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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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20 California Summer Programs for High Schoolers in 2023

What’s Covered:


Summer programs provide a host of benefits to high school students, allowing them to explore and gain firsthand experience with fields of interest, network with like-minded peers, and build new skills.


If you’re looking for summer programs in California, this list will share options in fields from medicine to the arts. Several programs are even free!


20 Summer Programs for High School Students in California


1. TIP: The Intern Project


Application Deadline: March 5, 2023

Dates: Range from 4-6 weeks during June-August

Cost: You get paid!


The Intern Project works to partner high school students across LA County with companies in arts, media, engineering, business, government, sports, and healthcare fields. Priority is given to students identified as high-need, and students must be high-achieving in school. Students are eligible in their sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school. This program will help students learn valuable job skills and begin building a resume. It can also set students apart in their college applications!


2. Stanford Medical Youth Science Program


Application Deadline: March 1, 2023

Dates: June 23-July 28, 2023

Cost: No cost


This five-week, in-person program admits around 24 students. These students will receive a $1200 clinical research stipend, spending approximately 30 hours per week in the program, Monday through Friday. Students participate in Stanford faculty lectures covering health science, public health, and medicine; engage with a group research project to improve health and health access in all communities; attend professional development workshops; and develop lasting relationships with their peers. 


3. Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS)


Application Deadline: March 6, 2023

Dates: June 25- July 21, 2023

Cost: No cost


Pomona College’s PAYS program provides over 90 students from local high schools with preparation for admission into some of the country’s most selective colleges and universities. Admission is open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors from groups traditionally underrepresented on college campuses, like first-generation students, low-income students, and students from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. Students will live in a dorm on Pomona’s campus while taking math and critical inquiry courses taught by Pomona professors. Senior students are able to work on a research project with a Pomona faculty member- this research has the potential to be published in academic journals. 


4. California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) 


Application Deadline: February 10, 2023

Dates: July 9- August 4 or 5, 2023 (depending on campus)

Cost: $4,770


COSMOS allows students in grades 8-12 the opportunity to explore STEM topics; work with renowned faculty at campuses including UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz; and conduct research in state-of-the-art facilities. This is an intensive, four-week summer residential program aimed at academically gifted and talented students- the typical COSMOS student has a GPA of 3.5 or above. Students participate in “clusters” addressing various advanced topics in STEM fields, with like-minded peers. 


5. California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA)


Application Deadline: February 28, 2023

Dates: July 8- August 4, 2023

Cost: $4,250


Founded by the California state legislature in 1987, CSSSA provides support for future artists and creates a pipeline of talent for the state’s entertainment industry. An intensive, four-week residential program, students are provided the opportunity to explore a variety of fields, including music, theater, visual arts, dance, writing, and animation. There is financial aid available should students need it. 


6. Engineering Possibilities in College (EPIC)


Application Deadline: April 15, 2023

Dates: July 9-14 and July 16-21, 2023

Cost: $1,850


A residential program at California Polytechnic State University, EPIC provides rising 9th through 12th graders the chance to experience college life while exploring engineering fields and meeting like-minded peers. Participants take a daily engineering class, sit for a series of talks on topics ranging from trouble-shooting college admissions to the different types of engineering programs. There is also a wide variety of social activities hosted on campus. 


7. UCLA Summer Writing Program 


Application Deadline: June 15, 2023

Dates: July 6- July 27, 2023

Cost: TBD


This program is open to students who will be in the 10th and 11th grades in Spring of 2023. Students have the opportunity to take 2 units of UCLA credit either in-person or online- their course will be ENGL COMP 50. This is a basic introduction to critical reading and academic writing for aspiring college students. Also covered in the program is how to approach writing a college essay and the college application process.


