Best Summer Programs in Los Angeles – 2024

April 15, 2024

los angeles summer programs UCLA USC

If Los Angeles was up for an Academy Award, it would take home Oscars for its world-famous entertainment scene and glorious beaches. Home to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Disneyland, and countless film and television studios, Los Angeles is a mecca for students interested in the media or entertainment industries. But Tinseltown has much more to offer than glitz and glam–there’s architectural gem Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (largest in the western US), and the La Brea Tar Pits, an active paleontological research site located in a public park. Moreover, there are myriad iconic neighborhoods to explore while engaging in the uber-active SoCal lifestyle. Of course, you’ll have to navigate LA’s notorious traffic situation and questionable air quality, but they’re worth it for the chance to attend one of the many excellent Los Angeles summer programs waiting within this action-packed sliver of paradise.

1) UCLA Summer Programs

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Residential?: Residential, commuter, and online options available, depending on program.
  • Program Length: Precollege Summer Institutes 1-6 weeks; SCIP: 6 weeks.
  • Cost: Precollege Summer Institutes: ~$1,400-7,000; SCIP: ~$4,400-10,500, depending on program format and number of credits taken.
  • Eligibility: Precollege Summer Institutes: rising 8-12th graders (ages 14-18), but some programs have additional restrictions; SCIP: rising juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: Precollege Summer Institutes: rolling until full; SCIP: May.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the UCLA summer program scene is incredibly vibrant. Accordingly, there are two main options for high schoolers: Precollege Summer Institutes and the Summer College Immersion Program.

Interested in earning college credit? The Precollege Summer Institutes are a UCLA summer program with over forty options available in three different formats. For example, some require students to live on campus while others are structured for commuters or virtual participants. Current choices include Nanoscale Microscopy Lab, Hip Hop/Street Dance, and Film and Television Summer Institute in Cinematography, among many others.

Finally, the Summer College Immersion Program provides students with exposure to residential and academic life at UCLA. As such, they engage in up to two courses alongside current undergraduate students as well as co-curricular lectures, workshops, and seminars. There are three formats available: SCIP, SCIP+ (which provides research skill development), and eSCIP (you guessed it: virtual). The SCIP-approved course list is extensive and includes options like Acting Fundamentals, Cell and Molecular Biology, and People and Earth’s Ecosystems. SCIP+ and eSCIP have their own approved course lists. In addition, SCIP+ students must take a concurrent Research Practice Course.

For each UCLA summer program, admission requirements vary. For example, the Acting and Performance Summer Institute requires a video audition, resume, recommendation letter, and essay. On the other hand, SCIP requires a 3.6+ unweighted GPA, an extracurricular resume, transcript, and statement of purpose.

2) USC Summer Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Residential?: Residential, commuter, and online options available.
  • Program Length: In-person: 4 weeks; Online: 2-4 weeks (self-paced)
  • Cost: In-person: $7,482-$10,480; Online: $1,990
  • Eligibility: In-person: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; Online: high school students aged 14+
  • Application Deadline: In-person: May; Online: rolling

USC offers a variety of in-person and online Los Angeles summer programs for high school students. All courses are designed to be both intense and engaging. Moreover, students will earn college credit after completing their course of choice.

Four-week in-person courses are offered by nine different departments at USC, which include architecture, business, performing arts, pre-law, and writing. For example, Exploration of Architecture teaches fundamentals of design and composition along with sketching, drawing, and photography skills. Four different business courses are offered: Analytics: The Power of Data, Building Sustainable Businesses: The Challenge of a Generation, Introduction to Business, and Exploring Entrepreneurship. Moreover, the Acting Intensive teaches movement, voice, acting techniques, theory, and special considerations for college auditions. Finally, each USC summer program includes related field trips within the Los Angeles area.

Online courses have multiple start dates available, and involve 20-25 hours of recorded lectures, readings, and discussions. Accordingly, students complete this USC summer program at their own pace over 2-4 weeks. Twelve course options are available, and include Lifespan Development: Critical Questions for Aging and the Lifespan, Screenwriting: From Ideation to Writing Your First Script, and Digital Marketing: From Content Creation to Strategic Planning.

To apply to an in-person USC summer program, students need to complete an essay and provide a teacher recommendation as well as a transcript. Additionally, they should be pursuing a rigorous high school curriculum. However, the online course application process is much less involved. Students only need to complete a short-answer essay and provide basic contact information.

