Top Summer Programs for Students in Los Angeles 2024

If Los Angeles were to be nominated for an Academy Award, it would undoubtedly clinch Oscars for its renowned entertainment industry and stunning beaches. From the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame to the enchanting Disneyland, and a plethora of film and television studios, Los Angeles stands as a beacon for students aspiring to venture into the media or entertainment realms. Yet, beyond the glitz and glamor, the City of Angels offers a rich tapestry of attractions. Marvel at the architectural marvel that is Griffith Observatory, immerse yourself in art at the sprawling Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the largest in the western US), or delve into the prehistoric wonders at the La Brea Tar Pits, an active paleontological site nestled within a public park.

Moreover, Los Angeles boasts an array of distinctive neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm, beckoning exploration and immersion into the vibrant Southern California lifestyle. Of course, navigating through the city’s notorious traffic congestion and contending with its air quality challenges may pose hurdles, but the experiences awaiting within this dynamic urban oasis make them worthwhile. Dive into the myriad exceptional summer programs offered throughout Los Angeles, and discover the treasures hidden within this bustling paradise.

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1) USC Summer Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Residential Options: Available for residential, commuter, and online participants.
  • Program Length: In-person: 4 weeks; Online: 2-4 weeks (self-paced)
  • Cost: In-person: $7,482-$10,480; Online: $1,990
  • Eligibility: In-person: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; Online: high school students aged 14+
  • Application Deadline: In-person: May; Online: Rolling

USC offers an array of Los Angeles summer programs tailored for high school students, with both in-person and online options. These courses are meticulously crafted to be immersive and intellectually stimulating, providing students with the opportunity to earn college credits upon completion.

The in-person curriculum spans four weeks and covers nine diverse departments at USC, including architecture, business, performing arts, pre-law, and writing. For instance, the Exploration of Architecture course delves into design fundamentals, composition, sketching, drawing, and photography techniques. The business segment offers four distinct courses: Analytics: The Power of Data, Building Sustainable Businesses: The Challenge of a Generation, Introduction to Business, and Exploring Entrepreneurship. Additionally, the Acting Intensive course focuses on movement, voice training, acting methodologies, and specialized preparation for college auditions. Each in-person program also incorporates immersive field trips within the vibrant landscape of Los Angeles.

Online courses feature flexible start dates and entail 20-25 hours of pre-recorded lectures, readings, and interactive discussions. Students can complete these courses at their own pace over a duration of 2-4 weeks. With twelve diverse options available, students can explore subjects like Lifespan Development: Critical Questions for Aging, Screenwriting: From Ideation to Writing Your First Script, and Digital Marketing: From Content Creation to Strategic Planning.

To apply for an in-person USC summer program, students are required to submit an essay, a teacher recommendation, and their academic transcript. Additionally, applicants should demonstrate their engagement in a rigorous high school curriculum. Conversely, the online application process is streamlined, requiring only a brief essay and basic contact information from prospective students.

2) UC Irvine Summer Surgery Programs

  • Location: Orange, CA
  • Residential Options: Residential options available.
  • Program Length: Summer Surgery Program: 2 weeks; Better than Live Summer Surgery Program: 1 week.
  • Cost: Summer Surgery Program: $5,500 + housing; Better than Live Summer Surgery Program: $2,350 + housing
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: February

Ranked among the top high school medical programs nationwide, the UC Irvine Summer Surgery Program offers unparalleled insight into the field of medicine. Beyond just glimpsing the daily routines of surgeons, students actively engage in hands-on training, including dissection courses, ultrasound training, and the development of surgical skills. They also have the unique opportunity to explore minimally invasive surgical technologies, collaborate with medical students, residents, and faculty, observe live surgeries, and earn a Basic Life Support Certification.

The program’s impact extends beyond its curriculum, with its effectiveness formally studied and published in the Journal of Surgical Education. According to research findings, 97% of participants reported increased interest in medicine after completing the program, while 88% noted a boost in their confidence toward pursuing a career in healthcare.

Building on the success of the Summer Surgery Program, UC Irvine has recently introduced the “Better than Live” Summer Surgery Program. Participants in this program benefit from mentorship, engaging in semi-live surgery case discussions, and hands-on surgical training akin to their counterparts in the Summer Surgery Program. Skill development covers areas such as laparoscopy, endoscopy, IV placement, and suturing.

To qualify for these esteemed Los Angeles summer programs, applicants must be at least 16 years old, maintain a 3.5 unweighted GPA or higher, submit several essays, and provide a teacher recommendation. Additionally, all candidates undergo interviews, with a particular emphasis on maturity and respect, especially given the live surgery component of the programs.

