The 50 Best College Summer Programs

This ranking rates the best college summer programs.... From summer camps, to conducting research, to summer travel opportunities, these programs are ways for college.

Updated October 12, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Discover the Best College Summer Programs

Summer is a time of freedom and hope, where students pause from the daily grind of studying to enjoy the sunshine and some carefree merrymaking – but summer can also be a difficult time for college students with the bottom line looming and jobs sometimes scarce in a flooded marked. What can college students do during the long summer days? There’s summer classes, but many students desire a break from the studies during the days of sunshine and warmth. We have scoured the nation and found some of the most interesting and unique summer opportunities available, and many combine all the elements that make for a great summer break without the thought of falling behind. In fact, from summer camps, to conducting research, to summer travel opportunities, these programs are ways for college students to make extra money, further their career, serve the community, and grow as individuals. The schools were selected if their summer programs met the following criteria: The program is for current undergraduates, unique and interesting - not just summer classes, and at least four weeks.

Colleges were ranked based on the following:

  • Amount of stipend or money received – 30%
  • Accommodations, meals, and supplies – 30 %
  • Diversity and uniqueness of program(s) – 30%
  • Number of students who can participate in the program – 10%

50. Benedictine University

Students at Benedictine University have the opportunity to join the Natural Science Summer Research Program (NSSRP), which is a 10-week program where they will work one-on-one with College of Science faculty on scientific research projects. Ongoing research projects include Educational Robots in Computer Science, Quantum Information Systems, The China Pollination Project, “Using the Shingles Vaccine to Stop the Spread of Chickenpox,” and many others. Research students will work with faculty members who are heading up these projects to further their research, as well as attend a weekly lunch seminar where students will present their findings to faculty and peers. Later, the students will present their findings at local, regional, and even some national conferences. The expectations for participating students are high, but there is no doubt that the NSSRP is an excellent opportunity for Benedictine students to further their scientific education.

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49. John Brown University

John Brown University was founded in1919 and now has over 2,700 students from 39 nations and 42 states; JBU is a Christian university committed to “providing quality academics within a distinctly Christian community.” There are several summer study programs that are essentially study abroad programs. They run from four to six weeks (though the European Art Studies was two weeks) and students earn between six and nine hours of college credit. Some programs offer major-specific credits, while others offer both core and elective credits. Important to consider is the costs, which vary and are certainly not inexpensive. That being said, the experiences of many students who have participated in this type of program relate it being worthwhile. Undergraduate program choices include China Studies, geared towards business majors, German, Italian, and Irish Studies for any major, and the Jordan Studies Program featuring an archaeological excavation in Jordan uncovering the ancient city of Abila of the Decapolis. There are four Graduate program options: China, Brazil, and Guatemala all designed for students studying business, and the Guatemala Counseling Practicum.

48. LeTourneau University

Nestled in Longview, Texas on 162-acres surrounded pine trees and lakes in East Texas is LeTourneau University. LeTourneau is a private, Christian school offering more than 80 programs to about 3,000 students. The University offers a unique summer research program for students interested in biotechnology. Two undergraduates will be selected to work with Dr. Seung Kim who has been working on biosensors that can test multiple diseases. The program is sponsored by a grant through the National Science Foundation. Participants “will also be exposed to basic microfabrication processes, optics, biosensors, biomaterials, and inspection tools such as an optical microscope and scanning electron microscope (SEM) which are not easily accessible in regular classes.” Though this opportunity may only be for a few, this kind of research at a Christian school might be the perfect fit.

47. Baylor University

Baylor University “provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence.” This private Christian school is well known and established, so reporting on the Baylor University Summer Science Research Program (BUSSRP) comes as no surprise. The program lasts five weeks and its purpose is “to give superior students hands-on research experience by working on research projects with Baylor University science professors in many disciplines.” Students are selected from incoming Baylor freshmen and they can earn one full hour of credit. More than that, however, are the benefits of experience in the operation of instruments and interpretation of data obtained by techniques not usually available through high school laboratories, participation in science and technology seminars, and group recreational and social activities, and networking with other great students and faculty.

46. Thomas Jefferson University

Students who have completed their junior year may apply for a Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences summer research position. These positions provide opportunities for undergraduates to work in laboratories alongside active faculty researchers. This 10-week program is tailored for students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in biomedical sciences. Students will be provided a stipend as well as an allowance for campus housing. In order to apply, students must provide two letters of recommendation as well as a copy of their official transcripts. The mission of the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences is to “provide the highest quality graduate and postdoctoral education and research training in the basic biomedical sciences, in order to prepare students and fellows to make significant contributions to the progress of biomedical science through careers including academia, industry, and government.” There is no doubt that this summer research opportunity aides the university in reaching this mission.

