Best Summer STEM Programs 2024

In the early 2000s, the National Science Foundation introduced the term STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Originally, it was SMET, but that didn’t quite catch on. STEM has since become a cornerstone of education in many US schools, encompassing a curriculum that integrates these four disciplines. Variations like STEAM (with art) and STREAM (with art and robotics) have also emerged. Starting from preschool and kindergarten, children are introduced to STEM topics to develop skills, confidence, and pave the way for success in STEM fields throughout their academic journey and beyond. High school summer STEM programs offer valuable insights into various STEM careers, exposing students to different topics and disciplines. If you’re interested in a specific STEM field, explore our posts on engineering, math, and computer science summer programs.

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1) Rice University Precollege Program

Are you seeking a program that offers flexibility and allows you to learn at your own pace? Look no further than Rice University’s Precollege Program, available to students aged 13 and up. Whether you opt for a 1-week intensive, 2-week session, or 4-week session, all courses are fully online, offering you the convenience of learning from anywhere. With a mission to foster unconventional thinking and innovation, Rice University offers eight courses covering a broad spectrum of subjects, including medicine, STEM, business, law, government, psychology, and aerospace.

Throughout your course, you’ll engage with dynamic video lectures delivered by Rice professors and participate in a variety of hands-on activities. Expect to spend approximately 20-30 hours on instruction, simulations, and assignments. Additionally, you’ll receive guidance and support from a mentor to help you navigate the course material. Each course culminates in a capstone project, allowing you to showcase your learning. For example, in “Global Affairs: Exploring Changing Political Systems,” you’ll delve into the factors influencing democratic survival or decline and complete a comparative project on two countries. In “Genome Engineering: Changing the Future of Medicine,” you’ll explore genome editing and ethical considerations before devising a gene-editing strategy for a blood disorder.

There’s no limit to the number of courses you can take simultaneously, allowing you to explore your interests in depth. Upon completion, you’ll receive a Certificate of Completion. Applying is simple—all you need to do is provide basic personal information and a personal statement explaining your interest in the course.

2) California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS)

For students eager to explore advanced topics in STEM, the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) offers an unparalleled opportunity. Held at various UC campuses, including Davis, Irvine, San Diego, and Santa Cruz, this residential program spans four weeks and exposes students to cutting-edge science and math concepts.

During COSMOS, students select a “cluster” comprising two science and/or math courses, along with a science communication course. Each campus offers different clusters, covering diverse topics such as microbiology, sustainable aviation systems, and video game design. Led by UC faculty members, courses include labs, field trips, discussions, and research projects.

Outside of academics, students enjoy residence hall living and participate in social activities like sports games and karaoke nights. To apply, students must submit at least one teacher recommendation, a personal statement, and transcripts. These STEM programs are exclusively for California high school students.

3) Michigan Math & Science Scholars

Immerse yourself in the world of STEM with Michigan Math & Science Scholars, a two-week program designed for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Held in Ann Arbor, these immersive courses offer a deep dive into subjects like human anatomy, surface chemistry, and mathematics of decisions.

With multiple sessions offered, students can choose to participate in one, two, or three sessions. Courses are led by University of Michigan professors and include hands-on projects, lab work, and field experiences. Residential students have the opportunity to live on campus and engage in social programming like outdoor film screenings and swimming.

Admission is competitive, with approximately half of all applicants accepted. To apply, students must submit teacher recommendations, transcripts, and a personal statement.

4) USNA Summer STEM Programs

If you’re considering a career in STEM and seeking a transformative summer experience, look no further than the USNA Summer STEM Programs, located in Annapolis, MD. Operated by the esteemed Naval Academy, renowned for its top-tier engineering programs, this one-week residential program is designed for rising freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.

Throughout the week, participants dive into captivating topics like Reverse Engineering, Searching for Unobtanium, and Storm Chasing, engaging in hands-on projects such as coding and hydro lab work. But it’s not just about academic exploration—USNA places a strong emphasis on teamwork and character building, mirroring the unique culture of the Naval Academy.

Students also have the invaluable opportunity to interact with current midshipmen, gaining insight into USNA’s structure, majors, and campus life. From intramural sports to presentations by veteran empowerment organizations, participants get a taste of the rich experiences awaiting them at USNA.

To apply, demonstrate strong academic performance, test scores, and extracurricular involvement, alongside a genuine passion for STEM subjects.

5) Smith Science and Engineering Program (SSEP)

Calling all aspiring female scientists and engineers! Smith College, the pioneer in women’s education in engineering science, offers an enriching summer experience through the Smith Science and Engineering Program (SSEP), located in Northampton, MA. This two-week residential program welcomes rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors eager to immerse themselves in hands-on research experiences.

With two sessions to choose from, each offering six diverse courses, students delve into fascinating subjects like the Chemistry of Herbal Medicine, Designing Intelligent Robots, and Big Data and Social Media. Through lectures, experiments, and field work, participants spend five days a week in class, fostering collaboration and learning from each other’s perspectives.

Admission is selective, with a strong academic record, stellar teacher recommendations, and a well-written essay being key factors. Given Smith’s status as a women’s college, only female students are eligible for this program.

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6) Secondary Student Training Program

Embark on a journey of academic exploration and research with the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP), located in Iowa City, IA. Available in both residential and online formats, this six-week program is open to rising juniors and seniors seeking to hone their research skills alongside esteemed faculty mentors.

With a wide array of research areas to choose from, ranging from pathology to business analytics, students immerse themselves in their chosen field, attending seminars and spending approximately seven hours per day in their research groups. The program culminates with a poster presentation, allowing participants to showcase their findings.

Admission is highly competitive, requiring strong academic performance, solid writing skills, and compelling essays. Applicants should also submit transcripts and recommendations to be considered for this transformative STEM experience.


These summer STEM programs offer exceptional opportunities for high school students to explore their interests, build valuable skills, and gain insight into potential career paths. Whether you’re interested in engineering, medicine, computer science, or any other STEM field, there’s a program out there to help you take your passion to the next level. From hands-on research experiences to dynamic coursework led by experts in the field, these programs provide a supportive environment where students can thrive and grow. So don’t miss out on the chance to expand your horizons and make lasting connections—apply to a summer STEM program today and embark on a journey of discovery and learning like no other!