20 Best College Summer Programs for Gifted Students

Updated October 12, 2022

A ranking of the best college programs forifted high school students. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

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College Summer Programs for Gifted Students

According to the National Association for Gifted Children, “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).” There are families across the nation who have children who fall into this category, and summer can be a challenging time – there are, however, colleges who make summer a time for these gifted individuals to grow, learn and be challenged in unique ways. We have combed the nation to find some of the top summer programs for gifted students hosted at some of the top universities America has to offer.

The following list was chosen based on these criteria:

  • Catered towards gifted individuals
  • At least 2 weeks in length
  • Offers college credit
  • Available to non-residents
  • Amount of choice and diversity within the program

20. College of William and Mary

Photo Credit: Steve Heap

Located in the historic town of Williamsburg, Virginia, William & Mary is unlike any other university in America. The second oldest college in the nation, a cutting-edge research university, and a "Public Ivy,” William and Mary offers a world-class education at an exceptional value. There are over 6,300 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate students from 49 states and 68 foreign countries at William and Mary. Eighty-one percent of freshman who are ranked graduated in the top ten percent of their class, and William and Mary students are known to earn doctorates at a higher rate than any other public university in the nation. Additionally, more than 45 percent of students study abroad at some point in their undergraduate careers. There is no doubt that William and Mary is an excellent university, historically, academically, and through the opportunities offered William and Mary students.

Through a partnership between the College of William and Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the National Institute of American History and Democracy began in 2001 – 2002. The purpose of the institute is to provide interdisciplinary programs that instruct students in early American history, material culture, museum studies, and public history. Students from the United States, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia have attended the program. These rising high school students earn four hours of college credit for an in-depth study of American history. The courses are taught on site at the numerous historic locations in eastern Virginia. More than 1,270 students have attended the program thus far. High school students may attend who are rising juniors, rising seniors, and graduating seniors. Instructors use archaeology sites, surviving period structures, historic landscapes, battlefields, and a series of museums to guide students in a search for the American past. Students will take one course, History 216, and may choose from the topic From the Founding of Jamestown through the American Revolution, or From the American Revolution through the American Civil War.

You can learn more about the College of William & Mary summer programs here.

19. University of Delaware

“Scientia Sol Mentis Est – Knowledge is the Light of the Mind.” With seven colleges, three schools, and a history tracing back to 1743 the University of Delaware has a lot to offer. Located in the state where George Washington saved the Continental Army, and perhaps the entire Revolutionary movement with his daring Christmas crossing at Trenton, the University of Delaware has provides deep roots to those interested in pursuing knowledge. In fact, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning has ranked UD as a top research school. With 22,000 students, 4,300 employees, and a globally connected mission and programs (UD was the first school in the U.S. to offer study abroad programs), the University’s academic and cultural life is alive and well. Some programs of note at the school are engineering, science, business, education, history, chemical and biomolecular engineers, and urban affairs and public policy. Interestingly, UD is one of only four schools to offer a major in art conservation.

At the University of Delaware rising sophomore and juniors have had the exciting opportunity to study, contemplate, and take in all that college life has to offer for over 30 years. The Edge Program lasts four weeks, from mid-July to mid-August and costs $4500 for residents, $6900 for non-residents with available financial aid. Participants live together in a state-of-the-art residence hall on UD’s beautiful campus and have access to all the resources college students do. Students take two courses, taught by faculty, thus start college a leg up with up to seven transferable credits. In addition to a great choice in core classes, such as Entrepreneurship, Architecture, and Biology, the Edge Scholar Workshop prepares students with writing, research, and college application skills. Another advantage that Edge offers are visits nearby to historical and cultural sites such as New Jersey Historical Society, Branch Brook Park, Newark Museum, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, or the Newark Symphony Hall to name a few.

You can learn more about the University of Delaware summer programs here.

