Best Summer Programs in Phoenix – 2024

April 15, 2024

phoenix summer programs

In mythology, phoenixes burst into flames before being reborn from the ashes. Phoenix–the city–was named for its namesake bird, but not because the temperature regularly climbs into triple digits. Instead, Phoenix’s founders hoped it would rise from the proverbial ashes of its previous civilization. Now, Phoenix is well-known for its beautiful desert scenery and outdoor lifestyle–the Desert Botanical Garden is a 55-acre utopia of cacti, trees, and flowers. Moreover, it has rich Native American roots that can be explored at the Heard Museum. The tech industry thrives here, particularly the aerospace and defense & manufacturing sectors. Finally, the Phoenix Zoo–beloved by natives–is a 125-acre home to over 3,000 species, and is the largest privately owned nonprofit zoo in the United States. If Phoenix summer programs are part of your high school plan, scroll down for multiple options in and outside the city.

1) Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Residential?: Residential
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $699
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

At Camp Cronkite, students grow their media and journalism skills in a “choose your own adventure” format. All students take core sessions in visual, narrative, and audio storytelling. They’ll then have the opportunity to choose whatever electives they’d like, which range from sports photography to graphic motions and newsroom tours.  Moreover, all students receive exposure to and practice in a variety of topics and skills related to digital journalism, broadcast journalism, sports journalism, and digital marketing, to name a few.

Students live and eat on-campus, and these Phoenix summer programs include area excursions. When evaluating applicants, ASU will consider a student’s academic performance as well as the depth of their media interest. They may also give priority to rising seniors.

2) ASU Summer Programs

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ (with some programs on campuses in Glendale, Mesa, or Tempe)
  • Residential?: Residential, commuter, and online options available.
  • Program Length: 4 days to 2 weeks
  • Cost: $125-1,600, depending on program
  • Eligibility: Most require students to be rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors, although younger age groups are sometimes accommodated.
  • Application Deadline: Varies; some programs are first-come, first-served while others have early spring deadlines (March/April).

Given its immense size (over 65,000 undergraduates!), it’s no surprise that the selection of ASU summer programs is incredibly diverse. Here, students can find everything from leadership programs to photography classes to robotics camps on one of four Phoenix-area campuses.

Residential programs include Barrett Summer Scholars, which is for high-achieving students looking to engage in college-level coursework. There are also the Summer Experiences at West, Downtown, and Poly, which provide residential and non-residential opportunities. Here, students familiarize themselves with college life as well as available programs at each respective campus.

There is also an outstanding array of non-residential ASU summer programs offered by multiple departments. For example, Logic, Leadership, and Life Skills helps students uncover their strengths and develop leadership abilities. The Philosophy Summer Camp invites students to take a careful look at the impact technology has on their lives. Moreover, the School of Art offers multiple options, including Comics and Storyboards, Painting Portraits, and The Art of Woodworking. The School of Arts, Media, and Engineering offers the project-focused Digital Culture Summer Institute–perfect for budding designers and makers, while the Popular Music Program (residential options available) focuses on writing, composing, and performing.

Finally, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offers a number of programs, including the Underwater Robotics Camp, Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) Program (national award-winning social entrepreneurship program), and Semiconductor High School Summer Experience, among others.

3) Med-Start Health Careers Program

  • Location: Tucson, AZ
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 6 weeks
  • Cost: ~$5,000; scholarships and tuition waivers are available
  • Eligibility: Rising seniors
  • Application Deadline: February

Arizona high school students interested in healthcare careers have access to Med-Start, a University of Arizona summer enrichment program. During the program, students attend lectures, tour healthcare and research facilities, and engage in hands-on lab experiences. Additionally, they take coursework in English, math, and chemistry. Most importantly, students investigate myriad career opportunities within the health professions.

Since these are residential Phoenix summer programs, students live in dorms and participate in scheduled activities. To apply, students need to complete an online application, submit two recommendations, and send a transcript. They’ll also need to provide a record of their extracurricular activities and have at least a 3.0 GPA.

Phoenix Summer Programs – Continued

4) University of Arizona Summer Programs

  • Location: Tucson, AZ
  • Residential?: Astronomy: Yes; Engineering: residential available; Business Careers: residential available.
  • Program Length: Astronomy: 1 week; Engineering: 3 days-1 week; Business Careers: one day or one week.
  • Cost: Astronomy: $1,700 (beginner), $1,900 (advanced); Engineering: $300 (day camps); $750 (residential); Business Careers: None (covered by a scholarship).
  • Eligibility: Astronomy: students aged 13-15 years old (beginner), students aged 14-18 years old; Engineering: rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college freshmen; Business Careers: rising seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Astronomy: first-come, first-served; Engineering: March; Business Careers: March.

Interested in STEM? You’ll be in good hands at these Phoenix summer programs. For starters, the Astronomy Camp at Mt. Lemmon Observatory is the longest-running science camp in Arizona. In the beginner’s camp, students learn how to operate different sizes of telescopes and analyze astronomical objects. Topics include astronomical imagery, physics, and navigation, among others. Moreover, students undertake various hikes and projects. In the advanced camp, students complete research projects as well as activities related to spectroscopy, photometric light curves, and time-sequence imaging. As such, students applying to the advanced camp should have completed Algebra II and Geometry to participate, and will also need to submit an essay.

Additionally, the Summer Engineering Academy offers a multitude of three-day and one-week experiences that provide experiential learning and career exploration. Accommodations are provided for overnight programs; day camp students are welcome to find their own in the area. Four three-day programs are offered, including Women in Engineering and Engineer the Environment. Moreover, two sessions of Experience Engineering—a residential, overnight camp—are offered. Here, students will have the opportunity to work on design projects and other hands-on activities, receive mentorship, and learn more about different types of majors and careers within engineering.

Finally, the Business Careers Awareness Program offers both one-day and week-long experiences. In both, students explore business careers, network, and immerse themselves in the University of Arizona community. While doing so, they take entrepreneurship, marketing, business communications, and accounting classes and participate in a business plan competition.

5) Keep Engaging Youth in Science (KEYS) Research Internship

  • Location: Tucson, AZ
  • Residential?: Students will have to procure their own housing, meals, and transportation, although aid may be available for related costs.
  • Program Length: 7 weeks
  • Cost: None
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: January

Available to Arizona high school students only, the KEYS Internship is an incredible opportunity. During the first week of these Phoenix summer programs, students receive training in bioscience techniques and science literacy. After that, students spend six weeks working full-time in a research lab while being mentored by a University of Arizona faculty member. Interest areas include interdisciplinary biosciences, biomedicine, and data science. Additionally, students develop skills in ethics and communication while engaging in socials and weekly seminars. It should be noted that the program does its best to match students with mentors who have similar research interests.

At the culmination of the experience, students present their work at a professional Research Showcase. Also, they receive three college credits and assured admission to the University of Arizona’s W.A. Franke Honors College.

Competitive applicants demonstrate a clear passion for science, have taken biology and chemistry, and possess solid writing skills. Finally, students will need to submit recommendations and participate in an interview.

Final Thoughts – Phoenix Summer Programs

Ready to soak up Arizona’s desert beauty and engage in a valuable college preparatory experience while you’re at it? Whether you’re exploring the health professions at Med-Start, the night sky at Astronomy Camp, or painting at the ASU summer programs, you can’t go wrong with Phoenix’s many stellar options.

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