Best Summer Programs in Houston – 2024

April 15, 2024

best houston summer programs

Houston–the largest city in Texas and fourth-largest in the United States–is colloquially known as Space City. That’s for good reason, as it houses the Johnson Space Center, NASA’s hub for human spaceflight. (It’s also why Houston’s baseball team changed from the Colt .45s to the Astros.) In addition, Houston is renowned for its art scene. The Museum District is one of the largest in the country and offers 18 museums within walking distance of one another, which include The Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of African American Culture. Likewise, the Theater District is home to opera, symphony, ballet, and the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre. And unlike other Texas cities, Houston isn’t landlocked–the coast is only an hour’s drive east. If enrolling in one of the many excellent Houston summer programs is on your to-do list, keep scrolling for our top selections.

For a full look at our searchable database of the best 2024 summer programs click the button below. Here, you will be able to sort summer programs by discipline and location and can view important data points such as tuition costs, deadlines, course listings, and more!

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1) Rice University Summer Programs

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Residential?: Residential, commuter, and online options available, depending on program.
  • Program Length: Precollege Program: 1, 2, or 4 weeks; Aerospace and Aviation Academy: 12 days; ELITE Tech: 1 week; Tapia: 6 days.
  • Cost: Precollege Program: $1,495; Aerospace and Aviation Academy: $6,745; ELITE Tech: $695-3,795; Tapia: $2,500.
  • Eligibility: Precollege Program: students age 13 and up; Aerospace and Aviation Academy: rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college freshmen; ELITE Tech: rising 9-12th graders; Tapia: rising 8th-12th graders.
  • Application Deadline: Precollege Program: rolling; Aerospace and Aviation Academy: N/A; ELITE Tech: first-come, first-served; Tapia: May.

Rice offers four Houston summer programs to high school students. Firstly, the Aerospace and Aviation Academy was created for students interested in aerospace and aviation. In addition to attending faculty forums and learning from NASA astronauts, they also design and launch satellites and operate a flight simulator at the Lone Star Flight Museum. While most students are nominated by educators or academic partnerships, there is an application available.

Furthermore, Rice ELITE Tech Camps offer residential, commuter, and online options. Over the course of these week-long programs, students choose two courses to pursue. For example, current options include Learning C++ for Human Spaceflight Engineering and Deep Learning: Deploying AI to Maintain Smart Cities. Within their courses of choice, students engage in experiential learning activities and develop their leadership skills.

Additionally, Rice University summer programs include the Tapia STEM Camps, a 6-day, 5-night residential program that exposes students to multiple science, math, and engineering-related topics. The curriculum focuses on equity and communication, and students dedicate much of their time to research projects and presentations. Moreover, the camp was developed by Dr. Richard Tapia, recipient of the National Medal in Science.

Finally, if you’re looking for a completely remote option, you’ll want to check out Rice Precollege Programs. High school students can choose from courses in nine different areas of study, from aerospace and genome engineering to global affairs and economics. All courses are designed and delivered by Rice faculty. Although they are completely asynchronous and self-paced, all students work with a mentor and complete a final capstone project.

2) Houston Methodist High School Research Internship

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 10 weeks
  • Cost: None, and all students receive a stipend ($2,500-$6,000). However, non-local students will have to pay for living accommodations.
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: February

During this ten-week program, students will receive translational research lab training as well as professional mentorship. Moreover, after being assigned their own study or focus area, students will be guided by Houston Methodist faculty members. Also, career and professional development curriculum provides information about college selection and scholarship applications.

Outside of the internship itself, students have access to a variety of events, such as receptions and guest speaker presentations. Here, they’ll network with peers and professionals. Finally, at the end of the summer, students present their research to Houston Methodist scientists at a poster symposium.

Houston Summer Programs – Continued

3) Space Center University at Space Center Houston

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Residential?: No, but participants can purchase hotel accommodations.
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $680-780 + accommodations
  • Eligibility: Students aged 15-18
  • Application Deadline: First-come, first-served

Popularized by Apollo 13, “Houston…we have a problem” is one of the most famous NASA-related quotes in history. Ever wonder what it’s like to go behind the scenes? You can at Space Center Houston’s five-day Martian program. In addition to project-based learning that includes rocket launches, underwater astronaut training, and cryogenics testing, students listen to guest speakers and tour the Johnson Space Center. They’ll also be challenged to think outside the box in simulated scenarios. For example, these might include coding a rover or envisioning what space life might be like.

During these Houston summer programs, students will receive daily lunch at the Space Center. In addition, they’ll participate in a graduation ceremony where the top teams of the week receive medals.

4) University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Summer Research Programs

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: DAACPM: 10 weeks; Biomedical Sciences: 10 weeks
  • Cost: DAACPM: No cost or stipend for high school students; Biomedical Sciences: $6,800 stipend for living and transportation expenses.
  • Eligibility: DAACPM: high school students aged 18 or older; Biomedical Sciences: high school seniors (must graduate before program begins).
  • Application Deadline: DAACPM: January; Biomedical Sciences: February

At the MD Anderson Cancer Center, two highly selective Houston summer programs are open to high school students. Firstly, the DACCPM (Division of Anesthesiology, Critical Care & Pain Medicine) Summer Research Program gives students the opportunity to develop laboratory and clinical research skills, conduct medical literature reviews, and practice various safety techniques. Accordingly, all students work with a faculty mentor; past projects have included airway management and perioperative immune function. At the end of the program, students present their learnings at a poster symposium. To apply, students need to provide transcripts, a resume, recommendations, and a personal statement.

Alternatively, the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation High School Summer Program in Biomedical Sciences is only open to current Texas high school seniors interested in an Allied health career. Over the course of ten weeks, students work full-time on a mentored research project. Moreover, students attend seminars and competitions, and participate in a concluding presentation. Only ten students will be selected. As such, the review committee looks for evidence of high academic achievement, scientific interest & aptitude, and leadership ability.

5) Wonderworks Pre-College Summer Programs

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 5 weeks
  • Cost: $1,000-1,500
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors
  • Application Deadline: May

Held on the campuses of either Rice University or the University of Houston, Wonderworks’ Houston summer programs enable students to explore a variety of subjects. For example, students interested in architecture might check out From the Ground Up. This program combines lectures and field trips with daily building projects. History or politics more your thing? Closer Looks, an exploration of art and art history, or Rules of the Game, a deep-dive into democracy via history, law, and philosophy, could be excellent options.

There are choices for our fine arts-focused friends, too. Moving Pictures provides an introduction to production, editing, screenwriting, and cinema criticism. In addition to working in small groups to create short features, students enjoy daily movie screenings & discussions. Story Lines teaches students how to read fiction and watch movies like a writer. Accordingly, close attention is paid to storytelling techniques. Finally, In the Know, a journalism and nonfiction-focused class, includes documentary and film viewings as well as collaborative journalism projects.

Admission is competitive. Consequently, students must possess at least a 3.0 GPA, competitive standardized test scores, and high achievement within relevant subjects.

Final Thoughts – Houston Summer Programs

Aerospace engineering at the Rice University summer programs, filmmaking at the University of Houston, biomedical research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center…no matter your goals, there are a number of outstanding Houston summer programs waiting to be explored.

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