45. University of California – Berkeley

The University of California Berkeley offers a unique six-week summer program, known as the Summer Institute of Environmental Design. The program consists of three introductory programs in architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainable city planning, designed to give students the opportunity to test their enthusiasm for environmental design. Andrew Piotrowski, a former participant in the program said, "The summer I spent at Berkeley was a perfect beginning to my career and academic pursuits in architecture. Not only was the program fun and engaging, but it was extremely motivating. My section teacher played a huge role in motivating and inspiring me. His constant energy and positive attitude were contagious in the studio and had a big impact on the level of my work." These programs are open to senior-level undergraduates as well as post-baccalaureate students.

44. Columbia University

Columbia University has much to offer with “Columbia Summer.” As stated on their website, those who choose a Columbia Summer choose to “enhance academic credentials, advance a career, or explore an interest.” Besides traditional summer courses, of which there are many, students can earn certificates in business, international relations, human rights, or in UN studies in just six weeks. Multi-term programs include: Biotechnology, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, and Quantitative Studies for Finance. Another option for those interested in improving business skills is Columbia’s School of Professional Studies is a six-week program called Business Edge. This program incorporates project-based study, career-oriented workshops and guest lectures in accounting, management and leadership, marketing, and finance.

43. Reed College

Reed College has a Summer Experience Award that is offered specifically to students who are on an F–1 visa or have other citizenship-related work restrictions. This distinctive program exists to help international students with off-campus experiences that would regularly be unattainable due to citizenship and work restrictions. Students who participate in this program complete an unpaid summer internship focused on an area that complements their academic studies. Since regulations prevent them from being paid, Reed College offers them a stipend to cover expenses. Not only do the students gain valuable experience, it provides them with something to do during the summer should returning home not be something the student desires or is able to do. The internship must be considered voluntary to qualify for the program. Reed College is a private, liberal arts college located in Portland, Oregon.

42. Oregon Health Science University

Founded in 1887, Oregon Health and Sciences University is truly a “world-class academic health center where healing, teaching and discovery come together every day to improve the health of people in Oregon — and around the world.” For students interested in a career in medicine and research, OHSU ought to be considered. Situated in beautiful Portland Oregon, this nationally recognized institution serves 300,000 patients and the University trains about 3,000 students. Spending $376 million a year on research sheds light on the purpose of most of their summer programs. There are many choices at OHSU and the following are a few selections: The CDB Summer Internship Program is for qualified college undergraduates to consider basic science research-related careers. Women and minorities, as well as sophomores and juniors interested in the biomedical sciences can apply for the eight week, paid summer program called the Equity Summer Research Program. The Murdock Undergraduate Collaborate Research Program is designed for students in their junior year from local colleges who are interested in pursuing a career in biomedical research. And lastly is the Oregon National Primate Research Center Summer Fellowship in which selected applicants will work as part of a research team in an established laboratory alongside a staff member whose research interests complement the student’s own.

41. Barnard College

Barnard College is a private women's liberal arts college located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan that is associated with Columbia University. Founded in 1889 with a rigorous liberal arts tradition and strong values, it now serves about 2,400 young women. The reputation of excellent academics holds true in every aspect of life at Barnard, including their summer programs. The Summer Research Institute (SRI) is a 10-week program where students conduct scientific research, engage in academic and skill-building experiences, and attend lectures, social events and a capstone poster event at the summer’s end. Students accepted into the SRI typically receive a stipend and the option to live in Barnard’s subsidized summer housing. The process for students getting involved (not all students are accepted) in the SRI is three-fold: secure a mentor on the faculty, follow instructions in one’s current major (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Neuroscience and Behavior, Physics and Astronomy, or Psychology), and begin working with a mentor to secure funding.

40. College of the Ozarks

The unique summer program, called the Summer Work Program, at the College of the Ozarks is part of their overall vision to make college more affordable. This laudable vision extends through the whole academic year and into the summer. What college student now or considering it doesn’t want a more affordable option? The glory of the College’s idea isn’t just nickels and dimes, students learn hard work, gain helpful work experience, and a feeling of service and ownership that comes with accomplishing meaningful work. The Work Program during the year applies to make the tuition about $4200 dollars less! This is done in over 80 different areas of work on campus. In addition to this, students who participate in the Summer Work Program can work for 40 hours a week for either six weeks or 12 weeks, which in turn will cover a semester or a full year of room and board respectively.

39. Houghton College

Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts school which has operated for nearly 140 years, serves motivated STEM students with its Summer Research Institute. The Summer Research Institute program gives students a chance to participate in collaborative STEM research projects under the supervision of Houghton faculty, and teaches them how to combine their skills with others' to work toward a unified goal.

Research projects in the Summer Research Institute vary significantly, and draw on different disciplines. 2018 projects included methodology development for the study of biological molecules, detection of specific viruses in grapevine, and predator-prey interactions among reptiles and amphibians, among others.

Some Summer Research Institute programs involve extensive field research. One 2019 project, for instance, will see students and faculty backpacking along the Pacific Crest Trail to assess regional biodiversity. This range of lab and field research allows students to experience the full breadth of scientific inquiry.

38. St. Joseph University

In 1994, the Department of Biology at St. Joseph University received a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute for a formal program that included weekly meetings and various social and educational activities. Today it has become the Summer Scholars Program, which provides students with a stipend, potential on-campus housing, and the opportunity to engage in a variety of social and educational events during the program period. Overall, the Summer Scholars Program is designed for St. Joseph University undergraduates to engage in faculty-mentored research, creative writing, the fine and performing arts, and other scholarly endeavors during the summer months. Students will work with a faculty member to create a project that is creative and largely independent; the project will allow the students to experience the process of scholarly exploration and development. The one goal of the program is the development of close professional interaction between Summer Scholars and faculty members, who will meet frequently throughout the course of the program to discuss student progress.

37. Point Loma Nazarene University

The Summer Programs at Point Loma Nazarene University are essentially study abroad meets collaborative learning experience. There are many different options for students at PLNU, though not all meet our criteria of at least four weeks. There’s not enough space to list all the programs PLNU offers in this medium, but here are a two. The PLNU Ghana Business Program is a four week collaborative learning experience in Akatsi, Ghana in which students study international development in the heart of West Africa with the Human Factor Leadership Academy (HFLA). They teach primary school children, learn about development issues in Ghana, and travel on local excursions to places such as the Castles of Ghana, Kakum National Park, and Wlui Water Falls. The PLNU Ghana Nursing Program was designed especially for PLNU Nursing students. Along with taking a PLNU Nursing class, students will spend each week engaging in community health promotion through mobile outreach in local communities with the Rural Health Collaborative. To gain an idea of the cost, these programs start at $4000 dollars plus airfare. All in all, if the price is not prohibitive, the wisdom gained will be priceless.

36. Messiah College

Students at Messiah College can participate in summer research on or off campus, which includes independent study arrangements as well as sponsorships by the National Science Foundation. These independent research arrangements, conducted alongside faculty members, can be worth up to three elective credits for chemistry and biochemistry majors. Students who want a solid background in research methods can take a course on research methods in chemistry, CHEM 393, before starting their work, but the school does not require this for independent research projects.

Messiah College documents some of its greatest successes in summer research on its website. Students have worked with liquid crystals, marine fungus metabolites, and other chemical compounds in the past during on-campus research initiatives. Students in off-campus research initiatives, meanwhile, have worked with governmental and non-governmental research organizations, testing samples for specific properties or synthesizing chemicals for research purposes.

35. Regis University

Through courses developed and led by Regis College faculty members, the world is an open door to Regis students with Immersive Travel Learning Opportunities. Students will satisfy core and major requirements as they immerse themselves in locations and settings most relevant to their studies. These faculty-led short-term travel learning courses provide students with the chance to bring course content to life. Most of the Immersive Travel Learning Opportunities are in international locations, however, some are found in locations across the United States. Each program is slightly different, offering different blends of on-site instruction with on-campus classes, while some offer classes during the regular school year term, with travel during the summer. Regardless of what program is chosen, students will find these Immersive Learning Opportunities incredibly rewarding and life-changing.

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34. St. Francis University

Every summer, a federal TRIO Program funded through the U. S. Department of Education offers the Upward Bound Program at St. Francis University. This dynamic program has prepared over 2,500 disadvantage high school students for postsecondary education. Free to high school participants, the program offers a wide variety of academic, career, cultural, and social development activities for high school students who come from low income families and those who will potentially be a first-generation college student. College students from St. Francis University have the opportunity to work and serve at the Upward Bound Program during the summer tutoring, counseling, and supervising these high schools students as well as providing recreational activities. This six-week opportunity is paid and can function as an internship. St. Francis students who are interested in serving and working with high school students will greatly benefit from this summer opportunity.

33. Viterbo University

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF) at Viterbo University offers students a valuable eight-week, student-faculty collaborative research program. Students will develop and implement a research plan, analyze their data, participate in a scholarly community, and create written and oral presentations of their results. Following their summer of research, each student will present their work at the annual Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium in November; many students go on to present their work at other regional and national meetings. The Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium is held annually at Viterbo University where students from institutions throughout the Midwest share their research work. In 2015, over 280 people attended the presentations given by 131 students from institutions throughout the Midwest. Approximately 40-45 students participate in SURF each summer.

32. Augusta University

Students pursuing careers in the medical and dental field may find Augusta University a great fit. Augusta is one of only four public comprehensive research institutions in the state of Georgia. It includes nine colleges and schools with about 9,000 students, and houses the nations night-largest and 13th-oldest medical school, making AU a premier place for those interested in the medical field (among other areas). The Office of Students and Multicultural Affairs, part of the Medical College of Georgia, has been offering young men and women excellent programs for over 40 years through their Pipeline Programs. These programs are designed for medical and dental school students. The Pre-Matriculation Program is for students entering the Medical College of Georgia and Dental College of Georgia. It features six weeks in the summer of intense learning to help get a leg up when entering this competitive field. Participants learn content knowledge, skill development, networking and adjustment through a variety of courses, guest lectures, social activities, workshops and hands-on activities. It ought to be mentioned that this unique and very beneficial program is by invitation only to those who qualify.

