Best Summer Programs in Philadelphia – 2024

April 15, 2024

philadelphia summer programs upenn drexel philly

Home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia–regarded as the birthplace of the United States–is steeped in American history. Fuel up with a cheesesteak before perusing the eighteenth-century homes and museum on Elfreth’s Alley (the oldest residential street in the country), the Betsy Ross House, or the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which possesses an incredible collection of American paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Outdoor art more your thing? Philly’s got you covered with its iconic LOVE sculpture, Rocky, and We the Youth, a collaborative public mural. The city also houses the Academy of Natural Sciences, which is the oldest natural history museum in the US. Finally, sports fans rejoice–this city loves its teams, and summer wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Citizens Bank Park to cheer on the Phillies. Ready to beeline to one of the many Philadelphia summer programs? Scroll down for our top picks.

1) UPenn Summer Programs

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Residential?: Residential and online options available, depending on program.
  • Program Length: 3-6 weeks
  • Cost: $5,500-$21,448, depending on program.
  • Eligibility: Most programs are geared toward rising juniors and seniors, although some accommodate rising sophomores.
  • Application Deadline: March-April, depending on program.

Interested in a UPenn summer program? In addition to the Penn Summer Prep and Pre-College Programs, both of which introduce students to Ivy League academics, discipline-specific options abound. Firstly, three-week Arts & Sciences Summer Academies provide academic exploration as well as lab experience. Nine choices are available, and include the Neuroscience Research Academy, Coding Academy, and Global Culture and Media Academy. Each Academy has its own special features. For example, neuroscience students attend twice-daily lectures, numerous experiential learning activities, and field trips. Accordingly, one year each of biology and chemistry are required.

Likewise, Penn Engineering offers the highly selective Engineering Summer Academy. Here, students enroll in Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Complex Networks, Computer Graphics, Computer Science, Nanotechnology, or Robotics. Prerequisites vary–the Computer Science track is geared toward beginners while Robotics students should have a physics, math, and programming background. Additionally, UPenn summer program students live in residence halls and participate in on-campus social activities.

For the medically minded, there is the Penn Medicine Summer Program, a month-long offering modeled after first-year med school classes. While learning from doctors and faculty at Penn Medicine, students attend lectures and demonstrations (which may include live surgery). They also explore basic medical training.

Finally, aspiring business students should consider Wharton’s seven rigorous and selective summer offerings, including the Management & Technology Summer Institute (M&TSI) and Leadership in the Business World (LBW), to name a few. M&TSI provides college credit and an opportunity to create a prototype and market plan for a high-tech venture, culminating in a presentation evaluated by industry experts. Alternatively, LBW students spend three weeks participating in lectures, case competitions, research, and networking opportunities.

2) Drexel Summer Programs

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Residential?: Commuter, residential, and online options available.
  • Program Length: 1-2 weeks
  • Cost: $450-$3,475, depending on format
  • Eligibility: Depends on program; some accept rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors while others only accept rising juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Depends on program; some have early April deadlines while others are rolling until filled.

Drexel offers a tremendous range of Philadelphia summer programs that vary from one to two weeks. They’re offered in seven different areas of study: Arts and Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Business, Design, Arts, and Media, Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health. Some highlights:

Widely recognized for its business program, Drexel offers high schoolers several competitive options. Most notably, Camp Business teaches the fundamentals of accounting, marketing, finance, and management. Additionally, students build their leadership and collaboration skills. As such, it’s the perfect way for aspiring business majors to test the waters in an academically rigorous setting.

STEM students will also find myriad highly selective options at their fingertips. Namely, The Neuroscience Camp, run by Drexel’s College of Medicine, covers topics like sensory processing, neuropathology, and spinal cord anatomy. Additional highlights include hands-on laboratory experiences and a project that utilizes newfound lab techniques. These Drexel summer programs are quite competitive; serious applicants have taken biology and chemistry.

Finally, students interested in the fine arts or humanities will be thrilled with Drexel’s diverse offerings. In particular, there are four Design, Arts, and Media Summer Institutes: architecture, graphic design, fashion design, and photography. For example, architecture students spend two weeks building their sketching, drawing, and design skills, taking field trips, and engaging with Drexel faculty.

Philadelphia Summer Programs – Continued

3) MathILy at Bryn Mawr College

  • Location: Bryn Mawr, PA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 5 weeks
  • Cost: $5,300 (financial aid is available)
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 14-17
  • Application Deadline: April, after which students are considered on a space-available basis

Through interactive classes and individualized instruction, students engage in undergraduate- and graduate-level discrete mathematics. For seven hours per day, six days per week, students can expect to be in class. They’ll start with two weeks of Root Class (foundational concepts). That will be followed by a Week of Chaos (tons of short classes, TBD based on instructor/student interest). Finally, there are two weeks of advanced Branch Classes. Topics could include alternate geometries, combinatorial optimization, polytopes, and chip-firing games, and they are, in part, determined by the interests and skill levels of the class. Additionally, students develop skills in collaboration, thinking, problem-solving, and writing. Finally, they explore the gamut of mathematical sciences careers available.

These Philadelphia summer programs look for students who are mathematically talented. As such, as part of the application process, students must spend about four hours completing the Exam Assessing Readiness. In addition, students need to submit recommendations as well as a short essay and activities list.

4) Temple Summer Programs

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Residential?: All programs take place on campus; students must commute or procure their own housing arrangements.
  • Program Length: 1-4 weeks, depending on program
  • Cost: $1,300-$3,200+
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors for most programs. Summer Academy only accepts rising juniors or seniors.
  • Application Deadline: February

Temple offers several selective summer programs for high school students. During Pre-College Workshops, students spend two weeks taking one workshop in the morning and one in the afternoon, giving them the opportunity to explore several potential fields of interest. Nearly thirty options are available. Examples of morning sessions include Ecology and Biodiversity, Photo Storytelling, and Inside Criminal Law. Creative Writing, Materials Science, and Secrets of Risk and Opportunity are just a few afternoon session choices. Moreover, all students take a Success Strategies Seminar in either College Readiness or Professional Development.

Alternatively, in Summer Institutes and Intensives, students spend one or two weeks focusing exclusively on one subject area. Current one-week intensives include ten options such as Careers in Sports Reporting and Broadcasting, Industrial Engineering and Supply Chains, and Rock the Vote: Navigating Politics and Media in 2024. Moreover, there are five two-week intensives, including Songwriting, Performance, and Production and Robotics Institute.

Temple also offers Summer Academy, at which students choose one credit-bearing course and two workshops. There are four course options to choose from: Youth Cultures, Mathematical Patterns, Actuarial Probability, and Kids in Crisis: When Schools Don’t Work. Workshops vary by session but include such offerings as Criminal Justice Reform; DNA, Genes, and Medicine; and Sport Management. Courses are rigorous and involve both individual and small group work. Before applying, students will want to take a look at the offerings for each session and be sure that they can craft a schedule that aligns with their interests.

Finally, all programs include mentoring and activities. To apply to these Philadelphia summer programs, students need to submit their transcripts, test scores, a recommendation, and a personal statement.

5) Villanova Pre-College Summer Academy

  • Location: Villanova, PA
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available.
  • Program Length: 4 weeks
  • Cost: $3,160 + housing (if staying on campus)
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: June

During the on-campus Pre-College Summer Academy, students can choose from two options: 3+1 or PCAC 1000.

In the 3+1 Option, students will earn three college credits while taking one course taught by a Villanova faculty member. They’ll take the class alongside current undergrads; course options could include Survey of Communication Studies, Public Speaking, Psychology of Teaching and Learning, and The Charm of Music. In addition, all students take PCAC 1000: College Pathways, a one-credit college-preparatory course. Topic examples are Metacognition + The Science of Studying, Navigating the Financial Landscape of College, Academic Advising 101 + Logic of Curriculum, and Finding Your Agency in College. Moreover, all students craft an interdisciplinary final project.

In the PCAC 1000 option, students just take the College Pathways course.

Finally, although the program is not residential, students can participate in on-campus programming with Villanova undergraduates. To apply, students must submit a personal statement, parent permission letter, letter of recommendation, and transcript.

Final Thoughts – Philadelphia Summer Programs

As the location of some of the best institutions of higher learning in the country, Philadelphia has much to offer. In particular, students interested in business and leadership or STEM will find robust options. Explore medicine at a UPenn summer program, business at the Drexel summer programs, or advanced mathematics at Bryn Mawr, all while taking advantage of the fantastic arts, history, and cuisine Philly has to offer.

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