Engaging Online Academic Summer Courses for High School Students
Introduction: Learning through an Online Summer Course
There are a variety of online summer academic options that high school students can explore. These programs offer students the opportunity to expand their knowledge, prepare for college, and extend learning beyond the traditional school year.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a significan increase in the number of colleges, universities, and educational organizations that offer online summer programs and courses. After some background information, this article contains information about specific online summer academic programs and courses that are available for high school students.
Opportunities through Online Academic Summer Courses
Advances in technology, along with the proliferation of virtual education, have made online courses much more accessible for high school students during the summer months. Online summer academic courses can provide unique enrichment opportunities for high school students.
An online educational course can enable a student to learn more about a topic of interest, prepare to study a subject at the college-level, explore an area that may not be available in a traditional high school setting, and more.
Online summer courses can appeal to students for many reasons. High school students may opt to take a summer online course to learn more about a topic that is enjoyable. Other students may want to build important foundational knowledge in a subject area or become more familiar with the educational standards and expectations associated with college academics. In addition, online academic summer courses can also provide an opportunity for high school students to gain more information about a potential college major.
Flexibility and Online Academic Courses
One of the positive aspects of an online academic summer course is the flexibility that it provides. High school students can typically access the course material from any electronic device. Students can learn at home or on the go. While there may be certain synchronous class times, the course readings, assignments, research, and other activities can often be completed at any time during the day.
Learning More about Summer Online Academic Courses
This page provides information about online summer academic courses. The list of colleges and educational organizations in this article is not intended to be exhaustive.
A Note to Consider about Online Courses:
If credits are offered for the online course, it is important for students to check with an educational institution (e.g., a school, a college…) on the credit transfer policy. Some schools and colleges will not accept transfer credits from other institutions or may only accept credit from those institutions which have made a prior contractual agreement. It should not be assumed that credits will transfer to any specific educational entity.
Featured Summer Pre-College Online Programs
Summer Online Academic Courses for High School Students
1) UCLA Summer Video Game Lab Institute: Online Sessions
The Game Lab Institute Program is a unique experience that is designed to help high school students gain an understanding of video game design, particularly from the perspective of an artist. While students gain knowledge about computing and technological aspects of game development, this summer camp centers on bringing creative and artistic ideas to life through making visually-pleasing video games.
The two-week program provides opportunities for high school students to engage in interesting discussions about artistic principles, synthesize ideas into storylines for video games, and learn about the ways in which games are animated and developed.
One of the highlights of this summer experience involves students sharing their work as the program nears its conclusion. The presentation of student work is done in a way that is similar to a gallery walk, and it allows participants to see each other’s game designs and artistic visions.
This is a pre-college program that enables students to spend time in a college setting, utilize the university’s facilities, and get a preview of learning in a post-secondary environment. The program has two sessions that are held online.
The program is intended for high school students in the freshman through senior year and at least age 14 by the summer.
Learn more: UCLA Video Game Summer Program
2) Boston Leadership Institute Summer Online Remote STEM Programs
The Boston Leadership Institute has consistently been named one of the top STEM programs in the country. Offering online remote options in Science, Medicine, Technology, and Business, top students come from all over the country and the world to learn from elite teachers and professors from the best schools around Boston. Programs include Pre-Med, Forensics, Anatomy Investments, and many more!
Sessions are held remotely and can be accessed via a computer. Programs begin in early June and run through the summer. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 781-431-2514.
Participants: High school students.
3) Bard College at Simon’s Rock – Young Writers Workshop
In 1983 Bard College at Simon’s Rock established a summer creative writing program for high school students modeled after the three-week Language and Thinking Workshop required of all entering students at Bard College. Each summer 84 academically motivated students are selected to attend the Young Writers Workshop. Former participants have gone on to such colleges as Amherst, Bard, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, Haverford, Kenyon, Oberlin, Penn, Princeton, Smith, Williams, and Yale.
