There are many summer programs for high school students that can help the pursuit of your dream career, including medicine. Varied opportunities allow you to appreciate the diversity of healthcare careers and determine where you are best suited. Being a research assistant and participating in clinical observerships or global health experiences can shape your choices of college courses and can provide some background experiences to talk about in future job or volunteer interview, as well as you medical school applications. This blog will list top summer programs for high school students and help you deicide which ones will be most suitable for you.
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Some programs are reserved for particular groups or subsets of the population, such as in-state or in-province residents, representatives of a certain cultural background or social class, as well as students affiliated with a particular religious group, and so on. This allows for those underrepresented in healthcare fields to have early exposure to medicine to encourage better representation. Other programs can be quite costly for the applicants and may only be available to those with superior academic merit or those with financial means to afford the opportunity.
Don’t be afraid to inquire into the programs to learn more. Select those related to clinical and non-clinical experiences, including global internships as they can provide breadth and depth of experiences that will shape who you are, as well as the values, skills, and attributes you will utilize to improve current healthcare discrepancies or global needs.
To select the best applicants, most programs require academic and non-academic excellence, CV or high school resume, and a written essay that outlines what you hope to obtain in the program. Below is a list of American, Canadian, and International summer programs for high school students to demonstrate the breadth of the opportunities available to you.
1. National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)
About: The NSCL Film, Journalism & Media Arts summer program allows high school students to immerse themselves in the world of communications. Offered in conjunction with the American University’s School of Communication, this program includes interactive workshops where students get the chance to work with professional equipment and latest techniques, as well as exclusive trips to media institutions and guest lectures from media professionals.
Length: This 9 day program is offered on the following dates:
- June 11 - June 19
- June 23 - July 1
- July 28 - August 5
Location: Washington, DC
Admission: Students must be enrolled in grades 9-12 to apply. There is an online application form.
This includes tuition, housing, meals, and all other costs except travel to the campus and a few other miscellaneous costs.
2. Summer Journalism Academy at Boston University
About: This program offers high school students a chance to gain real-life journalism experience. It involves university-level classroom learning, as well as practical learning in the form of the “newsroom” experience. This is led by a professional journalist, serving as an editor, under whom students work to report real local news. By applying their classroom training and working with the editor, students publish 3 to 4 original stories by the end of this program. The program also includes guest talks from professional experts in the field of journalism.
Length: Two weeks, dates available from late June to mid-July.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
- Students aged 14 to 18, entering grades 9-12 next fall or graduating high school in the current year can apply.
- Students apply and register online.
- They ask for a personal statement as well as an optional letter of recommendation.
- Seats are filled on a first come first serve basis.
Cost: $1200 + non-refundable 60$ application fee
3. Grub Street’s Summer Writing Fellowship
About: This program was created to encourage young writers with a passion for written or spoken creative writing. They foster a community-based culture that focuses on nurturing the joy of writing by providing tools, techniques, group discussions, field trips, etc. Their instructors are published authors and recognized performers. Students set their own goals and their creative ambitions are at the center of this program.
This intensive program offers classes, workshops, and readings to help students learn writing techniques, produce new writing, and gain real-world knowledge of the publishing world. Similar to adult writing fellowships, students get a stipend of $625 when they complete the course and its requirements. Rooted in artistic exploration, this program encourages students to explore various genres and styles of writing.
Length: 3 week program, July 12th to July 30th.
Location: Seaport, Massachusetts
- Incoming 9th to 12th graders from the Greater Boston Area can apply.
- With only 20 spots, admission is highly competitive. Students submit creative writing samples, an essay, and a personal statement.
- Online applications.
Cost: No cost – in fact they offer a stipend of $625 if you complete all the course requirements.
1. NYU Steinhardt Looking for Shakespeare Program
About: Students get the chance to work with a professional director, production team, and NYU coaches to work towards mounting an actual production of a Shakespeare play by the end of the program. Students get access to NYU student resources online and also receive acting training. This program encourages a collaborative approach with individualized coaching and a chance for every student to find their niche.
Length: Approximately a month, July 2nd to July 30th on weekdays with occasional Sunday sessions.