31. North Park University

North Park University’s parent denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, has 21 different summer camps around the country. Each of these camps is looking for college students to help run the camp and serve as role models for the next generation. North Park students who serve at one of these summer campus will receive a camp grant to be used the following academic year. Interested students may attend the Camp Fair at North Park University so they can meet representatives from the camp, learn more about the ministry, find the best fit, and apply for a position. Positions include counseling positions for elementary through high school students, worship leading positions, maintenance and work crew, food service, adventure and outdoor positions, health assistants, and administrative positions. Working at a summer camp through North Park University can be a formative experience for college students, a time where they learn to serve others, work on a team, fill the summer hours, and receive a grant to help with tuition.

30. Bates College

Bates College offers approximately 20 students the opportunity to become Summer Research Fellows, students who will devote at least eight weeks of the summer to full-time research. The fellowship includes a $3,500 grant, and the program is open to freshman, sophomores, and juniors. Research projects are conducted under the direction of a Bates faculty advisor, or a specialist from another institution. The goal of the program is to contribute to the student’s academic success while at Bates College; participants will be required to submit an abstract and final report within two weeks of finishing their project and present their research during the Parents Weekend Poster Session. Summer Research Fellowships are funded through a variety of sources, including an endowments established by the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, the Dorothy Dole Johnson ’41 Endowment for Science Research, the Phillips Endowment, the Ruggles Endowment, the Stangle Endowment, and the Tanaka Foundation.

29. Duquesne University

According to the National Science Foundation, students who participate in research tend to finish their degree more than those who start in sciences but do not participate in research. Due to this finding, Duquesne University has a very intentional goal with their summer programs…to help students who enter into the sciences, come to love and enjoy them, and hence, finish their degrees. To this end, the university faculty, the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, the Mylan School of Pharmacy, and the National Science Foundation fund the Undergraduate Research Program. This program offers students starting in their freshmen year ten weeks of hands on research experience in a variety of fields. The Integrated Computational and Experimental Chemistry NSF-REU Program, sponsored by ASSURE, and in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, offers biochemistry and chemistry majors an exciting research opportunity. The unique purpose of the program is to help young scientists “integrate computational techniques into their repertoire of problem solving skills to be more effective in the lab.”

28. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) serves students from backgrounds underrepresented in graduate studies in Illinois. These students can get a taste of what graduate-level research is like and develop connections with faculty within their areas of research interest, preparing them for graduate study.

Applicants should be of at least junior status, and have at least one more term of college remaining before graduation. They must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4-point scale, or its equivalent on an alternative scale. This program accepts United States citizens, permanent residents, or DACA status holders.

SROP also offers support for those who will need to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) as part of their graduate school trajectory. The GRE Institute provides SROP students with an 11-day intensive prep program, as well as a pre-test and post-test to assess their strengths and overall improvement.

27. Vassar College

Beginning in the summer of 1986, students at Vassar College have had the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI). This student-faculty research program allows over 60 students each summer to spend 10 weeks working with faculty members researching a number of topics from anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, cognitive science, computer science, geology, mathematics, physics, and psychology. Students have worked at interesting locations around the United States including archeological sites in Alaska, the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona, and the Los Alamos National Laboratories. After spending the summer conducting research, participating in scientific workshops, and participating the communities’ social activities, URSI students and faculty come together in the early fall to present their research at the URSI Symposium. This dynamic program is known to help students secure employment in the sciences, pursue advanced degrees in the sciences, as well as publish their work in a variety of publications and scientific journals.

26. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Finding its beginnings in 1986 as an institutional effort to address the issue of underrepresentation of African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans in engineering and science today, the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP) was formed. Today, this program’s main goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and undeserved students in research. MSRP looks for sophomores, juniors, and non-graduating seniors who may benefit from spending the summer on MIT’s campus conducting research with some of MIT’s finest faculty members. While participating in MSRP, students receive individual counseling on academic careers, valuable laboratory experience, a weekly stipend, round trip travel expenses, university housing, and access to MIT’s state of the art campus facilities. This dynamic nine-week program can be life-changing as students attend weekly research presentations and seminars by MIT faculty, community service day, social outings, and prepare a research paper and presentation.

25. Baylor College of Medicine

The Baylor College of Medicine split off from Baylor University in 1969 by mutual agreement, and has made many strides in science and medicine since then. As part of its commitment to the future of medicine, Baylor operates the Summer Medical and Research Training (SMART) program.

The SMART program starts at the end of May, and goes until the end of July. Undergraduate students spend nine weeks working on biomedical research, Graduate Records Exam preparation, and career development. Students work with the Texas Medical Center's considerable research resources. Baylor also provides housing near the campus for all participating students, allowing them to focus on their work.

Students compete intensely for the SMART program, due to its nationwide recognition as a quality initiative for research skill development, graduate school preparation, and frontier-level biomedical research. Those who gain entry to the program receive $5,000 in compensation for their work.

