20 STEM Summer Programs That Catapult Your College Prospects

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Close up of school students designing and testing STEM robot vehicle project model in robotics class for the competition.

20 STEM Summer Programs That Catapult Your College Prospects

In today’s competitive academic landscape, participating in STEM summer programs is a strategic move that can catapult your college prospects. These programs, designed for high school students with a keen interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, offer more than just advanced learning opportunities. They serve as a launchpad, significantly enhancing your appeal to prospective colleges.

Engaging in STEM summer programs not only boosts your academic profile but also provides you with hands-on experience in your field of interest. This real-world application of classroom theories is exactly what top-tier colleges look for in potential students. By demonstrating your commitment to STEM through these summer programs, you’re not just preparing for college; you’re setting the stage for a thriving career in some of the most in-demand sectors of the global economy. In this blog, we’ll look into the best STEM summer programs in the country that can definitely catapult any participants’ college prospects.

1. Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program

  • Location: Stanford University, Stanford, California.
  • Cost: $40 application fee ($500 minimum stipend)
  • Program Dates: June 10- August 1, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 24, 2024
  • Eligibility: Current junior or senior high school student.

The Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) is a program that lasts for eight weeks at Stanford University, where high school students get to work on medical research projects. They work with Stanford’s teachers, researchers, and postdocs, learning about biology and medicine through real research. The program is for students interested in science, whether they’re beginners or have some experience, and it helps them see what scientific research is like by doing it themselves in one of Stanford’s labs with the help of a mentor.

forensic science student examining a sample in microscope

When students apply to SIMR, they can pick from eight different areas of research that they’re interested in. After they get in, they’re placed in a research area based on what they like. There’s also a special part of the program called a bioengineering boot camp for students who want to learn about bioengineering. This part doesn’t involve working in a lab but still teaches practical skills in bioengineering.

2. Penn Summer Science Initiative

  • Location: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: July 8 – August 1, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Junior or senior year of high school from the greater Philadelphia area.

The Penn Summer Science Initiative is a free, month-long program for high school students interested in science, focusing on materials science and engineering. It accepts about 24-28 students each year, mostly 11th graders from the Philadelphia area. The program includes classes, lab work, and trips to help students learn by doing.

It aims to get more students from different backgrounds into science, especially those who are often left out, like students from Philadelphia, women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. By joining the summer program, students get to try out scientific methods and learn about science in a practical way, which helps encourage them to think about careers in STEM and catapult students’ college prospects.

3. Research Science Institute (RSI) at MIT

  • Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 23 to August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: December 13, 2023
  • Eligibility: High school juniors.

The Research Science Institute (RSI) at MIT is a top summer program for high school students who love math, science, and engineering. It’s like taking college classes and getting real experience in doing science or engineering projects on your own. This program is great for students who are really into these subjects and want to get a head start on learning how to do original research.

What makes RSI special is that it teaches students the whole process of doing research. This means they learn everything from how to read and understand scientific studies to how to share their own discoveries by talking about them and writing reports. This experience is super helpful for students who want to work in science, technology, engineering, or math in the future. Joining RSI not only looks good on college applications but also teaches important skills like critical thinking and problem-solving, preparing students for success in STEM careers.

4. Aspiring Scientist Summer Internship Program at George Mason University

  • Location: College of Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.
  • Cost: Free ($25 application fee)
  • Program Dates: June 18-August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 11, 2024
  • Eligibility: Remote, in-person, or hybrid internships: 15 years or older; “wet-lab” in-person or hybrid internships: 16 years or older.

The Aspiring Scientist Summer Internship Program (ASSIP) at George Mason University is a free program for high school and college students who like STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math. In this program, students get to work in modern labs on campus, doing real science in areas like environmental science and bioinformatics. It’s a hands-on way to learn about different STEM fields.

ASSIP isn’t just about learning; it’s also about doing real research with the help of experienced scientists. This experience is great for college applications and can help students decide on a career in science. The program covers many topics, including astronomy and cybersecurity, giving a wide view of what STEM is all about. Joining ASSIP might even lead to having research published, which is a great start for anyone thinking about a science career.

5. Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida

  • Location: Center for Precollegiate Education and Training, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
  • Cost: $5200 ($50 application fee)
  • Program Dates: June 9 – July 27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: no deadline (selection will begin March 2024)
  • Eligibility: Students entering senior year and at least 16 years old.

The University of Florida Student Science Training Program (UF SSTP) is a seven-week summer program for high school seniors who are at least 16 years old and interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Students work on research projects with university scientists, which helps them learn how to work both on their own and with others. They also need to be really interested in doing research.

In this program, students do research for 30 hours a week, go to lectures about new science topics, and take part in a special seminar. They also improve important skills like working in a team, leading, and communicating. Plus, high school students from Florida can get extra credits for their work in this summer program, which can definitely catapult participants’ college prospects or careers in STEM.

6. MITES Summer

  • Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: July 14 – July 20, 2024
  • Application Deadline: June- August 2024
  • Eligibility: High school junior students.

MITES Summer is a six-week camp at MIT for students going into their last year of high school who love STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math. You’ll take five classes, get help with college applications and financial aid, and work in a small group with a mentor who’s already in college at MIT. It’s a great way to learn more about STEM and see what studying at college could be like.

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

The program ends with a big event called the Final Symposium, where participants show a project they have worked on to people at MIT. This project lets students use what they’ve learned in a real, hands-on way. Presenting your project helps you practice explaining your ideas and research, which is an important skill for college and future jobs. It’s a chance to share your hard work and learn from the experience.

7. CURIE Academy at Cornell University

  • Location: College of Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
  • Cost: $1,850 ($75 application fee)
  • Program Dates: July 14 – July 20, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Current high school sophomore or junior.

The CURIE Academy is a week-long summer program at Cornell University for 11th and 12th graders interested in engineering. It shows students what it’s like to study engineering in college, including the types of jobs they can get and how to apply to college. Students get to live in dorms at Cornell, meet college students and teachers, and connect with other high school students from all over.

During the program, students focus on one engineering area through classes and a team project, with guidance from Cornell faculty and students. They also learn about the different fields of engineering and how to get into college. The CURIE Academy aims to include students from many backgrounds, making it a great place for students of different races, genders, and financial situations to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), make new friends, and find mentors.

8. DigiPen Institute Of Technology Summer Workshop

  • Location: Online.
  • Cost: $2,995 – $3,195
  • Program Dates: July 8- August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: At least 16 years old, entering their Junior or Senior year of high school.

DigiPen Academy offers summer programs for high school students interested in games, digital art, and computer science. These programs are at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Washington and are taught by experts. Students can choose from different topics like game design, animation, or programming. The programs are fun and help you learn a lot about your chosen topic.

In these programs, students work on projects that can help with their college applications and might even earn them college credit if they attend DigiPen later. It’s also a great place to meet other students with similar interests, which means making new friends and learning together. To join, students need to have the right computer and software, and some programs may require previous coursework or skills, like playing an instrument.

9. SHAD Program

  • Location: Shad campus, Online.
  • Cost: $6,850 (ShadOnCampus); $3,615 (ShadAnywhere)
  • Program Dates: July 8- August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Grade 10 and 11 students.

The SHAD Program is a special educational program that helps high school students learn about science, technology, arts, and entrepreneurship. Students get to work on real-life projects, learn from their mistakes, and meet mentors and other students who share their interests. It takes place in July and helps students prepare for college and future jobs.

Being part of SHAD has many benefits. Students can earn college credits and even for the International Baccalaureate program. It helps build confidence, meet new people, and get a head start on college. SHAD also offers a chance to earn extra credits, get special scholarships, and learn important skills like how to solve problems and work in teams. This makes SHAD a great choice for students looking to learn more and prepare for the future.

10. Summer Science Program

  • Location: New Mexico State University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Purdue University. and Indiana University; Online
  • Cost: $8,800
  • Program Dates: Mid to late June 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 16, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students ages 15- 19 years.

The Summer Science Program (SSP) is a science camp that lasts 39 days for high school students to do real science projects in groups. In 2023, students could choose from topics in Astrophysics, Biochemistry, and Genomics at different universities. They study and work in labs for six days a week and also hear from guest speakers.

teacher explaining to students a cell model

In SSP, each group picks a science project and works on it from the beginning to the end. This means they gather data, analyze it, and then present what they found. SSP is known for being a great learning experience, and many students who’ve been through it say it’s the best educational experience they’ve ever had.

11. Fermilab TARGET Program

  • Location: Fermilab, Batavia, Illinois.
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Program Dates: June 17- July 26, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors from Illinois.