8. SAGE Camp at SLAC


Application Deadline: March 31, 2023

Dates: Depends on location, July 24-30 and July 31- August 6, 2023

Cost: No cost


SAGE, or Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement in STEM, is a free, one-week residential camp for public school students from all backgrounds. Students are able to make professional connections, learn about scientific discoveries and engineering processes, and explore STEM careers in the future. Students are encouraged to leave expensive devices at home, and limit cell phone use while at camp.


9. Stanford Medical Youth Science Program (SMYSP)


Application Deadline: March 6, 2023

Dates: June 26- July 7; July 17- July 28, 2023

Cost:  $5,500


Students attending SMYSP will attend in-person sessions at Stanford University including lectures in Medical School classrooms. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students will not be residing on campus, instead preference being given to students residing in the immediate area for admission. Students will attend lectures from 9am to 12 noon, and skills sessions from 1pm to 4pm, Monday through Friday. They will gain valuable skills in lab work, ranging in topic from cardiothoracic surgery to physiology. There are scholarships available based on need.


10. Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement (AYA) 


Application Deadline: March 31, 2023

Dates: June 19- July 14, 2023

Cost: No cost


AYA is a free, four-week summer intensive academy that accepts 26 high school students from the surrounding community. Students will strengthen their skills in writing, critical thought, public speech and debate, multimedia production, interviewing, and ethnography. They get an understanding of USC Annenberg’s undergrad programs and possible careers, as well as the opportunity to meet the school’s innovative scholars advancing issues of race, gender, and ethnicity in communication and journalism. They will complete college-level course work and have access to college advising and essay prep from the USC College Advising Corps. 


11. Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)


Application Deadline: February 1, 2023

Dates: Online courses: June 19- July 10, July 17- August 4, 2023; In-person courses: June 25- July 21, 2023

Cost: Online: $3,550; In-person: $8,250


SUMaC is a chance for mathematically-gifted students from around the world to explore math beyond what is typically taught in the classroom. Students should expect a heavy workload and variety of engaging assignments outside of class time. Both the online and residential options have equal levels of rigor, with the online sessions providing virtual social opportunities with peers, guest speakers, and teaching assistants. The residential program serves 40 participants, while the online programs will serve 64. The residential will last for four weeks, while the online portion is a faster-paced, three-week curriculum. There is financial aid available for students who may need it. 




Application deadline: TBD

Dates: TBD

Cost: Free


Camp CHLA provides freshmen, sophomores, and juniors the chance to explore careers in healthcare and meet similarly interested peers. Over the camp’s five days, students will have the opportunity to learn, observe, and participate in a variety of daily activities at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, meet medical professionals, and gain first-hand experience in the field of healthcare.  


13. Eve and Gene Black Summer Medical Career Program


Application deadline: TBD

Dates: TBD

Cost: Free


Started in 1969, the Eve and Gene Black Summer Medical Career Program was designed to encourage high school students to choose careers in medicine—the program is often described as a medical mentorship. Open to students from Los Angeles and its surrounding counties, participants attend daily sessions, presentations, and interactive lessons hosted by professionals in the medical field, including:


  • Surgeons
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Dietitians
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Radiologists
  • Therapists (physical, speech, occupational, or cognitive)  


14. CCA Pre-College Program


Application Deadline: January, 2023

Dates: July 6- August 2, 2023

Cost: $4,000


California College of the Arts’ pre-college program is designed to allow high school students at all artistic levels to explore the arts. They will have access to all studios available on campus, including in fields such as animation, architecture, fashion design, film, interior design, photography, and sculpture. They have the opportunity to earn three college credits for their work during the program, as well as optional evening and weekend activities for residential students. 


15. UC Santa Barbara Summer Research Academies


Application Deadline: March 29, 2023

Dates: June 29- July 28, 2023

Cost: Commuter: $2,300; Residential: $7,699


UCSB’s summer research academies are open to current high school students in 9th, 10th, or 11th grade, with a minimum weighted GPA of 3.6, that are able to comply with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination policy. Scholarships are available to students who may need them. Students will earn four college credits by taking a research course that will teach fundamental concepts in whichever track they choose. They will learn how to compose a formal research report and gain key communication skills to present their findings. There are ten tracks to choose from, with an offering for any student interests. 


