Best Summer Programs in Seattle – 2023

May 8, 2023

summer programs seattle

Nestled on the Puget Sound, Seattle is Washington’s most populous city. It’s famous for the Space Needle, a 600+ foot observation tower, as well as Pike Place Market, a farmer’s market brimming with specialty and locally-sourced food. In addition, as the unofficial coffee capital of the United States, java addicts will find crowds (literally) of kindred spirits here. Whether you wait in line at Starbucks’ first-ever location or scope out a local micro roaster, rest assured you’ll be well-caffeinated. Not a coffee drinker? No worries–Seattle is also renowned for its art and music scene, so be sure to grab tickets to a concert at the Seattle Symphony or soak up the Museum of Pop Culture. Finally, Seattle’s “Emerald City” moniker is well-earned–it’s green year-round, with plenty of beaches and natural spaces to explore. Ready for the Pacific Northwest? We’ve covered the top Seattle summer programs below.

1) University of Washington Summer Programs

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: Youth and Teen Programs: 2 weeks; YSP-REACH: 5 days
  • Cost: Youth and Teen Programs: $725-1,200; YSP-REACH: $500 (in-person), $100 (virtual)
  • Eligibility: Youth and Teen Programs: rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, although eligibility varies depending on the course; YSP-REACH: current high school students (including graduating seniors)
  • Application Deadline: Youth and Teen Programs: first-come, first-served; YSP-REACH: March

UW Seattle offers a number of on-campus and affiliated summer programs, particularly for local students. Most notably, its Youth and Teen Programs provide remote and in-person enrichment courses. There are four sessions offered, and each session has its own slate of course options. For example, Session One’s choices include Coding in Java, Podcasting: Storytelling & Audio Production, and Sharpen Your Writing Skills. These Seattle summer programs have both academic and experiential components, which could include projects, workshops, and design exhibitions.

Additionally, Young Scholars Program-REACH is sponsored by the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) and focuses on neuroengineering. As neuroengineering is a niche area of neurology, CNT encourages students to review their research and current initiatives before applying. For five days, students explore neural engineering, brain-computer interfaces, and neuroethics through lectures, tours, and workshops. This program is competitive and essays, transcripts, and references will be evaluated. In addition, the strongest applicants will have several years of math and science under their belts.

2) Camp BIOmed

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $650-695
  • Eligibility: Rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: First-come, first-served

Held at Seattle Pacific University, these Seattle summer programs offer four different tracks: The Molecular Biology of Cancer, CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), Genetic Engineering: Recombinant DNA Technology, and Medical Microbiology. Students meet six hours a day for five days.

Each track has its own focus. For example, at CSI Camp, students learn and practice DNA fingerprinting, blood typing, and blood spatter analysis. They’ll also dissect a pig heart. Then, they apply their skills to a mock crime scene and attempt to solve a murder mystery. Alternatively, in the Molecular Biology of Cancer, students practice techniques like DNA restriction and gel electrophoresis, complete a brain dissection, and perform Ames tests. At the end of each week, there is a Culminating Expo where students in different tracks share their learning.

Seattle Summer Programs – Continued

3) Summer@Cornish

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 4 weeks
  • Cost: $3,055 (foundations course) + $710/elective
  • Eligibility: Current high school students
  • Application Deadline: First-come, first-served

Summer@Cornish, held at the Cornish College of the Arts, differs from other programs of its kind in that students can mix and match courses from multiple disciplines. Full-day students first choose a foundation class–which could be art & design, film, music, or theater. They’ll take this class every morning. Then, they choose two afternoon electives. For art & design students, options include Theatrical Dance Choreography, Costume Design, Voice 101, and Photography, among many others.

In addition, each foundation course teaches essential skills, provides focused time for college portfolio development and/or audition preparation, and culminates in a gallery exhibition or showcase. For example, art & design students practice drawing, painting, and sculpture, enhance their creativity, and hone their visual thinking strategies.

Not interested in a full day program? There are also half-day and “build your own program” options available.

4) Seattle University Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Residential?: Business Institute: Residential and virtual options available; AI for Equity: Hybrid: Week 1 is residential while Week 2 is virtual; Urban Sustainability: Yes
  • Program Length: Business Institute: 2 weeks; AI for Equity: 2 weeks; Urban Sustainability: 1 week
  • Cost: Business Institute: operates on an equitable tiered scholarship model; AI for Equity: $1,195, with scholarships available; Urban Sustainability: $1,195, with scholarships available
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

Seattle University offers three summer program options: the Albers Summer Business Institute, AI for Equity, and Urban Sustainability.

The goal of the Albers Summer Business Institute is to give students a taste of life at business school. As such, they’ll receive three college credits while taking undergraduate courses, working with a team to build a business, and receiving one-on-one mentorship. Topics of exploration include data visualization, economics, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Moreover, college planning support is provided. It should be noted that this program is only available for students from African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hmong American, and Nepalese American backgrounds.

Secondly, AI for Equity is geared toward students who hope to explore criminal law and artificial intelligence. They’ll learn about bias and equity-related issues and have the chance to interact with local law enforcement and tech companies. These Seattle summer programs have a unique structure. As such, students spend the first week living in campus dormitories and the second week completing assignments from home.

Finally, the project-based Urban Sustainability program incorporates biology, chemistry, environmental studies, and environmental engineering. Additionally, there is an emphasis on social equity and environmental justice. Topics to be discussed include Urban Wildlife Camera Trapping, Fish Counting and Identification, and Seattle’s Water Quality Infrastructure. The goal is for students to be well-acquainted with how humans impact urban environments.

5) Research Training Program for High School Students

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 3 weeks (residential); 1 week (virtual)
  • Cost: None
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors, seniors, and college freshmen
  • Application Deadline: April

Run by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, these Seattle summer programs are offered both in-person and virtually. Both programs offer engagement in biomedical research, and feature lectures and activities related to biochemistry, immunology, and gene editing. There are also college and career workshops intended to prepare students for future careers in the biomedical sciences.

However, there are some differences between the two programs. In-person students engage in facility tours and deliver final presentations to their cohort. Virtual students, on the other hand, can attend optional office hours and discussions with scientists and fellow students.

Moreover, eligibility varies between the two programs. In-person students must live or have housing within two hours of Seattle, and also must hail from an underrepresented background. Virtual students can be local, national, or international. Although both programs require an essay (in which multiple prompts must be addressed), only the in-person program requires a recommendation.

Final Thoughts – Seattle Summer Programs

Local and out-of-state students alike will find much to appreciate about Seattle summer programs for high school students. Interested in the arts? Check out the flexible opportunities at Summer@Cornish. Hoping to explore neuroengineering? YSP-REACH could be perfect for you. Crime scene investigation up your alley? Camp BIOmed’s CSI program will give you a hands-on deep dive. Of course, no matter what you choose, you’re sure to have an enriching and exciting summer in the Emerald City.