18. University of Dallas

Dubbed as the Catholic University for independent thinkers, the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas delivers. With 63 National Merit Scholars currently attending, and 39 alumni as Fulbright Award winners, UD is a place to study, learn, and grow in faith and reason. The University was founded and developed by various religious orders and currently has about 3,000 students. One of the most popular and well-known facets of a UD education is their emphasis on great books, reading, writing, and contemplation. This, along with their Undergraduate Rome Program, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010, gives all students the chance to study for one semester on the UD Rome Campus, taking in the sites, culture, and attending Mass at the Vatican. UD has four major colleges: the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, the Constantin College of Liberal Arts, the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business and the School of Ministry. Faithful Catholics find UD a place to thrive and grow in knowledge and virtue.

Students who choose to enroll in the High School Summer Program at UD are in for an adventure. Two basic options are either to study abroad or on the main campus in Texas. The Study Abroad Program has three choices: Shakespeare in Italy, Latin in Rome, Rome and the Catholic Church. The programs last about three weeks is for college credit and involves intense reading, small group discussions, travel, and classes taught by University of Dallas faculty. Students who complete the program are eligible to receive a $4,000 scholarship to UD. All three study abroad programs are held on the gorgeous Rome Campus, about 15 miles from the center of Rome on the western slopes of the Alban Hills. Less than two miles away is the town of Castel Gandolfo, the majestic palace that serves as the Pope’s summer residence. Should students choose a Texas program, either the two-week, college credit Arete: An Introduction to the Classics or Arete: American Studies, or the five-day (not for credit) Summer Music Academy, they will reap the rewards.

You can learn more about the University of Dallas summer programs here.

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17. University of Iowa

With just over 31,000 students, the University of Iowa is one of the nation's top public research universities, a member of the Big Ten conference since 1899, and an Association of American Universities member since 1909. The University is home to one of the nation’s largest academic medical centers and Iowa City, where the UI is located, is known as one of the country’s most livable communities. There are 12 colleges at the University that offer over 200 majors, minors, and certificate programs. This public research university is the largest institute of higher learning in the state of Iowa, and receives $565.2 million in total external funding, with 2,240 grants and contracts awarded, and 27 percent of Iowa undergraduates participating in some form of research. Not only is the University of Iowa conducting extensive research that has a significant impact on Iowa’s economy, this academic powerhouse is home to the state’s largest library system.

Every summer, high school students have the opportunity to conduct research at the University of Iowa through a five and a half week residential summer research program. The Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) allows students to conduct research in a university research group under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students produce a research poster and paper as part of the program. Not only are students provided the opportunity to conduct valuable research with world-class researchers, they gain life-experience as well. Students are housed in a residence hall and can participate in a variety of cultural and recreational activities including dances, picnics, social events, special seminars, and off-campus field trips. This unique summer program offers gifted high school students a once in a lifetime opportunity that will greatly impact their future college experience.

You can learn more about the University of Iowa summer programs here.

16. University of Maryland

After 428 acres had been purchased for $20,000, Maryland Agricultural College was founded in 1859. From pre-Civil War times to our modern global world, the University of Maryland has offered an excellent education and adapted to meet the needs of students, country, and the world. With accomplished faculty, a broad range of academic disciplines and offerings, and leading research, the University thrives. UM is one of 62 members of leading research universities in America and Canada in the Association of American Universities. “As a land-grant institution, the University shares its research, educational, cultural, and technological strengths with the Maryland citizenry and other constituencies.” Owing to a fantastic location four miles from our nation’s capital, UM provides tremendous opportunities to its students with a unique relationship to the government. As the flagship of the University System of Maryland, UM is the largest with 38,000 students and very well endowed.

As for academic programs, UM is diverse and high quality with a unique summer offering. The TERP Young Scholars program runs from July 10-29 this summer and is open to all rising high school students who meet the criteria. The three-week program challenges students with creative problem solving, exceptional faculty, a stimulating, collegial experience, and powerful peer networking. The location at UM greatly assists in the educational mission by providing access to UM’s facilities as well as the nearby Smithsonian Institute, Library of Congress, and National Archives. A glimpse into the program looks like this: A three-credit UM course is chosen among many great options such as Engineering Design, Environmental Biology, American Gov’t, Economics, Kinesiology, and more. Classes meet Monday through Friday and every weekday, evening, and weekend are filled with field trips, guest speakers, workshops, and other social and academic opportunities. Many testimonials convey the experience well worth it and provided students powerful tools to decide and pursue academic and career interests.

You can learn more about the Univeristy of Maryland summer programs here.

15. Marist College

Along the lines of Harvard and the College of William and Mary, Marist started as a seminary and has become a powerful institution of higher learning for a diverse 4,500 students. Offering 56 undergraduate and graduate degrees with 26 student sites around the country and a branch in Florence, Italy, it goes without saying Marist is ranked high in many categories by many organizations. Marist was founded in 1929 by Catholic Marist Brothers, an International Religious Institute involved in education. The humble origins steadily grew and expanded, especially after 1979 when the campus was expanded, new construction ensued, and old buildings were renovated. In 2004, a master plan was established and created one of the most beautiful campuses in the country with bike trails, green spaces, walking trails, aesthetically pleasing buildings, and state-of-the-art facilities and technologies. The facilities and superb technology equip Marist students to solve 21st-century problems with 21st-century tools.

The Summer Institutes at Marist College are unforgettable. Talented (current) sophomores and juniors who are accepted choose a two or four-week program at Marist or in Florence, Italy. Tagged as a pre-college program, students choose an institute their interested in, such as “Game Design Institute” or “Sports Communication Institute.” They attend courses taught by great faculty, live in dorms, are given access to Marist’s outstanding facilities and technology, and are provided extra-curricular outings and opportunities to learn, grow, and develop with other talented peers as well. The well-rounded experience is enhanced by the gorgeous Hudson River valley campus at Marist or in Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance. According to the program chosen, three or six college credits can be earned. A notable strength of the Summer Institutes at Marist is the choices for rising students as the contemplate their own passion and possible career choices: Business, Criminal Justice, Theatre, Game Design, Environment Science, History, Pre-Law, Sports Communication, and more.

You can learn more about the Marist College summer programs here.

14. Columbia College - Chicago

Many successful people have been trained at Columbia College, Chicago. Founded in 1890, Columbia is a private and independent school focused on media and arts. It is located in the South Loop district of Chicago and has a unique campus. The School owns 16 galleries, studios, administrative, residence halls and other buildings, as well as leases many that make up the campus. Columbia is academically rigorous and promotes itself as being hands-on while dedicated to taking creative risks. The school serves 9500 students and offers 80 degrees. It is also host to other cultural, educational and research organizations such as the Center for Black Music Research, the Center for Book and Paper Arts, and the and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, to name a few. In addition to fueling cultural arts in Chicago, the School also offers a five-week term in Hollywood for upper-level students.

Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Creativity, intelligence, rigor, arts, college credit and a bright future merge at the High School Summer Institute at Columbia College of Chicago. HSSI is an intense three-week precollege program for students who have completed their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school. Attendees spend time in academic, cultural, and extracurricular activities with those who share their interests. Being in Chicago provides enrichment opportunities that could be missed elsewhere: Buckingham Fountain, Museum Campus, Magnificent Mile, and other significant locations. Students who don’t live in Chicago stay in an excellent residence hall with included meals, excursions, and evening and weekend activities. The academics are demanding with three-hour classes and homework. An interesting component of the Program is that it is taught by working artists, sometimes at performance venues (in addition to regular classrooms, labs, and studios). Overall, HSSI is a great place for rising artists, actors, and storytellers to develop their craft through hands-on experience, taught by professionals, and grounded in rigorous liberal arts.

You can learn more about Columbia College summer programs here.

