15 Summer Programs for High School Students in Tennessee

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

high school students looking at the camera

15 Summer Programs for High School Students in Tennessee

Summer programs for high school students in Tennessee are a unique opportunity to enhance their academic skills in college life. Whether you’re interested in science, engineering, arts, or leadership, there’s a program designed to cater to your passions and help you grow.

Below, we explore 15 enriching summer programs available to high school students in the Volunteer State. We highlight key information such as available courses, important dates, eligibility criteria, and the application process.

15 Summer Programs for High School Students in Tennessee

Tennessee is a vibrant state with many summer programs for high school students aiming to broaden their educational and experiential horizons. These programs, offered across the state, provide unique opportunities for students to explore their interests, acquire new skills, and prepare for their future academic and professional careers.

Group of freshmen smiling at the camera.

1. Mock Trial Academy at Rhodes College

  • Location: Memphis
  • Cost: $2000
  • Program Dates: June 16-24, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 1
  • Eligibility: High school students; mock trial experience is not required

The Mock Trial Academy at Rhodes College, scheduled for June 16-24, 2024, offers high school students a unique chance to dive into the world of mock trials. The program, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Rhodes’ successful Mock Trial team, invites students nationwide for an intense week of learning and practical experience in law. Guided by Anna Eldridge, Esq., and other seasoned coaches, participants will learn effective argument presentation and grasp constitutional laws. They will live on campus, engaging in academic and practical sessions to sharpen their public speaking and trial advocacy skills.

The academy’s curriculum includes preparing trial components like opening and closing statements, with hands-on help from instructors and team members. Beyond learning, the program includes cultural outings in Memphis, offering a well-rounded experience. The week concludes with a full trial performance, after which students receive a completion certificate, benefiting those who join Rhodes’ Mock Trial team later. This immersive program is designed to equip students with legal skills and insights, setting a foundation for those interested in law and advocacy.

2. Belmont Piano Invitational

  • Location: Belmont University
  • Cost: Resident Camper: $850, Commuter Camper: $500
  • Program Dates: June 2-7, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: The program is open to students entering grades 9-12 in Fall 2024, pending a successful audition. Enrollment is limited.

The Belmont Summer Piano Invitational, one of Tennessee’s top summer programs for high school students, is crafted for high school pianists entering 9th to 12th grades, offering them an enriching opportunity to delve into classical and jazz piano. This program connects students with Belmont’s top piano faculty for private lessons and includes group sessions on sight-reading, ensemble play, and learning different musical styles.

The week is filled with daily lessons, classes, and evening social events, culminating in a concert by the participants on the final day. The invitational is open to students ready to enter high school in the fall of 2024, requiring a successful audition for entry.

3. Design Matters! Camp: Big Orange and Big Design

  • Location: Knoxville
  • Cost: Commuter Option: $980; Residential Option: $1250
  • Program Dates: July 14 – 20, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors in high school interested in design, with no previous architecture, interior architecture, or design experience necessary.

The University of Tennessee’s Summer Design Camp in 2024 is an in-person event for high school students interested in design, offering both day and overnight stay options. The camp features activities that teach design principles, techniques, and applications, including color, pattern, space, and composition. Participants will engage in 2D and 3D design projects, learn about design theory, history, and practice, and get a preview of design education at the university. The camp is led by award-winning faculty and upperclassmen, providing an immersive learning environment.

Designed for creative individuals without previous experience in design, the camp welcomes students eager to explore how design affects our lives. The program includes hands-on activities, faculty interactions, and campus explorations to inspire students about the design field. It’s a chance for participants to discover more about themselves, meet like-minded peers, and experience life on a university campus. Through a blend of studio work, outdoor activities, and collaborative projects, students will gain a comprehensive introduction to the world of design, fostering their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Concentrated Graphic designer Creating Her Own Project, Using Modelling Technology on Computer.

4. Accounting and Information Management (AIM) Academy

  • Location: Unspecified
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: July 7-12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 29, 2024
  • Eligibility: Underrepresented rising high school juniors

The AIM Academy, one of Tennessee’s best summer programs for high school students, offers a six-day summer experience for underrepresented high school juniors, focusing on accounting, information management, and business. Through workshops led by university faculty, students explore topics like finance and entrepreneurship while preparing for college with sessions on ACT prep and understanding campus life.

The program encourages team building and provides insights from business professionals, aiming to equip students with knowledge about accounting practices, financial literacy, professionalism, and networking. This hands-on learning prepares them for future academic and career opportunities in the business world.

5. Summer Winds Band Camp

  • Location: Belmont University
  • Cost: Resident Camper: $700, Commuter Camper: $400
  • Program Dates: June 9-15, 2024
  • Eligibility: The camp is open to all woodwind, brass, and percussion students entering grades 7-12 in the upcoming fall semester. Students in grades 7-8 are only eligible to attend as commuter campers.

