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21 Summer Programs in D.C. for High Schoolers in 2024

What’s Covered:


Summer is possibly every student’s favorite season—the weather is warm and students have more unstructured time to pursue the activities they love. While many high-achieving students will spend their summers working part-time jobs, volunteering, or interning, another great opportunity that’s available to high schoolers (and can help them prepare for college) is summer programs.  


21 Summer Programs in D.C. for High Schoolers


1. Pharm STEP 1


Dates: June 17 – 28 (no program June 19)

Location: Howard University

Application deadline: March 29

Cost: N/A 


Perfect for high-achieving students interested in pharmacy or a related health profession, this selective program gives students the opportunity to push themselves academically. Participants will take part in science-focused workshops and panel discussions with award-winning lecturers. Students applying must be US citizens or permanent residents, rising juniors or seniors and have at least a 2.75 GPA. 


2. Community of Scholars Program at AU’s School of International Service


Dates: July 8 – 19 (on-campus); July 22 – 26 (asynchronous)

Location: American University

Application deadline: Not listed

Cost: $5,719


This three-week hybrid program has high school students living and learning in a traditional college environment for two weeks followed by a week of online instruction and working on a final paper or project. Over the course of the program, participants are introduced to the field of global affairs, participate in exciting discussions on subjects like national security strategy, and even get to simulate a mock National Security Council debate. 


3. National Student Leadership Conference | American University Programs


Dates: Throughout June and July

Location: American University

Application deadline: N/A

Cost: $3,895 to $4,095


Six different 9 day programs are hosted by the National Student Leadership Conference at American University. This summer, in DC, you could study biotechnology, forensic science, journalism, medicine and health care, nursing, or psychology and neuroscience, all in an immersive setting featuring hands-on experience, guest speakers, and trips and tours of related sites around DC. 


4. National Student Leadership Conference | Georgetown University Programs


Dates: Throughout June and July

Location: Georgetown University

Application deadline: N/A

Cost: $2,995 to $4,095


If the American University programs aren’t your speed, the National Leadership Conference’s Georgetown offerings might be. The six options are architecture, intelligence and national security, international diplomacy, law and advocacy, leadership and service, and political action and public policy. Each of these programs includes experiential, hands-on learning opportunities, trips and tours around the D.C. area, and expert guest speakers. 


5. AU Non-Degree and Visiting Student Courses


Dates: Throughout the summer

Location: American University

Application deadline: May 1 

Cost: $1,768 per credit hour 


High school students with a B or higher GPA may enroll as non-degree students in summer session courses at the 100- or 200-level. With this option, high-achieving students take a college class alongside other undergraduate students and get the full experience of what college is like.


6. AU High School Summer Scholars


Dates: Throughout June and July

Location: American University

Application deadline: Rolling admission 

Cost: $965


Ambitious high school students can earn one college credit through this unique summer program. Students can register for self-paced online courses ranging from global public health and law to biotechnology and public speaking. Students have four weeks to complete their coursework, which makes it easy to squeeze them in among other summer commitments. AU faculty are involved and accessible to students during the course via Canvas or office hours conducted via Zoom or Skype.  


7. Light the World! Summer Institute


Dates: To be announced

Location: Catholic University of America

Application deadline: To be announced

Cost: $525


This one-week program provides students with a better understanding of how faith and culture intertwine. Students live on-campus and tour local attractions to speak with leaders in a variety of fields about how faith plays a part in their careers and hear from current undergrads about how faith informs their academic and professional goals. Participants will also get a glimpse into college life by living with their peers in dorms, eating in the dining hall, and experiencing firsthand the intellectual, social, and spiritual life found on Catholic University’s campus. 


8. High School Drama Institute


Dates: July 8 – 26

Location: Catholic University of America

Application deadline: N/A

Cost: $3,600


High school students with a passion for the performing arts will want to check out this intensive three-week program. Participants develop acting skills focusing on voice, movement, and gesture, strengthen their dancing and singing skills, and learn what it takes to prepare for college auditions. They can choose from one of two majors: Drama and Musical Theatre. This program is super-selective, and a limited number of students are chosen to participate. 


9. Engineering New Frontiers


Dates: July 22 – 26

Location: Catholic University of America

Application deadline: N/A

Cost: $995


This week-long residential summer camp gives students the opportunity to work closely with engineering faculty members to explore a variety of engineering disciplines. Students participate in labs, engineering design workshops, coding boot camps, and prototype work led by expert faculty. Living on campus, students also get a taste of college life along with the best that D.C. has to offer, including cultural, recreational, and technical experiences.  


10. Computational Biosciences Institute


Dates: July 8 – 17

Location: Catholic University of America

Application deadline: N/A

Cost: $995


Students interested in computer science and biomedical engineering will want to check out this 10-day residential graded summer course—it’s the equivalent of a first-year computer science class. Participants in the program receive intensive instruction in computer science coding and programming with real biomedical imaging and other datasets. Outside of the computer lab and classroom, students will have access to Catholic University’s athletics facilities and a variety of team events are scheduled. 


11. Conway School of Nursing


Dates: July 15 – 17

Location: Catholic University

Application deadline: April 15

Cost: $150


This one week program hopes to introduce students to careers in nursing. Taught by Catholic University nursing faculty and aided by upper-class nursing students, participants will learn about the ethics and moral values guiding the work. As a bonus, students will graduate with a CPR certification. 


12. Experiences in Architecture


Dates: July 7 – 10

Location: Catholic University

Application deadline: April 15

Cost: $1,370 (commuter) or $2,570 (residential)


This workshop is perfect for high school students in architecture and design. The two-week program promises to prepare students for a career in architecture and the study of the discipline at the college level while introducing them to life on a college campus. 