13. University of Pennsylvania

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Since 1757, the University of Pennsylvania has educated thousands of souls who have contributed to our country and world. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, and located in historic Philadelphia on what is now about 1,000 acres with over 300 buildings, the school has, and continues to be, a leader in education meeting real world needs in real time. Penn is a world class university serving 22,000 students through four undergraduate schools, 12 graduate and professional schools, and many other related programs and centers. “Penn has a proud tradition…of active pragmatism, articulated in Franklin’s maxim ‘well-done is better than well-said.’” This spirit permeates Penn’s diverse student population from over 100 countries and representing every U.S. state. As one of the nine colonial colleges, the School has earned a great reputation as a leader in many fields, but especially in research, with over 850 million spent in 2015 and over 4,300 faculty participating.

Spearheaded and managed by the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), rising high schoolers can choose from many summer options at the University of Pennsylvania. The Summer Academies offer 9th-11th graders a three-week intensive, academically, and subject focused education. Students take classes, attend outings, seminars, and social events which “fuse sophisticated scientific or social theory with relevant application” through six different research academies: Biomedical, Chemistry, Experimental Physics, Mathematics, Neuroscience, and Social Justice. The Young Scholars Program is for any 10th and 11th grader motivated to take an Ivy League education taught by faculty alongside other college students. This program is difficult and offers the best classes and access to the Penn library and resources with full college credit for those who earn it. The Pre-College Program is for residents only and similar to the Young Scholars Program. In addition to these three summer options, there are multiple other tremendous opportunities (not through the LPS) for leadership, business, and technology to name a few.

You can learn more about the University of Pennsylvania summer programs here.

12. University of California - San Diego

The University of California, San Diego is a large, public research institution. With over 200 degrees, six undergraduate colleges (following the concept of Oxford and Cambridge), five academic divisions, five graduate and professional schools, 34,000 students, and a campus over 2,000 acres, the University provides countless benefits and opportunities for a diverse population. In fact, UCSD is a “Public Ivy” and premier research institution. Originally founded by a marine biologist, the first school was known as Scripps Institute of Oceanography until 1960. Some interesting points of distinction at UCSD are: Geisel Library, which contains the largest collection of the works of Dr. Seuss. Gordon, one of the largest supercomputers in the world. And the Office of Research Affairs which oversees 20 multi-disciplinary units and an annual $1 billion for research. In sum, it is clear that UCSD deserves the recognition as a top public university in rigor and research in the United States and world.

“It has never been more important to spark the imaginations of our students—to prepare them for a future world we can't even imagine.” At University of California, San Diego, Academic Connections is for high achieving students to collaborate with and learn from college faculty in college classes and hands-on labs, but more than that, it is the experiences that helps connect young people, spark imaginations, and form networks necessary to excel in our globalized world that makes such a difference.A unique aspect of this program is the different location options: Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington D.C. or San Diego. Programs are either one or three weeks and students can focus on their interests: Marine Biology, Journalism, Political Science, Engineering, Creative Writing, or Economics, to name a few. Students take five hours of classes a day, participate in laboratories, engage in supervised filed trips, and attend social events such as a Padres game, Sea World, Balboa Park and the La Jolla Shores and Birch Aquarium.

You can learn more about the University of California - San Diego summer programs here.

11. Saint Louis University

Located in the historic city of St. Louis, Missouri, just five minutes away from the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi Riverfront, Saint Louis University is home to more than 8,200 undergraduates and 4,600 graduate students from all 50 states and 77 countries. This private, Midwestern research university offers more than 90 undergraduate programs and nearly 100 graduate programs. Saint Louis University was founded in 1818 by the Most Reverend Louis Guillaume Valentin Dubourg and is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River, and the second-oldest Jesuit University in the nation. The student-faculty ratio is 11-1, and the average class size is 25 students. For over 30 years the university has maintained a campus in Madrid, Spain. The Madrid campus was the first freestanding campus operated by an American university in Europe and the first American institution to be recognized by Spain's higher

During the summer, Saint Louis University's Visiting Young Scholars Program provides the opportunity for a select group of high school students to begin their college experience in regular lower division Saint Louis University classes on the SLU campus, prior to high school graduation. This program bridges the gap between high school honors courses and full-time college student status while providing participating students the opportunity of advancing academically before entering SLU as full-time students. Students will receive college credit through the Young Scholars Program. This exceptional program is only available to students with a 3.5 GPA or above, as it is designed to support high-achieving high school students in the continuing academic, social, and psychological growth the college experience provides. At the end of the program, students will have a Saint Louis University transcript and a sample of what the college experience is like.