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3) UC Irvine Summer Surgery Programs

  • Location: Orange, CA
  • Residential?: Residential options available.
  • Program Length: Summer Surgery Program: 2 weeks; Better than Live Summer Surgery Program: 1 week.
  • Cost: Summer Surgery Program: $5,500 + housing; Better than Live Summer Surgery Program: $2,350 + housing
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: February

One of the top high school medical programs in the country, the Summer Surgery Program gives students outstanding access to the field of medicine. In addition to learning about the day-to-day life of a surgeon, students also receive hands-on training. They take dissection courses, receive ultrasound training, develop surgical skills, and are exposed to minimally invasive surgery technology. Moreover, they’ll work with medical students, residents, and faculty, observe live surgeries, and obtain a Basic Life Support Certification.

If that overview wasn’t convincing enough, the impact of this program has been formally studied, with results published in the Journal of Surgical Education. In it, researchers found that 97% of participants felt that the program increased their interest in medicine. Additionally, 88% felt that it increased their confidence in a healthcare career.

Furthermore, based on the popularity of the Summer Surgery Program, UCI recently rolled out an additional offering: the “Better than Live” Summer Surgery Program. Participants receive mentorship and engage in semi-live surgery case discussions. Moreover, they receive hands-on surgical training, similar to their Summer Surgery Program counterparts, in areas like laparoscopy, endoscopy, IV placement, and suturing.

To be eligible for these Los Angeles summer programs, applicants must be 16 or older, have a 3.5 (or above) unweighted GPA, complete several essays, and supply a teacher recommendation. Additionally, all candidates will be interviewed. In particular—due to the live surgery component—the admissions committee looks for maturity and respect.

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4) Scripps College Student Research Internship Program

  • Location: La Jolla, CA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 10 weeks
  • Cost: No cost. Stipends are sometimes awarded; if unpaid, students must receive credit via their high school or local community college.
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16+
  • Application Deadline: March

Over the course of these Los Angeles summer programs, which focus on translational medical research, students aim to fulfill several objectives. Firstly, they gain exposure to a number of different areas, including genomics, bioinformatics, and digital medicine. Secondly, they’ll develop skills related to research procedures, clinical trial organization, and research presentation.

Each intern is assigned a mentor that aligns with their interests. Along with their mentor, students also work with a multidisciplinary team of scientists and attend seminars with faculty members. Finally, all students must complete an independent research proposal and present their research projects at a poster symposium.

During the application review process, students are evaluated based on their academic qualifications as well as their research interests. Consequently, the program advises that “the primary criterion for admission is a strong interest in genomics or mHealth translational research.” Prior to acceptance, some students may be contacted for an interview by their potential mentor. It should also be noted that although Scripps College itself is located within LA County, the Research Translational Institute is located approximately two hours south of the main campus.

5) Loyola Marymount Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Residential?: Residential or online. There are no commuter options available.
  • Program Length: 2-4 weeks
  • Cost: 2-week: $5,800; 4-week: $10,000; Online: $2,300
  • Eligibility: Students between the ages of 14-18. Some restrictions do apply; certain sections are limited to rising juniors and/or seniors only.
  • Application Deadline: March

These Los Angeles summer programs introduce students to undergraduate life while providing rigorous academics, extracurricular activities, and co-curricular workshops. Accordingly, there are two-week residential, four-week residential, and two-week online programs. Four-week programs are credit-bearing while two-week programs are not.

Two-week options are numerous and include Acting for the Camera, Beginning Screenwriting, Global Sports and Entertainment Business, Journalism Workshop, and the Engineering of Theatre. As for four-week options, there are just two: Social Impact Filmmaking and Exploring Engineering. Only one online option–Beginning Screenwriting–is offered. Moreover, each course includes a Los Angeles area excursion. For example, filmmaking students might visit local film or television studios while graphic design students might visit printing companies.

In addition to completing the general application, students will need to submit a personal statement, a letter of recommendation, and high school transcripts.

Final Thoughts – Los Angeles Summer Programs

LA’s entertainment possibilities, warm weather, and celebrity sightings impossible to pass up? Whether you’re pursuing filmmaking within the UCLA summer program or analytics within the USC summer program, rest assured that you’ll have options galore–no matter your academic interest area of choice.

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