Top 16 Online Summer Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A student looking for their university to apply for

Top 16 Online Summer Programs for High School Students

Getting into your dream college is no easy feat, but here’s a secret weapon: summer programs. Those few weeks of intense learning can seriously beef up your college applications. And guess what? You don’t even have to leave your house because online summer programs are booming. So, if you’re itching to boost your skills, explore new interests, or just look impressive on paper, you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about the top 16 online summer programs for high school students and get you on the fast track to success.

Why Opt for Online Summer Programs?

Your decision here hinges on what matters most to you. If your priority is learning from home, having a flexible schedule, and cutting down on boarding, travel, and meal expenses, then online programs are likely a good fit. On the other hand, if you crave the campus experience, residential or commuter programs might suit you better.

It’s worth noting that attending a university-affiliated summer program, like one at Harvard, doesn’t guarantee admission to their undergraduate program. Nevertheless, these programs can act as a valuable bridge between high school and college. They offer exposure to college-level academics, campus life, and networking chances, all of which can enhance your transition to higher education.

1. Cornell University Online Classes

  • Cost: $1,750 per credit hour
  • Program Date: June 3 – August 6, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 5, 2024
  • Eligibility: Anyone with internet access

Cornell University offers a wide array of online courses where you can earn up to 15 credits while studying with university faculty. You can choose from hundreds of courses offered in various formats for the Summer Session from June 3 – August 6, with enrollment opening on March 15. Courses are accessible through the Canvas learning system, allowing for interaction via email, discussion boards, chat rooms, video conferences, or phone. Credits earned are recorded on an official Cornell transcript and are generally transferable​​.

A girl cooking while having an interactive virtual cooking class

2. Rice University Summer Sessions

  • Cost: $1,000 per credit ($500 for Rice undergraduates)
  • Program Date: Varies per selected session
  • Application Deadline: Varies per selected session
  • Eligibility: High school and undergraduate students

Rice University’s Summer 2024 online sessions provide a wide range of courses for Rice undergraduates and visiting students, including high school juniors and seniors. You have the opportunity to earn college credit in various disciplines with tuition set at $500 per credit for Rice undergraduates and $1,000 per credit for visiting students. This program is ideal if you’re looking for a flexible, academically challenging summer experience from a prestigious institution​​.

3. Tufts University Online Courses

  • Cost: $250 – $1,900
  • Program Date: May – August, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified (varies per course)
  • Eligibility: High school students to adult professionals

These courses are designed and taught by Tufts‘ world-class faculty and staff, ensuring you receive the same quality of education online as you would on campus. You have the flexibility to choose from short 1-2 day online workshops to full semester courses, allowing you to pursue your education from the comfort of your home, regardless of your location or educational journey stage. 

This online education initiative is part of Tufts’ commitment to providing accessible learning opportunities across various fields and industries such as Data, Biotech & Engineering, Art, Technology & Design, Business & Management, Health, Medicine & Nutrition, and more, all tailored to meet the needs of today’s professionals and students​​​​.

4. Boston University – High School Honors Online

  • Cost: $6,360 (may include additional charges)
  • Program Date: May – August 2024 (specific dates vary per course)
  • Application Deadline: May 24, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors

Boston University’s High School Honors Online program offers rising juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credit through online courses taught by distinguished BU instructors. You can engage with challenging coursework, participate in dialogue with undergraduates and other high school students globally, and explore subjects through online lectures, discussion boards, and individual assignments. This program is ideal for independent learners with strong time management skills, considering the intensive nature of the summer courses​​.

5. Brandeis University Summer Courses

  • Cost: $750 – $3,700
  • Program Date: June 3 – August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High school students to adult professionals

Brandeis University offers a variety of summer courses for its students, visiting students from other colleges and universities, and high school students. These courses are spread across two main sessions from June 3 to July 5, and July 8 to August 9, 2024, with an extended session running from June 3 to August 9, 2024. 

The courses cover a wide range of subjects including Anthropology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, and Hebrew, among others. Some courses are offered on-campus, others online, and a few in a remote learning format, providing flexibility to fit your summer schedule. Whether you are looking to fulfill prerequisites, engage in intensive language study, or undertake lab work, Brandeis’ summer offerings are designed to meet diverse academic needs. Early registration is recommended as many classes fill up quickly​​​​​​.

a highschool student on an online class

6. Purdue University Summer College

  • Cost: $2498 – $7853.50
  • Program Date: May 13 – August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: June 1, 2022
  • Eligibility: High school students age 16 and older

At Purdue University’s Summer College for High School Students, you can immerse yourself in the college experience, exploring a wide range of courses with renowned faculty, and setting yourself up for future success. This program, open for applications since December 1, is designed for high school students aged 16 and older.