The Summer Winds Band Camp at Belmont University is a week-long program designed to refine the musical abilities of students in grades 7-12. It offers specialized training in wind, brass, and percussion instruments led by Belmont’s renowned faculty. The camp focuses on group performances and personalized lessons, ensuring students receive attention tailored to their needs.

Alongside rigorous musical training, the camp includes evening entertainment and social activities, promoting a sense of community and allowing students to display their talents. This instruction and social interaction blend provides a well-rounded experience, leaving participants with enhanced skills, new friendships, and a deeper appreciation for music.

6. String Crossings Camp

  • Location: Belmont University
  • Cost: Resident Camper: $875, Commuter Camper: $575, Application Fee: $100
  • Program Dates: June 16-21, 2024
  • Eligibility: Open to all students who play violin, viola, cello, or string bass in grades 9-12, including incoming freshmen and graduating seniors.

As one of the best summer programs for high school students in Tennessee, String Crossings is an annual week-long summer camp at Belmont University designed for high school students who play the violin, viola, cello, or string bass. This engaging program allows students to explore a variety of music genres, including classical, jazz, rock, Celtic, swing, and bluegrass, under the mentorship of Belmont’s esteemed faculty.

Participants will gain firsthand experience in a master class setting, get insights into the music industry from Nashville professionals, and understand what it takes to apply and audition for music programs at Belmont University.

The camp emphasizes building connections with faculty and fellow musicians, offering a glimpse into life as a music student on campus. Students will join small groups focused on specific genres, preparing a piece for recording and performance, encouraging them to experiment and refine their technique in their chosen style. With activities ranging from string orchestra rehearsals to elective classes covering various music techniques and social events, attendees will experience a comprehensive and immersive music education.

A conductor holding his wand with the orchestra playing in the background

7. Summer Vocal Arts Intensive

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Cost: Resident Camper: $850, Commuter Camper: $400
  • Program Dates: June 23-29, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Review of applications begins February 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Open to students entering grades 9-12 in the Fall of 2024, pending successful audition; discounts for participation in National and State honor choirs.

The Belmont Summer Vocal Arts Intensive is a week-long camp for high school students interested in vocal performance. This program, led by the university’s artistic faculty, explores solo and choral singing across different music genres. Students will participate in various activities, including choir rehearsals, music theory classes, and performance electives, with opportunities to join ensembles like Chamber Choir and Musical Theatre Ensemble. The camp aims to enhance the participants’ vocal skills and abilities through practical learning and performances.

The intensive also focuses on creating a well-rounded experience by including social events and recitals in the evenings, ensuring students work hard on their craft and have time to relax and bond with peers. Staying in university dorms and having meals on campus, students will live in a secure environment, allowing them to focus fully on their musical growth. The program concludes with a concert, allowing students to showcase the skills they’ve developed. Admission requires a successful audition, ensuring a dedicated and talented group of participants each year.

8. Lipscomb Summer Scholars

  • Location: Nashville
  • Cost: $1,300
  • Program Dates: July 12-19, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Eligible students are current high school juniors (will be rising seniors) with a minimum composite score of ACT 24 or SAT 1160 (ERW+M) or CLT score of 79. Students can also choose to apply as test-optional. A minimum cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale over six completed semesters is required. If applying as test-optional, the student must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA. A completed Summer Scholars application is required.

As one of Tennessee’s best summer programs for high school students, the Lipscomb Summer Scholars program, spanning eight days, is designed for rising seniors aiming to jumpstart their college experience. This unique blend of classroom learning and real-world exposure allows students to earn three college credits, engaging in subjects that contribute to general education or specific degree requirements.

These credits, applicable to future academic pursuits, are transferable to other higher education institutions. Students will study courses like Introduction to Communications, Entrepreneurship, Psychology, Law, Engineering, and Health Sciences, providing a well-rounded educational foundation.

This experience accelerates their transition into university life and embeds them within the Lipscomb community, ensuring a comprehensive introduction to academic and practical aspects of their chosen fields of study. Through this program, Lipscomb reaffirms its commitment to fostering educational advancement, offering a platform for students to explore diverse interests and prepare for their college careers.

9. ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative

  • Location: Nashville and Alabama
  • Cost: $1,200
  • Program Dates: June 23 – July 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Must be a rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior, must submit an unofficial high school transcript during the application process, must have a 3.0 high school GPA (weighted or unweighted) before enrolling in the program, must complete an interview with ENGAGE program staff on Zoom, should have a curiosity about the relationship between theology and social issues, a collaborative spirit, and a commitment to serving both church and society through dialogue, reflection, and compassionate action.