Over the course of the three weeks, students have the opportunity to engage in various creative writing activities, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, drama, as well as imaginative and reflective responses to published work by contemporary writers. Using non-judgmental techniques of peer response, students then revise and develop more polished pieces from these initial drafts. The small size of the workshop sections allows for individual attention to each student and helps to foster the sense of belonging to an intimate and supportive community in which students can feel comfortable taking risks with ideas and exploring new directions in their creative writing.
Each week students develop a portfolio of “works in progress” and then meet individually with their workshop leader to go over their drafts and discuss possible directions for revision. The program is being offered online this summer.
Participants: High school students in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.
Learn more: Young Writers Workshop
4) Wealthy Habits Financial Literacy Sessions- Virtual
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Participants: Students ages 11-19.
Learn more: Wealthy Habits
5) New York School of Interior Design Summer Pre-College Program
New York School of Interior Design’s Summer Pre-College program offers high school students (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) with a passion for interiors the opportunity to experience life as a designer. It’s the perfect way to learn how your passion will become your profession.
As a Summer Pre-College student, you’ll learn the basic how-tos of interior design from the professional designers who teach our undergraduate and graduate classes in online, real-time sessions from wherever you are. This summer, we’ve added fun one-week workshops for lovers of art and design, starting in June! Scholarships covering the full or partial cost of Pre-College are available!
- Pre-College I: Learn the basics of interior design, and complete a residential design project. Once you’ve pulled together all your new knowledge, you’ll use it to design your own dream apartment.
- Pre-College II: Take your basic knowledge of interior design to the next level to design a café and hotel lobby.
- The 7 Elements of Art I: Color, Form, and Space: Color is one of the most exciting aspects of both art and design. For one week, you’ll dive into color: how colors interact, amplify, and play with each other.
- The 7 Elements of Art II: Line, Value, Texture, and Shape: Develop the skills to create and develop the elements of art, from line, to shape, to form.
- Intro to the Principles of Design: Rhythm, Balance, Variety, and Harmony: Students will explore the designs and patterns used in a three-dimensional space and will develop in 2D.
Participants: High school students who will be entering the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.
Learn more: NYSID Summer Program
6) World Business Academy Online Program
The World Business Academy Online Programme includes ten two-hour live and interactive group sessions, two one-to-one online tutorials with Dr. Gerard Dericks, daily readings, individual assignments, mini-MBA projects, take-home continuing study exercises and resources, and a course certificate upon successful completion. The World Business Academy Online curriculum comprises:
- Class 1: Intro to Business Degrees and Careers
- Class 2: Microeconomic Price Theory
- Class 3: Fundamentals of Finance
- Class 4: Competitive Strategy
- Class 5: Principles of Marketing
- Class 6: Game Theory
- Class 7: Macroeconomics & Business Cycles
- Class 8: Introduction to Data Analytics
- Class 9: Business Case Simulation
- Class X: Entrepreneurial Challenge
Coursework: Daily readings, individual and group work assignments, mini-MBA project, take-home continuing study exercises and resources
Classes will be delivered on weekdays in ten online live and interactive group and one-to-one sessions led by Dr. Gerard Dericks. Group sessions will last approximately two hours and will be delivered at 10 am Pacific Standard Time (6 pm British Summer Time). Limit eight students per session.
Participants: There are no age restrictions. Students may apply up until the start date.
Learn more: World Scholars Business Academy
7) Summer Writers Workshop at Susquehanna University
The Summer Writers Workshop is a pre-college program in which high school writers share and receive feedback on their own writing—fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and performance writing. We accept rising juniors and seniors in high school, and although no formal training in creative writing is necessary, we require a portfolio at the time of application.
Participants work with faculty members, assisted by talented creative writing majors at Susquehanna University’s Writers Institute. They learn and practice specific, craft-based techniques in a chosen genre, and they produce new work to be shared in a public reading at the week’s end and published in our annual anthology.
Students gain new skills, confidence, a writing community, and a sense of what it might be like to pursue creative writing as a career. We are proud of this uniquely supportive environment that rewards hard work and fuels the passion of the next generation of young writers.