You can learn more about the Saint Louis University summer programs here.

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10. University of Nevada – Reno

Founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno is a public research university that includes 16 clinical departments and five nationally recognized basic science departments. The School was originally located in Elko, Nevada, about 300 miles northeast of its present-day campus. Nearly half of the state’s residents lived in the Reno-Carson City area, rendering the Elko location impractical, so the school was moved to its present location in 1885. The University of Nevada, Reno is home to the University of Nevada School of Medicine and is the highest ranking university in the state of Nevada. Due to its prime location in the Nevada desert, it is home to a large-scale laboratory in the College of Engineering, which has put Nevada researchers at the forefront in civil engineering, earthquake, and large-scale structure testing and modeling. It is also home to one of the most powerful terawatt-class high-intensity laser systems on any college campus in the country.

Every summer, the University of Nevada, Reno hosts the THINK Summer Institute, where gifted students who are interested in a challenging academic summer programs can earn college credits while having the experience of a lifetime. The Davidson THINK Summer Institute is open to 13- to 16-year old students; all courses are taught by university faculty. Participants choose two courses, one taken in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The purpose of THINK is to provide a challenging academic experience while having fun and developing socially. Group games and outside activities are planned for the evenings, along with weekend field trips to local attractions, including picturesque Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley Olympic Village and historic Virginia City. Of note is that there is available financial assistance. There is no doubt that the THINK Summer Institute is one of the best summer programs for gifted students in the nation.

You can learn morea bout the University of Nevado-Reno's summer programs here.

9. New York University

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New York University has been living Edgar Degas’ quotation: “Art is not what you see but what you make others see” for almost 200 years. New York University’s “mission is to be a top quality international center of scholarship, teaching, and research which seeks to take academic and cultural advantage of its location.” This aim is accomplished for over 40,000 students spread out over New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, and sites in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. Energy and creativity come with New York City and form an atmosphere at the University that fuels a circle of creativity between the City and the University. Imagine the advantages of having all the historic, financial, and artistic areas of NYC for a young person rising in the world. Out of the 3,000 plus schools of higher learning, NYU is one of only 60 who are members in the Association of American Universities.

With many choices, some for credit, some in the States and some international, high schoolers have much to consider with NYU Summer Programs. The six-week Pre-College program for credit has over 30 academic options depending on interest. Cost is a consideration at $5,000-$15,000 depending, but for one of the most challenging and rewarding pre-college programs in the U.S., with all that NYC and NYU offer is certainly worth contemplating. The Tisch School of the Arts is a four-week residential program for credit for aspiring musicians and artists. If a shorter, more cost-effective, non-credit option is desirable the NYU STEP (Science and Technology Entry Program) could be a great choice. Another option is the Urban Journalism Workshop, a 10-day boot camp for writers at no cost. For young, motivated ladies, the non-credit STEM program is rigorous and rewarding. These and more could be worth exploring for choice, flexibility, and individuality in summer choices in one of the greatest cities in the world.

You can learn more about NYU's summer programs here.

8. Duke University

Duke University is a leader in every aspect. Since 1838 and the humble founding by Methodists and Quakers, Duke has been dedicated to knowledge and the pursuit thereof. The University is now one of the top universities in the world in worth, at about $12 billion, annual research spending now over $1 billion, scholars produced, and accolades of various sorts. Duke’s campus is also impressive. It is adorned with Gothic, Georgian, and other aesthetically tasteful styles in four main areas, East, West, Central, and the Medical Center, all totaling about 9,000 acres. The University is very involved globally from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, Duke Kunshan University in China and numerous research and education programs across the globe. A notable 75 percent of Duke’s diverse 15,000 students pursue service-learning opportunities in Durham and around the world through DukeEngage and other programs.