24. Ohio State University

The Ohio State University is one of the top universities in our country for many reasons. Founded in 1870 with over 58,000 students, 200 undergraduate majors, and 250 masters, doctoral, and professional degree programs, the university is booming in many respects. In 2013-14, the university spent $982.5 million for research in critical areas such as cancer, infectious disease, advanced materials, and ag-bio products. The SUCCESS Program needs to be seen in light of OSU’s overall mission and dedication to research. Designed for outstanding students, this 10-week research experience is for those interested in biomedical sciences pursuing graduate education. There are also great opportunities for underrepresented people in the country aspiring to be in the medical field. The director of the program had this to say, “As an MD-PhD who both practices medicine and runs a basic cancer research lab, I can tell you that this career path takes tremendous devotion and hard work, but it also provides a level of excitement and satisfaction that is found in few others. As a biomedical researcher, you will have the opportunity to identify problems that affect real people, study them in the laboratory or clinic, and use that knowledge to develop new understandings or strategies to improve human health.”

23. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University has provided high-quality education in many fields for nearly 150 years, and currently serves more than 12,000 students. In 2003, it established its Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy (VSSA) program, a mix of research seminars, social activities, and lectures for biomedical researchers at the undergraduate level.

VSSA has two tracks depending on participating students' career plans and needs. The Basic Science Programs serve undergraduates who want to pursue careers in research. The Undergraduate Clinical Research Internship Programs, meanwhile, support those who have already decided on a career in medicine.

Those interested in LGBTI health issues should give Vanderbilt's second track for the Undergraduate Clinical Research Internship Program a close look. As a leader in patient care and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex patients, Vanderbilt provides an internship program that focuses on issues within these communities.

22. Emmanuel College

Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1919, Emmanuel College has grown to serve 1,800 students in more than 50 degree programs over the last century. Its most notable summer offerings come in the form of its Summer Community Service Fellowship program.

Emmanuel attendees who participate in Summer Community Service Fellowships spend ten weeks working with community service groups in Boston in exchange for free on-campus housing and a stipend, as well as a $500 gift card to Stop and Shop to cover food. They can expect to spend about 20 hours a week working with this community partner.

This program also requires students to participate in weekly dinners with faculty and staff to reflect on the project. Students must also submit a report on the community project before the start of the fall semester, which can be delivered as a presentation, poster session, or article.

21. George Fox University

George Fox University is a small, private, liberal-arts Christian university in Oregon. It has grown much since its initial founding by Quakers in 1885. It now a top ranked institution that “provides an experience in which students will be personally challenged – spiritually, emotionally and culturally, to think with clarity, act with integrity and serve with passion." As for summer programs, GFU offers trips that are a combination of community service and missions. These trips last three to four weeks and challenge students to learn from and work alongside great people and model organizations in the context of their culture, community and complexities. Last year GFU students served in Kenya, Nicaragua, and Uganda. This year trips include China, Romania, and Kenya. GFU students will work with Open Arms International in Eldoret, Kenya and focus on medical aid, feeding programs for needy children, construction, and work projects. Some trips may also include prison visits and training conferences. Another opportunity is a trip to Romania where students “serve Jesus among the most vulnerable there: at-risk children, street youth and poor families.”

20. Lipscomb University

Davide Lipscomb and James A. Harding came together in Nashville, Tennessee in 1891 because they believed that a truly educated individual was equipped both academically and spiritually. Thus Lipscomb University was formed, affiliated with the Church of Christ. Today, the school offers 141 fields of undergraduate studies and many advanced degrees to approximately 3,600 students. Their summer program is unique in that Lipscomb University's Career Development Center (CDC) actively seeks to connect employment and internships to earning college credit. They do so by offering an incentive. If students to take at least nine credit hours in the summer they can be credited up to three credit hours of internship courses for free. In addition to this incentive, students working in an internship (paid or unpaid, on or off-campus, part or full-time) can receive academic credit for their time. Their website breaks this down in that 10 hours a week for 13 weeks translated into 1 full hour of academic credit, 12 hours per week for 13 weeks would be 2 and so on. This valuable experience provides students with a chance to earn money while catching up on credits.

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19. Calvin College

Calvin College is committed to excellence in education and religion. It is a private Christian school established in 1876 and now offers over 100 majors, minors and programs, with the top major and programs in education, engineering, business, nursing, psychology, biology, English, communications, kinesiology, and speech pathology. At Calvin, the sciences are taken seriously with their outstanding summer research opportunities. Paid student fellows partner with faculty to conduct research in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, geography, mathematics/statistics, nursing, physics/astronomy and psychology. The website gives a nice fact summary of the program in 2015: “Eighty-five students worked with 44 Calvin professors from nine departments. Students received a $3,800 stipend for 10 weeks of research. Fifty-three research projects explored a wide variety of projects ranging from plant responses to climate change to nanomolecular building projects to the impact of green roofs on energy use to trapping atoms.”

