Best Summer Programs in Philadelphia – 2023

May 5, 2023

Philadelphia summer programs 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: 3-4 weeks
  • Cost: $5,500-$9,975, depending on program.
  • Eligibility: Most programs are geared toward rising juniors and seniors, although some Summer Academies accommodate rising sophomores.
  • Application Deadline: March-April, depending on program.

Interested in a UPenn summer program? You’re in luck–options in STEM or the social sciences are particularly robust. Firstly, three-week Arts & Sciences Summer Academies provide academic exploration as well as lab experience. Choices 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 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 rigorous and selective summer offerings: 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?: Camp Business/Design, Arts, and Media: commuter and residential options available; Neuroscience Camp: commuter only.
  • Program Length: Camp Business: 1 week; Neuroscience Camp: 2 weeks; Design, Arts, and Media: 1-2 weeks.
  • Cost: Camp Business: $950 (commuter), $2,000 (residential); Neuroscience Camp: $2,200; Design, Arts, and Media: $1,100-3,450.
  • Eligibility: Camp Business: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; Neuroscience Camp/Design, Arts, and Media: rising juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Camp Business/Neuroscience Camp: April; Design, Arts, and Media: rolling, and some are first-come, first-served.

Drexel offers a tremendous range of Philadelphia summer programs that vary from a few days to a few weeks. They’re offered in ten different disciplines, from biomedical engineering to business to food and hospitality management.

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 six Design, Arts, and Media Summer Institutes: architecture, graphic design, fashion merchandising, photography, industrial design, and interior design. 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: $4,950
  • 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 often include combinatorics, knot theory, and topological graph theories, 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?: Summer Scholars: On-campus and online options available; Summer Academy: on-campus only. For both, students must procure their own housing arrangements.
  • Program Length: Summer Scholars: 6 weeks; Summer Academy: 4 weeks.
  • Cost: Summer Scholars: $3,600+; Summer Academy: $2,400+.
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

Temple offers several selective summer programs for high school students. During the Summer Scholars program, students take two courses alongside Temple undergraduates–for which they receive college credit. Accordingly, students can choose from a wide variety of classes in nearly every major. Moreover, they’ll receive individual and group mentoring as well as the opportunity to participate in evening and weekend campus activities.

Additionally, Temple offers Summer Academy, at which students choose one credit-bearing course and two workshops. There are two course options to choose from: Youth Cultures or Mathematical Patterns. Workshops vary by session but include such offerings as Criminal Justice Reform, Genomic Medicine, and Sports Economics. 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. Like Summer Scholars, the program fee includes 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?: On-campus and online options available.
  • Program Length: On Campus: 4 weeks; Online Academy: 1 week.
  • Cost: On Campus: $4,002; Online Academy: $1,200
  • Eligibility: On Campus: Rising juniors and seniors; Online Academy: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

Villanova caters to a wide range of students by offering on-campus and online Philadelphia summer programs. During the On Campus Experience, students will earn three college credits while taking one course–either Survey of Communication Studies or Significance of Race in America–taught by a Villanova faculty member. They’ll also work in small groups to create final projects that showcase their summer learning.

Additionally, students engage in workshops that cover study skills and financial literacy, among others. These workshops are designed to prepare students for the transition from high school to college. Although the program is not residential, students can participate in on-campus programming with Villanova undergraduates.

During the online Pre-College Summer Academy, students choose from either The Socially Responsible Leader or Your Workplace Journey. Both courses help students develop skills in ethics, leadership, management, and writing. In addition to the course instructor–who is a Villanova faculty member–a Villanova Student Fellow is present to help build community. Finally, students participate in “Villanova Views” sessions, where they learn more about Villanova as well as what it is like to be a college student.

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: