15 Summer Programs in Irvine for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

15 Summer Programs in Irvine for High School Students

Discovering enriching and educational summer programs is a key step for high school students seeking to make the most of their break. In Irvine, California, a vibrant city known for its educational institutions and innovation, there are various summer programs tailored for high school students. From academic enrichment to hands-on experiences, these programs offer a range of opportunities for students to explore their interests and enhance their skills. This guide introduces 15 notable summer programs in Irvine, providing a glimpse into the diverse learning experiences available in this dynamic city.

1. UCI Health Science Enrichment Program (HSEP)

  • Location: University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus (Irvine, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer; specific dates may vary each year

The UCI Health Science Enrichment Program is a summer opportunity in Irvine designed for high school students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare. This program offers a comprehensive curriculum that includes hands-on lab experiences, workshops, and lectures led by professionals in the field. Participants gain exposure to various health science disciplines, engage in interactive learning activities, and have the chance to explore the cutting-edge facilities at the University of California, Irvine.

It includes specialized studies programs focusing on informatics within public health, summer programs for high school, undergraduate, and postbaccalaureate students, and postbaccalaureate programs to assist applicants with disadvantaged backgrounds in gaining acceptance to medical school. These programs are designed to prepare individuals for careers in healthcare, public health, and information technology sectors by providing analytical skills and hands-on experiences.

2. Concordia University Irvine’s STEM Summer Camps

  • Location: Concordia University Irvine campus (Irvine, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies depending on the specific STEM camp; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in STEM fields
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer; specific dates may vary depending on the camp chosen

Concordia University Irvine offers STEM summer camps through partnerships with organizations like Project Scientist and Irvine Summer Camps. Project Scientist offers a five-week summer academy for girls, focusing on science and other STEM subjects

These camps cover a range of disciplines, including robotics, coding, engineering, and environmental science. Participants benefit from a blend of classroom instruction, hands-on projects, and collaborative activities, fostering a deeper understanding of STEM concepts. The program encourages creativity and critical thinking, providing a supportive environment for students to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

3. Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Programs

  • Location: Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center (Orange County, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies depending on the program and duration; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in environmental science and outdoor education
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer; specific dates may vary depending on the program

The Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Programs are a series of educational and recreational initiatives offered at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center in Orange County, California. Operated by the Boy Scouts of America, this premier camp provides a range of programs for youth and groups, focusing on outdoor education, recreation, and science. The center spans 210 acres and offers unique experiences such as exploring citrus groves, seasonal vegetable gardens, windmills, and California’s early settler history. It stands out for its comprehensive outdoor science program and structured outdoor learning experiences, making it a valuable resource for hands-on education in a natural setting.

Participants engage in outdoor adventures, ecological explorations, and team-building activities in the picturesque landscapes of Orange County. The programs aim to instill a sense of environmental stewardship while providing hands-on learning opportunities in fields such as ecology, biology, and conservation.

two students browsing books in the library

4. UCI Writing Project’s Summer Youth Program

  • Location: University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus (Irvine, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies depending on the program and duration; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students passionate about honing their writing skills
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer; specific dates may vary each year

The UCI Writing Project’s Summer Youth Program is a well-established initiative that has been running for several decades. The UCI Writing Project’s Summer Youth Program was established in 1984, making it celebrate its 40th year in 2024. It started with 35 students and 2 teachers and has grown significantly over the years, now accommodating more than 2500 students and 200 teachers

The program offers high-quality instruction by certified and credentialed instructors who use research-based best practices to support the development of young readers, writers, mathematicians, and scientists. The UCI Writing Project’s Summer Youth Program aims to provide valuable educational experiences that are both enriching and safe for young participants. It focuses on fostering individual character and skills development while creating an engaged and inclusive community.

5. Irvine Valley College Summer Academies

  • Location: Irvine Valley College campus (Irvine, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies depending on the academy and courses chosen; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in academic enrichment
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer; specific dates may vary depending on the academy and courses offered

Irvine Valley College hosts Summer Academies that provide high school students with opportunities for academic enrichment. These academies cover diverse subjects, including mathematics, computer science, business, and the arts. Participants benefit from interactive courses, guest lectures, and hands-on projects, gaining valuable insights into college-level coursework while experiencing the vibrant campus life at Irvine Valley College.

