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Top 20 Computer Science Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

student of computer science

Top 20 Computer Science Programs for High School Students

Navigating the competitive realm of Computer Science programs for high school students can often land you on a waitlist, a place where uncertainty meets opportunity. To shift from waitlisted to accepted, it’s crucial to understand the strategic steps that can make all the difference.

Top 20 Computer Science Programs for High School Students

1. Berkeley Summer Computer Science Academy

  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Estimated Cost: $4,625
  • Eligibility: Ages 16 to 17
  • Important Dates: June 16–June 28, 2024 (Program Dates)

The Berkeley Summer Computer Science Academy offers a 2-week intensive program for students interested in computer science, providing a glimpse into college life without requiring prior coding skills. The academy utilizes the Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) curriculum, developed by UC Berkeley’s Dan Garcia, and features daily instruction from experienced BJC teachers.

Participants engage in daily coding challenges using Snap!, a visual programming language, exploring fundamental computer science concepts and working on individual programming projects. The program begins with orientation, campus tours, and networking sessions, facilitated by UC Berkeley’s undergraduate Resident Assistants and Mentors (RAMs), who also organize activities and excursions to enrich the participants’ experience and prepare them for future college life.

2. UPenn’s Summer Coding Camps

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Estimated Cost: $2,500
  • Eligibility: Current 9th-11th grade students
  • Important Dates: July 6 – July 27, 2024 (Program Dates)

The Summer Coding Academy is a 3-week residential program focusing on front-end web development. Students learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, gaining skills to create responsive web pages that work on various devices. They also learn to use GitHub for collaborative coding.

The academy emphasizes hands-on learning, with instructor-led demos and student exercises to reinforce key concepts effectively. This foundation benefits students aiming for technical careers and enhances the skill sets of those in non-technical fields, such as arts and humanities, by integrating technology into their disciplines.

3. Tandon NYU Summer Programs: Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC)

  • Location: New York University (NYU)
  • Estimated Cost: $3,025
  • Eligibility: Must be Age 14+
  • Important Dates: June 17 – June 28 (Session 1), July 8 – July 19 (Session 2), July 29 – August 9 (Session 3)

The Summer Program for Automation Robotics and Coding (SPARC) is a two-week, full-day program for rising 9th to 12th graders, focusing on robotics, mechatronics, and programming. No prior experience in robotics is required, but students should be academically driven and keen on the subject, ready to engage actively.

Throughout SPARC, participants will explore microcontroller applications and learn to manipulate sensors and actuators, using the components from their provided robotics kit. This hands-on approach aims to deepen their understanding and practical skills in robotics.

Cropped picture of students using computers in a classroom

4. iDTech Tech Camps

  • Location: Multiple campus destinations
  • Estimated Cost: $999-$4,799
  • Eligibility: Kids-Teens
  • Important Dates: Not Specified

iD Tech offers on-campus programs at leading universities, providing an environment where children can connect with peers and mentors who share their passion in a setting that stimulates excitement for their future. These programs offer hands-on STEM activities in advanced labs, giving participants a taste of college life as they explore the campus.

The curriculum covers in-demand topics, including unique camps like BattleBots and Fortnite, and courses in programming languages like Python and Java, as well as popular platforms like Roblox and Minecraft. This diverse range of offerings ensures that every child finds something that aligns with their interests and learning style.

5. MIT’s Women’s Technology Program

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Estimated Cost: $2,000-$6,000
  • Eligibility: Rising high school seniors
  • Important Dates: Summer 2024

The MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP) offers a four-week summer academic experience for high school students, focusing on hands-on learning in engineering. The Mechanical Engineering track for summer 2024 will be a residential program, where students can stay in MIT dorms throughout the program. This track includes classes, labs, and team projects designed to introduce students to the field of mechanical engineering.

6. UCLA’s Computer Science Summer Institute

  • Location: UCLA campus
  • Estimated Cost: $3,197
  • Eligibility: must be at least 15 years of age by the Summer Sessions 2024
  • Important Dates: June 24, 2024 – July 12, 2024 (Program Dates)

The Computer Science Introductory Track offers a blend of coding boot camp, lab tours, and UCLA coursework, tailored for high school students with an interest in computer science and related fields. Students will master using computers for problem-solving, creativity, and exploration, focusing on program design and implementation. They’ll delve into key topics such as data types—integers, strings, lists—control structures like conditionals and loops, and the concept of functional decomposition.