The ENGAGE Youth Theology Initiative is an innovative program designed for high school students to deeply explore racial justice, civil rights history, and Christian leadership through hands-on learning experiences. Supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., the program allows students to earn college credit while developing a broad range of skills, including cultural understanding, empathy, and effective communication.

Participants will spend time in academic study in Nashville and participate in a meaningful “Bus Ride to Justice” tour through key civil rights landmarks in Alabama. This journey educates and emotionally connects students with the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement, challenging them to reflect on their roles in addressing contemporary social injustices.

Students are encouraged to consider their responses to racial injustice through direct engagement with historical sites and dialogues. They are equipped with the knowledge and tools to contribute thoughtfully to society.

Students Using Laptops And Digital Tablets In Lecture

10. Biomedical Research Summer Program at Vanderbilt University

  • Location: Nashville and surrounding areas
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 10, 2024, to June 21, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: 10th, 11th, or 12th-grade students 16 or older. No prior lab experience is needed. COVID vaccination is required

Vanderbilt University’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) hosts a Discover Biomedical Research Summer Program for high school students from Nashville and nearby regions. Scheduled from June 10 to June 21, 2024, this two-week program is designed for students in grades 10 through 12, who are 16 years or older, to explore careers in biomedical research.

It offers a hands-on learning experience without requiring any previous laboratory experience. Participants will learn basic laboratory skills and discuss STEM topics with Vanderbilt’s biomedical graduate students. These discussions aim to understand evidence-based decisions and foster a culture of inclusion within medical science.

The program encourages students to become familiar with medical research’s academic and practical aspects. It includes one-on-one mentoring and practical lab training to equip students with essential skills and knowledge. While students need to arrange transportation, there are no fees to join, and lunches are provided to encourage interaction among students and their mentors. The experience concludes with a ceremony where students can present their research findings.

11. Summer Writing Institute at Rhodes College

  • Location: Rhodes College
  • Cost: $2400
  • Program Dates: June 16-28, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: The Institute invites any interested high school student to apply

The Summer Writing Institute at Rhodes College, one of Tennessee’s top summer programs for high school students, is a distinctive program for high school students to hone their writing abilities. This two-week residential experience allows participants to explore writing, offering courses that sharpen their analytical skills and creative expression. Students work towards earning two college credits and developing a portfolio of advanced writing by the program’s conclusion.

The institute promotes a supportive writing community, allowing students to select from seminars focused on academic or creative writing. Expert faculty guides them through every step of the writing process, from the initial concept to the final draft, emphasizing clear expression and personal style. Beyond writing, the program includes lectures, access to top-notch facilities, and college prep guidance. Participants also enjoy campus life, experiencing everything from living in dorms to participating in social events, providing a well-rounded glimpse into college life at Rhodes College.

12. Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership

  • Location: Tennessee
  • Cost: Transportation to and from the campus, personal spending money for outings and trips ($100 suggested), and personal items
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Eligible students include the brightest and most talented rising junior and senior students currently enrolled in Tennessee’s public and private high schools. Students can qualify by ranking at the top of their high school class in performance/capability or by being highly talented in the fields to which they apply. Each student must submit confidential recommendations from their guidance counselor and two teachers identifying them as talented, highly motivated, mature, and dedicated. Rising juniors apply during their sophomore year, and rising seniors apply during their junior year.

The Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership (GSTIBL) is a specialized 28-day summer program for Tennessee’s brightest high school students. It focuses on business and technological innovation, offering courses on business plan writing and organizational management. Selected students, known as scholars, work in teams to develop business ideas and present them to judges, gaining real-world experience.

Eligibility is based on academic excellence or talent in relevant areas, backed by recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors. The program provides a full schedule of extracurricular activities alongside the academic curriculum, ensuring a comprehensive experience. All living expenses, tuition, and meals are covered, with students responsible only for personal spending and transportation costs. Completing the program earns students university credit and a certificate of merit. This initiative equips young leaders with the skills and knowledge for future success in business and technology fields.



Three arts students smiling for the camera while working.

13. Business Education for Talented Students (BETS) Program

  • Location: Unspecified
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 5-14, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 29, 2024
  • Eligibility: Underrepresented rising high school seniors

The Business Education for Talented Students (BETS) program offers a 10-day summer experience to introduce underrepresented high school juniors to the business world. The curriculum covers key areas like accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, and marketing, with courses led by university faculty.

Students also participate in team-building activities and college prep workshops and learn directly from business professionals. This helps them with a team project they present at the program’s end and gives them a closer look at college life and business careers.

Participants in the BETS program will understand various business majors and how to apply these concepts through a simulation game and a team project. They will also prepare for college with ACT prep and learn about applying. Career exploration sessions will introduce them to different job opportunities in the public and private sectors. Interacting with diverse professionals helps them learn about professionalism, etiquette, and networking.

14. Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies (GSET)

  • Location: Tennessee
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 2 to June 22, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 26, 2024
  • Eligibility: The eligibility includes students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, focusing on current topics in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and other emerging technologies. Mathematics and science prerequisites are expected to be completed by the program’s start in June 2024.

The Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies is an immersive program hosted by the College of Engineering to spark student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This initiative introduces students to advanced topics in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and more through hands-on experiences.

By partnering with leading research and development organizations throughout Tennessee, the program offers unique opportunities for students to explore innovative technologies. Participants will visit state-of-the-art research facilities, learn from top scientists, and engage in activities on the Tennessee Tech campus ranging from classroom discussions to lab exercises and research projects. They can also earn academic credit through their involvement.

15. The Tennessee Governor School for the Agricultural Sciences

  • Location: The University of Tennessee Martin
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: May 27 – June 21, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Interested high school students and their parents.

The Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences provides an insightful summer program into the vast world of agriculture and natural resources, tailored for high school students with a keen interest in this critical sector. This initiative offers participants a thorough overview of agricultural practices, environmental stewardship, and technological advancements.

Aimed at enriching students’ understanding and appreciation of agriculture’s significance in society and the environment, the program emphasizes practical learning and personal development.

With a deadline for applications in mid-January, the school ensures accessibility for all interested parties, accounting even for unforeseen school closures due to weather. Successful applicants will be notified by March, setting the stage for an engaging and informative experience.

a group of students sitting and looking at the camera

Why Summer Programs Matter

Summer programs for high school students in Tennessee are essential, offering more than just academic growth. They provide a unique chance for students to deeply explore their interests, learn new skills, and even earn college credits. These programs help students connect with peers with similar interests, building social networks that can support them in the future.

Additionally, experiencing life on a college campus can make the transition to college smoother, helping students adjust to the academic and social changes they’ll face.

Exploring Academic and Professional Fields

Tennessee’s summer programs cover various topics, from STEM to the arts and humanities. This ensures that every student can find something that matches their interests.

For example, a student interested in technology might join a coding boot camp, while someone passionate about the environment could participate in a conservation program. These programs often include workshops and project-based learning, giving students a comprehensive look at their chosen subject.

Skill Development

Beyond learning about specific subjects, students in these programs develop important skills. They learn to manage their time, lead projects, and work in teams. Some programs even offer college credits, giving students a head start in their education. These experiences are valuable, teaching students to think critically and solve problems effectively.

Networking and Social Benefits

Joining a summer program also means meeting new people who share your interests and goals. These connections can become important friendships and provide opportunities in the future. Furthermore, working with college faculty and professionals gives students insight into their potential careers and access to advice and mentorship.

Preparing for College

Living on a college campus during a summer program can make going to college less intimidating. It helps students become more independent and ready for the changes that college brings. This experience is invaluable for easing the transition from high school to college.

How to Choose the Right Program

Choosing the right summer program is crucial for high school students in Tennessee looking to deepen their education, explore interests, or improve their college application profiles. With a wide range of summer programs available, finding one that matches your interests, career goals, and academic ambitions is important. This guide aims to help students make an informed choice by focusing on key considerations.

Understand Your Interests and Goals

Start by thinking about what you’re passionate about. Whether science, arts, technology, or another field, Tennessee offers high school students summer programs for nearly every interest. Also, consider your future goals. If you’re aiming for a career in a specific field, look for programs that offer relevant experiences, such as research opportunities or professional interaction. If you’re still exploring your options, a program that covers various topics might be more beneficial.

Three students talking while sitting on a bench.

Program Structure and Faculty

Consider how a program is organized. Programs can vary in length, intensity, and whether residential or day programs. The experience and qualifications of the faculty are also important. Programs led by experienced professionals or college professors can offer deeper insights and more meaningful mentorship. Small class sizes are a plus, as they ensure personalized attention.

Hands-on Learning and Experience

Choose programs that offer practical, hands-on learning experiences. Depending on the field, this could mean lab work, internships, or project-based learning. Practical experience helps you understand concepts better and prepares you for real-world challenges. Also, look for programs encouraging personal growth through leadership workshops or community service.

Making the Decision

When deciding, consider the program’s location, cost, and the application process. Many programs offer financial aid or scholarships, making them more accessible. The application process can also be a good learning experience, preparing you for college applications.


Summer programs offer a unique blend of learning, personal growth, and fun, providing high school students in Tennessee with invaluable experiences that shape their academic and career trajectories.

By selecting a program that aligns with your interests and goals, you can make the most of your summer, setting a strong foundation for college and beyond. Whether exploring new academic territories or honing existing skills, these summer programs are your ticket to a well-spent summer.


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