You can live on campus, commute, or take online courses, with the opportunity to earn up to 7 credit hours over the summer. Courses cover various fields, including Speech Communications, Accounting, Sociology, and more, with special programs like the Multiethnic Introduction to Engineering for students interested in engineering disciplines​​​​​​​​.

7. UC San Diego – FUTURES Programs

  • Cost: $500 – $999
  • Program Date: Unspecified
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High school students

The UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies offers the FUTURES Programs to help high school students prepare for their future college and career paths. These programs allow you to explore your passions, discover new interests, and gain valuable hands-on experience in high-demand fields before you enter the workforce or apply for college. You’ll be engaged in cutting-edge coursework taught by industry experts, covering areas like Computer Science, Business Management, Design, and Life Sciences

Upon completion, you’ll receive an award, which can be used on your college applications and resumes. Additionally, the initiative offers scholarship opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis, covering the entire program cost except for required textbooks, thus making these invaluable learning experiences more accessible to you​​​.

students learning a new language

8. University of Washington Summer Quarter Online

  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Program Date: June 17 – August 16, 2024
  • Application Deadline: June 23 and July 24, 2024 (two sessions available)
  • Eligibility: High school and undergraduate students

This program offers a wide array of courses, with over 1,000 classes available in more than 100 fields of study, ensuring there is something for every interest and academic need. The summer quarter is structured into two main sessions, Session A and Session B, each lasting approximately four and a half weeks, from June 17 to August 16, 2024. 

Participants have the flexibility to enroll in courses that run for just one session or span both sessions, depending on their preferences and schedules. Registration is open to both matriculated students (those currently seeking a degree at UW) and nonmatriculated students (those not seeking a degree at UW), with specific registration periods and application deadlines set for each group. Tuition rates vary based on residency status and student level, with additional fees applicable for various services and activities​​​​​​​​​​.

9. Columbia University Writing Academy

  • Cost: $3,960
  • Program Dates: July 15-25, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility: High school students

The Columbia University Writing Academy is a two-week, intensive online program focusing on the craft of writing, particularly with an eye toward college admissions essays. Students from all over can join this virtual classroom to learn how to enhance their writing abilities. The program breaks down the writing process into manageable parts, starting with brainstorming ideas and moving through drafting, revising, and editing.

During the program, students receive personalized feedback from experienced instructors, aiming to help each writer improve their unique voice and style. This is crucial for creating compelling college essays, a significant component of college applications. Moreover, the academy offers workshops that cover various aspects of writing, from structuring narratives to refining prose.

10. Wharton’s Essentials of Leadership

  • Cost: $4,099
  • Program Date: June 17 to July 19, 2024 (depending on the selected session)
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Grades 9 to 12

The Essentials of Leadership program offers an immersive, two-week summer experience designed for a carefully chosen cohort of students eager to explore top-tier undergraduate business education. Through this initiative, participants will cultivate essential leadership, teamwork, and communication abilities while engaging with renowned Wharton faculty, visiting speakers, and fellow ambitious high school students from diverse global backgrounds. 

This innovative online venture integrates case competitions and dynamic digital simulations, such as the Saturn Parable—an advanced leadership exercise developed by Wharton Interactive.

Student taking an online course.

11. Stanford Engineering Everywhere

  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: Self-paced
  • Application Deadline: No application deadline
  • Eligibility: Open to all

Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) offers an exciting opportunity for you to engage in high-quality engineering education from Stanford University, right from the comfort of your home. The program is available at no cost and only requires a computer and an internet connection. 

SEE provides a selection of courses originally taught at Stanford, including a popular three-course Introduction to Computer Science sequence taken by most Stanford undergraduates. Additionally, it offers more advanced courses in fields such as artificial intelligence and electrical engineering. These courses are designed to be comprehensive, featuring full lecture videos, course materials such as syllabi, handouts, homework, and exams, all accessible online.

What makes SEE standout is its open access to a global audience. You can explore various engineering disciplines through courses that cover linear systems and optimization, database systems, and more. The program’s format includes a mix of lectures, assignments, and quizzes, mirroring the rigorous academic experience of on-campus Stanford courses. 

12. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: Rounds 1 to 3: June 14 – August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 22, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students who identify as girls or non-binary

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program offers a unique and empowering opportunity for high school students who identify as girls or non-binary. This program is designed to introduce you to the world of computer science and technology in a supportive, all-female environment

In the two-week Summer Immersion Program, you’ll participate in live, virtual classes sponsored by leading companies. This immersive experience includes learning about game design, covering beginner to intermediate computer science (CS) concepts, the design process, and user experience (UX) design. It’s open to current 9th to 11th graders and even offers a $300 needs-based grant for eligible students in the United States. An emphasis on diversity and inclusion is central to Girls Who Code, focusing not only on gender diversity but also on empowering young women from historically underrepresented groups in computer science. This includes those from minority communities, economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and those with limited exposure to computer science education. 

applying in schools

13. Babson College’s Summer Study for High School Students

  • Cost: Up to $6,450 
  • Program Date: July 8 – July 29, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 31, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors

The Babson College Summer Study for High School Students is a comprehensive online program designed for rising juniors and seniors interested in developing an entrepreneurial mindset and becoming innovators and changemakers. Scheduled from July 8–29, 2024, the program spans over three weeks and offers a blend of experiential learning and academic study, allowing you to earn 4 college credits

Through the program, you will engage in the Introduction to the Entrepreneurial Experience course, which emphasizes problem-solving, teamwork, and applying entrepreneurial principles to address social, economic, and environmental issues aligned with the U.N. Global Goals. Beyond classroom learning, you will have the opportunity to connect with a global network of peers and gain insights from entrepreneurial leaders and innovators, fostering a rich understanding of entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, finance, and business communication.

14. National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)

  • Cost: $3,795 – $6,500
  • Program Date: Varies per university (mid-June to late July or early August 2024)
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: 6th to 12th graders

The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) provides immersive, pre-college experiences for students, offering them a glimpse into various career fields before college. Participants gain practical skills, explore career interests, and develop leadership abilities through workshops and activities at prestigious universities across the U.S. 

The program covers diverse areas, including business, medicine, engineering, and more, facilitating hands-on learning and interactions with professionals. Since 1989, the National Student Leadership Conference has allowed students to experience their dream careers before heading to college.

15. EnergyMag Internships

  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: Flexible
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Eligibility: High school and college students

EnergyMag Internships present a distinctive opportunity for students passionate about both the renewable energy industry and environmental journalism. These remote placements enable students to delve into cutting-edge energy topics from any corner of the globe. Designed to accommodate the busy schedules of high school and college students, the program offers flexibility.

Interns develop crucial research and analytical skills through exploration of renewable energy technologies, policies, and industry players. They are tasked with generating comprehensive reports, aligning with EnergyMag’s mission of advancing understanding and awareness of renewable energy. This experience proves invaluable for those interested in fields such as science, environmental studies, journalism, or public policy.

16. Ladder Internships – Journalism Track

  • Cost: $1,490 (financial aid available)
  • Program Dates: June to August
  • Application Deadline: April 14
  • Eligibility: High school students, undergraduates, and gap year students

Ladder Internships offer a unique model of hands-on learning, linking high school students with startups and media platforms for authentic journalism projects. This remote internship program empowers students to engage in meaningful projects from any location, offering flexibility and an exclusive chance to acquire practical skills in journalism and media.

Throughout the 8-week duration, participants collaborate closely with industry experts and receive guidance, enriching their abilities in writing, research, and communication. They undertake assignments that directly influence the organizations they collaborate with, providing an immersive learning experience that transcends conventional classroom settings. This initiative proves particularly advantageous for students passionate about journalism, media, and startups, equipping them with the necessary tools, exposure, and networks to kickstart their careers.

With available financial aid options, the program aims to be inclusive to a diverse range of students, ensuring that varied perspectives and experiences contribute to the projects at hand.

female teacher wearing light blue shirt, writing on a whiteboard

Final Thoughts

With options ranging from STEM to journalism, there’s something for everyone. These programs aren’t just about filling up your summer—they’re about seizing opportunities, expanding your skills, and making yourself stand out in the college admissions process. So go ahead, pick one (or a few) that spark your interest, and get ready to level up. Your future self will thank you for it. 

It is important to have all the necessary information before making any decision. AdmissionSight is always here to help you with any questions or concerns. We have over ten years of experience helping students successfully navigate the challenging admissions process. Don’t let the admissions process overwhelm you. Contact AdmissionSight today and let us help you achieve your dreams.


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