Free Summer Programs

In celebration of the start of summer, here is a list of FREE summer programs you can apply to next school year.

They main takeaway from this is to find something you’re passionate about and go pursue it. Summer programs are a great way to do this, but they aren’t the only way. There’s tons of other options, but I never imagined there were this many summer programs for pursuing your dreams for FREE.

Please look through these and try to find something that interests you. If you cannot find a convenient program here, go search for another one or make the opportunity that best suits your career goals. You do not have to wait until college to start pursuing your career!

Here are other reasons to consider applying to a summer program:


The sooner you gain experience in your field, the sooner you really know if you’ll enjoy that path. This saves you time and will only make you more competitive because you will have been involved for a longer amount of time in something you are passionate about.


Summer programs are not necessary, but they’re a huge advantage in the college application process. Colleges want to know that you are productive during the summer too. Whether it’s a job, summer classes, a sport, or a summer camp, do something! Summer programs are particularly advantageous because they show extra interest in your career path.


 I didn’t consider summer programs for a long time because I thought I couldn’t afford to go to one. Little did I know there’s a ton of colleges that start initiatives to give first generation, low income students more opportunities. Now there are hundreds of free programs for all interests and situations. You can do a program in the state, all over the country, and even abroad. There’s programs specifically for students like you and I to get exposed to the college experience and take college level courses in anything you want to study. Some give you college credit and some even pay YOU. I want you to remember that YOU HAVE OPTIONS and your economic situation does not need to limit your opprtunities! 

Lastly, I want you guys to believe in yourselves. I applied to several programs this year and never expected a response. I was accepted into several and waitlisted into others. It is not impossible! You guys need to have faith and remember that you lose nothing by applying. Applying to any of the programs on this list is FREE!

*A stipend is a sum of money that some summer camps give you to cover expenses

*Unless stated, everything in this list can be assumed to be free

The list of free summer programs:

Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) Programs

Girls Who Code

  • Computer Science
  • Location: Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus (MDC) in Miami, FL
  • Seven weeks
  • Female rising juniors or seniors
  • “Each week of the program covers projects related to computer science, such as art, storytelling, robotics, video games, web sites, and apps.”
  • Stipends cover transportation

VITAL Construction Research

  • Computer Programming 
  • Location: Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida
  • Two weeks
  • Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors
  • “For 10th – 12th graders interested in computer programming, 3D modelling, animations, and construction.”

Young Scholars Program

  • Location: Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Six weeks
  • Rising seniors (and very few rising juniors)
  • “The Young Scholars Program (YSP) is a six-week residential science and mathematics summer program for Florida high school students with significant potential for careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) High School Scholars Program

  • Laboratory Research
  • Location: University of Miami (UM) in Miami, FL
  • Seven weeks
  • Rising seniors
  • “Placements are available in areas such as biology, biomedical engineering, neuroscience, ophthalmology, and other research areas.”
  • Stipends to cover transportation

Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS)

  • Science and Engineering or Computer Science
  • Location: Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Six weeks
  • Rising seniors and juniors
  • “Carnegie Mellon is committed to expanding the pool of students from historically underrepresented backgrounds who want to pursue STEM disciplines.”

*A nonrefundable commitment deposit is required upon acceptance to the program.


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Location: Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Three weeks
  • Rising juniors and seniors
  • “Carnegie Mellon AI4ALL provides rising high school juniors and seniors, with a strong interest in computer science, the opportunity to utilize artificial intelligence to address problems of probabilistic and numeric nature.”

*A nonrefundable commitment deposit is required upon acceptance to the program

Inspiring girls expedition

  • Science, art, and wilderness exploration
  • Two weeks
  • Female,15-17 years old
  • Several expeditions to choose from: Girls on Ice Alaska, Girls on Rock, Girls on Ice Cascades, Girls on Water, etc.
  • “We are looking for girls who bring a unique contribution to the team: we want to hear your story!”

Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES)

  • Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts 
  • Six weeks
  • Rising seniors
  • Take the following courses at the summer program: one math course, one life sciences course, one physics course, a humanities course and an elective course. 
  • “This national program stresses the value and reward of pursuing advanced technical degrees and careers while developing the skills necessary to achieve success in science and engineering.”

MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Community (MOSTEC)
*not a summer program

  • Six months (summer before senior year to the end of the first semester of senior year)
  • Three phases: 
    • Academic Phase- take two online courses, create science projects, and meet virtually with mentors
    • Conference Phase- students attend a five day conference at MIT to present their projects 
    • Enrichment Phase where students interact with faculty and researchers to write for online blogs.
  • “The six-month MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Community (MOSTEC) program serves rising high school seniors from across the country – many of whom come from underrepresented or underserved communities.”

*Transportation to MIT and back, for the conference, is the only cost students must pay

Civic Leadership

Young Leaders Summit (YSL)

  • Location: University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois
  • Four days
  • Rising seniors
  • “It is designed to give these young leaders the practical tools they need to successfully apply to top universities, have full access to scholarship and financial aid opportunities, and set a course for academic and career success.”

Student Leaders

  • Location: 
    • Students will first travel to Washington D.C for a summit 
    • Students will then go back to their city for the rest of the program and work at a local non-profit in a PAID internship
  • Eight weeks
  • Rising seniors or seniors graduating
  • Sponsored by Bank of America 
  • “. . . you will learn valuable civic, social and business leadership skills. Each Student Leader will attend the Student Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. where you will learn how government, business and the nonprofit sector work together to address critical community needs.”

Youth Collaboratory
*not a summer program

  • Location: three different locations in the U.S
  • One year
  • Current sophomores and juniors
  • Workshops on becoming citizen leaders
  • Sponsored by Citizen University 
  • “24 highly-motivated students from around the country will join Citizen University and travel to cities around the nation, meeting leading civic innovators, sharpening their literacy in citizen power and producing their own independent projects in their communities.”

Caminos Al Futuro

  • Location: George Washington University in Washington D.C
  • Three weeks
  • Rising seniors
  • “Caminos scholars examine the social, economic, and political transformations affecting the Hispanic/Latino community. Through lectures by university professors and expert leaders in their fields, scholars not only learn about pressing contemporary issues but also create their own project to bring change in their own communities.”

Alexander Hamilton Scholars *not a summer program

  • Location: several cities such as New York, Seattle, Texas, etc.
  • Five years
  • Current juniors
  • Individual support and mentoring 
  • Program is based on five pillars of success: Transition, Heritage, Empowerment, Financial Literacy, and Leadership
  • Each conference is dedicated to achieving different goals from senior year to the end of college
  • $500 scholarship
  • “Our vision is to build leaders of character who will improve our nation and our world through their service, innovation, and excellence.”


Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS)

  • Location: Cornell University in Ithaca, New York or University of Michigan in Ann Harbor, Michigan
  • Rising juniors
  • Six weeks
  • Each location holds its own program with different content
  • “We work with university faculty to create exciting courses designed to inspire young people to explore the the histories, politics and cultural experiences of people of African descent and a variety of other topics.”

Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)

  • Location: Cornell University in Ithaca, New York or University of Michigan in Ann Harbor, Michigan or University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland
  • Rising Seniors
  • Six weeks
  • Each location holds its own program with different content
  • “Each program is designed to bring together young people from around the world who share a passion for learning. Telluride students, or TASPers, attend a seminar led by college and university scholars and participate in many other educational and social activities outside the classroom.”

National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)

  • Cultural and language immersion 
  • Six to Eight weeks
  • Different Language Programs: 
    • Learn Arabic in Morocco
    • Learn Chinese in Taiwan or China
    • Learn Hindi in India
    • Learn Indonesian in Indonesia
    • Learn Korean in South Korea
    • Learn Persian in Tajikistan
    • Learn Russian in Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, or Russia
    • Learn Turkish in Turkey
  • Each program has different age requirements
  • “All students will be enrolled in language classes and will receive at least 120 hours of classroom language instruction during the program. Students will participate in a variety of cultural activities designed to enhance their language skills.”

