Best Computer Science Summer Programs – 2024

May 19, 2023

computer science summer programs

Over the next decade, computer science careers are projected to flourish at a remarkably fast clip–15% across all computer and information technology-related occupations. As such, computer science is now an incredibly popular and selective major at many schools. It’s harder than ever to be accepted into prestigious programs, and once accepted, students are faced with a rigorous and demanding curriculum as well as a high attrition rate. Consequently, while high school preparation should involve upper-level math and science courses, it should also involve outside-of-the-classroom ventures such as robotics clubs, personal projects, and programming languages. In particular, computer science summer programs for high school students are an excellent way to develop coding skills, undertake new challenges, and hone the habits of mind necessary to be successful in college and beyond. Read on for a sampling of the best programs across the country.

1) Carnegie Mellon National High School Game Academy

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available
  • Program Length: 6 weeks
  • Cost: $8,409 (commuter); $11,313 (residential)
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: March

For students with interests in visual arts, music, audio, game design, or software development, Carnegie Mellon’s program provides an excellent foray into the intersection of technology and creativity. Students follow a highly structured and rigorous curriculum, ultimately creating an original game prototype.

First, students spend two weeks learning foundational skills, which include 2D and 3D art, music composition, and team management. The goal of this primary stage is to prepare students for their teams, where they’ll work together to create an original game. Here, they’ll handle every aspect of the production process, from pitch to final presentation. Team roles are assigned by faculty and could be in production, programming, visual art, or audio design. Given that students work on two different teams, they’ll have the chance to hold two roles and build two games. Final games will be playable and able to be used as college application portfolio pieces.

Consequently, these computer science summer programs for high school students are time-intensive. During the first two weeks, students spend five hours a day in class and two to three hours on homework. During the final month, students often work eight hours per day on their games, including most weekends.

Finally, students apply to specific tracks that align with their area of interest: software development, visual art, or sound design. There is also a “Game Generalist” track available for those with multiple interests. Transcripts, recommendations, essays, and a portfolio are required elements of the application.

2) World Scholars Academy | Elite Summer Courses

  • Location: Virtual
  • Residential?: All courses are fully online.
  • Program Length: 2 weeks
  • Cost:$1,599-$2,999 per course
  • Eligibility: Students ages 12-18
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

World Scholars Academy offers elite summer courses and research internships taught live online by world-leading instructors from top research universities. Study for success with individual feedback and personalized academic guidance in our exclusive small-group classes (max 6 students), providing high-level instruction in the theory and practice of your chosen discipline. Secure a letter of recommendation from your instructor, and connect with other ambitious peers from around the world. Limited places are available for aspiring scholars ages 12-18.

All programs are taught by world-elite instructors from top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard who are hand-selected for their intellectual leadership and ability to transmit high-level insights to their students.

The Computer Science program has two options: World Coders Academy (ages 15-18) and Discover Computer Science Academy (ages 12-14). The World Coders Academy covers topics including Coding Languages, Structures of Coding, Cryptography & Code Breaking, and Artificial Intelligence. The Discover Computer Science Academy introduces younger students to concepts such as the History of Computers, Intro to Coding, and Computer Architecture.

3) Frontiers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Location: Worcester, MA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 2 weeks
  • Cost: $3,595
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

Renowned for the amount of cross-disciplinary opportunity it provides to undergraduates, WPI provides a similar experience to summer program participants. As such, students “major” in a computer science or engineering-focused area and “minor” in the arts or humanities. For example, in addition to selecting Computer Science: Possibilities in Programming as their major, students can choose from Cinematic Storytelling, Music, or Psychology, among others, as their minor.

Computer Science: Possibilities in Programming is perfect for beginners. Since it is self-paced, it’s also perfect for independent learners. Students focus on how programming applies to internet applications and object-oriented languages. Consequently, they dive into topics like HTML, JavaScript, and networking, to name a few. Moreover, students have the opportunity to pursue their topics of interest–instructors tailor the class to student wants and needs.

Outside of academics, students spend time with peers and attend social activities (like kickboxing, trivia, and movie nights). They also take part in college preparation workshops. To apply to these well-regarded computer science summer programs, students must submit a short essay, activities list, transcripts, and recommendations.

Computer Science Summer Programs for High School Students – Continued

4) SLAI Pre-College at Carleton College

  • Location: Northfield, MN
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 3 weeks
  • Cost: $4,300
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: March

Hoping to study computer science from a liberal arts perspective? Look no further than Carleton’s Summer Liberal Arts Institute (SLAI). Through hands-on activities, teamwork, and instructor mentorship, students explore several different courses and research topics. These include robotics, computer vision, game theory, and game development.

During their morning classes, students explore multiple topics. Then, in afternoon research groups, they immerse themselves in one particular topic. For example, the robotics research group–Creative Robotic Programming–introduces students to Python/Scratch programming as well as basic robotics tasks. Students work in groups to design their own fully functional robots, programmed to achieve specific goals. Moreover, students have an excellent degree of access to faculty members as well as undergraduate teaching assistants. Finally, they share their learning in a final research symposium.

Hoping to earn college credit? You’re in luck–that’s a possibility at these computer science summer programs for high school students. As such, SLAI programs are selective and will require a substantial amount of time in and outside of class. To apply, students must submit several essays, a transcript, and two recommendation letters.

5) Luddy Pre-College Summer Program

  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $750
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

At Indiana University’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, students tackle problems in engineering, science, and society using a variety of computational tools. For students hoping to learn a programming language, Python is on the agenda at these computer science summer programs. Moreover, an outstanding variety of topics are covered which range from microbiome gene sequencing to cryptocurrencies to strategic intelligence. Students can expect to walk away with a well-developed sense of how Python can be utilized in myriad industries.

Furthermore, students live in residential housing on Indiana University Bloomington’s campus. The program fee also includes meals and activities.

6) Stevens Institute of Technology Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Hoboken, NJ
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1-2 weeks
  • Cost: $2,800 (one-week programs); $4,300 (two-week programs)
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: May

Stevens gives computer science-impassioned students the ability to choose from a number of specialized tracks. Unlike other computer science summer programs for high school students, there are different course levels available. These include Cybersecurity (beginner or advanced), Introduction to Game Design, Introduction to Coding, or Intermediate Computer Science. All courses are taught by Stevens faculty.

For example, students enrolled in Introduction to Coding learn Python while digging into variables, operators, and built-in data structures. They’ll then work in teams to create an original project. Alternatively, Intermediate Computer Science requires a background in AP Computer Science (or equivalent). This course runs for longer than Introduction to Coding (two weeks vs. one). As a result, students have the opportunity to undertake accelerated modules like scientific computing, programming language design, and algorithms.

Additionally, students enjoy college admissions workshops as well as social programming, which includes an NYC dinner cruise along the Hudson. Hoboken is a top-ranked college town, and its proximity to New York City–just a twenty-minute drive, subway ride, or ferry trip–means that students will have no shortage of activities both on and off campus.

Final Thoughts – Computer Science Summer Programs

Whether you’re absolutely confident that computer science is in your future or simply hope to explore the possibilities, a computer science summer program will enable you to develop both hard and soft skills in areas like coding, teamwork, and problem-solving. If you decide to pursue further study in this dynamic field, your summer program experience will prime you for success. However, if you decide to veer in a different direction, rest assured that your newfound technological capabilities will be an asset to a robust number of potential career paths.

Looking for computer science summer programs in your area? Consider checking out the following: