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15 Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students

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


Some summer programs can be a bit expensive, but we’ve compiled a list of the best programs and many of them are even free. As you go through this list, keep in mind that the most impressive summer programs are free and selective. 


15 Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students


1. Bank of America Student Leaders Program


Dates: 8 week program over the summer and participate in a week long leadership summit in Washington DC (July 25-30). 

Location: Multiple locations

Cost: Free (with paid component)

Application deadline: Friday, January 28, 2022


The Bank of America Student Leaders Program is a highly selective summer experience where current juniors or seniors in high school participate in an 8 week long paid internship in a city of their choice. If admitted, the program is free (as you will be paid), and the week-long leadership experience is paid. To apply, students must submit an application and letter of recommendation. 


2. University of Notre Dame Leadership Seminars


Dates: July 16-27, 2022

Location: South Bend, IN

Cost: Free

Application deadline: Monday, January 24, 2022


University of Notre Dame hosts a competitive week-long summer leadership seminar for high school juniors. During the program, students analyze current events and learn about community activism and in order to develop strong leadership skills. Students must submit a comprehensive application which includes SAT/ACT scores, GPA, and demonstrated community involvement. 


3. Sadie Nash Leadership Project


Dates: TBD

Location: New York, NY and Newark, NJ

Cost: Free and provides a $300 stipend

Application deadline: TBD


The Sadie Nash Leadership Project is a special leadership program for women and non-binary high school students who want to learn more about diversity and inclusion in the context of leadership. The program is typically 6 weeks long and participants go on field trips, listen to guest speakers, and leaders within the greater NYC area. 


4. University of Pennsylvania Wharton – Leadership in the Business World


Dates: Jun 5 – Jun 25, 2022, Jun 26 – Jul 16, 2022, and Jul 17 – Aug 6, 2022

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Cost: $7,500

Application deadline: Priority deadline: January 20, 2022 

Final deadline: April 7, 2022


The University of Pennsylvania program on business leadership is one of the most reputable and selective programs in the country. Participants learn business in the context of leadership through modules on negotiation, organizational strategy, business models, and management. Students also participate in a variety of simulations and field trips throughout the 20 day program. 


5. Indiana University – Young Women’s Institute


Dates: June 5-8, June 8-11, June 12-15, June 15-18

Location: Bloomington, Indiana

Cost: Free

Application deadline: February 1, 2022 – April 15, 2022


The highly selective YWI program at IU is sponsored through the IU Kelley School of Business. This weeklong program, geared towards women who have finished their junior year of high school, teaches women leadership through the context of business. Students take seminars in leadership and business with Kelley faculty and complete a case study with a small team. 


6. Yale Young Global Scholars


Dates: June 21-July 3, July 5-July 17, July 19-31

Location: Virtual for summer 2022 

Cost: $3,500

Application deadline: Early Action: November 3, 2021 

Regular Action: January 10, 2022


The Yale Young Global Scholars program is a competitive summer experience for current high school sophomores or juniors. One of the sessions offered through YYGS is a session on solving global challenges defined by the UN. This session will bring in elements of economics, sustainability, social science, and leadership in order to solve global issues. 


7. Global Leadership Skills & Agents of Social Change at Georgetown University



  • Jul 3 – Jul 29: Residential – $9,799
  • Jul 5 – Jul 28: Commuter – $5,799
  • Jul 5 – Jul 14: Commuter – $3,299
  • Jul 18 – Jul 28: Commuter – $3,299
  • Jul 3 – Jul 15: Residential – $6,199
  • Jul 17 – Jul 29: Residential – $6,199


Location: Washington DC


Summer Discovery, a company that sponsors academic programs for high school students, is hosting a variety of sessions for 14-18 year olds at colleges across the U.S. At Georgetown University, the Global Leadership Skills & Agents of Social Change session, participants will learn skills in negotiation, conflict resolution, and influence. The program allows students to commute or live on the Georgetown University campus. 


8. Mercy College – Summer Leadership Program



  • June 26 – July 2
  • July 10 – July 16
  • July 24 – July 30


Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY

Cost: $495 fee for food and activities, but tuition and room and board are covered

Application deadline: 


The Mercy College 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 over a 90% average to apply. Throughout the program, students learn about successful team building, professional development, and get to explore a variety of careers. Students even visit different companies in NYC during one of the days of the program.  It should be noted that students must be nominated to attend the program.