Location: New York City, New York
- Students must submit auditions along with MPAP Summer Programs application online.
- Currently only accepting virtual applications with video auditions featuring the following components: vocal, movement, instrumental, and monologue.
Cost: $100 tuition + $55 non-refundable application fee (need-based scholarships are available)
2. School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA) Summer Programs
About: SOCAPA Summer Acting Programs offers intensive, hands-on, immersive acting training. Through classroom exercises, activities, field trips, as well work experience in the filmmaking students’ on-going projects, students get the chance to hone their acting skills, learn from experts, and work with their peers. Students also get the chance to work on weekly showcases and listen to expert and even celebrity guest lecturers.
Length: Depending on the program type, length ranges from 1 week to 3+weeks in June, July, or August.
Location: New York, Los Angeles, and Vermont
- This program accepts students from the ages of 13 to 19 who are currently enrolled in school or have graduated from high school.
- Students must complete an online registration and application submissions, including transcripts.
Cost: The minimum cost of a program is $995, with the longer programs being more expensive.
3. Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory
About: This intensive, 3 week program offers students the chance to virtually train with professionals in a college-like environment. Students learn about acting techniques, acting for camera, study in movements, singing, and more.
Length: Approximately 3 weeks, from July 12th to July 30th.
Location: Currently online
- Only students entering grades 10-12 are eligible to apply
- Students must submit an online application including the following: a resume, an essay (for a specific prompt), and a recommendation, along with a recorded video audition featuring two contrasting monologues.
- Students can also opt for a live audition instead of submitting a recorded audition.
Cost: $1875 + $25 audition fee
1. Daniel Design Bootcamp from the University of Toronto
About: This program offers budding architects the chance to build their own portfolio of drawings and models and get a taste of studio architecture culture. It includes lectures from faculty and professionals, personalized instruction and feedback, virtual field trips to buildings and offices, training in key architectural skills, and periodic reviews with the opportunity to present your work to practicing architects and design professionals.
Length: 5 weeks, usually in June, July and August.
Location: Toronto (currently online)
- All students aged 16+ can register, including high school and undergraduate students.
- There is no application process. You can directly register for the program on their website, pay the fees, and spots will be filled up on a first come first serve basis.
Cost: $550 + $50 non-refundable admin fee
2. Stamps School of Art and Design Virtual Pre-College Program
About: This summer pre-college studio program focuses on helping students develop a competitive design portfolio for college applications. It includes undergraduate level courses taught by Stamps faculty, as well as personalized mentorship and admissions coaching. It includes studio courses in drawing as well as 2D, 3D, and 4D composition.
Length: 2 sessions lasting 11 days each, hosted in July.
Admission: Information N/A
3. Tufts University SMFA Studio Art Program
About: This summer program seeks to provide an interdisciplinary training in critical artistic concepts, with a focus on introducing students to new materials and ideas, and developing sophisticated techniques. The program includes lectures delivered by qualified professionals, educators, and artists, virtual field trips to galleries and museums, and an artistic statement workshop. Through the program students will build their portfolio of complex artwork under the guidance of their expert mentors.
Length: 3 weeks, in July.
- Only students entering grades 9 to 12 or recent spring graduates can apply.
- The application is completed online and must include past history of art classes, a short statement of interest, and optional test scores.
Cost: $4200 tuition + $200 materials fee + $550 non-refundable program deposit
1. World Scholar’s Academy – World Engineer’s Academy
About: This program introduces high school students to high-level concepts in engineering, with an intensive, broad-ranging curriculum designed and taught by leading engineering scholars. It includes courses focused on the more technical, theoretical concepts of engineering such as aerodynamics, magnetism, engineering math, etc., as well as an overview of engineering career options, the future of engineering, and other such broader level courses. They also provide daily assignments, collaborative group work, customized feedback, take-home academic resources, and a letter of recommendation for college.
Length: 2 weeks
Location: Only available online
- 15-18 year old students can apply.
- Students must submit an online application.
