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10 Summer Activities

25 Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students in 2024

What’s Covered:


When admitting students, colleges look for applicants who have drive, passion, and strong leadership skills. If you’re looking for a summer experience where you’ll gain valuable skills and become a better leader, look no further than this article. The lessons you learn at a summer leadership program are skills that you can apply at school and beyond. 


Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best programs. Even though some summer programs can be a bit expensive, many of the ones listed here are free. As you go through this list, keep in mind that some of the most impressive summer programs are free and selective. 


25 Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students


1. Bank of America Student Leaders Program


Dates: N/A (eight-week program) 

Location: Varies
Application Deadline: January 17 

Cost: Free 


The Bank of America Student Leaders program prepares a diverse group of community-minded young people for success in the workforce through leadership training. While employed in these eight-week paid internships, high school juniors and seniors will gain firsthand experience working with nonprofits such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity.


Participants leave the program with a direct look at how nonprofits, governments, and businesses collaborate to meet local needs, as well as the skills needed to bring about positive change. The program includes a one-week in-person summit in Washington, D.C. where students will congregate and continue to develop their skills. 


Students are expected to be able to commit to 35 hours a week in person to participate in this program. 


2. University of Notre Dame Leadership Seminars


Dates: July 20 – 31

Location: University of Notre Dame
Application Deadline: January 22 

Cost: $210 (a $60 application fee and a $150 enrollment fee upon acceptance) 


The University of Notre Dame hosts a competitive summer leadership seminar for high school juniors—only about 100 students are admitted annually. During the program, students will gain an introduction to collegiate academics, develop a commitment to community service, and receive college social experience to develop stronger leadership skills and gain insight into higher education.


In order to apply, students must submit a comprehensive online application that includes their transcript, a counselor report, and one letter of recommendation from a teacher, with the option to submit standardized test scores as well.


Tuition for the program, housing, and meals are paid for by the university.


3. Sadie Nash Leadership Project Summer Institute


Dates: N/A (six-week program) 

Location: New York City, New York and Newark, New Jersey
Application Deadline: April 15 

Cost: Free 


The Sadie Nash Leadership Project Summer Institute is a special leadership program for women and gender-expansive high school students who want to learn more about diversity and inclusion in the context of leadership. The program is typically six weeks long and participants go on field trips, participate in workshops, and listen to guest speakers and leaders around the greater NYC area.


4. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School | Leadership in the Business World



  • Session 1: June 9 – 29 
  • Session 2: June 30 – July 20 
  • Session 3: July 21 – August 10 

Location: University of Pennsylvania 

Application Deadline: April 3 

Cost: $10,999


The University of Pennsylvania’s business leadership program is one of the most reputable and selective programs in the country. Offered to high school juniors, the program teaches business in the context of leadership through modules on negotiation, organizational strategy, business models, and management. 


During the 20-day program, students will attend a multitude of lectures from esteemed faculty, conduct research and speak with business leaders, and participate in a variety of simulations and field trips all while staying on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. 


5. Kelley Women’s Leadership Institute


Dates: Varies

Location: Indiana University and online
Application Deadline: Varies  

Cost: Free 


The Kelley Women’s Leadership Institute at IU is sponsored through the IU Kelley School of Business. This program is with interest in business careers and learning more about the college experience. During the programs, students participate in workshops, interact with Kelley alumni and staff, explore a business case project, and build valuable leadership and communications skills. 


6. Yale Young Global Scholars



  • Session 1: June 23 – July 5
  • Session 2: July 7 – 19
  • Session 3: July 21 – August 2 

Location: Yale University
Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $6,500 


The Yale Young Global Scholars program is a competitive summer experience for current high school sophomores or juniors. YYGS offers sessions covering topics including politics, STEM, global literature and culture, and solving global challenges. During the program, students will attend lectures and discussions as well as work on an overarching capstone project culminating in a final student showcase.


7. Mercy University – Summer Leadership Academy



  • Session 1: June 23 – 23
  • Session 2: July 7 – 13
  • Session 3: July 21 – 27

Location: Mercy University
Application Deadline: Rolling 

Cost: $595


The Mercy University Summer Leadership program is an intensive one-week session for rising high school seniors who want to learn more about careers in management and business. Admissions are selective, and students must have a cumulative, weighted GPA of 90% or higher to apply. 


Throughout the program, students learn about successful team building, and professional development, along with getting to explore a variety of careers while staying on campus. Students even visit different companies in NYC during one day of the program. The program recommends that students be nominated by a counselor or instructor; however a recommendation isn’t necessary to apply. 