9. Bella Abzug Leadership Institute Summer Program


Dates: Not released yet

Location: New York, NY

Cost: TBD

Application deadline: TBD–be on the lookout for new dates/information


The Bella Abzug Leadership Institute Summer Program is a summer institute for young women for 13-21 year olds. The program is open to women in the NYC metro area. At the program, participants meet female leaders, learn the skills to win debates and influence others, and participate in a series of leadership building workshops. There is an interview as part of the application process, and priority admission is reserved for women coming from underserved schools or areas.


10. Lott Leadership Program at University of Mississippi


Dates: Session I: May 30 – July 1, 2022

Session II: June 27 – July 29, 2022

Location: Oxford, Mississippi

Cost: $500 program fee, $100 registration fee, $125 for books, and $200 for weekend meals

Application deadline: December 21, 2022


The Lott Leadership program is a competitive week-long summer program for rising seniors. Students participate in debates about current events, hear about careers in the federal government, and learn skills to become more effective leaders at their own high schools. During the program, students will take 3 classes to supplement the rest of the program. To apply, students must be nominated by their school. Applicants are selected based on interest in public service, community service, and academic achievement. 


11. Brown University Pre-College Leadership Institute 


Dates: June 27 – July 8 on-campus

July 11 – August 5 online

Location: Providence, RI

Cost: On campus: $5,019 Online 4 weeks: $5,171

Application deadline: Early Action: Friday, January 14, 2022 

Regular Admission: Monday, February 7, 2022


The Brown Leadership Institute is a highly selective 2 week online program and 4 week in-person program for 9-12 grade students who want to learn how to become empowered leaders in their communities. Students learn about topics such as social entrepreneurship, women in leadership, leadership and refugee policy and health policy, and law and social change. Students in the in-person section have the opportunity to get a taste of college life through additional activities. 


12. Global Leadership Adventures


Dates: TBD based on location

Location: Multiple global locations

Cost: Price depends on location

Application deadline: Based on location


Global Leadership Adventures is a program for students to become global leaders through international cultural travel and immersion to a foregin country of their choosing. During GLA’s programs, students gain leadership skills through learning language skills and volunteering in a foregin country. Due to the global pandemic, these programs are not confirmed to be available for summer 2020.


13. Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders


Dates: June 12-June 16 2022

Location: Austin, Texas

Cost: Free

Application deadline: January 31, 2022


Subiendo is a competitive program hosted at UT Austin for rising juniors and seniors in high school. The program introduces students to the McCombs School of Business through leadership seminars, case studies, and campus visits and tours with current students. The program is completely free for students, and underrepresented students are encouraged to apply. The application materials to submit include the online application, transcript, extracurricular involvement and leadership description, essays, a letter of recommendation and optional resume.


14. Barnard College Young Women’s Leadership Institute 


Dates: June 30-July 21, 2022

Location: New York, NY

Cost: TBD

Application deadline: Rolling–students receive a decision 2-3 weeks after they have applied. Applications close 4/15/2022


The Barnard College Young Women’s Leadership Institute helps develop female leaders through dividing students into “tracks” of interests and having them complete small group projects throughout the program. Participants can choose one of six tracks–STEM, Writing & Literature, Political Science and Economics, Urban Studies and Architecture, Art History, and Sociology and Gender Studies. To apply to the program, students must submit an online application form, unofficial high school transcript, list of extracurricular activities, recommendation letter, and 500 Word statement of purpose.


15. CLYLP Los Angeles Institute


Dates: TBD

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: TBD


The Chicano Latino Youth Project hosts a summer leadership program for students enrolled in a California high school for the 2021-2022 school year who live in Los Angeles County. 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


Summer Programs and College Admissions


Summer programs can be a great way to boost your chances of admission to college. Generally, the best programs you can attend are the ones that are free and selective. Extracurricular activities can be broken down into different tiers. Tier 1 and 2 activities are the most impressive as they represent the most unique and impactful activities. Tier 3 and 4 activities tend to be more common. Selective summer programs fall into Tier 3 and 4 category, although extremely selective programs can fall into Tier 1 and 2.


Are you curious to find out your chances of admission to college if you were to attend a summer program? Use our free chancing calculator to find out your chances of acceptance. Using our innovative program, you can calculate your chances of admission using your test scores, extracurricular activities, GPA, and more.

Short Bio
Juliette is a senior at Cornell University studying Industrial & Labor Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, drinking coffee, and exploring different hiking trails in Ithaca.