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7 Academic Summer Programs to Apply to for 2021! (FREE)

Here is a brief list of some renowned and FREE programs, along with links for further information to help you find the best way to further your academics during your summer break! Note that the availability of these programs may be subject to change according to public health regulations (for instance, many programs shifted to either fully online or were cancelled altogether in 2020). Also note that there are many other programs that also offer large need-based/merit-based financial aid opportunities! As most of these programs are US-based, feel free to search for programs in your local universities as well!

1. MIT Research Science Institute (RSI) 🇺🇸

A 6-week summer program gathering 80 of the world’s most accomplished high school students which combines on-campus coursework in scientific theory and off-campus work in science and technology research. One of the highlights of this program is that you will be able to conduct individual research under experienced mentors (professors, scientists, MIT alumni, researchers). 

2. Google in Education Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI)🇺🇸 

A 3-week introductory course to Computer Science for graduating high school seniors, incorporating a project-based curriculum, opportunities to directly interact with Google engineers, and insight on Google’s internships and technical career opportunities. 

  • Cost: FREE for admitted students, a travel stipend may be provided, meals are also covered
  • Eligibility: Any graduating high school senior (international students included) attending university in US or Canada, has a passion for technology, and intends to enroll in a computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or related department in the following academic year
  • More Information Here

3. Texas Tech Clark Scholars (US) 🇺🇸

Accepting around 12 students every summer, this is an intensive 7-week program that allows the Scholars to have a hands-on practical research experience with outstanding faculty. This program also provides opportunities for research in all academic areas in the university (ranging from science to humanities). The program also includes fun activities, weekly seminars, and field trips.

  • Eligibility: Must be at least 17 years old by the start of the program, International Students welcome
  • Cost: FREE for admitted students, will receive a $750 tax-free stipend 
  • Application Details

4. International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP)🇨🇦

Accepting only 40 students (20 Canada, 20 International) each year, ISSYP is a challenging 2-week program for high school students with a keen interest in theoretical physics and intend to pursue physics at university level. This program includes opportunities to work with international physicists in small group mentoring sessions, as well as mini-courses on modern physics. 

  • Eligibility: Students at final 2 years of high school at time of application (16-18 years of age), students who intend to study physics at university level
  • Cost: CAD$500 for the entire program (subsidized by sponsors), travel costs excluded
  • More Information Here

5. Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)🇺🇸 

Accepting around 60 applicants per session each year, TASP is a competitive 6 week program designed for students who exemplify intellectual curiosity and motivation, rather than prior knowledge on the subject matter. Students will participate in seminars led by outstanding faculty and a public-speaking program, encouraging the act of learning.

  • Eligibility: All current high school juniors (Grade 11), International Students welcome
  • Cost: FREE, travel costs excluded
  • More Information Here

6. Notre Dame Leadership Seminars🇺🇸

Accepting around 90 students every year, this is a 10-day program for students who show impressive leadership in their communities. Students completing this program may receive one college credit. As of 2020, students can pick between one of 3 seminars, including “Global Issues: Violence and Peace in the Modern Age”, “The Environment: Science, Policy and Ethics”, as well as “The State of Race in 21st Century America”.

  • Eligibility: High School Juniors, International Students welcome, accepted students generally top 10% of their class, demonstrated leadership abilities
  • Cost: FREE for admitted applicants, application fee may be waived, financial aid for travel expenses granted in some cases
  • More Information Here

7. JCamp🇺🇸

Accepting about 40 students each year, JCamp is a 6-day intensive, multicultural journalism training program where students learn from professional journalists and get hands-on training in writing, reporting, photography, television and radio broadcasting, online media and data journalism. Sessions and workshops are led by experienced journalists from top media companies. 

Some other selective, international-student eligible programs with financial aid opportunities:

  1. University of Pennsylvania Wharton Leadership in the Business World (LBW) 🇺🇸 
  2. International Science Summer Institute (ISSI) 🇮🇱 
  3. Medill Cherubs – Medill-Northwestern Summer Journalism Institute 🇺🇸 
  4. Economics for Leaders 🇺🇸 

Note on University Admissions:

Bear in mind that you do NOT have to spend your summer in an academic program. Attending a prestigious summer program does not guarantee a “boost” in the strength of your application, rather it serves as an opportunity for learning and self growth. There are also many other options out there, here are just some that I have heard of and researched on. If you find that any of these programs suit you, feel free to apply, and I hope you have a great time there! 🙂


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