8. Bella Abzug Leadership Institute Summer Program



  • Session 1: July 1 – 12
  • Session 2: July 15 – 26
  • Session 3: July 29 – August 9 

Location: Bella Abzug Leadership Institute
Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: Free 


The Bella Abzug Leadership Institute is an institute for female-identifying and gender-expansive youth aged 13 to 21. During the program, participants will meet female leaders, learn the skills needed to win debates and influence audiences, and participate in a series of leadership-building workshops.


Priority admission is reserved for youth coming from underserved schools or areas and $500 stipends are given to students for their participation in the program. 


9. Lott Leadership Program at the University of Mississippi



  • Session 1: May 26 – June 28 
  • Session 2: June 23 – July 26 

Location: University of Mississippi
Application Deadline: January 26 

Cost: $1,000 


The Lott Leadership Program is a competitive month-long summer program for rising seniors. Students participate in debates about current events, explore careers in the federal government, and learn skills to become more effective leaders in their high schools.


During the program, students will take three courses and spend a week in Washington, D.C., meeting with leaders in politics and the nonprofit sector. To apply, students must be nominated by their school. Applicants are selected based on their interest in public service and community service, as well as their academic achievement.  


10. Brown University Pre-College Leadership Institute



  • On-campus session 1: June 23 – July 5 
  • On-campus session 2: July 14 – 26
  • Online: June 24 – July 19

Location: Brown University 

Application Deadline: May 10 

Cost: $4,318 – $5,498


The Brown Leadership Institute is a highly selective two-week in-person program or four-week online program for 9th-12th grade students who want to learn how to become empowered leaders in their communities.


Students learn about topics such as social movements, educational equality, restorative justice, and activism. Students in the in-person section experience college life through additional activities. 


11. Global Leadership Adventures


Dates: Varies

Location: Varies
Application Deadline: May 15 

Cost: $3,099 – $6,999


Designed for students ages 14 to 18, Global Leadership Adventures is a program for student travelers who want to learn to become global leaders through international cultural travel and immersion in a foreign country of their choosing. During GLA’s programs, students gain leadership skills through language learning and volunteering in a foreign country.


Students can choose from a wide variety of in-person global programs, each of which will let them engage in service learning and adventure. Students can apply online at any point during the application window. However, it should be noted that most programs reach maximum capacity by March.


12. Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders


Dates: June 9 – 13 

Location: University of Texas at Austin
Application Deadline: February 14 

Cost: Free 


Subiendo is a competitive program hosted by UT Austin for rising juniors and seniors in high school. The program introduces students to the well-regarded McCombs School of Business through leadership seminars, case studies, campus visits, and tours with current students.


The program is completely free for students, and students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Students will stay on campus over the course of the week and all educational, food, and boarding costs will be covered by the University.


13. Barnard College NextGen Leadership Institute 



  • Session 1: June 30 – July 19  
  • Session 2: July 22 – August 10 

Location: Barnard College
Application Deadline: April 15 

Cost: $7,772 – $9,687 


The Barnard College NextGen Leadership Institute helps develop female leaders by dividing students into interest-based “tracks” and having them complete small group projects throughout the program. Open to all rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors, participants can choose one of four tracks—STEMinist, Writing and Literature, Global Humanities, and Art Movement and Performance. 


14. Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project – Los Angeles Institute


Dates: August 2 – 4 

Location: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Application Deadline: March 17 

Cost: Free


The Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project hosts a summer leadership program for Los Angeles County students enrolled in a California high school. 50 participants are chosen each year to network with leaders in education, business, and political roles to better understand the role of public service in society. Students also learn about college and post-high school opportunities over the span of the weekend. 


15. Tufts Leadership for Social Change



  • On-campus: July 7 – 19 
  • Online: July 28 – August 9 

Location: Tufts University and online
Application Deadline: May 15 

Cost: $3,800 – $5,500 


Open to any rising junior, senior, or recent high school graduate, the Tufts Leadership for Social Change pre-college program offers students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. Participants discuss issues including educational inequities, environmental justice, public policy, and more. 


Students can choose to participate in an in-person or virtual edition of the program and will receive a single Tufts credit upon completion of the program. Social activities will be a major part of the program experience in the in-person experience.  


16. MIT Leadership Training Institute


Dates: February 11 – May 11 

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Application Deadline: December 1 

Cost: Free 


MIT offers its Leadership Training Institute annually which is held over the course of twelve Sundays in the spring. Students are separated into small groups led by Leadership Development Mentors. They will reflect on what it means to be a leader before embarking on a large-scale community service project that aims to tackle a problem in the community. The program culminates in a final presentation of each student’s project. 