2. Boston Leadership Institute Summer Engineering Program
About: An excellent opportunity for future engineers, this summer program includes a variety of hands-on projects in computer science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. For example, they offer 3-D printing, sail boats, and alligator boat projects, along with field trips to engineering universities, colleges, and research facilities. Their faculty is composed of engineering experts and top educators who provide personalized coaching and guidance for all students.
Length: 3 weeks, from July 5 – July 23.
Location: Wellesley, MA
- They accept students from the 8th to 12th grade, as well as undergrad students.
- Students must submit an online application, with information about their past academic history, extracurricular experiences, and achievements, as well as a short essay response.
- They must also submit transcripts at a later date.
1. Gettysburg College Camp Psych
About: This program allows high school students to gain insight into how psychological science works. It also prepares students for college-level psych courses via discussions, activities, lectures, and presentations. Campers go through a variety of challenging experiences in an engaging environment that encourages them to explore larger questions of psychology related to social persuasion and influence, developmental psychology, memory and behavior, and fundamentals of helping behavior.
Length: 2 sessions of 5 days each, in July and August.
Location: Currently online
Admission: High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors interested in psychology are encouraged to apply.
1. SigmaCAMP: Residential STEM Program
About: Sigma Camp is a summer camp for students aged 12 to 16, located in the beautiful foothills on the shore of Silver Lake in Sharon. This camp provides an intensive agenda of action-packed activities focused on STEM subjects, including math, physics, biology, chemistry, etc. Students get the chance to participate in sports, art, and camping activities, as well as science focused activities conducted by leading professors and scientists.
Length: 2 weeks
Location: Sharon, Connecticut
- Students entering the 6th to the 11th grade are invited to apply.
- You must submit an online application.
1. Center for American Archeology High School Field School
About: Students get the chance to join a summer field crew and work alongside professional archeologists at a real archeology dig. Students get first hand field work and lab work experience. They learn how to identify architects and attend lectures conducted by archeology experts.
Length: 1 to 4 weeks, in July.
Location: “The German Site” at Crawford Creek Valley, Illinois
- Students aged 13 to 17 still in high school can enroll in this program.
- You must submit an online application.
- No experience is necessary.
- Seats are filled on a first come first serve basis.
Cost: $850-$3300 (depending on program length selected)
1. Anson L. Clark Scholars Program
About: Offered by the Texas Tech University, this rigorous 7 week summer research program offers 12 places to academically bright high school students. Students get the chance to gain practical research experience with top researchers and faculty members. Besides research experience and classes, students also attend seminars, field trips, and fun activities. Students can opt to specialize in any of the areas of research offered by the university, including agriculture, engineering, media, law, etc.
Length: 7 weeks, Jun 21st to Aug 4th.
Location: Lubbock, Texas
- Only current high school juniors or seniors can apply.
- Students must be at least 17 years old by the program start date.
- Students submit an online application including essays, transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and volunteer activities.
Cost: No cost. Students receive a 750$ stipend after completing the project report.
US Medical Programs
1. National student leadership conference on medicine and healthcare
About: This program allows middle and high school students to get involved in a variety of healthcare activities. Students can participate in observing clinical rounds, learning physical examination procedures and surgical techniques. The internship is organized around a factitious fatal outbreak in the US and engage in discussions and collaboration on diagnosis and treatment to solve the illness.
Those who participate in the internship can also take an online college credit course following the completion of the session.
Length: 9 days. 2 separate cycles between end of June and early August (June 11 and August 5)
Location: 10 campuses students can choose from:
Admission: It is a rolling admission and sessions fill up quickly by end of March.
- Nominated by your school - Your teacher can nominate you based on your academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and leadership. If you are nominated, the name of your referee will be included in your acceptance letter. This is not limited to teachers in the United States, rather teachers also practicing internationally.
- Alumni nomination – you can be nominated by an alumni of the program based on the same criteria that apply to the teacher nomination.
- Talent search – This is reserved for students who have been identified due to their academic performance and interest related to the program. This may be through surveys, national student talent identification programs, or college board student search.
- Apply yourself.
Students enrolled in grade 6 through 12 can apply. You must complete the program no later than the summer following grade 12.