Princeton Summer Journalism Program

  • Journalism
  • Location: Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey
  • Rising Seniors
  • Ten days
  • “Classes at the program are taught by program alumni and reporters and editors from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Politico, Sports Illustrated and CNN, among other media outlets. Students also have the opportunity to tour major news organizations, such as The New York Times, Huffington Post and Bloomberg; cover a professional sports event; cover news events in the Princeton area; film and produce a short documentary; attend a film or theatre production; conduct an investigative project; author a group blog; and report, write, edit and design their own newspaper, The Princeton Summer Journal, which is published on the program’s last day.”

Yale Young Global Scholars
*this program is not free, but by applying to the Young Leaders (YL) Scholarship, it can be completely free.

  • Ten types of sessions:
    • Applied Science & Engineering (ASE)
    • International Affairs & Globalization (IAG)
    • Sustainable Development & Social Entrepreneurship (SDSE)
    • Frontiers of Science & Technology (FST)
    • Literature, Philosophy, & Culture (LPC)
    • Politics, Law, & Economics (PLE)
    • Biological & Biomedical Science (BBS)
    • Creative Arts & Media (CAM)
    • Politics, Law, & Economics (PLE)
    • YYGS-Beijing: Asia in the 21st Century (ATC)
  • Location: Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Two weeks
  • Rising juniors and seniors
  • Experience college-style learning
  • “Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) is a summer academic enrichment and leadership program for outstanding high school students from around the world. Each summer, students from over 100 countries participate in one of nine interdisciplinary sessions and immerse themselves in a global learning community.”

College preparation

These programs sometimes last longer than a summer. They guide you through the college application process, prepare you to go to amazing schools, and create support systems for low-income students.

SCS Noonan

  • Location: Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Six year guidance program 
    • Six week summer program
  • Offers Pre-College Counseling, Test Prep, Financial Scholarships, Individual College Support, Mentorship, Career Development, and Access to a Network for Internships and Jobs.
  • “To realize this vision, SCS Noonan Scholars employs a holistic, comprehensive program to ensure our Scholars have the key opportunities they need from their junior year in high school through college graduation, and into their first job.”

Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA)

  • Location: Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • Six year program
    • Seven week summer program
  • Offers intense test-prep, writing classes, college guidance, mentorship, leadership skills, college visits, financial aid planning, and coverage of several fees.
  • “Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) empowers a community of exceptional young leaders from under-resourced backgrounds by supporting their higher education and professional success in order to create a more inclusive and equitable country.”

Quest Bridge Prep Scholars
*not a summer program

  • Be invited to an optional conference with 40 of the best colleges and universities in the country (travel expenses may or may not be paid)
  • Location: conferences are in several cities in the U.S
  • Provides resources to help you prepare for the college application process
  • Access to an online community of other Prep Scholars 
  • As a College Prep Scholar, you will receive exclusive awards and opportunities to develop a strong college application that shares your unique story. 

USC Bovard Scholars

  • Location: University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California
  • Three weeks
  • Rising seniors
  • Offers test preparation, insight into the admissions process, writing preparation, and help developing a plan for your career goals
  • “USC established Bovard Scholars to empower outstanding high school students with financial need to dream big. We help you reach higher.”

College Point
*not a summer program

  • Virtual help with the college application process
  • Current juniors
  • Partner with the following organizations: ACT, College Advising Corps, College Board, College Possible, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Matriculate, ScholarMatch, and uAspire
  • “CollegePoint will match a student with an advisor who provides personalized college application and financial aid support.”

If none of these programs work for you, try making your own opportunities and get to working on your goals this summer. Good luck!

Happy Summer!

Follow us on instagram! @schoolbellblog

Read our latest posts!

*The School Bell Blog is not associated with any of the programs mentioned. All information is subject to change based on updates by the all mentioned institutions. The School Bell Blog encourages students to consult with their counselors and do their own research to confirm the information stated above. Any and all content posted on the School Bell Blog should not be taken as fact without further investigation. Thank you.

Please email me with any questions or requests for posts:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s