Best Summer Programs in Denver – 2024

April 13, 2024

denver summer programs

Denver–the Mile High City–is perched just east of the Rocky Mountains. Famous for its 300 days a year of sunshine, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise with enough hiking, biking, and climbing to keep one busy for a lifetime of summers. Within the city itself, one will find multiple museums, including the acclaimed Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Nature and Science, and the Molly Brown House Museum, former residence of a Titanic survivor. Known for its rich Hispanic and indigenous heritage, Denver is also a cultural gathering area for the American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In addition, college towns Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and Boulder are within an hour’s drive. Interested in attending one of the many excellent Denver summer programs? Polish your sunglasses, plan to drink twice as much water as you usually would (altitude adjustment pro tip), and take your pick from the list below.

1) Colorado College Summer Pre-College Program

  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 2 weeks.
  • Cost: $4,500 + room & board
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

While taking a summer course of choice, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Colorado College’s Block Plan. For those who aren’t familiar with the Block Plan, it’s a unique schedule—students take one class at a time for three-and-a-half weeks (eight classes per academic year). Accordingly, the summer program introduces students to this format.

Pre-college students can choose from seven courses, which include options like Climate Change and Sustainable Development and Introduction to Drawing: Landscape Immersion. Moreover, upon successful completion of their course, students earn college credit. Additionally, students enjoy CC’s academic community (thriving even in the summer) and engage in field trips and supplemental programming. For example, bouldering, hiking, yoga, and art are just a few of the many options available. Finally, all students live in a residence hall with other pre-college students as well as CC undergraduates.

To apply to these Denver summer programs, students will need to submit a transcript and a counselor recommendation. In addition, they can submit optional teacher recommendations, test scores, and writing samples.

2) University of Colorado Denver Pre-College Summer Programs

  • Location: Denver, CO
  • Residential?: Architecture in the City/BOLT/GenCyber: commuter only; LYNX: commuter and residential options available.
  • Program Length: Architecture in the City/GenCyber: 1 week; BOLT: 4 days; LYNX: 1-2 weeks.
  • Cost: Architecture in the City: $700; BOLT: $900; GenCyber: free; LYNX: $600-2,500, depending on program.
  • Eligibility: Architecture in the City: rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college freshmen; BOLT: rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors; GenCyber: rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college freshmen; LYNX: students aged 14-18.
  • Application Deadline: Architecture in the City: first-come, first-served (capped at 28 students); BOLT: first-come, first-served; GenCyber: rolling; LYNX: May.

Here, high school students will find four different Denver summer programs. Firstly, Architecture in the City, run by the College of Architecture and Planning, introduces students to architecture and urban planning. It also provides hands-on opportunities with small-scale models and architectural design software. In addition, students visit architectural firms and project sites.

How do engineers solve clinical problems? Students will investigate that question at BOLT–or Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training. Over the course of the program, students will learn about biomedical engineering and related research. They’ll also work in small groups to create a prototype and compete in a design competition.

Moreover, GenCyber is a free cybersecurity education program funded by the National Security Agency and National Science Foundation. However, it is open only to Colorado high school students. Admission is selective, and students spend a week learning about cybersecurity ethics, behavioral security, and digital forensics, among other topics.

Finally, LYNX National Art and Media Camps offer both residential and commuter options that vary in length. One-week options include Comic Book Character Design, 2D Animation/Illustration, Audio Production, and Photography; two-week options include Music Industry, Animation, Filmmaking, and Visual Immersive Art.

3) Colorado State University Summer Programs

  • Location: Fort Collins, CO
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available, depending on program.
  • Program Length: Women in CM: 1 week; Global Business Academy: 10 days; SciVet: 1 week.
  • Cost: Women in CM: Free (yes, truly!); Global Business Academy: $3,750; SciVet: $1,670 (residential), $1,070 (commuter).
  • Eligibility: Women in CM/Global Business Academy: students aged 15-18; SciVet: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Women in CM: March (priority deadline); Global Business Academy: June; SciVet: February.