3) UCLA Summer Programs

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Residential Options: Residential, commuter, and online options available, depending on program.
  • Program Length: Precollege Summer Institutes: 1-6 weeks; SCIP: 6 weeks.
  • Cost: Precollege Summer Institutes: ~$1,400-7,000; SCIP: ~$4,400-10,500, depending on program format and number of credits taken.
  • Eligibility: Precollege Summer Institutes: rising 8-12th graders (ages 14-18), but some programs have additional restrictions; SCIP: rising juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Precollege Summer Institutes: rolling until full; SCIP: May.

The UCLA summer program landscape is teeming with opportunities, catering to a diverse array of interests and ambitions. For high school students, two primary options stand out: the Precollege Summer Institutes and the Summer College Immersion Program (SCIP).

For those keen on earning college credit, the Precollege Summer Institutes offer a wealth of choices across more than forty programs, available in three distinct formats. Some entail on-campus residency, while others are tailored for commuters or virtual participants. From Nanoscale Microscopy Lab to Hip Hop/Street Dance and Film and Television Summer Institute in Cinematography, the selection is both varied and enticing.

The Summer College Immersion Program, on the other hand, provides participants with a deep dive into residential and academic life at UCLA. Students enroll in up to two courses alongside current undergraduates, supplementing their academic pursuits with co-curricular lectures, workshops, and seminars. SCIP presents three formats: SCIP, SCIP+ (incorporating research skill development), and eSCIP (offering a virtual experience). The SCIP-approved course roster spans diverse subjects such as Acting Fundamentals, Cell and Molecular Biology, and People and Earth’s Ecosystems. SCIP+ and eSCIP entail their own curated course lists, with SCIP+ students also required to undertake a concurrent Research Practice Course.

Admission criteria vary for each UCLA summer program, with specific requirements tailored to individual offerings. For instance, the Acting and Performance Summer Institute necessitates a video audition, resume, recommendation letter, and essay. Meanwhile, SCIP mandates a minimum 3.6 unweighted GPA, submission of an extracurricular resume, transcript, and statement of purpose.

4) Scripps College Student Research Internship Program

  • Location: La Jolla, CA
  • Residential Options: Yes
  • Program Length: 10 weeks
  • Cost: No cost. Stipends are sometimes awarded; if unpaid, students must receive credit via their high school or local community college.
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: March

Immersing themselves in translational medical research, participants in these Los Angeles summer programs pursue multifaceted objectives. Firstly, they delve into diverse domains such as genomics, bioinformatics, and digital medicine, broadening their exposure to the field. Secondly, they hone crucial research skills, mastering procedures, clinical trial organization, and presentation techniques.

Under the program’s guidance, each intern is paired with a mentor whose expertise aligns with their interests. Collaborating closely with their mentor, students become integral members of multidisciplinary research teams, benefiting from seminars conducted by esteemed faculty members. Culminating their experience, participants craft independent research proposals and showcase their findings at a poster symposium.

Throughout the application process, candidates undergo thorough evaluation based on academic credentials and research aspirations. A profound interest in genomics or mHealth translational research serves as a pivotal criterion for admission, emphasizing the program’s commitment to fostering passion-driven exploration. Some applicants may be invited for interviews with prospective mentors prior to final selection. Additionally, it’s essential to note that while Scripps College is situated within LA County, the Research Translational Institute operates approximately two hours south of the main campus.

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5) Loyola Marymount Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Residential Options: Residential or online. No commuter options available.
  • Program Length: 2-4 weeks
  • Cost: 2-week: $5,800; 4-week: $10,000; Online: $2,300
  • Eligibility: Students aged 14-18. Some sections restricted to rising juniors and/or seniors.
  • Application Deadline: March

Immersing students in undergraduate life, these Los Angeles summer programs offer a blend of rigorous academics, extracurricular activities, and co-curricular workshops. Participants can opt for two-week residential, four-week residential, or two-week online programs. While four-week programs earn credits, two-week programs do not.

The array of two-week options encompasses Acting for the Camera, Beginning Screenwriting, Global Sports and Entertainment Business, Journalism Workshop, and the Engineering of Theatre. For those opting for four-week programs, choices include Social Impact Filmmaking and Exploring Engineering. The online platform offers a single option: Beginning Screenwriting. Furthermore, each course incorporates a Los Angeles area excursion, allowing students to delve into local industries. For instance, filmmaking enthusiasts might tour film or television studios, while graphic design students could explore printing companies.

In addition to the general application, students must submit a personal statement, a letter of recommendation, and high school transcripts.


Los Angeles offers a wealth of summer programs for high school students eager to explore various fields, gain valuable experiences, and prepare for their academic futures. From prestigious universities like USC and UCLA to specialized programs such as the Scripps College Student Research Internship Program and Loyola Marymount Pre-College Programs, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in medicine, filmmaking, engineering, or journalism, these programs provide opportunities to learn, grow, and make lasting memories in the vibrant and dynamic city of Los Angeles. So, seize the chance to expand your horizons, develop new skills, and pave the way for a bright future ahead.