The TARGET program is a six-week summer internship for high school sophomores and juniors in Illinois who are interested in physics, math, computer science, and engineering. It’s very competitive and aims to help students start college studies and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. The program focuses on increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups, like minorities and women, in these areas.

Interns work with scientists and engineers at Fermilab, a top science research center, getting hands-on experience in STEM fields. They learn a lot by being part of actual projects and get paid $17.20 an hour. This program is a great way for students to explore STEM careers and make some money during the summer.

12. WPI Frontiers Summer Program

  • Location: Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: $3,995
  • Program Dates: Frontiers 1: July 7 – 19, 2024; Frontiers 2: July 21 – August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 30, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 10, 11, and 12th graders.

The Frontiers program at WPI is a two-week summer camp for 10th to 12th graders interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and experiencing what college is like. It mixes learning in STEM areas with workshops on getting ready for college and fun activities like sports and movies. Students also get tips on how to plan for college, write a resume, and understand financial aid.

In this program, mornings are for STEM classes and afternoons for arts and humanities workshops, with time for lunch and hanging out with friends. Topics include physics, engineering, computer science, and more. Students get to do hands-on projects, listen to lectures, and work in labs, all while being part of a fun college community. This way, they learn a lot academically while also enjoying their summer.

13. Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program

  • Location: Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: $4,745 – $8,082
  • Program Dates: July 6 – July 19, 2024; July 21 – August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students entering 9th-12th grade.

The Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) at Smith College is a special four-week program held in July for high school women interested in science, engineering, and medicine. It’s a unique chance to get hands-on experience in these fields by working on projects directly with college professors. This program not only helps students learn more about science and engineering but also gets them ready for tougher science classes in high school and gives a preview of what college might be like.

Started in 1990, SSEP has hosted students from 46 states and 53 countries, making it a diverse place to learn and grow. It’s not easy to get in; students need good grades, a strong desire to learn, and the ability to take on new challenges. By joining the summer program, students get to practical what they’ve learned, which helps encourage them to think about careers in STEM and catapult their college prospects.

14. The Naval Academy Summer STEM Program

  • Location: U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.
  • Cost: $700
  • Program Dates: Rising 9th graders: June 3 – June 8, 2024; Rising 10th graders: June 10 – June 15, 2024; Rising 11th graders: June 17 – June 21, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 9th-11th grade students.

The United States Naval Academy has a Summer STEM program for students in 9th to 11th grade who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. It’s a great opportunity for students who like math and science, loves to figure out how things work and want to use their creativity and hard work to make a difference. This program helps students get started on a path toward a future in engineering or science by giving them a strong foundation in these subjects.

Pretty young girls having outdoor science lesson exploring nature

In this program, students get to stay at the Naval Academy and use amazing lab facilities to work on projects guided by the academy’s faculty and Midshipmen. It’s a chance to really see what it’s like to study and work in the STEM fields at one of the best undergraduate engineering programs in the country, as recognized by U.S. News & World Report. This experience is not just about learning in a classroom; it’s about doing real hands-on work and seeing how STEM can be applied in the real world.

15. The Cooper Union Summer STEM Program

  • Location: The Cooper Union, Cooper Square, New York City.
  • Cost: Six-week class: $3950; Three-week class: $1950
  • Program Dates: July- August 2024 (Classes start by July 8, 2024)
  • Application Deadline: March 27, 2024
  • Eligibility: Current high school students in grades 9-12.

The Cooper Union School of Engineering hosts a Summer STEM Program for students in grades 9 to 12. It’s a chance for high schoolers to get a taste of college-level engineering and research in areas like digital design, robotics, sustainability, and data science. The program is based on real college projects and encourages students to work in teams, finish a project together, and then present their results. It’s designed for students who are curious about science and thinking about college, and you don’t need any previous experience to join.

This summer program focuses on teamwork and communication, helping students improve these important skills while learning about STEM subjects. By the end, participants will not only have learned a lot about science and engineering topics but also how to work well with others and share their ideas effectively. It’s a great opportunity for students who are exploring their interests in engineering and science and considering their future education. The program selects students who are eager to learn and contribute, regardless of their prior experience.

16. MIT LLRise

  • Location:  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: July 14 – July 27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 7, 2024
  • Eligibility: Junior high school students.