No previous computer science knowledge is needed to join this program, making it accessible to all high school students curious about the field.

7. Code Connects: Emerging Technologies

  • Location: Virtual
  • Estimated Cost: $695
  • Eligibility: Incoming 6th – 12th
  • Important Dates: July 8 – 19, 2024 (Program Dates)

The Emerging Tech Camp is a two-week intensive program where students learn coding fundamentals using Python and explore advanced technologies like AI, Cybersecurity, and Data Science. Through hands-on activities and projects, they simulate the work of software engineers and apply their coding skills in various cutting-edge tech fields. The camp culminates in students receiving an Emerging Technologies certificate, acknowledging their developed skills and exposure to forefront technologies.

8. Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS)

  • Location: New York University (NYU)
  • Estimated Cost: Full Scholarship
  • Eligibility: Grades 8th- 11th
  • Important Dates: July 15 – August 9

CS4CS is a three-week summer program aimed at fostering a diverse group of future engineers to address current and future cybersecurity challenges. Students, guided by NYU faculty and graduate students, explore topics like digital forensics, steganography, ethical hacking, and cryptography. No prior experience in computer science or cybersecurity is needed.

The program focuses on creating an inclusive environment to counteract the historical underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM. Supported by The Depository Trust & Clearing Company (DTCC), CS4CS is offered tuition-free.

Students sitting next to each other while studying.

9. National High School Game Academy

  • Location: Carnegie Mellon University
  • Estimated Cost: $8,998-$12,105
  • Eligibility: At least 16 years old
  • Important Dates: June 22 – August 3, 2024

The National High School Game Academy (NHSGA) offers high school students a deep dive into video game development, mirroring the methods of Carnegie Mellon’s M.E.T. graduate program. This academy combines hands-on team projects with traditional classes, lectures, and discussions. Homework is used to assess students’ understanding as they progress. The NHSGA aims to enhance students’ rigor, workflow, and discipline, preparing them for college. The program culminates with student teams developing an original game prototype, from the initial idea to a playable demo, over six weeks.

10. Veritas AI Scholars Program

  • Location: Virtual
  • Estimated Cost: $1,490
  • Eligibility: Grades 9-12
  • Important Dates: Not Specified

The AI Scholars Program offers a foundation in Python and artificial intelligence (AI), teaching students to execute data science projects. Participants receive an introduction to essential AI topics like regression, neural networks, and natural language processing (NLP). The program delves into complex subjects such as image classification, neural networks, deep learning, NLP and language processing, and sentiment analysis. It also covers the importance of AI ethics, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of both the technical and ethical dimensions of AI.

11. Code Connects: Artificial Intelligence & Big Data

  • Location: Virtual
  • Estimated Cost: $495
  • Eligibility:  Incoming 9th – 12th
  • Important Dates: July 22 – 26, 2024 (Program Dates)

In the camp, students build foundational knowledge in Machine Learning (ML) using project-based learning. They learn to work with large datasets and program ML algorithms. Key activities include mastering scikit-learn, a leading ML tool, and using Python specifically for ML tasks. They will train algorithms like decision trees and Bayesian networks and tackle the challenge of reducing bias in ML outcomes.

12. Kode With Klossy

  • Location: In-person and Virtual
  • Estimated Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Ages 13-18
  • Important Dates: June 3 – June 14, June 17 – June 28, July 8 – July 19, July 22 – August 2, August 5 – August 16

The program offers four distinct curricula for scholars: Web Development, focusing on building websites with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS; Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, covering AI fundamentals and ethical considerations; Mobile App Development, where students create iOS apps using Swift; and Data Science, which teaches data analysis and visualization with SQL and Python. Each track is designed to equip scholars with practical skills and insights into their respective fields.

A man looking at trends in his computer.

13. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

  • Location: Virtual
  • Estimated Cost: $300 needs-based grant for eligible students in the United States
  • Eligibility: Current 9th-11th graders
  • Important Dates: Summer 2024

The 2-week Summer Immersion Program (SIP) offers high school students live, virtual classes in partnership with major companies like MetLife, Bank of America, Logitech, and Synchrony. Students will explore tech and game design, learning CS concepts from beginner to intermediate levels, the design process, and UX design basics.

14. Emagination STEM Camp – Coding in C#

  • Location: CT, PA, IL
  • Estimated Cost: $1,960-$3,760
  • Eligibility: Ages 12+
  • Important Dates: Not Specified

Campers will attain a foundational grasp of C# programming, enabling them to develop simple applications and comprehend essential software development concepts. This course acts as a gateway for teens eager to delve deeper into computer science, software development, or tech-related careers. The educational setting encourages collaboration and peer interaction, allowing campers to exchange code, work together on projects, and learn from each other’s experiences, thus enhancing teamwork and communication skills.