18. Oberlin College

One of the most exciting and unique programs on the list is “Oberlin in Italy,” a summer program designed to help students who are considering a career in opera. Participants hone their skills in the country where opera was born and receive comprehensive training in all aspects of opera including singers, pianists, instrumentalists, costume designers, stage directors, design and production artists, and conductors. Not only will students have fabulous training from faculty from noted conservatories and schools from around the world, they will be immersed in Italian language and culture. During the course of the program, students will participate in two fully-staged operas. In addition to learning about opera, students will have 15 hours weekly of Intensive Italian Language Study through a course designed by the Accademia Britannica specifically for the Program with the developing opera professional in mind. There is no doubt that this unique summer program offers a life-changing opportunity.

17. Creighton University

Creighton University offers an exciting travel opportunity during the summer, called “From Nuremberg to The Hague,” which gives students the chance to learn firsthand about the Holocaust in Nuremberg. Considered the birthplace of modern international criminal law, Nuremberg is a Bavarian city that hosted the Nazi war crimes trials after World War II. Students will spend a month in Germany and The Netherlands, tracing Germany’s Nazi past by visiting former concentration camps, Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” retreat in the Alps, and traveling to The Hague, Netherlands where war criminals were prosecuted. Traveling to these fascinating locations, as well attending classroom instruction, students will forever be changed by these historical and legal experiences. The Germany Summer Program is open to Creighton law students as well as graduate and upper-level undergraduate students. Participating students will receive six credit hours.

16. Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience in the mysterious. It is the source all true art and science.” What is more amazing and mysterious than the workings of the human body and mind? At Albert Einstein College of Medicine, there are about 1,000 students who receive a respected biomedical and clinical research education, and are known for excellence in their humanistic approach to medicine and research. Their summer program, called SURP, is designed for 50 undergraduates who are seeking research as a career. It consists of eight weeks of laboratory work capped with a presentation. Participants are enriched with the experience of working with a leading institution of research, cutting-edge techniques, outstanding faculty and peer interactions, a $3000 dollar stipend, free-housing, up to $500 dollars of travel money. The experience is not all work and no play, however. Participating students are considered part of the Einstein student body and may take part in all social activities on campus, as well as a trip to the Bronx Zoo and a student and faculty barbecue.

15. Davidson College

Davidson College’s Center for Civic Engagements facilitates several unique summer opportunities for Davidson College students during the summer. Each summer, six Davidson students are chosen to be servant leader interns with the Freedom Schools program. This program was developed by the Children’s Defense Fund and provides kindergarten through eighth grade students’ summer enrichment experiences that foster a love of reading, increased self-esteem, and a positive attitude towards learning. Davidson students who participate in this program will receive a stipend, and will have to chance to work with these young students. Davidson students may also participate in Community Engagement Fellows, where they will be paired with non-profit organizations for eight weeks of service during the summer. Students in this program will also receive a stipend for their work. These excellent programs foster student involvement in the community while providing Davidson students summer activity and a stipend.

14. University of Washington

The Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities was formed by the Undergraduate Research Program in collaboration with the Simpson Center for the Humanities to create opportunities for students to engage in scholarly work at the undergraduate level. The institute brings faculty and students together to earn full-time, academic credit through immersion in scholarly research with accomplished scholars and peers. During the summer, students spend time in intensive training while conducting individual research in collaboration with other students who are working on related projects, and with faculty who offer their expertise. The overall goal of the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities is to increase the number of undergraduates doing research in the humanities, provide an intensive research opportunity for students, establish a community of undergraduate arts and humanities scholars, and to create a forum for humanities undergraduates to present their scholarly work. As Assistant Professor Phillip Thurtle eloquently stated in his closing remarks for the 2005 UW Summer Symposium in the Arts and Humanities, “The magic of research in the arts and humanities focuses the big issues of life and make them perceivable, even personal. In doing so, it transforms those who are willing and able to be touched by it.”

13. Stanford University

Since 1891 Stanford has nurtured creative minds that are interested in making real changes in the world. Stanford has many summer programs and opportunities, and their Intensive Studies Program is one worth noting. Students may choose from two areas to focus and deepen their knowledge in preparation for graduate school or the job market: “Scientific Foundations” offers Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry or Computer Science, and “Global Perspective” offers studies in Human Rights, International Management, Water Management, Foreign Languages, and Technology and Innovation. The programs are eight or nine week intensive studies that require a “B” or higher to receive a Certificate of Completion. To mention a couple highlights, the Organic Chemistry focus fulfills the one-year college organic chemistry requirement with lab for most medical schools. The Water Management program is innovative in addressing vital global issues. “Academic work is enhanced by a speaker series featuring leading thinkers from each area of focus.” With dedication like the Intensive Studies Program, Stanford lives out the motto found on their seal “The wind of freedom blows” by “promoting freedom of mind and the pure search for knowledge.”