Cost: 3195-3495 USD depending on the campus.
- Requires a 350 USD deposit
- Scholarships available
2. Medical Immersion Summer Academy (MISA)
3. Penn Medicine Summer Program for High School Students
About: The Penn Medicine Summer program is a hybrid program combining lectures and clinical observerships. In the mornings, students engage in lectures and labs to learn about exciting topics in medicine such as emergency medicine, transplants, and cancer research. In the afternoons they participate in virtual and simulated learning sessions. During the experience, you will also be able to observe a live surgery in the surgical suite.
Length: 4 weeks
Location: Penn State university
Admission: Students of 16 to 18 years old.
- Scholarships may be available for Philadelphia students
- Opens early to mid January and closes March 1
- Decisions are made by end of March
- RSVP and tuition due early to mid April
Cost: 7995 USD
Note: This upcoming year, the program was reduced to 2 weeks virtual and cost was decreased to $2200 USD
4. The Center of Excellence High School Summer Enrichment Science Academy (HSSESA)
About: The program is focused on science curricula including biology, chemistry, math, computer science, medical technology, as well as clinical shadowing.
The aim is to support the study of science through introductory science courses preparing students for the required pre-requisite courses in a post-secondary institution 5 days a week to support application the pre-requisite courses required for health-related careers including medicine and pharmacy in a post-secondary environment 5 days a week.
Outside the classroom, students are paired with mentors, including health professionals and graduate students, to understand the requirements of pursuing health related programs and succeed in undergraduate pre-requisites.
Students will be in the classroom Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 0800-1630 and then in clinical hospital sites Tuesday and Thursday from 0800 to 1700. There are also activities on weeknights, including scheduled tutorials, and weekends, including mandatory workshops and community focused experiences.
Length: 6 weeks
Location: Howard University
- High school students in Grade 11 or 12
- Must be in a college prep curriculum
- Must have taken and passed 2 English courses with a C or better
- Must have taken and passed biology or chemistry and a math course with a C or better
- GPA minimum of 3.0
- There is a preference for students living in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.
- Aiming to recruit students from under-represented groups and those with financial struggles.
- Interview with HSSESA staff
- Must complete an application for HSSESA.
- 250 word essay demonstrating interest in a health profession and how the program will benefit their future career.
- 3 letters of recommendation – 1 must be from a science teacher, 1 from a math teacher, and 1 from the school principal
- Unofficial transcript
- Must submit application by the mid March.
Cost: Free. This includes expenses, housing, meals, and activities. They cover the cost of course materials, including textbooks, pens, pencils, calculators and other tools, and transportation to clinical sites and science and community focused experiences.
They do not cover meals off campus other than those provided by the program, medical costs, and personal needs (spending and items).
5. Stanford Medical Youth Science Program
About: The Stanford medical school youth science program focuses on exposing students to science and medical curriculum to inspire students to pursue a college program. Students will shadow physicians to see patient-physician interactions. There will be lectures by the faculty, lab experiences, including those in the anatomy lab, to encourage students to pursue healthcare programs.
Outside of healthcare exposure, students will also be mentored on success in undergraduate/pre-medical curricula and get some advice regarding admissions. There will be workshops to prepare students for admissions to college.
Lastly, there will be a tour of the Stanford health care facilities where students will be able to engage in a research project to embrace the variety of opportunities in healthcare.
Length: 5 weeks
Location: Stanford university
Admission: Early March.
Admission notification by early May.
6. Della Keats Health Science Summer Program
7. Arthritis Foundation Summer Science Internship Program
8. Center for Disease Control Museum Disease Detective Camp
About: The CDC museum disease detective camp exposes high school juniors and seniors to public health. These students learn about the many topics related to clinical practice and social determinants of health, including:
During their time with the camp, students will be involved in activities related to the topics, including mock outbreaks, conferences, and lab sessions. To support the discussion component of the program, students will have lectures from CDC scientists that are well known in their fields.
Length: 5 days. 3 separate sessions in June and July
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
- Must live in Atlanta
- Requires short essay responses to 5 questions that outline what you aim to gain from the program and how interested you are about public health.
- Requires 1 letter of recommendation from a high school teacher.
Admission: Application open from late January to late March
- Must provide their own housing
9. Summer Child Health Research Internship
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10. Indiana University Simon Cancer Center Summer Research Program
About: The program aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in medicine, healthcare, and research careers. The program provides hands on research experience for the last 6 weeks of the program with students working 40 hours a week from 0900 to 1800 daily in clinical research labs.Each student will be paired with a research mentor and work in a basic science, computer- based, or clinical research lab. They will complete a research project over the summer and will learn about research methodology.
There are professional development sessions, including weekly workshops on gaining admission to graduate and professional programs. You will also learn from other students and researchers to gain exposure to a wide array of research activities.
Length: 8 weeks from June to July
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Application: Application closes early February of the application year
Students must provide:
- Academic transcripts
- Personal statement outlining their interest in the program and how it will help their future career goals
- Resume is optional but if you have a resume, it is best to include it
- 2 letters of recommendation. When completing the application, you will provide the email addresses of your writers, who will then complete their portion of the application.
Cost: Free to attend
- The program will provide a stipend to help cover costs of travel and accommodation.
11. High School Senior Summer Internship Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
12. Summer Medical Academy
About: The summer medical academy is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare field. The academy is a combination of lectures on healthcare topics, discussion groups, clinical skills and clinics, and information about careers in healthcare.
There are also team building activities to get to know each other and faculty and be inspired to pursue healthcare professions. Students will also participate in group projects to apply the skills and knowledge they learn from the discussion groups and lecture components of the program to deliberate on public health issues.
Length: 2 separate sessions in June and July. 2 weeks each.
Location: San Diego, California (Rady’s Children’s Hospital)
Admission: Due by end of February
Cost: 2450 USD
- Scholarships may be available; however, students must attend one of the schools listed on the program’s website and be in a health career pathway in high school to be eligible
- There are also private donor, foundation, and organization scholarships for those who are not attending one of the schools listed on the website.
13. Kendall Smith Healthcare Exploration Scholarship Program
14. Health Care Career Exploration Camp
About: The healthcare career exploration camp aims to expose students to the variety of healthcare careers available. You will get hands on learning opportunities in clinical and non-clinical careers.
There is a variety of group activities, hands on and interactive learning experiences, and facility tours to complement the week, including:
Length: 1 week
Location: 6 CHI health locations in Nebraska
- Immunization records and list of allergies
- A letter of intent outlining your career interest
- Parental email address
- Can only select one location
Application: Students in grades 10 through 12 in Iowa and Nebraska
15. Lifespan Summer Youth Employment Program
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Canadian Medical Programs
1. University of Toronto Youth summer program
You will work through one module per week that includes lectures, labs, and interactions with clinical staff. The 4 modules include:
- Human physiology: How the body works
- Molecular biology and genetics: Application in Forensics & medicine
- Pharmacology & toxicology: Medications, drugs & the body
- Microbiology: Microbes and the body
Location: Toronto, St. George Campus
Length: 4 weeks covering 1 module/week
- Students must be enrolled in grades 10 to 12
- Students will complete application questions including:
- Why are you interested in the program?
- Why are you interested in health or science?
- Plans for the summer
- Short term goals and plan on achieving them
- Long term goals and plan on achieving them
- Financial need
Application: Due in mid April
Cost: 2020 fees were $893 CDN per week
Scholarships available based on financial need and academic merit – excludes accommodation, transportation, and lunch.
2. Northern Ontario School of Medicine CampMed
International Medical Programs
1. Oxford Royale Academy Medicine Summer school
2. Medical internship for teenagers
About: The medical internship is an opportunity to explore healthcare in a different country by shadowing physicians in a variety of departments. To supplement the shadowing experiences, there are lectures led by physicians at a hospital that will give you a better understanding of the healthcare system in Nepal, including the challenges and unique opportunities in international practice
The areas that you will be exposed to are:
There are also opportunities to do social activities and weekend trips with fellow students to explore the country and its culture.
Location: Nepal, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Philippines, Mongolia, Ghana or Kenya
Length: 2 weeks to 4 weeks. Occurs over school breaks and summer holidays
Application: Includes shared accommodation and 3 meals a day
Cost: From 2900 CDN. Does not include flights
3. Global pre-med high school program
1. I am interested in healthcare but my high school marks are not the best. Can I still participate in summer programs?
Yes you can. Many of the programs require you to submit a letter of intent and references which can compensate for a low GPA. There are many reasons your GPA may be low and it does not preclude you from participating.
2. I am a low income student and cannot afford to pay for summer programs.
There are many programs available to those that are financially disadvantaged and may cover your expenses with a scholarship. Others offer partial support including meals and accommodation while other programs are work experienced based and pay a small salary to support your expenses over the summer program experience. Depending where you live there may be preferential selection for your area in local programs.
3. What grade must you be in to participate in summer programs?
Each program is different however there are some programs that offer acceptance to students in grade 6 and above (National student leadership conference on medicine and healthcare), while others specify age (Oxford Royale Academy Medicine Summer school). Most are focused on students entering grade 10 or above and some are open to undergraduate or graduate students looking for additional exposure.
4. How much does it cost to participate in a healthcare related summer program?
The costs vary significantly from program to program and some offer scholarships or cover living expenses while in the program. Most do not cover costs of flights so this may differ from student to student depending on your geographical region. The fees range from paid, free and up to $7995 USD.
5. What do I need to provide in my application to the program?
The application requirements vary from program to program. Most require one or a few essays outlining your interest for healthcare and/or your knowledge of the topic. Most also require your academic transcripts from high school and up to three letters of recommendation from high school teachers. Most of the programs prefer or require these letters to come from math or science teachers and/or principals or guidance counsellors with an aim of outlining your academic abilities and interest in health.
6. When are applications due?
This varies program to program; however, most are due by early to mid-March. Each program is specific on their deadline and will not accept applications after this date. Others are rolling admissions. This means that those who apply earlier are secured a spot and those who apply later may not obtain a spot as the spots are already filled.
7. Where are the summer programs located?
There are multiple locations across the United States including Alaska. There are also programs in the UK, Canada and international travel programs to central America, Africa and Asia. Most of the programs in the United States, Canada and the UK are at the medical school or University and at affiliated hospitals. In some programs there are activities in the community for exposure, such as relevant museums or tours, and activities for recreational and bonding with fellow students. For international travel programs they are located at the local hospital, however there are multiple activities in the community and surrounding community to understand the culture, values and beliefs of the region.
8. I love travel but also want to have a healthcare related experience. Does this exist?
There are many international travel programs that also expose students to healthcare in the region. The regions are diverse including central America, Africa and Asia. Moreover, there are programs in the UK that also accept international applicants. Lastly, if you are not from the United States, many of there programs are open for international applicants which provides another opportunity for travel and exposure to healthcare.
9. I am drawn to healthcare but not medicine. Can I still participate?
Absolutely. The aim of these programs is to expose students to healthcare including medicine, nursing, rehab and pharmacy. Some programs explicitly outline that there is a variety of shadowing opportunities. Others are focused on research which may be another option related to healthcare if you are more drawn to basic or clinical science rather than patient interactions.
10. Will my participation get me into medical school?
No, these programs are designed to expose students to healthcare and research. Although participation does demonstrate interest and provide early exposure to healthcare through observerships, solely participating in summer programs does not guarantee acceptance to medical school. There are many other components of the application including your undergraduate GPA, MCAT scores, letters or recommendation and personal statements. This is merely a stepping stone to identify areas of interest and spend your summer with like-minded youth.
11. I really enjoyed my experience in one of the programs last year. Can I participate in the same program again?
Most programs prefer to have new students in the program to provide more students the opportunity to explore healthcare. If you have previously participated in one of the programs, it may be helpful to appy to a different program as all provide unique experiences that would expand your exposure and may develop new skills. If you have completed an observership opportunity, it may be helpful to complete a research based program as many physicians complete research throughout their practice. When applying to professional programs, research can demonstrate skills such as problem solving, collaboration and analytical skills that can be emphasized on your application.
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