Best Summer Programs in Boston – 2023

April 10, 2023

boston summer programs

Boston: home to die-hard Red Sox devotees, the USS Constitution, dropped r’s, and the Freedom Trail. You can also throw a rock in any direction and hit a highly selective college, including Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and Boston University. Founded in 1630, Boston is steeped in history, featuring many prominent American Revolution-era sites such as the Old North Church and the Bunker Hill Monument. As such, if you’re lucky enough to earn a spot at a Boston summer program, there’s no chance you’ll run out of things to do, especially with a solid public transportation system at your disposal. Just don’t wear Yankees apparel within a five-mile radius of Fenway on game day, ask anyone to say “park the car in Harvard yard,” or neglect to budget plenty of line-waiting time at Mike’s Pastry (yes, it’s worth it).

Ready to pack your bags for the Bay State? Keep scrolling to view our best Boston summer programs for high school students:

1) Boston University High School Summer Programs

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Residential?: All have residential or commuter options except for Summer Challenge, which is either residential or online.
  • Program Length: Between one and six weeks
  • Cost: Summer Preview: $1,650 + room & board; Summer Challenge: $4,550; High School Honors: $6,200 + room & board; Academic Immersion: $5,131 + room & board; RISE: $5,100 + room & board.
  • Eligibility: Summer Preview: rising eighth graders, freshmen, and sophomores; Summer Challenge: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; High School Honors: rising juniors and seniors; Academic Immersion: rising juniors and seniors; RISE: rising seniors.
  • Application Deadline: All are rolling except High School Honors (May) and RISE (February).

BU offers a variety of highly respected summer options. Looking for a taste of the college social experience? Rising eighth, ninth, and tenth graders can participate in the week-long Summer Preview program. Hoping to experience college life alongside other high school students? During the Summer Challenge program, students spend two weeks partaking in two seminar courses. For example, these could include Abnormal Psychology, the Chemistry of Medicine, and Persuasive Writing. Want to earn college credit? The High School Honors program, a six-week intensive where students take classes alongside BU undergrads, might be up your alley.

In addition, BU offers Academic Immersion, which is a three-week deep dive into either psychology, medicine, or creative writing. And last but certainly not least is RISE, a renowned Boston summer program. RISE–Research in Science and Engineering–is a six-week program where students conduct laboratory research alongside BU faculty.

Although all Boston University high school summer programs have an application process, differing materials are required. For example, Summer Preview requires a personal statement and transcripts while RISE requires essays, recommendations, test scores, and transcripts.

2) Boston Leadership Institute Summer Programs

  • Location: Various; locations include Olin, Bentley, and Longwood Medical Area
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available
  • Program Length: One or three weeks
  • Cost: One week: $599; Two week: $2,200; Remote: $1,200. The residential fee is $699/week.
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

Offering one and three-week in-person experiences, Boston Leadership Institute summer programs provide award-winning STEM experiences for high schoolers. At this time, their one-week programs include Code Breaking & Cryptography, Financial Crimes, and Reconstructive Surgery. Programs feature a combination of learning and hands-on experience. For example, the Intro to Biotech program includes hands-on drug synthesis, guest lectures, and a biotech field trip. One-week programs do not require an application process and are designed to provide an introductory overview of a new subject.

Conversely, BLI’s three-week programs are highly competitive and require an application that includes an essay and transcripts. This option is geared toward students who hope to dive deep into a specialized topic while gaining research experience. Moreover, current topics include Astrophysics, Emergency Medicine, and Finance Research.

Finally, Boston Leadership Institute summer programs offer ten-day remote options that also require a competitive application process. Students can choose from two courses: Biotech Research or Biomedical and Surgical Research. There is also STEM Entrepreneurship, which meets three times a week via Zoom for three weeks.

Boston Summer Programs – Continued

3) Tufts University Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Medford, MA
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available.
  • Program Length: Two weeks or six weeks
  • Cost: Two-week in-person: $4-5,000 (commuter), $5,500-6,500 (residential); six-week in-person: $8,000 (commuter), $11,250 (residential).
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors, though some are only open to juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: May, though some close earlier due to high application volume.

Tufts offers two-week and six-week Boston summer programs. In short, two-week programs are intensive explorations that typically feature small group work, capstone projects, and portfolio creation. Interested students can choose from such courses as Engineering Design Lab, Studio Art, Climate Resilience Institute, and Mini Med School. All two-week programs require an application that includes teacher recommendations and transcripts, though some request additional materials. For example, Mini Med School applicants must be 16+ and have a year of high school biology under their belts. Likewise, prospective Studio Art participants need to submit artwork samples. Finally, some programs have virtual options available.

Tufts Summer Research Program, which is six weeks long, gives participants the opportunity to integrate into an existing research team. Accordingly, they’ll be mentored by Tufts faculty members and postdoctoral scholars. In addition, students have the opportunity to create a poster for a poster session and attend networking events. As such, this program is very competitive. Students must have past research experience, write several essays, and provide teacher recommendations and transcripts. There is also a virtual option available.

4) Berklee Summer Programs

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available.
  • Program Length: Five days to five weeks
  • Cost: Tuition ranges from $750 for a five-day program to $5,430 for the five-week program. This does not include potential housing.
  • Eligibility: Varies, but students typically need to be between the ages of 15 and 20.
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

At world-renowned Berklee, students can choose from quite a few in-person Boston summer programs. Moreover, many courses are led by Grammy or Tony Award-winning artists. Most are between five days and two weeks long and do not require an audition, though many have prerequisites. For example, Piano/Keyboard Workshop students must have six months of playing experience while Musical Theater Dance Intensive students must possess significant dance training. A sampling of current options includes Bass Workshop, Commercial Dance Intensive, Gospel Performance, and Music Business.

In addition, Berklee’s five-week Aspire option is considered to be one of the crown jewels of music summer programs. All students select one instrument (voice included) and develop their skills through a mix of private instruction, theory, and performance training. This program culminates with a final concert.

5) Research Science Institute at MIT

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Residential?: Residential.
  • Program Length: Six weeks
  • Cost: None
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors
  • Application Deadline: January

RSI–the Research Science Institute–is a six-week summer program for rising high school juniors. As one of the most highly competitive Boston summer programs, RSI only accepts 100 students. However, it is completely cost-free.

Firstly, students take one week of STEM coursework with MIT professors. Then, for the remaining five weeks, students “experience the entire research cycle start to finish.” Consequently, they participate in an intensive, mentored individual project experience that culminates in a written and oral presentation.

The program states that they look for students who are exceptionally academically talented. As such, the application process is quite intensive. PSAT Math scores must be over 740 and ACT Math scores must be over 33. In addition, students must write several essays, acquire teacher recommendations, and provide transcripts.

Final Thoughts – Boston Summer Programs

Whether you’re interested in STEM research at one of the Boston Leadership Institute summer programs, an exciting foray into creative writing at the Boston University high school summer programs, or an intensive musical theater experience at Berklee, Boston has something for you.

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