Linus Pauling, famous scientist, and only person to win more than one Nobel Prize said, “Satisfaction of one’s curiosities is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” Motivated students can satisfy their curiosity through great summer programs as Duke University. Summer College at Duke is for 10th and 11th graders who are seeking a pre-college education and experience with other outstanding young men and women from around the world. Summer College lasts four weeks and is challenging, providing participants with international networking, difficult classes, and access to all the resources for learning Duke has to offer. The program is expensive, but fills up quickly and attracts students from far and wide. Another option (non-credit) at Duke is TIP Field Studies. These engaging two-week programs are more subject and discipline focused on hands-on learning at multiple locations around the U.S. For example; one could explore the Civil Rights Movement where the sit-ins happened in Greensboro or conduct astronomical research in the Appalachian Mountains.

You can learn more about the Duke University summer programs here.

7. University of Chicago

Founded in 1890 by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, the University of Chicago is home to over 5,800 undergraduate students and 9,800 graduate students. The University offers 49 majors and 40 minors. Located in one of the world's greatest cities in the Hyde Park neighborhood near Lake Michigan, the University of Chicago is invested in the local community. They are the second-largest private employer in Chicago; the faculty, physicians, and staff compose a dedicated team committed to the mission of the University. The University partners with the South Side neighbors on innovative initiatives with local benefits for urban universities everywhere. Additionally, the University is in partnership with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, manages the Argonne National Laboratory, and is affiliated with the Marine Biological Laboratory, all locations where world-class research is being conducted.

Opportunities abound for high school students at the University of Chicago. UChicago Immersion, Stones and Bones, Research in the Biological Sciences, and Traveling Academy are programs whose courses are open only to high school students. These intensive three or four-week courses are taught at the college level and kept small, offering both experiential and seminar-style learning. In addition to engaging in classroom discussions, students use the latest lab equipment, dig for fossils, conduct research in Chicago neighborhoods, or work with some of the city's celebrated theater professionals, depending on the course selected. Summer Quarter students enroll in courses from the regular curriculum of the University, experience undergraduate life firsthand, participate alongside University College students and visit undergraduates from other schools. Through the Neubauer Family Adelante Summer Scholars, top students engaged in Hispanic and Latino communities participate in University of Chicago Summer Session courses free of charge. Summer Bridge at the University of Chicago is yet another exciting opportunity for advanced high school students from the Chicago Public School.

You can learn more about the University of Chicago summer programs here.

6. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is America’s first research university and enrolls more than 21,000 students throughout nine academic divisions. The University offers more than 240 programs in the arts and music, humanities, social and natural sciences, engineering, international studies, education, business, and health professions. Taking its name from 19th century Maryland philanthropist John Hopkins, the entrepreneur and abolitionist who believed in improving public health and education in the Baltimore area and beyond, the spirit of innovation and progress remain. Hopkins was one of 11 children and made his fortune by investing in emerging industries, particularly the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads. In his will, he set aside $7 million to establish a hospital and affiliated training colleges, an orphanage, and a university. Today, Johns Hopkins University boasts cutting-edge research that has made water purification possible, launched the field of genetic engineering, and authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is no doubt that the generosity of Mr. Hopkins has made the world a better place.

The Civic Leadership Institute is a collaboration between the Civic Education Project, based at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. This three-week summer service-learning program is for outstanding high school students completing grades nine through 12. The unique and admirable program combines hands-on education, meaningful service, powerful speakers and seminars, and an unforgettable residential experience for a summer that students describe as “life-changing.” The focus of these programs is to provide rigorous academics and learning, but the social experience is considered integral. Students meet in class groups where they engage in service projects that address social problems, listen to guest speakers who advise the students on how to create change in their communities, and they develop a plan to address a specific need in their local communities. The Civic Leadership Institute is offered at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California.

You can learn more about Johns Hopkins summer programs here.

