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College Programs for High School Students

Three students look out over an internal balcony on the Harvard campus.

Overview of our Summer College Programs for High School Students

  • Teacher speaking to class.

    Challenge yourself in college-level academics.

  • Four people around a globe.

    Meet new friends from around the world.

  • Checklist in front of computer monitor.

    Strengthen your college application.

  • Person climbing toward a flag.

    Build life skills to be successful in college and beyond.

  • Calendar.

    Choose between 2-, 4-, and 7-week options.

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Choose from rigorous non-credit or college-credit courses.

Harvard’s Summer College Programs for high school students are intensive programs designed to give students a glimpse of college and the opportunity to challenge themselves in college-level academics. You’ll meet new friends from around the world and build important life skills that can make your future college experience a success — all while strengthening your college application.

The Secondary School program offers over 200 for credit college courses in total between the 4- and 7-week programs.

  • In this immersive experience you’ll learn alongside high school and college students from around the globe.
  • The format of our 7-week program is flexible, so choose from on-campus, commuting, or online.

The Pre-College program is exclusively on campus and has three, 2-week sessions you can choose from over the summer.

  • Learn alongside peers from around the world in these non-credit, but academically rigorous courses.

Why Choose Harvard Summer School

From rigorous coursework to trips to Cape Cod, spending your summer at Harvard will expand your horizons and create memories that will last a lifetime.

  • 2,800+

    High School Students

  • 300+

    Courses Offered

  • 31%

    International Students

  • 69%

    Students from the United States

  • 53

    US States and Territories Represented

  • 71

    Countries Represented

students in auditorium

Secondary School Program

Experience what it’s like to be a college student for 4 or 7 transformative weeks.

The Secondary School Program provides high school students an opportunity to earn college credit, get a true feel for college life, and learn alongside high school students, college students and adults from around the world.

  • Envision how a topic of interest can translate into a college major or future career in small classes.
  • Balance responsibility with independence and gain the confidence to do well in college.
  • Connect with a diverse group of peers.

4-week Secondary School Program

  • Residential only — live on Harvard’s campus with new friends
  • Choose one accelerated 4-credit course, with small class sizes for increased interaction with faculty and peers.

7-week Secondary School program

  • Three program formats to choose from: Residential, Online, or Commuting.
  • U.S. and international SSP students can choose one or two courses from over 200 on-campus and online college courses.

The Secondary School Program is suitable for mature, academically motivated high school students ready to excel in college courses for college credit.

What Secondary School Program Students Have to Say

Hear all about the Harvard Summer experience directly from some of our students.

Pre-College Program

An academically rigorous on-campus program for exceptional high school students.

The Pre-College Program is a non-credit two-week residential program designed to give high school students a glimpse of college life on the Harvard campus. Students take college-level courses alongside peers from around the world.

  • Test your intellect without the pressure of letter grades.
  • Live a balanced (college) life.
  • Enjoy a range of co-curricular activities with academically-minded students from around the world.

This program is suitable for mature, academically motivated high school students interested in exploring a potential major or finding out what college is really like.

What Pre-College Program Students Have to Say

Hear all about the Harvard Summer experience directly from some of our students.

summer students in class

Discover the Transformative Summer Experience That’s Right for You

Which Harvard Summer Program is right for you?

While there are many similarities between the two programs, they are quite different. You can apply to only one, so you’ll need to understand what each program offers — and choose which one is right for you — before you submit your application.

The good news is that whatever program you choose, your summer at Harvard will be a truly special experience.

Benefits of taking a Secondary School or Pre-College Program

Harvard’s summer programs for high school students will help prepare you for success in college. Whether you participate in the Secondary School or Pre-College program, you will have the opportunity to build core life skills like time management, career planning, and living on your own.

Participating in either program will also help you expand your academic skills at the college level and to thrive outside your comfort zone.

Harvard’s Summer programs affords you the opportunity to learn from and be among top students from around the world — making connections and memories that will last a lifetime.

Kristina Nasteva

After only two weeks of classes, I feel much more knowledgeable and open to critical thinking. Through assigned readings, discussions, and projects, I got to taste what the college experience would look like.

Kristina N.

Pre-College Program Student

Noor Huda

I truly enjoyed having classes in a seminar style that encouraged asking questions to learn. I formed such a deep bond with those in my class through our shared passion for the topic as well as our learning journey that we shared.

Noor H.

Secondary School Program Student


Tuition, deposits, and fees for Harvard Summer School differ based on program and format.

The total cost of the Secondary School Program depends on the number of courses taken and in which format. Learn more about the cost of the Secondary School Program.

The total cost of the Pre-College program in 2024 is $5,550, plus a $75 application fee. Learn more about the cost of the Pre-College Program.


What grades can take the summer school programs at Harvard?

For Summer 2024, students who will graduate from high school and enter college in 2025 or 2026 can apply to the 2-week, non-credit Pre-College Program; students who will graduate from high school and enter college in 2024, 2025 or 2026 can apply to the 4-week and 7-week, college-credit Secondary School Program.

How will these summer programs help me get into college?

Participating in both the Secondary School and Pre-College summer programs at Harvard demonstrates your ability to succeed in a rigorous college course to admissions committees.

Both programs also give you the tools to navigate the college admissions process:

  • The Secondary Summer Program gives you the opportunity to meet admissions officers from a number of colleges and universities as well as to work on your admissions essays and application responses in in-person and online activities.
  • The Pre-College Program includes activities like workshops on writing your college admissions essay, seminars on the financial aid process, and panels on choosing the right college.

How do I know if the Pre-College Program or the Secondary School Program is a better fit for me?

The program you choose will depend largely on the course-load you’re looking for. While all Harvard Summer School courses are college-level, the 2-week Pre-College program does not offer college credit so you don’t have the pressure of grades. The length of the program may also impact your decision, depending on how much time you are able to commit — the Pre-College Summer Program is only 2 weeks while the Secondary School Summer Program has 4 and 7 week options. During the 7 week option you may take two, full-term courses.