15 Best Summer Programs for High School Students in Florida

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female teacher giving instructions to four students in a library.

15 Best Summer Programs for High School Students in Florida

Summer presents a unique opportunity for high school students to step outside the routine of regular school life and dive into new experiences that can shape their future. In Florida, the season opens doors to an array of summer programs best designed for high school students looking to explore their academic interests, enhance their skills, and preview what college life has to offer.

From hands-on science labs to creative arts workshops, these programs cater to a wide range of interests and provide a platform for students to grow both personally and academically. Whether you’re aiming to get ahead in your studies, considering future career paths, or simply looking to meet new friends with similar interests, Florida’s summer offerings are among the best in the nation.

Here, we explore the 15 best summer programs for high school students in the Sunshine State, each providing a unique experience that can contribute significantly to your educational journey and college readiness.

1. Animal Studies at Eckerd College

  • Location: Eckerd College
  • Cost: $1,750 , $25(processing fee, non refundable)
  • Program Dates: June 16-21, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Students entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade in Fall 2024

This program offers a unique chance for high school students interested in exploring Animal Studies as a potential college major. At Eckerd College, set along the scenic Gulf of Mexico, students engage with top-notch faculty and dive into an interdisciplinary curriculum that blends natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. This approach provides a comprehensive view of the relationships between humans and animals. Through the program, students enhance their skills in areas such as quantitative analysis, critical thinking, communication, and research, all while investigating various aspects of animal studies.

A female veterinary medicine student reading through a book in her room

Core topics covered include animal behavior and training, strategies for animal research and observation, and understanding animal rescue and rehabilitation. The curriculum also looks at the portrayal of animals in literature and media, as well as the role of animals in therapy and entertainment. Participants will actively engage in wildlife research surveys, both on and off campus, receive instruction from Eckerd’s experienced faculty, and visit local aquaria, zoos, or shelters to gain insights into animal care, enrichment practices, and conservation research.

2. Aerospace Camp at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

  • Location: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach, FL
  • Cost: $4,700 (early discount available)
  • Program Dates: June 23-July 12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 4, 2024, for early discount
  • Eligibility: Students ages 15-18

Get ready to soar at the Aerospace Camp at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. This intensive program covers topics from the history of space flight to the fundamentals of orbital mechanics and propulsion theory. The camp is a blend of laboratory work and classroom learning designed to ignite a passion for aerospace in young minds.

Earning three college credits, students get a real taste of university life and aerospace studies. This experience is unique because it introduces you to U.S. space policy and current space technologies, making it an impressive addition to your college application.

3. Summer Institute at UCF

  • Location: University of Central Florida
  • Cost: $1,250
  • Program Dates: June 3 – 21, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Grades 7-11 students, minimum age of 13

Explore the digital world at the Summer Institute at the University of Central Florida. This program is a deep dive into the foundations of computer science and technology. Students benefit from a mix of lectures, interactive activities, and personalized instruction. The focus is on developing skills in programming and understanding the latest in computer technology.

By participating, you join a community of like-minded peers, fostering long-lasting friendships and expanding your academic network. This program can enhance your college applications by demonstrating your commitment to and proficiency in computer science.

4. Theatre Program at St. Petersburg College

  • Location: St. Petersburg College Clearwater, FL
  • Cost: Not available
  • Program Dates: June 28-29 and June 29-30
  • Application Deadline: May (exact dates TBD)
  • Eligibility: High school students

Discover your potential in the performing arts with St. Petersburg College’s Theatre Program, a standout among Florida’s summer offerings for high school students. This dynamic program immerses you in the world of theater, covering every aspect, from acting and directing to stage management and behind-the-scenes work. You’ll get hands-on experience that not only hones your artistic abilities but also builds vital skills such as teamwork, communication, and project management.

The unique appeal of this program lies in the real-world experience it offers through collaboration with seasoned theater professionals and the chance to be part of a live show. This environment is perfect for students eager to refine their performance skills or explore new roles within theater production. Participating in this program not only boosts your confidence and creativity but also distinguishes your college applications, demonstrating your commitment to and passion for the dramatic arts. It’s an excellent pathway for those aiming to pursue further education or a career in the performing arts, providing a robust foundation and a glimpse into the professional world of theater.

5. UM Summer Scholars Program

  • Location: University of Miami (UMiami)
  • Cost: $7,941 – $9,418
  • Program Dates: June 29 – July 19
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Students completing grades 10 or 11

The University of Miami’s Summer Scholars Program offers an immersive college experience. Students can choose from a wide range of subjects and earn college credits. The program is designed to provide a real taste of university life and academics.

What sets it apart is the combination of academic rigor and the opportunity to learn from distinguished UM faculty. This experience not only boosts your college application but also provides valuable insight into potential career paths and academic fields.