15. NextGen Bootcamp – Computer Science Summer Certificate Program

  • Location: Live Online
  • Estimated Cost: $3,695
  • Eligibility: Beginners to High school students
  • Important Dates: June 27 – August 15, 2024 (Depending on schedule)

In this summer certificate program, students start with programming fundamentals and progress to advanced topics in programming and data science, using Java and Python. Java and Python are widely taught at high schools and universities globally, making them essential for students. The program equips students with sought-after skills in programming and data science, preparing them for the current job market.

16. UT Computer Science Summer Academy for All

  • LocationUT Austin Campus
  • Estimated Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: 10th-12th grade
  • Important Dates: June 9-15, 2024 (Standard Academy Edition), July 7-13, 2024 (Machine Learning Edition)

At the Academy for All with UT Computer Science, students embark on a one-week journey that expands beyond mere coding to influence the future of technology. Through engaging hands-on sessions, students delve into coding, project management, teamwork, and tech careers. The program offers two tracks: the Standard Edition, focusing on Arduino microcontrollers, and the Machine Learning Edition, emphasizing Python. Participants not only acquire new skills but also join a vibrant, inclusive community. They experience life on the UT campus, forge friendships with international peers, interact with college students, and gather insights for their academic paths. This summer, the Academy for All awaits your participation.

A student smiling at the camera in a building.

17. WPI Frontiers Program

  • Location: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Estimated Cost: $3,995
  • Eligibility: Rising 10, 11, and 12th graders
  • Important Dates: July 7 – 19, 2024 ( Frontiers I), July 21 – August 2, 2024 (Frontiers II)

The program is a two-week, in-person, non-credit residential experience on WPI’s campus. It allows participants to explore a STEM major alongside a humanities and arts minor. Students will connect with international peers passionate about STEM, participate in college preparation workshops, and enjoy social activities. This setup encourages learning alongside peers in a vibrant campus environment.

18. Wolfram High School Summer Research Program

  • Location: Bentley University, Boston, MA
  • Estimated Cost: $4200
  • Eligibility: Must be age 17 or under
  • Important Dates: June 25–July 13, 2024 (Program Dates)

The Wolfram High School Summer Research Program is a two-week intensive experience that enhances high-school students’ programming and problem-solving skills. Students engage in active learning, workshops, and lectures to explore advanced computation and delve into STEM fields using the Wolfram Language.

Guided by expert mentors, students work on innovative projects in collaboration with Stephen Wolfram, tailored to their interests and skills. They produce a computational essay and an interactive research paper, publishing their findings at the program’s conclusion. These projects have the potential to be entered in STEM competitions, developed into academic papers, or presented at the Wolfram Technology Conference.

19. Columbia University’s Introduction to Programming with Java

  • Location: Columbia University, Virtual
  • Estimated Cost: $12,449
  • Eligibility: Grades 11 or 12
  • Important Dates: July 01 to July 12, 2024 (Summer A Online), July 15 to July 26, 2024 (Summer B Online) July 16 to August 02, 2024 (In Person)

Introduction to Programming with Java is a course aimed at building logical reasoning and computer programming skills through an in-depth exploration of Java’s fundamentals. Students tackle programming projects to enhance their logical thinking, systematic approach, and problem-solving abilities.

They’ll get acquainted with core object-oriented programming concepts, algorithms, and techniques. The course involves hands-on labs and both individual and collaborative projects, conducted in a cross-platform Java environment set up on the students’ personal computers.

20. Naval Academy Summer STEM Program

  • Location: U.S. Naval Academy
  • Estimated Cost: $700
  • Eligibility: Grades 9-12
  • Important Dates: June 3 – 8 (Rising 9th Graders),  June 10 – 15 (Rising 10th Graders June 10 – 15), June 17 – 21 (Rising 11th Graders)

If you’re considering a career in coding, game development, design, or robotics engineering, begin with a world-class experience like the Naval Academy’s Summer STEM Program. This program provides a foundational experience that aligns with these career paths.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

How to Find the Best Computer Science Programs for You?

Choosing the right computer science program can be a game-changer for your future, especially if you’re a high school student looking to dive into the exciting world of technology. Here’s how you can find the best computer science programs that fit your needs and interests.