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5. Northwestern University

Northwestern University is a large, private research university with campuses in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, and Doha, Qatar. It has the eighth largest university endowment in the United States at over $10.5 billion, and attracts over $620 million in sponsored research each year, due to its “very high” research activity. The University is homie to more than 90 school-based centers and nearly 50 university research centers. Research conducted spans a spectrum of areas including neuroscience, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and drug discovery, to name a few. Not only is Northwestern University a hub of cutting-edge research, but students also have the opportunity to choose from more than 100 international opportunities including joint-degree program degrees, medical rotations, externships, and exchanges, placing the university at the forefront of global education. There are over 5,000 international students, faculty, researchers, visiting scholars, and staff at Northwestern.

Northwestern University offers the Center for Talent Development’s Equinox program every summer, which provides rigorous acceleration opportunities for academically gifted and talented students completing grades nine through 12. Studying at a world-class university in challenging courses, participating in recreational activities and social events with friends, and developing the self-confidence and self-directed learning skills crucial to success in college are a central part of the Equinox experience. Programs are available both for students who are residents or commuters. Sessions last one to three weeks and students can apply for one, two or three sessions, depending on the program. Equinox courses are taught at the high school honors level, the Advanced Placement level, or the college level by master instructors. Each course carries one or two semesters of high school credit upon successful completion. The Equinox program is just one of the extensive summer programs offered through Northwestern University’s Center for Talent and Development. These summer programs for gifted students provide life-changing experiences for kids of all ages, from early childhood through high school. *Due to the excellence of this program, it was included even though they do not offer college credit.

You can learn more about Northwestern University summer programs here.

4. Cornell University

Cornell University is a recognized name among universities in the world. Founded in 1865 in Ithaca, NY as a land-grant institution, Cornell has stayed the course in providing an outstanding education always keeping service in mind. The School has over 600 buildings on over 2,000 acres and serves 22,000 students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Beside the main campus, Cornell has amazing research facilities dedicated to a practical and theoretical inquiry. Locations include Puerto Rico, Qatar, Appledore Island, Dominican Republic and multiple locations in New York State. There are 14 colleges and schools now at Cornell: seven undergraduate units, four graduate and professional units in Ithaca, two medical units in New York City, one in Doha, Qatar, and the newest school, Cornell Tech in New York City. Currently, Cornell counts about 250,000 living alumni, has 34 Marshall Scholars, 29 Rhodes Scholars, seven Gates Scholars, 50 Nobel laureates, and 14 living billionaires.

Ezra Cornell, the founder of Cornell University said the goal was to create “an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” Founded in 1957 in the midst of the Space Race, Cornell University Summer College (CUSC) has become a place for over 700 students a year from over 50 countries. Summer College at Cornell is three or six weeks of an Ivy League experience for motivated students. Participants can earn three to six credits while living, studying, and networking with other talented young men and women from over 40 countries. Students work with some of the best faculty in the world, explore majors and possible careers through personalized admissions counseling, attend college fairs and more. For students able to meet the requirements, choices abound within the following fields: Arts, Media, Fashion, Business, Hotel Management, Leadership, Literature, Language, Engineers, Robotics, History, Government, Medicine, Psychology, Veterinary Science, and more.

You can learn more about Cornell University summer programs here.

3. Stanford University

Located on 8,180 acres with nearly 700 buildings, Stanford University is pleasantly located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. It is one of the world’s leading teaching and research universities, with a $1.22 billion research budget, and over 5,500 externally sponsored research projects. Although Stanford is a powerhouse in the academic world, their student to faculty ratio is 4:1, ensuring students receive personalized contact and instruction from some of the world’s leading faculty. In fact, there are currently 20 Nobel laureates that are currently members of the Stanford community. There are seven schools that comprise Stanford University: business, earth sciences, education, engineering, humanities and sciences, law, and medicine. Stanford has 18 independent laboratories, centers, and institutes that provide a physical and intellectual intersection between schools and disciplines. These institutes are in line with Stanford's tradition of crossing boundaries to tackle significant problems, engaging faculty and students in collaborations that range from international and economic studies to challenges facing the environment, energy, and health.

