Best Summer Programs in Phoenix – 2023
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: $399
- 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. Accordingly, they delve into either digital journalism, broadcast journalism, or sports media. In the digital journalism track, students focus on writing, graphics, and multimedia journalism. Prefer broadcast journalism? That’s available too—you’ll dive deep into video, TV, and audio. Finally, sports media students learn more about team storytelling. However, no matter the concentration, all students receive hands-on experience in editing, pitching, photography, and reporting, among other skills.
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.
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: 3-10 days
- Cost: $250-1500, depending on program
- Eligibility: Most require students to be rising sophomore, 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 Digital Photography. 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 Foldable Robotics program introduces students to robotics through origami.
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.
Phoenix Summer Programs – Continued
4) University of Arizona Summer Programs
- Location: Tucson, AZ
- Residential?: Astronomy: Yes; Engineering: No; Business Careers: residential available.
- Program Length: Astronomy: 1 week; Engineering: 3 days; Business Careers: one day or one week.
- Cost: Astronomy: $1,700 (beginner), $1,800 (advanced); Engineering: TBD; Business Careers: None (covered by a scholarship).
- Eligibility: Astronomy: students aged 12-15 years old (beginner), students aged 14-19 years old; Engineering: rising sophomore, juniors, and seniors; Business Careers: rising seniors.
- Application Deadline: Astronomy: first-come, first-served; Engineering: TBD; 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, electronic photometry, and CCD imaging. As such, students should have completed Algebra II and Geometry to participate.
Additionally, the Summer Engineering Academy offers a multitude of three-day experiences that provide experiential learning and career exploration. Although overnight housing is not offered, students can find their own in the area. During the first week, topics include electrical & computer engineering as well as optical sciences & engineering. Environmental engineering, biosystems engineering, and aerospace & mechanical engineering are covered during the second week. Additionally, those interested in architectural engineering or chemical engineering will be able to dive in during the final week.
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, 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. Topics include bioscience, biomedical engineering, and environmental health. Additionally, they 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 admission to the University of Arizona’s W.A. Franke Honors College.
Competitive applicants demonstrate 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:
- Top 10 Online Summer Programs
- Top Summer Programs for High School Students
- Best Summer Programs for Business
- Best Summer Programs for Computer Science
- Best Summer Programs for Law, Political Science, and International Relations
- Best Summer Programs for Performing and Visual Arts
- Best Summer Programs for Pre-Med
- Best Research-Intensive Summer Programs
- Best Summer Programs for STEM
- Best Summer Programs for Writing and Journalism
Kelsea holds a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Tufts University, a graduate certificate in College Counseling from UCLA, and is currently pursuing graduate work in writing instruction at Johns Hopkins University.
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