These include:

  1. IVC/IUSD Summer College Program: A collaboration between Irvine Valley College (IVC) and the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) for summer 2024, providing educational opportunities.
  2. College For Kids: Offers academic and enrichment courses for students aged 5-18 during the summer. Courses cover a wide range of subjects such as art, chess, coding, math, robotics, and more. Registration typically opens in April each year.
  3. Summer Session: The Freshman Advantage Program allows students to take summer classes. New student registration usually begins in April, with specific steps outlined for enrollment.
  4. Summer College at IVC – Portola High School: Provides additional information about the Summer College program at IVC in collaboration with Portola High School within the Irvine Unified School District.
  5. IVC Summer Bridge Program: Another program offered by Irvine Valley College, focusing on academic support and transition services for students.

6. Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Summer Programs

  • Location: Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) campus (Santa Ana, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies depending on the program and duration; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students passionate about the arts
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer; specific dates may vary depending on the program

The Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) offers various summer programs and classes through its CSArts Academy. These programs include dance intensives, Broadway artist intensives, the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), and Camp Bravo. The CSArts Academy provides extracurricular arts and academic training for student artists of different ages, with classes offered in the fall, spring, and multi-week long sessions during the summer. Additionally, there is a Camp OCSA Scholarship Program that allows students to apply for spots in the fall, spring, or summer sessions.

These programs aim to provide aspiring artists with enriching and exciting opportunities to develop their skills at the Orange County School of the Arts.

7. UCI Division of Continuing Education Pre-College Program

  • Location: University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus (Irvine, California)
  • Registration Fee: Varies depending on the program and courses chosen; scholarships may be available
  • Eligibility: High school students seeking a preview of college-level coursework
  • Important Dates: Typically in the summer or during specific sessions; specific dates may vary each year

The UCI Division of Continuing Education offers a Pre-College Program that allows exceptional high school students to enroll in UCI classes without formal admission to the university year-round. This program is ideal for well-prepared high school students who have exhausted their high school curriculum or are seeking enrichment courses not available at their school. During the summer, high school students who will be juniors or seniors with an unweighted GPA of 3.0 or higher can participate in this program.

Students can enroll in UCI courses through Concurrent Enrollment or UCI Summer Session, providing them with academic opportunities beyond their high school curriculum. The program emphasizes academic excellence, diversity, and access for all students, aiming to support student success and provide a pathway to higher education.

8. UCI Esports Youth Camps

  • Location:  UCI Esports
  • Registration Fee: Varies
  • Eligibility: High Schoolers
  • Important Dates: Summers

The UCI Esports Youth Camps are a series of summer camps organized by the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Esports program. These camps are designed to educate young people about the world of esports and provide opportunities for them to learn about various aspects of the industry, such as esports journalism, health and wellness, and career paths in esports. The camps typically include League of Legends, Overwatch, and Girls in Gaming, with the latter specifically aimed at young female players. The camps are held in the UCI Esports Arena.

9. California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) at UCI

  • Location: UCI Campus
  • Registration Fee: Varies
  • Eligibility: High School Students
  • Important Dates: Summers

The California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) at UCI is a rigorous pre-professional training program for high school students in various artistic disciplines such as visual arts, creative writing, animation, film, music, theater, and dance. Established by the California Legislature in 1987, CSSSA aims to provide talented artists with intensive training and exploration of new techniques. Students can earn college credit and are selected based on talent and creativity demonstrated through assignments and teacher recommendations.

The program is held annually from July 6 to August 2 and offers a supportive environment for artistic growth. CSSSA is open to California residents in grades 8-12 and a limited number of out-of-state or international students. The program costs $4,250 for California residents and $6,500 for out-of-state or international students, with scholarships available for California residents. Admitted students are designated as California Arts Scholars and receive a Governor’s Medallion upon completion of the program

10. Irvine Chinese School Summer Language and Culture Program

  • Location: Irvine Chinese School
  • Registration Fee: TBD
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Summer

The Irvine Chinese School Summer Language and Culture Program, offered by the South Coast Chinese Cultural Association (SCCCA), is a summer camp designed for students in kindergarten through 6th grade. The program aims to enrich children’s cultural experiences, stimulate their creativity, and keep them academically engaged.

students opening a letter

The summer camp provides various options such as half-day programs in the morning or afternoon, as well as a flexible combination for a full day. Students can participate in activities like Chinese Story Class, Mandarin Conversation, and Cultural Workshops focusing on different themes like Tea Culture, Chinese Inventions, Chinese Clothing, and more.

11. Mathobotix STEM Summer Camps

  • Location: Irvine
  • Registration Fee: Varies
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Summer

At Mathobotix STEM Summer Camps, campers participate in a variety of engaging activities focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These camps provide a platform for hands-on learning where campers work on projects and solve problems, fostering skills like critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. The programs aim to introduce students to different STEM fields, such as computer coding, and empower them to explore various career paths within STEM. By offering a balance of tangible and intangible skills, these camps not only keep young minds active during the summer but also instill confidence and creativity in campers.

Moreover, Mathobotix STEM Summer Camps offer an environment where campers can independently explore topics they are passionate about, promoting student-centered learning. Through fun activities and interactive lessons, campers learn basic and contemporary STEM skills while working together to tackle real-life scenarios. These camps go beyond traditional classroom education by encouraging creativity, problem-solving, and independent thinking. By participating in these programs, campers not only enhance their academic knowledge but also develop essential life skills like communication, critical thinking, and analytical problem-solving that are valuable for their future endeavors.

12. Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) Summer Enrichment Academy 

  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Registration Fee: Varies
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Summer

The Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) Summer Enrichment Academy offers a wide range of academic and enrichment classes for students in grades K-12. These programs aim to prevent summer brain drain by providing engaging opportunities for students to learn and explore various subjects. Students can choose from grade-specific prep classes, fundamental series, or fun enrichment classes designed to keep them engaged and make the most out of their summer experience. The academy offers both online and in-person options, including half-day, full-day, and specialty camp choices to cater to the diverse needs of families.

Moreover, IPSF’s Summer Enrichment Academy provides a platform for students to pursue their interests, discover new passions, and reinforce concepts taught during the school year. With over 400 classes available in subjects like STEAM, students have the flexibility to choose classes that align with their interests and goals. The academy also offers scholarships to ensure that all students have access to educational excellence regardless of their financial situation. By offering a mix of academic rigor and fun activities, the IPSF Summer Enrichment Academy aims to create an environment where students can learn, grow, and have a memorable summer experience.

13. University of California, Irvine – Computing Sciences Summer Institute (CSSI)

  • Location: University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus
  • Registration Fee: TBD
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Summer

The University of California, Irvine’s Computing Sciences Summer Institute (CSSI) offers a specialized program designed to enrich the skills of students early in their computer science studies. The institute aims to provide a social and professional network for underrepresented technology students, empowering them with the tools, motivation, and confidence to continue their computer science studies. Students attending CSSI engage in an interactive and collaborative computer science curriculum, participate in a living-learning residential experience for networking, and gain exposure to daily life at Google through interactions with professionals from the technology industry and academia.

Young diverse friendly girls handshaking

Furthermore, CSSI students work in teams on practical programming projects, including building interactive websites, which enhance their practical programming skills and theoretical knowledge. The program not only focuses on academic enrichment but also aims to inspire students to become active participants and leaders in creating technology. By offering this immersive experience, CSSI strives to support students pursuing computing degrees by providing them with a comprehensive educational experience that combines theoretical learning with practical application in a supportive and inclusive environment.

14. Irvine Unified School District’s Summer at City Hall Internship Program

  • Location: Irvine City Hall
  • Registration Fee: None
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Summer

The Irvine Unified School District’s Summer at City Hall Internship Program provides high school juniors and seniors, as well as current college students, with a valuable opportunity to engage with local government through hands-on experience. Participants in this program work closely with City Councilmembers, conducting research and analysis on a variety of topics, attending City Council and Commission meetings, and contributing to the efforts of local government. Through this internship, students have the chance to enhance their public speaking, leadership, and problem-solving skills while gaining insight into public policy analysis and city governance. The program runs for a specified period during the summer, requiring interns to commit 10 hours per week and provide their own transportation, offering a structured yet rewarding experience that allows students to make meaningful contributions to the Irvine community.

Moreover, the Summer at City Hall Internship Program aims to cultivate a diverse workforce of interns who are passionate about civic engagement and community service. By providing support to Councilmembers with various projects and programs, interns develop essential skills such as time management, organizational abilities, and effective communication. The program not only offers practical work experience but also encourages students to refine their leadership qualities and problem-solving abilities in a real-world setting. With a focus on developing well-rounded individuals who are committed to making a positive impact within the Irvine community, this internship opportunity serves as a platform for students to grow professionally while contributing meaningfully to local governance.

15. UCI Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) Summer Program 

  • Location: UCI campus
  • Registration Fee: TBD
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Summer

The UCI Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) Summer Program is a part of the broader Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine. Established in 2008, IMTFI is a leading research center focusing on the consumer side of financial technology, covering areas such as mobile money and AI-driven alternative credit scoring. The program delves into the everyday use and implications of these technologies, exploring how individuals engage with them and how they shape people’s perceptions of money, value, justice, and faith.

IMTFI’s research extends to various projects, including one funded by the National Science Foundation that examines disinformation and misinformation about money, banking, and finance among marginalized communities in the United States. Additionally, IMTFI welcomes academic papers related to its thematic foci, which encompass topics like mainstream and alternative currencies, mobile money for poverty reduction, and technological infrastructures for value storage and exchange.

Understanding the Benefits of Summer Programs

Before diving into the specific programs, it’s important to understand the numerous benefits of participating in summer programs. These programs provide students with valuable opportunities to develop their skills, expand their social networks, and explore new interests.

Summer programs not only offer a structured environment for learning but also serve as a gateway to personal growth and self-discovery. Students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, challenge themselves, and push their boundaries to achieve new heights of success.

Summer high school programs are immersive educational experiences designed to provide students with unique learning opportunities outside the traditional academic year. These programs are typically hosted by universities, educational institutions, or organizations, offering a wide range of subjects and activities to cater to diverse interests. Participants can explore fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), humanities, arts, languages, and more. These programs often feature a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on projects, workshops, and interactive activities, allowing students to delve deeper into their chosen subjects and develop valuable skills. 

In addition to academic enrichment, summer high school programs provide a platform for students to engage in extracurricular activities, interact with peers who share similar interests, and experience campus life. This immersive and collaborative environment fosters personal growth, encourages intellectual curiosity, and prepares students for the challenges and opportunities they may encounter in higher education and future careers.

Beyond academic pursuits, summer high school programs contribute to the development of crucial life skills. Participants often experience increased independence, as they navigate new environments and manage their time effectively. The programs encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity through hands-on projects and interactive learning experiences. Additionally, students may have the chance to explore potential career paths, gaining insights into various professions and industries. 

The exposure to different subjects and disciplines helps students make informed decisions about their academic and professional aspirations. Overall, summer high school programs play a pivotal role in shaping well-rounded individuals by combining academic rigor with personal and social development, ultimately preparing students for future academic and professional success.

Skill Development Opportunities

Summer programs offer a wide range of skill development opportunities. Whether you’re interested in academics, sports, arts, or music, there are programs designed to help students enhance their abilities and gain valuable experience.

These skill development opportunities extend beyond the traditional classroom setting, allowing students to learn through hands-on experiences, interactive workshops, and real-world projects. By immersing themselves in these programs, students can acquire practical skills that will benefit them in their academic and professional pursuits.

Social Interaction and Networking

Summer programs provide a platform for students to meet like-minded individuals and make new friends. Social interaction and networking are essential for personal growth and future success, and these programs offer a supportive environment for students to connect with others who share their passions.

Furthermore, the relationships built during summer programs often extend beyond the duration of the program itself. Students have the opportunity to form lasting connections with peers, mentors, and industry professionals, creating a valuable network of support and collaboration that can last a lifetime.

Exposure to New Interests

Summer programs often introduce participants to new interests they haven’t explored before. Whether it’s discovering a hidden talent for performing arts or developing a passion for computer programming, these programs open doors to new possibilities and passions.

Exploring new interests can spark creativity, ignite curiosity, and inspire students to pursue paths they may not have considered before. By exposing themselves to diverse experiences and subjects, students can broaden their horizons and cultivate a well-rounded perspective that will serve them well in all aspects of their lives.

Overview of Summer Programs in Irvine

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of summer programs, let’s take a closer look at the diverse range of programs available in Irvine.

Summer in Irvine is not just about relaxation and fun; it’s also a time for personal growth and skill development. The city offers a plethora of opportunities for high school students to engage in enriching activities that go beyond the traditional classroom setting.

Academic Enrichment Programs

Irvine takes pride in its academic enrichment programs, which are tailored to challenge and inspire high school students. These programs cover a wide array of subjects, from advanced mathematics and humanities to cutting-edge science and technology. Students have the chance to delve deep into their areas of interest, work on challenging projects, and interact with like-minded peers and expert instructors.

Moreover, Irvine’s academic enrichment programs often include field trips, guest lectures, and hands-on experiments to provide a comprehensive learning experience. Students not only enhance their academic skills but also develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork abilities that are essential for success in higher education and beyond.

Sports and Fitness Programs

For those who are passionate about sports and fitness, Irvine is a paradise. The city boasts a wide range of sports and fitness programs that cater to every interest and skill level. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting, there’s something for everyone in Irvine’s vibrant sports community.

Participants in these programs not only improve their physical health and athletic abilities but also learn important life skills such as discipline, perseverance, and teamwork. The supportive and encouraging environment of Irvine’s sports programs fosters a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship among participants, creating lasting memories and friendships.

Art and Music Programs

Artistic expression is thriving in Irvine, thanks to its diverse array of art and music programs for high school students. Whether you have a passion for painting, sculpting, playing a musical instrument, or dancing, Irvine has something to offer you. These programs provide a creative outlet for students to explore their artistic talents, experiment with different mediums, and showcase their unique perspectives.

Furthermore, Irvine’s art and music programs often culminate in exhibitions, performances, and showcases where students can share their creative works with the community. Through these experiences, participants not only refine their artistic skills but also build confidence, self-expression, and a sense of cultural appreciation.

How to Choose the Right Summer Program

Now that you have a better understanding of the summer programs available in Irvine, it’s important to know how to choose the one that best suits your interests and goals.

Summer programs offer a wide range of opportunities for personal and academic growth. From STEM-focused camps to art and music workshops, there is a program out there for everyone. By carefully considering your interests and goals, you can select a program that will not only be enjoyable but also enriching.

Assessing Your Interests and Goals

Take some time to think about your interests and goals. What are you passionate about? What skills do you want to develop? Identifying your interests and goals will help you find a program that aligns with your aspirations.

Consider exploring new areas that you may not have had the chance to delve into during the school year. Summer programs can be a great way to discover new passions and talents that you never knew you had.

Evaluating Program Structure and Content

Consider the structure and content of the programs you’re interested in. Do they offer the specific skills or knowledge you want to gain? Are the program hours and duration suitable for your schedule? Evaluating these factors will ensure that you choose a program that meets your needs.

Look for programs that not only focus on academic enrichment but also offer opportunities for personal development and social interaction. A well-rounded program can provide a holistic summer experience that will benefit you in various aspects of your life.

Considering Costs and Logistics

When choosing a summer program, it’s important to consider the costs and logistics involved. Assess the program fees, transportation options, and any additional expenses that might arise. Finding a program that fits within your budget and is convenient to access will make your summer experience more enjoyable.

Don’t forget to inquire about any scholarships or financial aid options that may be available for the program you’re interested in. Many organizations offer assistance to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in enriching summer experiences.

Preparing for Your Summer Program Experience

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect summer program, it’s time to start preparing for your exciting journey ahead. Planning is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience.

What to Pack for a Summer Program

Make a checklist of essential items you’ll need for your summer program. Consider the climate of the location and pack appropriate clothing. Don’t forget to bring toiletries, any required equipment or materials for your activities, and personal items that will make your stay more comfortable. It’s always a good idea to pack light but efficiently, ensuring you have everything you need.

Additionally, consider any specific guidelines provided by the program regarding what to bring. Some programs may have restrictions on certain items or specific recommendations to enhance your experience.

Setting Expectations and Goals

Before the program begins, take some time to set clear expectations and goals for yourself. What do you hope to gain from this experience? Whether it’s acquiring new skills, making new friends, or stepping out of your comfort zone, defining your objectives will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the program.

Consider creating a journal or vision board to visually represent your goals. This can serve as a daily reminder of what you’re working towards and inspire you to push yourself beyond your limits.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Experience

As you enter on your summer program journey, keep in mind a few tips to maximize your experience. Stay open-minded and embrace new challenges and opportunities that come your way. Be proactive in participating in activities and engaging with fellow participants to build meaningful connections.

Remember to take advantage of all the resources and opportunities available to you during the program. Whether it’s seeking guidance from mentors, exploring new interests, or simply taking time to reflect on your experiences, every moment is a chance for growth and self-discovery.

With these 15 summer programs in Irvine, high school students have the opportunity to make the most of their summer break. Each program offers a unique blend of skill development, social interaction, and personal growth opportunities. Participants can expect to not only expand their knowledge and abilities but also create lasting memories and friendships that will stay with them long after the program ends.

From hands-on workshops to outdoor adventures, these programs cater to a wide range of interests and passions, ensuring that every student can find a program that resonates with them. So, seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in a transformative summer experience in Irvine and unlock your full potential.


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