17. FBI NAA Youth Leadership Program


Dates: June 20 – 28 

Location: Quantico, Virginia
Application Deadline: February 2 

Cost: Free 


This Youth Leadership Program is hosted by the FBI National Academy Associates, a nonprofit law enforcement leadership network. In this eight-day intensive program, students will engage in extensive coursework and instruction focused on the issues facing today’s youth and their individual talents.


The program is offered to high school sophomores or juniors.   


18. West Point Summer Leaders Experience



  • Session 1: June 1 – 7 
  • Session 2: June 8 – 14 

Location: United States Military Academy West Point
Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $625 


The Summer Leaders Experience at West Point is offered to rising high school seniors. It gives students insight into the lives of cadets in the U.S. Military Academy. Students will be mentored by current West Point cadets to develop their leadership skills through problem-solving and team-building challenges, academics, and tests of athletic caliber.   


19. Economics for Leaders


Dates: Varies 

Location: Varies
Application Deadline: Varies 

Cost: $800 – $2,300 


The Foundation for Teaching Economics offers leadership seminars teaching economics at college campuses across the country to interested high school sophomores and juniors. Over the course of a week, students will learn the basics of economics, engage in leadership exercises, and take on various challenges. The program’s goal is to inform students about various concepts in the global economy and to help them develop new leadership skills.


For students who are unable to participate in person, a virtual program is also offered.


20. Fordham Summer Leaders Academy



  • Session 1: June 24 – 27
  • Session 2: July 8 – 18
  • Session 3: July 22 – August 1

Location: Fordham University
Application Deadline: Varies

Cost: $1,225 – $4,550


This summer leadership program blends academic coursework, college preparation, career exploration, and activities outside of the classroom, such as excursions in New York City. Participants will develop their leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills and gain firsthand experience with the Jesuit tradition of educating people so they can contribute to the future well-being of the world.


The program is open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.


21. Boston Leadership Institute


Dates: Varies

Location: Boston, MA

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $599 – $4,297


The Boston Leadership Institute offers a variety of programs ranging from week-long dives into single subjects to three-week research projects in fields including science, engineering, medicine, and business. Students can participate in the programs as either residents or commuters.


22. Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership High School Leaders Program (HSLP)


Dates: July 13 – 27

Location: University of Virginia

Application Deadline: March 25

Cost: $3,300 (shared room); $3,700 (individual room)


This program for Virginia high schoolers aims to prepare them for civic leadership and public service. Students connect with other leaders and peers, promote civic engagement, and develop the skills needed to become effective advocates in their communities. Students will spend the majority of their time during this two-week program on the University of Virginia’s Charlottesville campus living and learning like a college student.


23. Indiana University Rising Leaders Program


Dates: June 9 – 12

Location: Indiana University Bloomington

Application Deadline: March 3

Cost: Free


Rising high school juniors who understand the impact they can have on society—and who are interested in learning how to find their voice and use it for the greater good—will want to check out this summer program. Participants build their leadership and communication skills while exploring academic programs, internships, and career opportunities in this free, four-day, residential summer program.


24. Maryland Leadership Workshops Senior High Workshop (SHW)


Dates: July 28 – August 3

Location: Washington College

Application Deadline: May 15

Cost: $1,200


Participants in this program enjoy an immersive college experience. Students live in college housing and eat in dining halls while learning about everything from leadership styles to advocacy to conflict management. There’s also an abundance of social activities including a talent show and “messy games night.”


The program is open to high schoolers in grades 9 through 12.


25. Ronald Reagan Student Leadership Program



  • Session 1: June 17 – 21
  • Session 2: July 8 – 12
  • Session 3: July 29 – August 2

Location: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $750


This program fosters the leaders of tomorrow by engaging with the history and values of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. Students will build foundational leadership skills and get the chance to put them into practice, interacting and collaborating with their peers. The program culminates with the creation of a Leadership Action Plan, a roadmap designed to foster positive change within the community.


Summer Programs and College Admissions


Summer programs can be a great way to boost your chances of college admission. Generally, the best programs you can attend are the ones that are free and selective. There are four tiers of extracurricular activities that colleges think about when reviewing applicants’ activities.


Tier 1 and 2 activities are the most impressive as they represent the most unique and impactful activities, such as being a highly recruited athlete or an award-winning science fair competitor. Tier 3 and 4 activities tend to be more common extracurriculars, such as holding school leadership positions or being on a debate team. Selective summer programs often fall into Tiers 3 and 4, but extremely selective programs can sometimes be considered Tier 1 or 2 programs.


Are you curious about how a summer leadership program might affect your chances of college admission? Using our free chancing calculator, you can estimate your odds of getting into hundreds of colleges and universities!  Our innovative program can help you calculate your chances of admission using your test scores, extracurricular activities, GPA, and more.

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