Best Summer Programs in Washington, DC – 2023

April 13, 2023

DC summer programs

Washington, DC, our nation’s capital, is absolutely bursting at the seams with landmarks, memorials, and museums. It’s also a walking-friendly city (you’ll want to experience those spring cherry blossoms on foot!) with a robust public transportation system. As such, you can easily tour the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, or Smithsonian museums, to name a few, wander the National Mall, or explore the many public parks. Furthermore, Washington, DC, houses our political leadership as well as many federal buildings, from the U.S. Capitol to the Pentagon. Most excitingly, you can stop watching the Panda Cam from afar and take yourself to the National Zoo. So, without further ado, crack yourself some blue crab, grab the Old Bay, and put on your favorite patriotic tune because today we are exploring Washington, DC, summer programs in all their glory.

1) George Washington Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Residential?: Residential, commuter, and online options available.
  • Program Length: Summer Immersion: 2 weeks; Summer Exposure: 1 week; College Intensive: 6 weeks; Caminos al Futuro: 3 weeks.
  • Cost: Summer Immersion: $4,975; Summer Exposure: $1,250; College Intensive: ~$6,000 per course; Caminos al Futuro: Free.
  • Eligibility: Summer Immersion: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; Summer Exposure: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; College Intensive: rising juniors and seniors; Caminos al Futuro: rising seniors.
  • Application Deadline: May

Known for its Washington, DC, summer programs in international relations, politics, biomedical engineering, and museum studies, to name a few, George Washington offers a number of immersive programs that aim to connect classroom and experiential learning. Accordingly, their two-week residential Summer Immersion programs combine lectures and hands-on activities. Currently, students can choose from options that include The U.S. Intelligence Community and Counterterrorism and Introduction to Medicine. Although students will have free time to explore the city, they’ll also participate in residential programming during evenings and weekends.

Similarly, the Summer Exposure program provides an intense academic experience. However, it is only one week long and geared toward commuter students. Topics include Social Justice & Activism as well as Cybersecurity.

Additionally, George Washington offers College Intensives, which are six-week online courses that students take for credit. Finally, Caminos al Futuro is a selective, three-week residential program offered by the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute. Over the course of the program, participants will analyze how Hispanic/Latino communities are affected by social, political, and economic forces. Then, they develop their own projects that address such issues within the community.

In addition to transcripts that demonstrate strong academic performance, applicants to these Washington, DC, summer programs will need to write a personal statement. They may also need to submit teacher recommendations.

2) Community of Scholars at American University

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Residential?: Hybrid–students spend two weeks on campus and one week learning asynchronously at home.
  • Program Length: Three weeks
  • Cost: $3,465 + $1,980 room & board
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

Interested in international affairs? These American University summer programs include a demanding three-credit college course as well as exposure to Washington, DC. Current options for the course include Worlds Apart, Worlds Together: Conflict, Culture, and Cooperation; 21st Century Challenges: Environmental Sustainability and Global Health; and Diplomacy and Dictators: US Foreign Policy in an Uncertain World. During their two weeks on campus, students will participate in classes and simulations and attend briefings at various Washington institutions. When students return home, they’ll complete a final paper or project under guidance from their professors.

On campus, students live in AU dorms and dine on-campus. Additionally, weekend programming includes Smithsonian and monument visits, and students will have plenty of opportunity to explore Washington, DC.

On their American University summer programs application, students will need to demonstrate their interest in international affairs. Also, they need to possess a solid academic background and secure a teacher recommendation.

3) School for Ethics and Global Leadership Summer Institute

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: Five weeks
  • Cost: $13,000. Financial aid is available.
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors.
  • Application Deadline: February

Many Washington, DC, summer programs are centered on leadership and SEGL is no different. At SEGL’s Summer Institute, students complete an intensive Ethics and Leadership curriculum. Over the course of five weeks, they’ll develop and hone their critical thinking, leadership, and public speaking skills, among others.

Consequently, they’ll analyze various case studies and complete three capstone projects. Firstly, the Collaborative Policy Document is a proposed solution to a pressing international challenge–past examples include Syrian human trafficking and rainforest deforestation. Secondly, the Ethical Credo requires students to reflect on how ethics and leadership will impact their lives moving forward. Finally, after identifying a problem in their local, national, or global communities, students engage in a Social Venture Project. As part of this project, they’ll communicate with people who have been impacted by their issues of choice. Additionally, the goal is for students to continue work on their projects after they return home from the Institute.

During the program, students live together in a residence across the street from the U.S. Capitol. They are served three meals a day and can explore the city in the evenings and on weekends. Moreover, students and faculty work together to develop extracurricular programming.

To apply to these Washington, DC, summer programs, students must provide a solid slate of materials. These include writing samples, two teacher recommendations, a transcript, parent statement, and a graded paper.

Washington, DC, Summer Programs – Continued

4) Georgetown Summer Programs

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available.
  • Program Length: Summer College: five or eight weeks; Academies: one, two, or three weeks.
  • Cost: Summer College: ~$6,000 per course; Academies: $3,225 (one week), $5,500 (two weeks), $6,950 (three weeks).
  • Eligibility: Rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. However, several programs–including the Medical and Biotechnology Academies–require students to be at least 15 years old.
  • Application Deadline: May

For students interested in earning college credit at their Washington, DC, summer programs, Georgetown’s Summer College is an incredible option. Students can choose from a five-week on-campus or eight-week online option, and can take up to two classes per session. Courses offered by Georgetown summer programs are intensive, and typically, over forty different subjects are available. Current offerings include Urban Anthropology, American Gothic Fiction, and International Business, among many others.

Georgetown also offers multiple one-, two-, and three-week Academies. There, students delve into a specialized topic through collaborative activities, guest lectures, and field trips. As such, these are accelerated and intensive experiences. One-week Academies include Creative Writing and Artificial Intelligence while two-week Academies include Forensic Science and Entrepreneurship. In addition, there are four three-week Academies available: Business, Economic Policy, Foreign Policy, and Medical.

To apply to any of these Georgetown summer programs, students must write a personal statement. Additionally, Summer College students must provide transcripts and recommendations, and Academy students must complete a school reviewer form.

5) JCamp

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: One week
  • Cost: Free, including housing and travel.
  • Eligibility: Rising freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.
  • Application Deadline: March

With a goal to confront the lack of diversity in journalism, JCamp brings together aspiring journalists from across the country to ensure that students will be exposed to a diverse range of experiences and viewpoints. Accordingly, students hone their skills, learn from veteran journalists, and produce news packages for the program’s news site. Core competencies include leadership, diversity, networking, cross-cultural communication, and ethics. In addtion, past speakers have included Hoda Kotb, Jill Abramson, and Cheryl Diaz Meyer.

To be considered for JCamp, students must “demonstrate a keen interest in broadcasting, newspaper, magazine, photojournalism or online media.” They also must complete several essays.

Final Thoughts – Washington, DC, Summer Programs

If Washington, DC is your top choice this summer, you’re in luck. Whether you’d like to study global affairs at the American University summer programs, develop your journalistic skills at JCamp, or delve into a Medical Academy offered by Georgetown summer programs, you’ll be able to find a place where you can thrive.

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