Know Your Interests and Goals

Start by thinking about what you love about computer science. Do you enjoy coding and developing software? Are you interested in artificial intelligence or cybersecurity? Your interests will guide you in selecting a program that offers courses and projects in these areas. Also, consider your long-term goals. Whether you aim to work in a big tech company, start your own tech venture, or contribute to research, your goals can help narrow down the right programs for you.

Research Program Offerings

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to research the programs available. Look at the curriculum to see if they offer courses or specializations that match your interests. For instance, if you’re into game development, seek out programs with strong courses in graphics, user interface design, and software engineering.

Consider the Faculty and Resources

The quality of the faculty can significantly impact your learning experience. Check out the faculty profiles on university websites to see their expertise and research areas. Also, consider the resources available, like labs, libraries, and tech facilities, as these will be crucial in your practical learning and research projects.

Check the Program’s Reputation and Alumni Success

Reputation can be a good indicator of a program’s quality. Look for rankings, student reviews, and success stories of alumni. Programs with a strong track record of successful graduates can be promising. However, don’t just go by the name; make sure the program aligns with your specific interests and goals.

Two students talking on the stairs.

Evaluate the Location and Campus Environment

The location and environment of the campus are more important than you might think. Consider whether you prefer an urban or rural setting, the tech industry’s presence in the area, and opportunities for internships and networking. The right environment can enhance your learning experience and open doors to future career opportunities.

Look into Internship and Job Placement Opportunities

Programs with strong ties to the industry and good internship opportunities can give you a head start in your career. Check if the program has partnerships with companies or offers career services to help students land internships and jobs after graduation.

Consider Affordability and Financial Aid Options

Finally, consider the cost of the program and what financial aid is available. Scholarships, grants, and work-study programs can help make your education more affordable. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the university’s financial aid office to explore your options.

Choosing the right computer science program is a big decision, but by considering these factors, you can find a program that fits your academic and career goals and sets you up for success in the exciting world of technology.

Male student using a laptop in a coffee shop.

How Can Participants Benefit from Attending Computer Science Programs for High School Students?

Attending computer science programs provides high school students with a wealth of advantages, from developing essential technical skills and exploring advanced topics to gaining real-world experience. These programs not only enhance their college applications but also offer valuable networking opportunities, encouraging connections with like-minded peers and professionals in the field.

They also promote critical thinking and creativity, help students discover potential career paths in technology, and build confidence in their abilities. Overall, these experiences can significantly shape a student’s academic and professional journey in the realm of technology.

Participation in computer science programs can have a significant impact on college admissions for high school students. Colleges and universities often look for applicants who show a strong interest and commitment to their chosen field of study. When students attend specialized computer science programs, it signals to admissions officers that they are serious about pursuing a career in technology.

Firstly, these programs help students build a solid foundation in computer science, demonstrating their readiness for college-level coursework in the subject. Admissions committees are impressed by applicants who have gone beyond the standard high school curriculum to challenge themselves and deepen their knowledge in a specific area.

Moreover, participating in Computer Science programs for high school students allows students to engage in hands-on projects, competitions, and real-world applications of computer science. This practical experience not only enriches their learning but also showcases their ability to apply theoretical knowledge to solve complex problems, a skill highly valued in higher education and beyond.

Young woman using a laptop on a table.

Computer science programs often provide opportunities for mentorship, research, and collaboration with professionals and academics in the field. These experiences can lead to letters of recommendation, which can significantly enhance a student’s college application. Recommendations from respected professionals in the field who can attest to a student’s skills, work ethic, and passion for computer science can make a strong impression on admissions officers.

Finally, these programs can help students refine their interests and career goals, allowing them to write more compelling and focused personal statements and essays for their college applications. Demonstrating a clear vision and passion for computer science, backed by their active participation in relevant programs, can set them apart from other applicants.

Participation in computer science programs can greatly enhance a high school student’s college application by demonstrating their commitment, skills, and experience in the field, which can significantly improve their chances of admission to competitive programs and institutions.

Group of students staring at a laptop while talking.

Final Thoughts

Participating in high school computer science programs does more than develop skills; it allows you to show your dedication and passion for technology to college admissions officers. Your proactive approach enhances your academic profile and paves the way for a future in the tech industry.

By getting involved in computer science early, you light up your path to higher education and set the stage for a career of innovation and commitment. Your journey through these programs proves your potential, marking you as a future tech pioneer ready to change the world.

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