Whether your goal is to earn academic credit or gain skills in a new area, CSU likely offers Denver summer programs you’ll find valuable. Residential options abound, and include the unique Women in Construction Management Summer Institute. Here, students work with faculty members and female architecture/construction professionals to develop confidence, explore careers, and build projects. Essays and teacher recommendations are required.

Additionally, the Global Business Academy allows students to fast track their skills in communication, leadership, and financial literacy, among others. They also attend lectures and business simulations. Moreover, students network with business executives, explore the surrounding area, and participate in team-building exercises at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Interested in becoming a veterinarian? The SciVet Summer Program exposes students to topics like dendrochronology, equine assisted therapy, water quality, and native bees via lectures, experiential learning, and lab visits. All students will be individually mentored, and outdoor field work is required. Moreover, the application is competitive and requires an essay.

Finally, other notable residential programs include the ENvision Engineering Summer Program, which is completely free, as well as the Dance Lab: Summer Intensive. Non-residential programs include the IT in Business program, the Summer Cybersecurity Camp, and GirlsGetMath@CSU, all of which are free.

Denver Summer Programs — Continued

4) University of Colorado Boulder Summer Programs

  • Location: Boulder, CO
  • Residential?: Science Discovery/Research Experience: commuter only; Summer Music Academy: residential and commuter options available.
  • Program Length: Science Discovery: 1 week; Research Experience: 6 weeks; Summer Music Academy: 1 week.
  • Cost: Science Discovery: $425-695; Research Experience: $1,995; Summer Music Academy: $775 (residential), $550 (commuter).
  • Eligibility: Science Discovery: rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors; Research Experience: students age 16+; Summer Music Academy: rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college freshmen.
  • Application Deadline: Science Discovery: first-come, first-served; Research Experience: March; Summer Music Academy: first-come, first-served.

STEM students will have their pick of the litter at CU Boulder. For starters, Science Discovery High School Classes are held for one week each throughout June and July, and are designed for students looking to dive deep into a specialized area. As such, they include hands-on learning, lab work, and field trips. Upcoming classes include Aerospace, Biotechnology, Computer Science and Robotics, and Forensics, among others. Those interested in a more intensive option should consider Biomedical Research Bootcamp, which is two weeks long and allows students to develop their own research proposals.

Furthermore, students who are interested in gaining laboratory experience should seriously consider the STEM Research Experience. Over the course of six weeks, students are mentored by Boulder and Anschutz faculty members. They also work in the lab 15-20 hours per week. Additionally, the course culminates in a poster session. The application process is competitive and requires participants to complete essay questions as well as a short video.

Finally, talented musicians might consider taking advantage of either the Band and Orchestra or Piano Summer Music Academies. Here, they’ll receive instruction from renowned musicians and CU faculty members. They’ll also take electives and masterclasses. When applying to these Denver summer programs, students will need to provide a video recording of specific skills.

5) Colorado School of Mines Engineering Design Summer Program

  • Location: Golden, CO
  • Residential?: No.
  • Program Length: 1 week.
  • Cost: $600
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors
  • Application Deadline: First-come, first-served

At Colorado School of Mines, students have the opportunity to build 3D design skills in SolidWorks. While exploring creative modeling and visualization, students are given hands-on challenges to complete. Furthermore, on the final day of the program, students become a Certified SolidWorks Associate, which is an industry-recognized certification. As such, it’s one they’ll benefit greatly from if they intend to pursue a career in engineering. Finally, these Denver summer programs are taught by a former adjunct faculty member of the Colorado School of Mines.

Final Thoughts 

Within an hour’s drive of the Mile High City, students will find multiple college campuses. Accordingly, those interested in Denver summer programs will have access to a variety of academic and career development options both in and outside the city.

Looking for more summer program resources? Be sure to check out the following: