What are the Best Science or Math Summer Programs in the U.S.?

Both high school students in America and high school students abroad have this question. With so many summer programs advertised each year on hundreds and thousands of American university campuses, how do students and families choose the most reputable programs?

One international student once came to us claiming that he studied at “Harvard University” for the summer. In examining his certificate and documents, we discovered that he only studied at a private, for-profit program that was using Harvard’s facilities—in essence, his summer program, while valuable in helping him learn English, was not an asset to his college applications. Here are some general principles to keep in mind when sifting through your different options:

  1. The best programs are selective. If the only criteria for admissions are to fill out a form and pay the (often very high) fee, that fact should raise a red flag. The most reputable programs require high school transcripts, test scores, and even teacher recommendations and personal statements.
  2. The best programs are not expensive. In fact, some of the most reputable programs introduced below are not only tuition-free, they also offer stipends to students (or make financial aid available if they do charge tuition).
  3. The best programs work in conjunction with the university (and don’t just rent facilities from the university). The most reputable programs draw their teaching staff from the university’s teaching staff and may award college credit for courses taken at the university.

Keeping the above in mind, the following are just a few of the most highly regarded math and science summer programs in the U.S. that either welcome international applicants or have been known to accept international applicants.

  • Research Science Institute (RSI) is a highly competitive, MIT-associated science and technology research which combines on-campus coursework with 5 weeks of off-campus research. There is no tuition associated with this program, which accepts only 80 students a year. International student go through a separate application process.
  • Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC) welcomes mathematically-gifted students from around the world for a four week camp focusing on advanced math courses, group problem-solving, and guided research projects. Students interact with the Stanford Mathematics Department faculty and students. Financial aid is available.
  • Summer Science Program (SSP) is a 5-week residential program on two campuses (California and New Mexico), co-sponsored by MIT. It is a no-cost program with a highly rigorous curriculum focused on physics, math, astronomy, and computer program. It is also open to internationals.
  • Clark Scholars at Texas Tech University is a highly prestigious and selective summer research program in multiple disciplines, ranging from the biological sciences to philosophy and electrical engineering.  The program only accepts 12 students per year. Students work with faculty on hands-on research projects and receive a $750 stipend for the summer. Internationals have been accepted in the past (although this is not specified on the website).

Although this is just a sampling of some of the most selective and prestigious math or science-oriented summer programs, there are many more reputable programs to explore. How do you know which summer program is right for you? We at Pasifik Consultants can help, please contact us at to set up a free counseling meeting.

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