6. Upward Bound Math-Science

  • Location:  FSU Tallahassee, FL
  • Cost: Free (grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education)
  • Program Dates: Year-round with summer component
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility:  High school students from designated schools who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Additionally, applicants must meet federal income criteria or be first-generation students (parents without a four-year degree).

The Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program offers extensive support throughout the academic year, including personalized and group assistance in core subjects such as math, science, and reading, along with workshops in leadership, financial literacy, and college preparation. Students benefit from individualized learning plans aimed at enhancing college readiness alongside comprehensive seminars focused on college admissions testing.

The summer component, a six-week immersive experience at FSU, combines academic instruction in key areas with the real-life experience of campus living, including stays in residence halls and meals in dining halls. Participants also enjoy cultural and career explorations, job shadowing, and tours of colleges across the southeast, all designed to foster a deeper understanding of college life and career options.

7. Medicine Summer Institute by FSU

  • Location: FSU College Tallahassee, FL
  • Cost: $1,400
  • Program Dates: Multiple sessions in June and July
  • Application Deadline: February 22, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school sophomores or juniors

Immerse yourself in the medical field with the FSU College of Medicine Summer Institute. This program offers a unique blend of clinical shadowing, workshops, and seminars designed to inspire and inform future healthcare professionals.

Participants gain firsthand insight into medical careers and the college experience. The emphasis on serving medically underserved patients makes this program distinct, providing a compassionate perspective that can enhance your college applications and future medical career.

8. Young Scholars Program at FSU

  • Location: FSU Tallahassee, FL
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 9 – July 20, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 15
  • Eligibility: Completed the eleventh grade, GPA of 3.0+

Dive into STEM fields with the Young Scholars Program at FSU. This six-week residential program emphasizes research and problem-solving in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s a comprehensive introduction to academic research, offering a supportive and enriching environment.

The program’s long-standing reputation and focus on STEM careers make it a standout addition to your academic portfolio, showing colleges your commitment to and capacity for rigorous STEM studies.

9. National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) at the University of Miami

  • Location: University of Miami
  • Cost: $2,995 – $3,995
  • Program Dates: Varies
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: High school students

The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) hosted by the University of Miami stands out as a premier summer opportunity for high school students looking to merge academic exploration with leadership development. In this program, participants have the chance to immerse themselves in specialized areas such as marine biology and medicine, which are not only intellectually stimulating but also crucial fields in today’s world.

Asian teacher leader and multiethnic diverse young professional creative team students brainstorming discussing project at desk with in office classroom using laptop computer.

Participating in the NSLC can be a transformative experience for high school students, offering insights into potential career paths while building a strong foundation of leadership and communication skills. These experiences not only make for compelling additions to college applications but also prepare students for the demands and expectations of higher education.

10. UM Academies

  • Location: University of Miami
  • Cost: $4,380 – $5,503
  • Program Dates: June 29 – July 12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Students currently in grades 9, 10, or 11

Engage in intensive two-week courses at UM Academies. These non-credit courses cover a range of topics, from business and law to science and media. The program is designed for students seeking a deep dive into a specific subject area.

Unique for its short duration and intensive focus, participation demonstrates your dedication to academic exploration and can significantly bolster your college application.

11. Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida

  • Location: University of Florida Gainesville, FL
  • Cost: $5,200
  • Program Dates: June 9 – July 27
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Eligibility: Students entering senior year

The University of Florida Student Science Training Program (UF SSTP) is a seven-week residential program for high school seniors who are interested in fields like science, medicine, and engineering. This intensive program pairs students with UF faculty for research projects, requiring maturity, independence, and teamwork.

Participants will spend 30 hours weekly on research, attend daily lectures on current scientific topics, and join an honors seminar class. The program also focuses on developing key skills such as leadership and communication. Florida high school students have the option to earn dual enrollment credit through this challenging and rewarding program.

12. USF High School CYBERCON

  • Location: USF Tampa, FL
  • Cost: $425
  • Program Dates: July 22nd – July 26th, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Grades 9-12 students

Dive into cybersecurity with the High School Cyber Camp at USF. This program suits students who are keen on technology and online safety. You’ll participate in hands-on activities and learn from field experts, offering a special chance to understand a fast-growing industry and enhance your college applications.

Side view at multi-ethnic group of students using laptop while studying in college


In this program, students tackle real-life cybersecurity challenges guided by seasoned professionals. This practical approach ensures you gain valuable skills and insights into protecting digital spaces. By taking part in one of the best summer programs for high school students in Florida focused on cybersecurity, you not only broaden your technical knowledge but also enhance your college application.

It demonstrates your commitment to addressing significant, contemporary challenges in technology and cybersecurity, showcasing your initiative and problem-solving skills to potential colleges.

