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20 Summer Programs in Minnesota for High Schoolers in 2024

​​What’s Covered:


Also known as pre-college programs, summer programs are intensive academic camps where students can expand their skills in a given discipline, as well as show colleges you’re academically driven and serious about a career in your chosen major.


Below are 20 great pre-college programs in Minnesota you may want to consider this summer.


20 Summer Programs in Minnesota for High Schoolers


1. Summer Debate and Argumentation Skills


Dates: June 17 – 22

Location: Augsburg University

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $500


Students who love debate and public speaking will enjoy Augsburg University’s Debate and Argumentation Skills camp. This camp allows participants to develop, practice, and hone their public speaking, refutation, research, and cross-examination skills. 


Over the course of the program, students will build the fundamentals necessary to successfully participate in classroom debates, presentations, or their high school’s competitive debate team.


2. Scrubs Camp


Dates: Varies

Location: Varies

Application Deadline: Varies

Cost: $0-$400


Students who envision a future in healthcare should consider enrolling in one of the Scrubs Camps, located at multiple colleges throughout Minnesota. During this summer course, talented high schoolers have the chance to learn from full-time professors and current college students. Additionally, they can tour local healthcare facilities and network with doctors and dentists.


Along with exploring various healthcare careers, the program will offer tips on different educational pathways to success. Program dates, the length of the program, location, and cost all vary depending on which camp they choose, but all offer a great chance to experience a career in medicine.


3. Seeking Computational Solutions


Dates: July 6 – 26

Location: Carleton College

Application Deadline: March 11

Cost: $4,500


Aspiring computer scientists, programmers, or engineers will want to consider the residential summer program at Carleton College. During this three-week program, students develop their skills through a combination of classroom instruction, lab activities, and guided research. Not only will they have the chance to learn from full-time faculty members, but they’ll also be able to interact with current college students in the computer science field.


The program concludes with a research symposium in which students share the results of their work with peers. In addition to a rich academic experience, participants live in Carleton dorms and have access to campus facilities to get a true sense of college life.


4. Storytelling Through Different Lenses


Dates: July 6 – 26

Location: Carleton College

Application Deadline: March 11

Cost: $4,500


Explore the art of storytelling through lenses like cognitive psychology, American studies, and creative writing, film, and music in this fascinating residential summer program. Participants will explore how stories are used to shape the social and political narratives that influence how we understand our communities.


5. Building Connections in STEM


Dates: July 6 – 26

Location: Carleton College

Application Deadline: March 11

Cost: $4,500


Through this residential summer program, high schoolers can build a toolkit of STEM skills that will allow them to engage with exciting and novel problems across the physical and biological sciences. Participants will gain hands-on research experience while also developing broader problem-solving and scientific communication skills.


Students will work alongside their peers on a project under the mentorship of college faculty and undergraduate teaching assistants. The program culminates with a symposium where participants share their work.


6. MCAD’s Pre-College Summer Session


Dates: July 10 – 28

Location: Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD)

Application Deadline: April 1 (priority and scholarship deadline)

Cost: $3,650


Artistically minded high schoolers will want to look into this program from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Along with developing their skills in studio art, participants will hone their understanding of design principles and practice critical thinking during this two-and-a-half-week course. As a bonus, participants will have the chance to interact with and learn from professional artists working in a variety of mediums.


While April 1 is the priority deadline for this program, applications will be accepted after this date on a space-available basis.


7. ThreeSixty Journalism


Dates: Various

Location: University of St. Thomas

Application Deadline: April 19

Cost: Varies


Those passionate about sharing their voice should consider attending the ThreeSixty Journalism program at the University of St. Thomas. Applicants can choose to attend one-week, two-week, or three-week programs focused on the art of digital media, journalism, and reporting. Stipends are available upon the conclusion of some programs.


8. Minnesota Business Venture



  • Session 1: July 7 – 12
  • Session 2: July 21 – 26

Location: University of St. Thomas

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: Up to $300


This residential summer program helps high schoolers in grades 9 through 12 develop their leadership skills, become more financially literate, and explore the business world. Students connect with professionals and learn about business-related topics like marketing, investing, and entrepreneurship. They also work together to invent, develop, and pitch a product or service.


9. Mayo Clinic Career Immersion Program


Dates: June 23 – 27

Location: Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences

Application Deadline: March 15

Cost: Varies


Minnesota high school juniors and seniors interested in a healthcare career will want to look into this program. Participants learn about careers in healthcare, the academic path required to achieve them, and gain real-world experience in a healthcare setting. 


Students also have the chance to connect with peers who are equally passionate about the health sciences, and current healthcare professionals.


This is a residential program, which means participants can experience a slice of college life, by living and learning just like a student at the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences.


10. Expand Your Mind



  • Session 1: June 17 – 28
  • Session 2: July 8 – 19

Location: Macalester College

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $855 per session for commuters; $2,150 per session for the residential program


This summer program for 8th through 11th graders occurs over two week-long Monday through Friday sessions. Participants take one class per session, so that they can fully explore a specific topic of interest in an academically rigorous atmosphere.


Participants also gain first-hand exposure to life on a college campus, meet other talented students, and build valuable leadership skills.


11. Summer Music Academy


Dates: June 16 – 22

Location: St. Olaf College

Application Deadline: May 28

Cost: $925


Young musicians in grades 9 through 12 can gain experience performing and developing their musical abilities in this seven-day, six-night residential summer program. Students participate in ensembles, rehearsals, and one-on-one lessons. The academy culminates with a final concert for family and friends.


The academy is a great choice for students interested in pursuing music as a major, as well as those who simply enjoy making music at a high level.


12. Minnesota Aviation Career Education Camp



  • Session 1: June 16 – 21
  • Session 2: June 23 – 28

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Application Deadline: April 1

Cost: $1,625


Minnesota Aviation Career Education Camp (MN ACE Camp) aims to bridge the gap between classrooms and careers, by exposing high schoolers to the numerous opportunities in aviation and aerospace. Participants are given the chance to learn about topics like aerodynamics, airline operations, and air traffic control. They’ll also connect with aviation professionals and tour everything from airport terminals to the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing.


The highlight of the program for many students is the chance to record flight tours of single-engine aircraft, gliders, helicopters, and full-motion airline simulators. They’ll also get to ride along in an Air Force Reserve in a C-130 Hercules and take part in a splash-and-go along the Mississippi River in a Cessna Caravan.


13. IMA-MathCEP Math Modeling Camp


Dates: June 24 – 28

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: May 31

Cost: Free


Students in this free week-long commuter program learn how math is used to solve problems like the effects of traffic on a bridge, predict trends in population and disease, and estimate the impact climate has on natural resources. The program is open to high schoolers who have completed a year-long course in single-variable calculus.


14. Go4Brains


Dates: July 15 – 19

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: March 1

Cost: Free


This week-long summer program is designed for students from groups underrepresented in science, medicine, and more specifically, neuroscience. Participants will gain hands-on experience with research and conducting experiments, receive valuable mentorship, and connect with other high schoolers who share their passions. 


They’ll also take lab tours and explore neuroscience-related career paths, and even have a chance to hold a human brain! Not only is this program free, but students receive a $400 stipend at its competition.


15. National Summer Transportation Institute


Dates: July 15 – 26

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: Free


Students entering grades 7-9 will learn how fields like science and engineering intersect with transportation in this free two-week summer camp. Participants take part in hands-on activities, take field trips, and connect with experts while learning how different parts of the transportation system work. Students will also tour the University of Minnesota’s campus and get to experience a slice of college life.


16. CAV Career Pathways Camp


Dates: August 5 – 9

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: April 30

Cost: Free


High schoolers in grades 10 through 12 interested in manufacturing, engineering, planning, and robotics are sure to be enticed by this summer program. Participants learn about connected and automotive vehicle (CAV) technology through hands-on activities, field trips, and info sessions with professionals working in the field and university researchers. 


Students will also explore the numerous career opportunities offered by the CAV field. This free opportunity is limited to just 20 students.


17. Machine Learning



  • Session 1 (all genders): July 8 – 12
  • Session 2 (all girls): July 8 – 12
  • Session 3 (all genders): July 15 – 19

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $75 (one-week session); $150 (two-week session)


If you are in 11th or 12th grade and have ever wanted to know how Netflix decides which movies you’ll like, or how Target chooses which products to stock, this is the summer program for you! Participants will work on hands-on projects using real-world data, train computer models, and gain a deeper understanding of machine learning and its applications—such as analyzing data in fields ranging from sports to gaming to history.


18. Summer Computing Academy for Female Students



  • One-week session: June 24 – 28
  • Two-week session: June 10 – 21

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $75 (one-week session); $125 (two-week session)


This program teaches female junior high and high school students the programming language Python, while also providing them with foundational knowledge about programming in general and hands-on experience working with computers.


Students will develop programs for small robots, image processing, and other applications under the guidance of graduate students and professors. The program culminates with students presenting their projects to friends and family.


19. Next-Gen: AI & Data Science High School Summer Camp


Dates: June 17 – 21

Location: St. Catherine University

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: Free


During this five-day commuter summer program, female high schoolers in grades 9 through 12 explore all things data science and artificial intelligence. Participants will dive into topics like AI and art, AI and facial recognition, and AI and ethics through hands-on activities and team-building events. They’ll also develop a better understanding of the issues facing AI and data analytics.


Participants also experience life on a college campus and are given the opportunity to meet current students and learn about the degree programs offered by St. Catherine University.


20. Innovation Camp


Dates: July 8 – 12

Location: Hamline University

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $598


This summer camp for students in grades 9 through 12 introduces participants to the ins and outs of innovation. Students will gain real-world experience building an innovation plan by learning about market analysis, financial planning, risk management, systems thinking, opportunity analysis, and intellectual property.


Participants leave the program with an understanding of the best practices of the innovation process, and with universally valuable skills such as teamwork.


How Do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?


Some summer programs are more competitive than others, requiring letters of recommendation and standardized test scores, while other programs are open to all students within a particular grade level. Consequently, some summer programs are given more weight in college admissions than others.


The four tiers of extracurricular activities are a good way to understand how colleges value activities outside of the classroom, like summer programs. The most impressive, prestigious, rare, and influential activities are placed in the top two tiers.


Lower-tier extracurricular activities don’t hold the same sway with admissions offices, however, they are often still valuable. Less-selective and -esteemed programs still show off your interests to potential colleges while highlighting your desire to pursue your passions. Many field-specific activities also help build the skills you need to ace everything from the essays to interviews you’ll encounter in the college application process.


Curious how the summer program you participated in affects your odds 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
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.