12. Gordon College

There are number of different summer programs at Gordon that deserve mention. The school offers summer internships, study abroad programs, research fellowships, and enrichment programs. Many of these do fit our criteria, but due to limited space a few examples must suffice. As for internships, the Gordon Global International Program gives students interested in building global networks in many different career related fields or ministry interests a great chance to get ahead in experience, skills and knowledge; students may go to in South American, Europe, Africa and Asia. Interns are unpaid and expected to pay travel expenses, though some organizations help with living expenses and provide stipends and there are possibilities to earn credit. Awarded to five student students every year is the A.J. Gordon Missions Fellowship. For qualified sophomores and juniors interested in Christian leadership, ministry, and international experience, this is a great opportunity. The Fellowship covers travel costs up to $4000 dollars and also grants $1000 dollars to students who complete all the requirements. In addition to these unique programs, opportunities abound in research, service learning and more.

11. Case Western Reserve University

There are 13 exceptional options of summer programs for the nearly 1,200 students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2002, this premier medical and research school became the third institution in history to receive the best possible assessment from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Most of the programs offered during the summer range from six to ten weeks, some are paid internships, some provide stipends of various amounts, and all give students real world, hands-on experience, and an advantage in their prospective fields. For example, the Academic Careers in Engineering and Science for Minority Students is a ten-week biomedical research program with a stipend of $3500. The MetroHealth Chester Scholars Program offers $2500 dollars for 15 students who have completed their second year of undergraduate studies. There are additional opportunities in: The Heart, Lung, and Blood Minority Research Training Program, The Pediatrics Program in Summer Research, Summer on the Cuyahoga Internships in finance, technology, marketing, and business, The Undergraduate Research Program in Physiology and Biophysics, and more.

10. Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College founded an exchange agreement with the Pushkin Institute of the Russian Language in Moscow in 1977, in which American and Soviet students could learn each other's languages in an intensive-immersion setting. This dedication to learning has outlived the Soviet Union, and today Bryn Mawr cooperates with several Russian higher education institutions to operate its eight-week intensive Russian language program.

This summer program lasts eight weeks, and consists of two four-week programs. Students may enroll in only the first four weeks of the program, if they so choose, but these students must have the permission of the program co-directors to extend their studies into the second half of the program.

Despite operating as part of Bryn Mawr College, students do not need to be otherwise enrolled at Bryn Mawr to attend, or even be of college age. Anyone over the age of 16, including high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and those who have already completed graduate degrees can participate.

9. College of the Holy Cross

Summer internships are widely available at many universities in our country, and are beginning to be considered necessary in today’s competitive marketplace. Many schools only offer a few internships that may or may not produce quality results. At the College of the Holy Cross, in Massachusetts, the nearly 3,000 students are blessed with over 100 choices of quality internships in a variety of fields: advertising, medicine, finance, law, publishing, research, and social services to name a few. The application process is straightforward and the staff of the Center for Career Development assists along the way. The helpful staff can assist students in choosing the right internship with the hundred plus to choose from. Also notable is the amount of opportunity for students to receive funding. The standard funding is $3000 dollars for a stipend with an additional possible $500 for relocation. Funding is based on a 35 hour week for 10 weeks.

8. Beloit College

Beloit College is a small private liberal arts school located in Wisconsin that was founded in 1846. The school has about 1300 students and is known for its hands-on, liberal arts approach, with notable success in anthropology and geology among others. In the summer, Beloit lives its mission of “engaging the intelligence, imagination, and curiosity of students” with opportunities to learn through the Center for Language Studies, the Beloit Blocks, Summer Research and Community programs, and the Sustainability Fellows, Duffy, McNair and Sanger programs. The Center for Language Studies is a four or eight-week language immersion program in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian that is open to high school students 17 and older, undergraduate and graduate, and professionals. The Beloit College Sustainability Fellows Program is also unique. It gives qualifying students the opportunity to contribute their expertise to a campus- or community-based sustainability project, for example, the Beloit Urban Garden and Stormwater Management among many others. This year, a project to help manage and restore the Nygren Wetlands by working with the Natural Land Institute (NLI). All in all, students interested in diverse study opportunities in a variety of fields should take a look at Beloit.

7. University of California – Los Angeles

Being the University of California Los Angeles offers the advantages of a large university, namely choice. As for unique summer programs, UCLA offers Summer Institutes that go beyond the traditional classroom. The Summer Institute Programs are diverse and relevant. The Jumpstart Summer Institute program is an intensive, full-time summer architecture experience through a four-week program exploring architectural education for individuals contemplating careers in architecture, design, and related fields. Working in a studio setting similar to graduate students, participants use the latest computer aided techniques in 3D modeling as preparation for graduate studies or the job market. UCLA also has other great programs: The Managing Enterprise in Media, Entertainment, and Sports Sumer Institute offers tremendous potential for the job market as the program focuses on innovating, marketing, and managing within this multi-billion dollar industry. The Technology Leadership Summer Institute offers students interested in pursuing a career as a manager, a leader, or an entrepreneur in sectors such as high-tech, finance, healthcare, entertainment/media, manufacturing, and others an intensive six-week program featuring training in leadership, innovation and product development, data management and data analytics, and communication.