There is no doubt that Stanford is excellent in every way, and it is no wonder that their High School Summer College is one of the leading college-credit bearing programs in the world. During this unique summer program, students interact with peers from across the U.S. and around the world and have ample opportunity to explore the unique recreational activities available on campus and in the culturally rich San Francisco Bay Area. By embracing a diversity of socioeconomic, cultural, and racial backgrounds, Summer College creates an inclusive community of learning where students are challenged to reach their fullest potential while at Stanford and beyond. Students can choose among 145 different classes across 30 departments within the University. Students can take up to five courses in the summer, gaining more exposure to the subjects that interest and challenge them. In addition to Stanford’s world-renowned faculty and libraries, Summer College students have access to free tutors in most academic areas, academic skills coaches, and academic advisors.

You can learn more about Stanford University summer programs here.

2. Harvard University

Known as one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Harvard University was founded in 1636, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. A private research university, Harvard is home to the Harvard Library, which is the world’s largest academic and private library system, comprising 79 individual libraries with over 18 million volumes. The university also operates several arts, cultural, and scientific museums. Not only are these facilities impressive, but Harvard's alumni is also worth boasting about: alumni include eight U. S. presidents, 62 living billionaires, 335 Rhodes Scholars, 242 Marshall Scholars, and several foreign heads of state. Harvard offers 46 undergraduate majors, 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees; it is primarily known as a highly residential research university.

High school students have an incredible opportunity to spend several weeks at this world-class university during the summer through one of Harvard’s Summer Programs. Students may participate in the Pre-College Program, which is a two-week, residential experience that features over 50 noncredit courses designed to give high school students a preview of college academics. Participants will leave the pre-college summer program more capable of thinking critically and communicating confidently—skills that will lead to success at school, in college, and in future careers. For students who are more academically driven, Harvard offers the Secondary School Program as a “test-drive” of college. Over the course of a seven-week session, students attend college courses for credit alongside current college students, other high school students, and professionals from around the world. There are over 200 courses to choose from, and students will have to balance their time between classes, homework, and extracurricular activities. Summer Programs at Harvard provide high school students with the opportunity to expand their worldview, meet new people from all over the globe, test-drive potential majors, gain valuable knowledge and skills, and explore Boston amid a community of supportive peers and advisors.

You can learn more about Harvard University summer programs here.

1. Brown University

Located in Providence, Rhode Island and founded in 1764, Brown University is the seventh-oldest college in the United States. Brown is an independent, coeducational Ivy League institution comprising undergraduate and graduate programs. Brown’s dynamic community consists of about 6,200 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students, 490 medical school students, more than 5,000 summer, visiting, and online students, and over 700 faculty members. Brown students come from all 50 states and more than 115 countries. Undergraduates pursue bachelor’s degrees in more than 70 concentrations, ranging from Egyptology to cognitive neuroscience. Brown University has 51 doctoral programs and 28 master’s programs, from interdisciplinary opportunities in molecular pharmacology and physiology to a master’s program in acting and directing through the Brown/Trinity Repertory Consortium. Brown is known for its global reach, many cultural events, numerous campus groups and activities, active community service programs, highly competitive athletics, and beautiful facilities located in a richly historic urban setting.

Talented high school students from around the world choose Brown University Pre-College Programs to prepare for success and experience the challenge of college-level academics. Throughout the summer, Brown offers multiple sessions one to seven weeks in length, and more than 300 courses to choose from either on campus, online, and abroad. Summer@Brown courses represent a broad range of Brown University’s open liberal arts curriculum. Students live and learn on Brown’s gorgeous Ivy League campus and can choose from nearly 200 non-credit courses. While in class, students can fully immerse themselves in subjects they love, and discover the satisfying challenge of college-level academics. Outside of class, students participate in a full program of events and activities and experience the independence of college life with fellow students and new friends from around the world. There are a plethora of opportunities to choose from, placing Brown University as one of the best, most diverse summer programs.

You can learn more about Brown University summer programs here.

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