Top Summer Programmes: Harvard Summer School

Are you a high school student who wants to experience an Ivy League education? If yes, Harvard Summer School might be a great option for you. Harvard summer school gives you an insight into college-level courses and helps enhance your profile. Your classes are held at the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You also get the lifetime experience of being a Harvard student.

There are two options for high school students. You will either apply to the Pre-College Program or the Secondary School Program for the summer:

Harvard’s Pre-College Program

Harvard’s Pre-College Program is an intensive two-week summer program for high school students. As a part of this program, you will take college-level classes without the pressure of letter grades. The students get the opportunity to delve deeper into one subject. The students attend the classes with a small class size of 15 students. 

The students also get a chance to practice their debate skills and learn how to communicate articulately on complex topics. The students can choose from 30 courses in each session. The classes are taught by Harvard University faculty. Each day you will be in class for three to four hours and you will be expected to have 2 – hours of homework. After completing the program the students get a Harvard transcript with a grade of AR (requirements met) or NM (requirements not met). The students must attend the whole session and complete their assignments to get AR for their coursework.

The program also includes a few activity requirements as a part of the completion of this program. Every student who is admitted to the program gets a Harvard Summer School Passport. The students need to get their passports stamped at the events they attend in order to complete the requirements of the program. 

The Passport requirements include:

Two academic exploration lectures or discussions like The Economics of Organized Crime or The Hidden Stakes of Geography for Democracy and Distribution.
Two College Readiness workshops like Reading with Purpose or Time Management for Success.
Two Social and Residential Activities like Escape the yard, Pre-College Dance
Two Trips and Recreation like The Freedom Trail Tour, Whale Watching, or the Red Sox games

The students can choose courses from the following topics:

Speech, Writing, and Literature
Psychology, Medicine, and Public Health
Law, Politics, Philosophy, and, History
Business and Leadership
Race, Gender, and Ethics
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and, Math (STEAM)

Secondary School Program

The Secondary School program is a seven-week academic program for high school students who are ready to take college courses for credit. The SSP offers three different formats. The students can choose any format:

Secondary School Program Residential:

As a part of this program, the students live on Harvard’s beautiful campus for seven weeks. As residents, the students are able to access the libraries, athletic facilities, and student centers. The Harvard Secondary School Program has a selection of more than 200 courses. The courses are organized into career pathways and focused areas of study. 

The students are required to take 8 credit hours or two 4-credit classes. You can switch to a different course but you cannot drop a class. The classes have a rigorous, full-time course load. 

Secondary School Program Commuting:

If you live in New England or within a reasonable commuting distance from Harvard (MA, ME, NH, RI, CT, VT) you can commute from home to campus in order to attend classes and other campus activities. As a commuting student, you have the flexibility to take an on-campus or online class.

The students are required to take 4 credit hours. You have the option to drop a class if needed.

Secondary School Program Online:

Irrespective of your location, you can attend the Harvard Secondary School Program during the summer with SSP Online. The program enables students to encounter college life from various regions of the world.

The students are required to take 4 credit hours. You have the option to drop a class if needed.

Classes are held in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings. Most courses meet for six weeks, with a final exam, paper, or project during the seventh week. The students have a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to courses, whether they pertain to a particular subject or align with their chosen career path.

Career Pathway Courses:

Students can select a career pathway course to get a real-world perspective of the career they might want to pursue. The classes have 15 – 25 students and they develop their collaborative and leadership skills. The students can choose from the following pathways:

Animal Transgenesis: A Laboratory Primer on Genetics
Becoming a Brain Scientist: Neuroscience and Psychology Research
Basic Journalism in the Digital Age
Tackling Real-World Problems Through Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Introduction to Entrepreneurship
Problem-Solving and Project Design
Start-Ups from the Perspective of Business and IP Law

 Focused Area of Study:

The students delve into topics that they are passionate about. These courses help students decide what they would like to study in college. The students can choose from the following subjects:

Computer Science and Engineering
Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights
Economics, Finance, and Public Policy
Medical Sciences and Ethics
Psychology and Neuroscience

Secondary School Program Activities:

All SSP students undertake challenging coursework while having some fun. They are able to take part in online and on-campus activities during the span of seven weeks.

Online Activities:

Classical Music Listening Party 
Musical Theater Listening Party
Open Mic Night
College Selection Panel
College Admissions Panel
College Admissions Q&A
College Counseling: one-on-one appointments
First Generation / Low Income (FGLI) Panel & Advising
LGBTQ+ Panel & Q&A
Forming Opinions, a discussion series
Student-initiated Discussions
But I Might Be Wrong: A Discussion Forum
Language Meet-Ups: Spanish, French, Russian
Hispanic/Latin American Culture: A Discussion of Heritage
Journal Club
Wellness Club
Dramatic Monologues: Playwriting Workshop & Performance
Two Years Over Here: My Peace Corps Experience
How’d You Get There? Student-Alumni Discussions of Careers
Travelers in the World: Students Discuss Something from their Country or Culture
Group Lunches (“Lunch with the Dean”), open to up to 10 students
Show & Tell: Bring Your Hobby
Show & Tell: Bring Something That’s Important to You
Drawing/Painting Night

On-Campus Activities:

Talent Show
Music Groups
College Visits


The admissions committee seeks academically driven and mature students. The students must be at least 16 years old by the program’s start and should not be 19 years old before July.

There are two admission deadlines: early application and regular application. Rolling admissions take place after the regular application deadline if spots are still available.

During the application evaluation process, all information submitted, including transcripts, counselor reports, and GPA, are considered. There is no minimum GPA requirement. The students have the option to submit their PSAT, SAT, or ACT test scores.

The application includes the following components:

Counselor Report
High School Transcript
PSAT, and ACT/SAT scores optional
Rules and Media Release Online form

Cost of Attendance

The cost of the Pre-College Program session is $5,300. The program fee includes tuition, room and meal plan, activity costs, and an accident and sickness insurance plan for the full two weeks.

The cost of the SSP Residential session includes $13,750. The program fee includes tuition, room and meal plan, and an accident and sickness insurance plan for the full seven weeks.

The SSP Commuting and SSP Online sessions cost $3,600 (4 credits) – $7,200 (8 credits). The program fee includes tuition only and depends upon the number of credits taken.

In conclusion, the Harvard Summer School offers an incredible opportunity to experience college life for students around the world. They expand their knowledge and enhance their academic skills with the help of experienced faculty in a dynamic learning environment. Students immerse themselves in a rigorous academic program with a diverse range of courses while also having some fun. Enrolling in the Harvard Summer School is a unique and valuable experience that can help students achieve their academic and personal goals, and set them on a path to success in their future endeavors.

We can help you with your Harvard Summer School application process. Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counsellors, can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high-schooling years. Start today!

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