13. CodebreakHERS at USF

  • Location: USF Tampa, FL
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 24 to June 28
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Girls in grades 8-12 interested in cybersecurity

Boost your tech career prospects with the CodebreakHERS camp, tailored specifically for young women interested in cybersecurity. This unique program aims to close the gender gap in technology by empowering participants with knowledge and skills in digital safety and security. By engaging in practical exercises and projects, you’ll gain firsthand experience in tackling cyber threats under the mentorship of experienced female professionals in the industry. This approach not only enhances your technical abilities but also boosts your confidence in navigating the tech world.

Participation in the CodebreakHERS camp offers a distinctive edge to your college applications, highlighting your commitment to learning and your involvement in promoting gender diversity in technology. Colleges value applicants who show initiative in specialized fields and contribute to diversity and inclusion. By completing this program, you demonstrate your dedication to advancing in the tech industry and your willingness to challenge traditional gender roles, making your application stand out in the competitive admission process.

14. College Prep at Eckerd College

  • Location: Eckerd College St. Petersburg, FL
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 23 – 28
  • Application Deadline: Not available
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors or seniors from the St. Petersburg area

Explore college life up close with the College Prep program at Eckerd College. This no-cost, weeklong residential initiative is crafted to support local students as they transition to higher education. Special attention is given to those navigating the college environment for the first time, especially first-generation college students. The program aims to equip you with the tools needed for academic success and personal growth within a college setting.

The College Prep program stands out due to its commitment to accessibility and support for students who might not have college-going traditions in their families. It focuses on building essential academic skills, such as effective study techniques, time management, and critical thinking, which are crucial for college success. Additionally, the program offers guidance on the college application process and financial aid, making higher education more attainable for participants. By completing this program, you not only get a head start on your college journey but also enhance your college applications by demonstrating your readiness and determination to

15. Robotics & Autonomous Systems Camp at Embry-Riddle

  • Location: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach, FL
  • Cost: $1,000 (early discount available)
  • Program Dates: July 21-26, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 4, 2024, for early discount
  • Eligibility: Students ages 15-18

Dive into the future of technology at Embry-Riddle’s Robotics & Autonomous Systems Camp, one of the best summer programs for high school students in Florida. This immersive camp provides students with a hands-on introduction to the world of robotics, laying a solid groundwork for future studies in engineering and technology. It’s an exceptional opportunity to gain practical experience in a rapidly growing field, enhancing your skills and knowledge under the guidance of experienced professionals.

High school students building and programming electric toys and robots at robotics classroom

Attending this camp not only offers a deep dive into robotics but also makes your college application stand out. It signals to colleges your genuine interest in technology and engineering, showcasing your initiative to go beyond traditional classroom learning.

Why Join Summer Programs?

Joining a summer program offers a wealth of benefits that extend beyond the traditional classroom experience, particularly for high school students on the brink of their college journey. These programs serve as a bridge between secondary education and the demands of higher education, providing a unique setting in which students can immerse themselves in subjects of interest or discover new areas they might not have encountered otherwise.

Participation in the best summer programs for high school students in Florida, for example, allows you to explore academic fields such as science, arts, engineering, and humanities under the guidance of experienced professionals and educators. This exposure can be pivotal, helping you to refine your future academic and career aspirations. Whether you’re reinforcing your passion for a long-held interest or discovering a new discipline that excites you, these experiences are invaluable in shaping your educational path.

Moreover, summer programs are an excellent way to develop new skills that are essential for college success. From critical thinking and research to teamwork and communication, you’ll be challenged to apply what you learn in practical, often real-world settings. This hands-on approach not only strengthens your learning but also builds confidence and independence, preparing you for the rigors of college coursework and life.

How Do Summer Programs Impact Your College Application?

Summer programs play a crucial role in enhancing your college applications. They act as a testament to your academic dedication and personal growth. When you participate in one of the best summer programs for high school students in Florida, you’re not just filling your summer with activities; you’re investing in your future.

Attending a summer program demonstrates your commitment to learning beyond the traditional school year. It allows you to dive into specific subjects like science, humanities, or arts, showing colleges your dedication to a particular field. This specialized study can make your application stand out, as it shows you have pursued your interests with zeal and are eager to expand your knowledge base.

The experiences you gain from summer programs add depth to your college application. These can range from research projects and team presentations to leadership roles and community service. Such a diverse portfolio reflects a well-rounded individual with varied interests and skills. Colleges appreciate applicants who bring a broad range of experiences to their campus, as they are likely to contribute significantly to the college community.

University students on their way to class


Florida’s best summer programs for high school students provide many chances for learning and self-improvement. If you have an interest in fields like science, arts, technology, or leadership, there is a program out there that matches your interests and can assist in preparing you for college and future job opportunities.

These programs are not just about studying; they help you grow important skills that are crucial for success in college and later life. You will learn to think critically, communicate effectively, and work well with others. By joining a summer program, you show colleges that you’re serious about your education and ready to take on new challenges.

In short, joining a summer program in Florida is a smart move for your future. It can make your college application stand out and set you up for success in college and your career. These programs are a valuable investment in your future, offering benefits that last far beyond the summer.


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