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10 Summer Programs in Arizona for High Schoolers

What’s Covered:


Students and parents often think that “summer camps” are just for younger kids. However, summer programs specifically for high schoolers provide an abundance of opportunities, including allowing them to develop their current interests, explore new fields, build skills, meet like-minded peers, and gain first-hand experience in areas of interest. The Grand Canyon State is home to a multitude of great options, such as the 10 summer programs in Arizona for high schoolers listed below. 


Summer Programs in Arizona


1. Business Careers Awareness Program


High school juniors from backgrounds underrepresented in undergraduate accounting and business classes are welcomed to explore careers in the business field and learn about life at the University of Arizona (UA). Participants can choose to either attend the day-long experience or a week-long residential program. The program is hosted by the UA’s Eller College of Management Dhaliwal-Reidy School of Accountancy.  


Affiliate organization: University of Arizona

Grades: 11th grade only

Cost: Free

Deadline: 4/15/2022

Essay prompts: What do you hope to learn/accomplish as a participant in the BCAP Program? How does attending this program fit into your future college and career aspirations?


2. Young Writers Institute


For more than four decades, the Writing Skills Improvement Program has been helping students to develop writing fluency and confidence. This three-week, non-residential program at the University of Arizona (UA) provides participants with the chance to participate in reading- and writing-focused activities, explore UA programs, and build the skills needed to succeed in academic and personal ventures. 


Affiliate organization: University of Arizona

Grades: 9th, 10th, and11th

Cost: $275  

Deadline: 5/1/22

Essay prompts: Why are you applying to attend the Young Writers Institute? Be honest! Do you love writing and want to grow as a writer? Do you hate writing and someone is insisting that you apply? What do you think about your writing skills and how can participating in the program help you? (200 words)

Additional requirements: A letter of recommendation from a teacher, school administrator, or job supervisor.


3. Summer Experience at West


Students can choose to learn about psychology, biology, mathematics, nutrition, or physical wellness during this three-day program at Arizona State University. The program provides an excellent college-prep experience thanks to participants engaging in activities such as research, presentations, seminars, college-major explorations, and panel discussions. Participants can choose to stay on campus or commute. 


Affiliate organization: Arizona State University

Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th 

Cost: $150- $300

Deadlines: 3/2022


4. Keep Engaging Youth in Science (KEYS) Research Internship


The KEYS summer program is a great choice for students with an interest in bioscience, engineering, environmental health, data science, and biostatistics. Throughout this seven-week STEM research program at the University of Arizona, students work alongside top faculty while pursuing their passion. 


Affiliate organization: University of Arizona

Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th

Cost: Free

Deadline: December 5, 2021 (for Summer 2022)

Essay prompts: Write a letter responding to the following prompts (800 words):

  • Identify​ ​your​ ​life​ ​and​ ​academic​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​explain​ ​how​ ​participating​ ​in​ ​the​ ​KEYS Research​ ​Internship​ ​will​ ​help​ ​you​ ​achieve​ ​both.
  • Identify​ ​your​ ​specific​ ​interests​ ​in​ ​bioscience​ ​research,​ ​if​ ​you​ ​have​ ​them,​ ​and explain​ ​what​ ​sparked​ ​your​ ​interests.​ ​Or,​ ​if​ ​your​ ​interests​ ​are​ ​still​ ​evolving,​ ​explain how​ ​the​ ​KEYS​ ​Research​ ​Internship​ ​will​ ​help​ ​you​ ​narrow​ ​your​ ​focus.
  • Identify​ ​one​ ​of​ ​your​ ​strengths​ ​or​ ​attributes​ ​and​ ​explain​ ​how​ ​it​ ​makes​ ​you​ ​more competitive​ ​for​ ​the​ ​KEYS​ ​Research​ ​Internship.

Additional requirements:

  • High school GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 grading scale
  • 16 years of age or older on the first day of the program
  • Arizona resident
  • U.S. citizenship or legal residency
  • Chemistry and Biology recommended


5. University of Arizona Med-Start


This awesome Arizona summer program is a fantastic option for 11th graders interested in pursuing a path in the health sciences. During this in-depth six-week program at the University of Arizona, participants will explore healthcare career opportunities and experience college-level coursework in English, Science, and Math.  


Affiliate organization: University of Arizona

Grades: 11th 

Cost: $4,100

Deadline: 2/1/22

Additional requirements: 

  • U.S. citizen 
  • Arizona resident 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA 
  • Recommendation 


6. Summer Engineering Experience: SEE@ASU


Students receive an exciting introduction to the engineering profession including research opportunities and hands-on projects, during this five-day program at Arizona State University (ASU). Participants considering attending ASU will also welcome the opportunity to explore all 25 undergraduate engineering and technology programs offered at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Students can choose to stay on-campus or commute. 


Affiliate organization: Arizona State University

Grades: 10th and 11th 

Cost: $375-$675

Additional requirements: Must have maintained a 2.75 GPA in all your academic classes in high school


7. High School Game Camp


Students learn intensive video game creation skills during this two-week program at Arizona State University. 


Affiliate organization: Arizona State University

Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th

Cost: N/A

Deadlines: Canceled for 2022


8. App Camp


Students use the fundamentals of programming and computational thinking to develop an iPhone app during this 11-day camp at Arizona State University.  


Affiliate organization: Arizona State University

Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th

Cost: N/A

Deadlines: Canceled for 2022


9. Mayo Clinic High School Student Summer Volunteer Program


Students can volunteer in both clinic and hospital settings during this intensive nine-week program at the Mayo Clinic, where students will learn valuable skills about healthcare and medicine firsthand.  


Affiliate organization: Mayo Clinic

Grades: 10th and 11th 

Cost: Free

Deadlines: Temporarily suspended 


10. Digital Culture Summer Institute 


This five-day summer program is presented by Arizona State University’s School of Arts, Media, and Engineering. The Digital Culture Summer Institute is aimed at future makers, artists, designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs. The program infuses participants with the in-demand skills needed to succeed in a technology-fueled world through interdisciplinary classes in the arts, music, digital media, computer science, technology, and engineering.


Affiliate organization: Arizona State University 

Ages: 12 through 18  

Cost: $375-$425

Deadlines: Priority registration before 5/1/22 


How do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances? 


Participation in summer programs factors into college admissions, although their significance will depend on various factors, including their prestige, how they align with your interests, and the value particular institutions place on extracurricular activities. 


The more prestigious an extracurricular activity (like attending a summer program), the more weight it will hold will admissions officers. For example, admittance to a selective program like UA’s Young Writers Workshop will generally grab attention. Similarly, participating in a program closely aligned with your interests—like a hopeful pre-med student attending a program like UA Med-Start—is another great way to bolster admissions odds. 


The four tiers of extracurricular activities are a good way to understand how colleges assess an applicant’s pursuits outside of the classroom. The top tiers—one and two—are the most desirable to colleges. Top-tier activities are impressive, unique, and rare. The lower tiers—three and four—are reserved for more common and less wow-worthy activities. 


Ideally, a college profile will have a few top-tier activities—like attending a prominent summer program—mixed with activities from the lower tiers. 


CollegeVine can also help you determine the influence extracurricular activities have on your chances of college admission. 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.