13. “Service in the City” Day Camp


Dates: June 8 – 12

Location: Catholic University

Application deadline: April 15

Cost: $700


Hosted by Catholic University’s Social Work program, this day camp aims to introduce students to social work as a career in D.C. By teaching students to consider the individual, community, and policy levels of social issues and providing chances to work on all of these levels, “Service in the City” camp promises to get teens excited for a career in public service. 


14. Immerse into ASL


Dates: June 15 – 22 (overnight); June 24 – 29 (day camp)

Location: Gallaudet University

Deadline: May 1 

Cost: $750-$1,250


This program is designed for students who are either beginning or intermediate signers and want to become more fluent. Participants will work with advanced ASL peers and counselors who are similarly deaf or hard of hearing, learn about deaf culture and history, and explore the nation’s capital. Students may participate in a residential or day camp program. 


15. George Washington University | Summer Immersion


Dates: June 2 – 14 (Session 1), June 16 – 28 (Session 2), June 30 – July 12 (Session 3), and July 14 – 26 (Session 4)

Location: George Washington University

Application deadline: April 1 (Sessions 1 and 2); May 1 (Sessions 3 and 4)

Cost: $4,600 (commuter) or $5,100 (residential)


These two week courses are full day programs for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors interested in collaborative learning, lectures from GW’s esteemed faculty, experiential learning activities, and trips and tours around the D.C. area. There are ten different course offerings, with such varied options as Entrepreneurship, Social Psychology, and Cybersecurity. Courses include meals and recreational activities on weekends. 


16. Global Scholar Summer Program


Dates: Various

Location: Georgetown University and American University

Application deadline: Rolling

Cost: Runs as a pay-what-you-can program


This program is perfect for young leaders seeking to learn about current events and global issues. Through meetings with experts, workshops, and experiential activities with peers, students will develop academic and career skills. 


17. Smithsonian Institute Youth Teaching Assistants


Dates: June through August

Location: Smithsonian Institute

Application deadline: March 8

Cost: Free


Teenagers interested in art, science, history, and collections may enjoy teaching these subjects to children at the Smithsonian Institute. Teaching assistants will help with field trips, activities, and serve as role models for younger kids. 


18. Peace Ambassador Leadership Academy


Dates: July 27 – August 3

Location: Georgetown University

Application deadline: Early bird registration period ends March 31

Cost: $2,000 ($1,750 during early bird registration)


This one-week program invites students to take part in advocacy and community service, earning 50 hours through the week. The program focuses on networking, leadership development, ethics, and social responsibility. It includes classes and workshops, but also social activities and curated field trips around the D.C. area. 


19. Georgetown University | Creative Writing Academy


Dates: July 14 – 20

Location: Georgetown University

Deadline: May 15

Cost: $3,389


This week-long course teaches aspiring writers to transform their ideas and stories into compelling written works, along with what it takes to publish and professionalize their work. Students generate, refine, and polish their stories, poems, and essays during the program through workshops and tutorials; will have the opportunity to read their work at the famous D.C. literary hub, Busboys and Poets; and will have their work published in the program’s annual literary magazine. 


20. Georgetown University | Social Justice & Public Policy Academy


Dates: July 1 – 12

Location: Georgetown University

Application deadline: May 15

Cost: $5,775


Students in this two-week summer program learn about multiple pathways toward the creation of a more just and humane world, including community-engaged research; community organizing and activism; direct service; decolonial philanthropy; advocacy for public policy; and social entrepreneurship for the common good. Participants also explore how their college studies can contribute to combating injustice and building peace. The program culminates with the design and implementation of a teach-in and participants earn a certificate for completing the program.


21. Georgetown University | 3-Week Medical Academy


Dates: June 9 – 28

Location: Georgetown University

Deadline: May 15

Cost: $7,645


Get a glimpse of medical school at this three-week summer program. Participants can explore one of three tracks—Anatomy & Physiology, Neuroscience, or Emergency Medicine—while learning from Georgetown University School of Medicine faculty and medical students. No matter the track taken, students will experience a blend of classroom work, hands-on projects, and case studies, while students in most tracks can also expect a healthy dose of lab time. 



How Do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?


The effect a summer program has on your odds of college admissions varies. Everything from the selectivity and prestige of the program to the value a school places on extracurricular activities, like summer programs, can determine their influence on your college chances. While there’s no sure way to gauge how a college views your participation in a summer program, the four tiers of extracurricular activities provide a good guide for understanding how colleges value them.  


Tier-one and -two activities are home to the summer programs that are held in the highest esteem and with the most stringent admissions. Top-tier summer programs like these are sure to grab the attention of admissions officers, make your application stand apart from the competition, and have significant weight in admissions decisions. 


Tier-three and -four activities include less-acclaimed and less-selective summer programs; consequently, they have less influence on your college odds. That said, attending a lower-tiered summer program can still give your college chances a boost. Attending a summer program demonstrates a desire to further explore the topics you find interesting—a quality that colleges admire. Many summer programs also include a college readiness component, which can give you a leg up over other applicants. 


Curious about the effect extracurricular activities have on your chances of college admission? CollegeVine can help! Our free chancing calculator uses a variety of factors including grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of getting into hundreds of colleges and universities while also providing insight into how to improve your profile.


Short Bio
After graduating from Wesleyan University, Francesca Jette is pursuing a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at George Washington University. She has been helping high school seniors with college essays for three years now.