Published May 15, 2024

Three summer students, one about to look through a microscope. Do you have a passion for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics and an interest in expanding your knowledge through a summer program designed for academically minded pre-college students?

If so, you’ll want to learn what summer STEM programs have to offer, options for online and in-person study, and how to enroll in a program that works best for you.

What Are Summer STEM Programs?

Summer STEM programs are designed to enhance your understanding and proficiency in STEM topics, often through classroom instruction, hands-on experiences, workshops, and projects focused on STEM disciplines such as computer science, engineering, the life sciences, and mathematics.

The purpose of STEM summer programs for pre-college students is to provide accelerated learning opportunities in a college environment. You’ll be given the chance to explore college-level concepts and cutting-edge technologies in STEM fields. Such programs prepare you for future academic and career success in STEM-related fields by helping you develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills.

Benefits of Summer STEM Programs

Summer STEM programs offer numerous academic advantages for college-bound pre-college students. They provide unique hands-on learning experiences that deepen your understanding and proficiency in STEM subjects. And while most summer programs can’t guarantee you admission into specific colleges, they can enhance your application by demonstrating your ability to handle college-level coursework.

Moreover, participating in summer STEM programs allows you to learn about potential career paths, gain insights into industry trends, and connect with like-minded peers. These programs foster your skills in areas such as teamwork, communication, and adaptability, which help prepare you for college and beyond.

What to Expect in a Summer STEM Program

Many STEM programs go beyond classroom-bound academics by offering events and activities designed to enhance your summer experience. They often incorporate relevant field trips, labs, discussion sessions, and experiments to enrich the learning experience.

Common Subjects Covered in Summer STEM Programs

Topics covered in a summer STEM program will vary by program and institution. At Johns Hopkins, Summer at Hopkins Pre-College Programs offerings in STEM topics include:

  • Anatomy, Physiology, & Disease
  • Exploring the Universe with Space Telescopes
  • Foundational Mathematics of Artificial Intelligence
  • Introduction to Experimental Design in Biology
  • Social Inequality and the Public’s Health
  • Introduction to Laboratory Research
  • Population Genomics: Evolution, Extinction & Disease
  • Applications of Chemistry in Medicine

Summer at Hopkins also offers programs and courses in medicine and health.

Qualified pre-college students can also enroll in STEM-related Summer Term undergraduate courses, where they will study alongside Johns Hopkins and visiting undergraduate students. A sample of Johns Hopkins STEM Summer Term undergraduate courses:

  • Bootcamp: Python
  • Calculus I, II, and III
  • Computer System Fundamentals
  • Mathematics for Sustainability
  • General Biology I and II
  • Stars and the Universe: Cosmic Evolution

How to Enroll in a Summer STEM Program

Are you interested in a summer STEM program? Here’s how to get started.

  1. Research Programs: Start by researching different summer STEM programs to find options that align with your interests and goals. Look for programs offered by universities, organizations, or institutions specializing in STEM education. Some programs are online, while others are in person and might require you to commute or live on campus.
  2. Check Deadlines: Application deadlines can vary. Some programs may have early deadlines, so it’s essential to plan and apply as early as possible.
  3. Review Fees: Understand the program fees and additional costs such as materials, transportation, or accommodation.
  4. Get Answers to Your Questions: Some programs offer online FAQs and information sessions where you can learn about the program from administrators and admissions staff.

Once you’re ready to apply, follow these tips:

  • The Application: While a summer program won’t take the same level of work as applying to college, you should take your application seriously and ensure it is filled out completely.
  • Required Materials: Program websites will list the required materials. Make sure you submit all necessary documents before the deadline.

Scholarships and Funding Opportunities

Many schools want to ensure that any student interested in STEM has the chance to spend a summer in their program. Some schools provide financial assistance. You can visit the program’s official website or call or email about the availability of such assistance.

External scholarships are another option. They’re often offered by esteemed organizations or foundations dedicated to promoting STEM education. There are also general websites like that can help you find the best pre-college scholarship.

How to Choose the Right Summer STEM Program

When selecting a summer STEM program, consider your interests and circumstances, as well as the following:

  • Program Focus: Depending on your particular STEM interests, such as coding, calculus, or anatomy, look for a program that will foster your enthusiasm.
  • Program Reputation: Double-check any program’s reputation, including reviews, success stories, and alumni feedback, if possible.
  • Instructors and Staff: Consider who will be teaching the program. Are they regular faculty? Guests? Ensure that your instructor can provide you with effective learning experiences in their particular field.
  • Facilities and Resources: If you plan to attend a program in person, get a feel for the campus ahead of time, either in person or through a virtual tour. Check the facilities, equipment, and resources available to students during summer programs.
  • Opportunities for Growth: Look for programs that offer opportunities for personal and academic growth, such as project-based learning, collaboration, and skill development.
  • Cost and Financial Aid: Program costs can vary widely, so check the availability of financial assistance and payment options to make an informed decision.

Program Duration and Structure

Summer STEM programs typically range from one to several weeks, with intensive daily sessions. The curriculum often includes a blend of lectures, workshops, hands-on projects, and field trips to provide a comprehensive learning experience. For example, a two-week program might involve daily classes, guest speaker sessions, and a group project.

Target Audience and Eligibility

Some STEM pre-college programs are only open to rising seniors or juniors and seniors. Others are available to anyone who is high-school aged. And some colleges offer summer STEM semesters for pre-first-year undergrads. As you search for a program, be sure to check the eligibility requirements related to age or grade-level.

Summer STEM programs typically seek to admit applicants with at least a basic knowledge of relevant subjects, a passion for STEM, and a willingness to engage in hands-on learning activities. Before applying, check your specific program’s prerequisites and requirements.

Find the Right Summer STEM Program for You with Summer at Hopkins

Pursue your passion for STEM this summer at Johns Hopkins University. Whether you enroll in a two-week Pre-College Program—on campus or online—or a Summer Term undergraduate course, you can focus on the STEM topics you love while interacting with like-minded peers and world-class faculty. With Summer at Hopkins, you’ll get a preview of what college is like, all while adding extra polish to your college applications.

Learn more about Summer at Hopkins admissions, including tuition, eligibility requirements, and deadlines, or start your application today!

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