much: $6,500 (includes tuition for one course, room & board, Student Life Fee)
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3. Vanderbilt Summer Academy

Gifted and high-achieving students (generally those who typically score at the 95th percentile and above) are invited to participate in Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Summer Academy. This unique experience allows students to get a taste of real college life by living on campus, taking accelerated courses with Vandy professors, attending social activities, and of course, completing college-level homework assignments. Science-themed courses include Alzheimer’s Treatment & Research, Bioarchaeology: Research & Implications, Addiction in the Modern Age, Microscopy of Nanomaterials, and more.

Where: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Varies
How Much: Between $2,750 and $3,625, depending upon grade level (includes tuition, room & board, activities, and materials)
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2. Veterinary Medicine Programs

Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which is consistently ranked as the number one veterinary school in the nation, offers three pre-college summer programs in veterinary medicine: Conservation Medicine, Small Animal Practice, and Equine Practice. Each program is three weeks long and includes an intensive mix of lectures and demonstrations, hands-on activities, and mentorship with top veterinarians and professors.

Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine
How Much: $6,310 (includes tuition and room & board)
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1. Yale Young Global Scholars

Yale University is repeatedly ranked as the best university in the United States, so it should come as no surprise that it is also home to one of the most respected (and therefore selective) pre-college summer programs. Yale’s Young Global Scholars program offers a number of session options for those interested in science, including Frontiers of Math & Science, Applied Science & Engineering, and Biological & Biomedical Science. Each session is 1-2 weeks long and includes courses and lectures with top-notch faculty members, plus plenty of opportunity for hands-on activity.

Where: Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
How Long: 1-2 weeks
Specific Subjects: Applied Sciences, Engineering, Biology
How Much: $6,000 (includes tuition, housing, and three meals per day)
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FAQs

How prestigious is the summer science program? ›

The Summer Science Program (SSP) is a prestigious and highly sought after opportunity for high school students to explore specific scientific fields in more depth before entering college.

Do summer programs look good for college? ›

Did you know summer activities can push your college application to the “yes” pile? Colleges want to see that you are committed to extracurriculars throughout the school year, but they also love it when you are making the effort to expand and stretch yourself over summer vacation.

Are Ivy League summer programs worth it? ›

Yes, summer programs are definitely worth it! They present a perfect opportunity to explore your field of interest in greater depth, develop relevant skills, meet like-minded students, and – perhaps most importantly – increase your chances of getting into the Ivies.

Are pre-college programs worth it? ›

There are many benefits to high schoolers that take summer pre-college classes. When they attend a class held at a college or university, they get a feel for the campus and college life. It also allows them to meet college students, so they may be able to make college-age friends before they are students themselves.

How hard is it to get into SIMR? ›

Stanford's undergraduate acceptance rate is 5%.

How many people are accepted to SSP? ›

Admission to SSP is competitive: Roughly 20 to 25 percent of applicants are admitted each admissions cycle.

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