The MIT Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE) program is a special two-week summer workshop for high school students, especially those about to become seniors who are interested in learning about radar technology. The program mixes hands-on projects, like building your own small radar systems, with classroom lessons taught by experienced engineers and scientists. This is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills and really understand how radar works.

The program happens at MIT in Cambridge, MA, and at the Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA, where you’ll also stay in MIT dorms to get the full college experience. By joining, you’ll not only learn to make Doppler and range radars but also get a peek into what a career in engineering might be like. This is an excellent opportunity for students who are curious about technology and eager to dive into an engineering challenge.

17. Research in Science & Engineering (RISE)

  • Location: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: $5,350 ($50 application fee)
  • Program Dates: June 30 – August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 14, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students entering 12th grade in fall 2024.

The Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) program at Boston University is for high school juniors who are excited about science. It’s a six-week summer program where students can work on real research projects in labs with top scientists, helping them grow their knowledge in STEM areas. There are two parts to choose from: the Internship track, where students work on projects in fields like astronomy or biology with the help of professors and researchers; and the Practicum track, which is great for students interested in the brain, offering classes and group projects on how to model brain functions on computers.

In both options, students get hands-on experience in their chosen field. The Internship track lets students dive into a variety of scientific studies, while the Practicum track focuses on understanding the brain through computer models. This program is open to students who can either stay at the university or commute. It’s a chance to do actual lab work, learn a lot about scientific research, and work closely with experts, making it a fantastic opportunity for students thinking about a future in science or engineering.

18. SAMS: The Summer Academy For Mathematics & Science at Carnegie Mellon

  • Location: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Online
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: June 22–August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: At least a 16-year-old junior high schooler.

The SAMS Scholars program offers challenging classes taught by renowned instructors focused on helping students excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) areas. It’s not just about sitting in class; students also engage in hands-on projects, working closely with exceptional teachers and mentors to deepen their understanding of STEM. This program is also a great place to meet and make friends with other students from across the country, fostering teamwork and collaboration.

Throughout the program, students participate in seminars to boost their math and science skills and take on STEM projects with guidance from college faculty or grad students. There are also writing workshops aimed at preparing students for college applications. Beyond academics, students have the chance to connect with alumni, meet university leaders, and work on group STEM projects. They’ll also join small mentorship groups organized by the Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion, adding a personal growth component to their learning experience.

19. High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program

  • Location: Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Cost: $4000
  • Program Date: June 16–August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school junior (Grade 11).

The High School Honors Science Program (HSHSP) offers high school students a unique opportunity to dive into research within a university environment. The goal is not just to teach students about research but to foster an environment where they can expand their knowledge and skills in science and math. While creating award-winning projects is common, the program’s primary focus is on learning and intellectual growth in STEM fields, as well as forming lasting friendships.

Many HSHSP alumni have achieved recognition for their research, including awards and publications, and have pursued higher education at prestigious universities like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Yale, among others. Most of these students have continued their studies in science or related fields, with many moving on to graduate or professional schools, highlighting the summer program’s success in catapulting students’ college prospects and careers in STEM.

20. California State Summer School For Mathematics And Science (Cosmos)

  • Location: UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz
  • Cost: $5,007 ($45 application fee)
  • Program Date: July 7–August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 9, 2024
  • Eligibility: California-resident high school students only.

The California State Summer School for Math and Science (COSMOS) is a month-long summer program at the University of California, Irvine, for high school students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). If you join, you’ll live in college dorms for four weeks, giving you a taste of college life while learning more about STEM subjects.

View of a students writing in the board.

The California government created the program to get more students excited about STEM careers. COSMOS is looking for high-achieving students, and being part of it can help your college applications and make you stand out to future employers because it shows you’re serious about STEM.

Final Thoughts

STEM summer programs offer great benefits that can help with your college applications and future career. These programs let you dive deep into subjects like science, technology, engineering, and math, improving your skills in thinking and solving problems. They also give you a chance to work on real projects, which is something colleges love to see. Joining STEM summer programs is a smart way to catapult your college prospects definitely and show you’re serious about STEM and ready to take on challenges.

It’s important to look for these opportunities yourself. Being part of STEM summer programs can make a big difference in where you go to college and your job later on. They help you figure out what you’re interested in, meet people who like the same things as you, and learn stuff that employers want. Start looking for these programs now to get ahead in STEM and build a bright future.



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