6. University of Pennsylvania

At the University of Pennsylvania, there are two unique aspects to their summer session. They offer over 300 summer courses in the traditional summer format, but as their website states, “Penn Summer has a unique program for undergraduate students currently enrolled at other institutions around the country. Our Open Enrollment process allows these students to enroll in Penn Summer as visiting students.” In addition to this, and something many students are looking for today is Penn’s Study Abroad programs. Traveling to a foreign country with no classes can be life changing and more educational than any traditional class setting. Combine the excellence of a Penn education with travel and you have something worth writing home about. Many of the Study Abroad programs fit our criteria of at least four weeks, though some do not and may only be 10 days. Through the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) students may be drawn to London for five weeks of study in the footsteps of Charles Dickens and other literary stalwarts of European history. Locations vary and can be found easily on their website: Examples include South Africa, Cuba, Argentina and many other European destinations. A life changing experience awaits for those with a travel bug and the desire to earn Penn credits on the journey.

5. Wheaton College

Wheaton College sets out with a stated mission to serve Jesus Christ and advance His Kingdom through excellence in liberal arts and graduate programs, and to educate the whole student. Wheaton College's summer programs focus on completing this mission through travel and adventure, showing students what the world has to offer through travel and learning opportunities.

Some programs focus entirely on travel, including travel within America and abroad. Current and former destinations include Spain, Germany, Costa Rica, England, Israel, Greece, Rome, and Washington, D.C. These travel programs cover topics like theology, art, and literature, and some involve working with a local organization.

Other programs use travel to develop a skill in a new context, or develop a broader thesis. These programs include offerings like Printing, Propaganda, and Progress and Iron Sharpens Iron, and look at issues like global business and communication with an eye toward their effects in the destination countries.

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4. University of Dayton

At the University of Dayton, there is a plethora of choices for excellent summer programs. There are different types of programs available. There are Dayton faculty-led summer study abroad programs which consist of two to six-week sessions virtually anywhere on the globe. In addition to great experience and expertise of a faculty-led trip, students can earn between one and ten credit hours and at some sites may earn a full semester of academic credit! There are too many programs to mention, however, it should be mentioned some are interdisciplinary and others are specific to a discipline. As for choices, there are also Service Programs in which students participate for four to six weeks of cultural immersion in El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, or Cameroon. ETHOS is another such opportunity, though students can earn up to three credit hours, engage in an international technical service project, and is only open to engineering and business majors.

3. University of California – Irvine

University of California Irvine is ripe with amazing opportunities in the summer for freshmen, transfers, and current students. Two programs stand out. The Bali Institute for Global Renewal is an exciting chance to learn, earn credits, and advance in career related fields. Limited space creates a high demand as participants will study public health principles and examine health and disease. Participants will also work with an NGO to investigate, monitor, and identify health problems and hazards in the local Balinese community during this intense five-week experience. Another offering is the Summer Global Internships. Students looking to “expand their worldview, gain work experience, and earn credit…while reaping the benefits of travel” should look no further than this program. Choices abound in terms of location with options in Berlin, Boston, Cape Town, Hong Kong, New York, Singaore, and Toronto. There are no pre-requisites or foreign language requirements for the program, and internship placement is offered in both international and U.S. cities, including Boston, Hong Kong, New York, Singapore, and Toronto.

2. Yale University

It is an understatement to say Yale offers many choices for students in the summer. Besides many traditional summer courses, Yale Summer Session includes: Study Abroad, English Language Institute, Online Courses, Writers' Conference, Drama and Film, and Foreign Language Courses. Not all these programs are for undergraduates, but many are. Of particular interest is the Study Abroad program. The scope is spectacular and requires a perusal of their website to truly see the whole gamut. To mention only two options, young researchers may opt for The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) Global Summer Program, which offers courses for undergraduate students at ten of the world's leading research-intensive universities; they may be interested in Yale in London, which offers small seminar classes with Yale University professors and British scholars. All in all, Yale demonstrates why it is one of the top universities in the world.

1. Cornell University

What grew out of a desire to extend education for teachers to the natural surroundings of the Finger Lakes region has grown to be one of the most inclusive and developed summer sessions in the country. Cornell University's School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions (SCE) was designed to set Cornell apart. To mention only a couple of the unique programs at Cornell doesn’t truly do justice to the amount of opportunity that exists. The Cornell in Washington program is unique in that Cornell students can earn credit, participate in D.C. life, an education in itself, and gain valuable career experience. The SCE’s Professional Studies offers “high-quality programs for professionals, executives, and students committed to launching, changing, or advancing their careers.” The key here is flexibility: opportunities include credit and non-credit courses, full semester classes and one-day seminars, inspiring on- and off-campus programs, online learning opportunities, internship programs, and even custom made programs. There are also a host of special programs in a variety of fields worth investigating. With this diversity and number of unique quality programs, Cornell ranks #1.

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