Participants: High school students who will be entering their junior or senior year.
Learn more: Summer Writers Workshop
8) UC Berkeley Academic Talent Development Program
Over the past 39 years, the UC Berkeley Secondary Division summer program has served highly motivated students. Students can take stimulating and invigorating classes designed for academic advancement and enrichment.
ATDP curricula are rigorous and cover 1-2 semesters of material in 4-6 weeks. Examples of past courses include Programming in Java, The Practice of Law, Crafting Effective Essays, AP Statistics, and Architectural Design. ATDP unites teachers who love to teach with students who love to learn. The program and its courses are offered online.
Participants: High school students and middle school students completing grades 7-11.
Learn more: UC Berkeley ATDP
9) Cornell University Online Academic Courses for High School Students
Cornell provides high school students with the chance to take summer online college-level courses. The university enables qualified high school students to take online academic courses along with undergraduates. As a result, students can get a feel for the expectations of university coursework, and they learn from as well as interact with professors in a virtual educational environment.
The online courses are offered in different sessions, which includes a summer term. There is a wide variety of subject areas available through the online program. The subject areas include biology, psychology, communications, economics, and more. The courses enable high school students to learn about a topic that may not be offered in a traditional school setting and to delve deeper into the exploration of a particular subject area that they find interesting. Additionally, the courses can help students prepare for the educational standards in college.
Participants: High school 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. There is a registration process for the courses offered online.
Learn more: Cornell Online Educational Summer Courses
10) Harvard University Secondary School Summer Online Academic Courses
Harvard’s Secondary School Program offers high school students a chance to study topics in different formats. One of the modalities of learning in this pre-college program is online. As a result, high school students have a chance to take college-level academic courses online during a seven-week period in the summer.
The online academic courses enable high school students to enrich their knowledge, learn more about an engaging topic, interact with university instructors, and prepare for college. Through the program, students can choose one or two college-level courses. There is truly a wide selection of online academic options. The subject areas include poetry, business, web development, mathematics, AI, history, and many more.
Participants: High school students who will be entering the 11th or 12th grade as well as those who have just graduated. There is an application for the program.
11) Purdue University Summer College Online Academic Courses
Purdue has a pre-college program called Summer College for High School Students. The program offers different ways that high school students can extend their learning beyond the school year and into the summer. One option is online academic courses. The online option allows high school students to gain insight into college-level academic expectations while having the flexibility to learn from home.
The Summer College’s online academic courses provide the chance for high school students to take a class with current undergraduates and learn from university professors. This experience can build confidence and help students prepare for the transition from high school into a college learning environment. The university has designated specific online courses that can be taken by high school students during the summer as a part of the Summer College Program. The courses typically span over four weeks, which gives high school students time to expand their knowledge in a subject area. The course topics provide beneficial opportunities for high school students to examine areas of interest for them while also getting a feel for college academics. The classes also enable students to learn about an academic area that may not be offered at a high school. The subject areas include computer science, philosophy, sociology, government and politics, accounting, and much more.
Participants: High school students who are sixteen or older. There is an application for the program.
Learn more: Purdue Summer College Online Course Options
12) Oregon State University’s E-Campus Online Academic Courses
Oregon State has built a robust online course delivery model that provides academic classes for high school students. The courses enable high school students to get an idea of learning at the college level, as students take classes with current undergraduates. Participants have the chance to interact with professors, navigate an online course delivery system, and prepare for academics in higher education.
High school students have a plethora of options during the summer through the e-campus. The courses enable students to prepare for college, extend their learning outside of a high school, develop their knowledge in a subject area, and find out more about a topic of interest. The online academic courses also enable high school students to engage in self-directed learning, which can be useful as they begin to think about making a transition into a higher education setting.
There is a set of online classes that is available for high school students during the summer term. High school students can study topics, such as digital visual art, marine life, world language, food science, entrepreneurship, horticulture, and many more.
Participants: High school students with a requisite grade point average. There is a registration process to take online courses through the university.
Learn more: OSU Online Academic Courses in the Summer
13) The University of Nebraska High School Online Summer Courses
This is a high school program that offers a wide range of courses that help to address many different needs of high school students. The online classes enable students to catch up on academic coursework, get ahead in school, prepare for college, take advanced placement courses, and more. There is a wide selection of courses available for students, and many of these can be taken during the summer.
The UN High School Program has many academic course options available for high school students. There are many reasons why students may want to take an online course through the program. Examples include enrolling in a class that is not offered at a high school, taking a class in the summer outside of the traditional school year, having the flexibility to work on assignments, exploring a subject area of interest, preparing for college, and more. The course options provided by the online high school program gives students the chance to take a course during the summer that aligns with their goals and interests.
One of the features of the online options is the assortment of courses that are available for high school students. There are academic course options such as history, visual art, computer science, politics, health, mathematics, chemistry, world languages, and many more. There is also a selection of Advanced Placement course options.
Participants: High school students. There is a registration process for taking online courses.
Learn more: UN High School Online Courses in the Summer
14) New York University Online Summer Film Workshop
NYU Tisch School the Arts offers a unique online course for high school students that focuses on the craft of filmmaking. The course includes a variety of significant topics involved with creating films and it has been designed to help students develop practical skills in an online setting.
The online workshop takes place over approximately a month. It includes video class lessons, individual online sessions with an instructor, and collaboration with other students. The course includes important topics involved with making films such as production, screenwriting, filming, narrative development, editing, and much more.
Through the workshop, participants gain insight into the fundamental techniques and principles connected to being a filmmaker. During the course, high school students have the opportunity to create different types of short films, which provides valuable experience and allows for the building of skills through experiential learning.
There is an application process for the program.
Participants: High school students who are in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.
Learn more: NYU Online Filmmaking Workshop
15) New York University Online Screenwriting Course
NYU offers an online college-level screenwriting class for high school students. This course is designed for students with an interest in writing who would like to gain insight into the techniques, practices, and ideas involved with the art of screenwriting for movies or television. The course is provided through the well-known NYU Tisch Schools of the Arts.
The online course runs through most of the month of July. The content is delivered online through videos, readings, and virtual meetings with the instructor. It enables students to get a preview of college-level standards and expectations. Through the course, high school students have the chance to learn about writing scripts, developing scenes, portraying characters, sharing narratives, and more.
During the course, participants receive feedback on their writing to help them develop important knowledge and skills connected to writing for movies and television. As the course progresses, students complete writing assignments, scenes, and a screenplay for a short movie or show.
There is an application for the course, which is accepted on a rolling basis. It is recommended that students submit applications early. The course offers credit, but it is the responsibility of a high school student to determine if the credit is transferrable.
Learn more: NYU Online Screenwriting
16) Boston University Summer Honors Pre-College Program – Online Course Option
BU has a robust High School Honors Summer Pre-College Program for upper grade-level high school students. The program provides different ways for students to become more familiar with college academics and expand their structured learning into the summer. One of the program options involves taking college-level courses online.
The High School Honors Summer Online option enables admitted high school students to take college-level courses in an online setting. The courses are offered through the university. Participants can take one or two online courses during the summer. They have a chance to gain experience with college-based content, learn from a university instructor, and become more familiar with the academic standards in higher education.
There are a variety of online courses that are open to high school students who are admitted to the program. The course options include subject areas such as psychology, mathematics, world language, business, and more. Through the classes, students can enhance their knowledge of topics of interest and get a feel for what it is like to be a student in online college courses.
There is an application for the BU Summer Honors Programs. Students can inquire about financial aid with the program office. If courses are taken for credit, it is important to note that it is the student’s responsibility to find out if the credits will transfer to another institution. The online courses are held in sessions during the summer.
Participants: High school students who will be going into the 11th or 12th grade.
Learn more: BU Summer Honors Online Courses