16. University of the Pacific Summer Camps


Application Deadline: NA

Dates: Two 2-week sessions: June 6- June 17, and June 20- July 1, 2023

Cost: $3,300


The University of the Pacific’s Summer High School Institute is a two-week residential summer program designed to immense students in the college lifestyle through experiences in the school’s labs, studios, fields, and makerspaces. The courses offered span five categories: Performing and Visual Arts, Health and Science, Engineering and Technology, Business and Society, and Athletics. Students live in dormitories, eat in dining halls, and learn in the school’s state-of-the-art library. They also have access to a variety of extracurricular social activities to meet and form bonds with their peers. 


17. YMCA Give Summer Program


Application Deadline: NA

Dates: NA

Cost: No cost


Check with your local YMCA Regional Teen Director to get involved with a Give Summer program. These programs allow teen volunteers to serve their communities, gain valuable leadership skills, and work together with their peers on a group project. 


18. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs


Application Deadline: March 24, 2023

Dates: Round 1: June 16- June 30; Round 2: July 10- July 21; Round 3: July 31- August 11, 2023

Cost: No cost


Both Girls Who Code summer programs are available to high school students who identify as girls or non-binary, with or without computer science experience. The virtual Summer Immersion Program (SIP) is a live, 2-week introductory course for students aged 14-18. It is focused on game design, and offers an inside look into the tech industry through company partners. The Self-Paced program is a 6-week course for students aged 14-18 in which students can earn beginner-level badges in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript programming languages, as well as an intermediate badge in Python. 


19. AstroCamp 


Application Deadline: NA

Dates: Session 1: July 2- July 14; Session 2: July 16- July 28, 2023

Cost: Early Bird (1/31) Tuition: $3,350; Regular Tuition: $3,550


At AstroCamp, students between the ages of 12 and 17 live in a residential program where they are able to choose from over 40 science, creative arts, and mountain adventure activities. While the camp has a focus on STEM, they also offer social events, like a carnival, renaissance festival, and talent show on the 100-acre facility. 


20. Meta Summer Academy


Application Deadline: March 1, 2023

Dates: June 20- July 28, 2023

Cost: Students will receive a stipend upon completion of the program.


Meta Summer Academy externs learn about the day-to-day operations of one of the world’s most prominent social media companies up close and personal. Over the course of the six-week program, students will build work experience and bolster the skills needed for a successful career in tech. This opportunity is open to high school students who live in East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, North Fair Oaks, and Redwood City. A minimum 2.5 GPA is required to participate in the program. 


How Impressive Are Summer Programs in College Admissions?


Colleges look for students who explore their interests outside the classroom. Extracurricular activities are an important way to demonstrate your passions.


Extracurricular activities are broken down into four tiers, with Tier 1 representing those that are the most impressive and unique and Tier 4 representing those that are the most common. In general, you should aim to have at least a few Tier 1 and 2 activities mixed in with Tier 3 and 4 activities.


Summer programs fall into different tiers depending on factors like selectivity, theme, and more. While they usually fall into Tier 3 or 4, a particularly prestigious and selective program could be considered Tier 1 or 2.


Curious how a summer program or extracurricular activity will impact your chances of admission? CollegeVine’s free chancing engine will help you learn your real odds of getting into 1500+ schools across the country, plus give you tips for improving your profile. 

Short Bio
Hi! I’m Cheyenne. I help educational institutions inform stakeholders and the wider public about the offerings available to them.

After graduating with my BA in History, and MA in Teaching, I knew education was my passion. Maverick Educational Copywriting was born out of my desire to make all levels of education accessible to students, families, alumni, and all other potential stakeholders. I believe education is at the heart of a healthy society, and making it understandable is a huge start! When not writing, I am usually spending time with my husband and dog, most likely hiking a new trail!