What is the Secondary School Program?
Harvard Summer School’s Secondary School Program (SSP) is a 4- or 7-week academic program for motivated high school students ready to excel in academically rigorous college courses for college credit.
Within the SSP, you will choose between taking one 4-week course while living on campus, or our more flexible 7-week option that offers residential, online, or commuting formats with the potential for one or two courses.
Over the summer, you’ll gain the confidence to do well in college that comes from successfully navigating a healthy balance between advanced coursework, extracurricular activities, and new friends.
Experience what it’s like to be a college student for 4 or 7 transformative weeks.
Earn college credit.
Learn alongside other SSP students, plus college students and adults from around the world.
Delve into a subject area of interest to confirm your college major or discover a future career path.
Balance responsibility with independence and gain the confidence to do well in college.
Choose to attend social and college readiness events where you can connect with a diverse group of peers.
Choose Between 4-Week and 7-Week
Harvard’s Secondary School Program offers a 4-week and a 7-week program.
The 7-week program has different formats in which you can attend:
- You can live on campus in 7-Week SSP Residential
- You can do the 7-Week program 100% online through SSP Online
- Or if you live close by, you can experience a summer studying at Harvard while still living at home and commuting to campus for courses and extracurricular activities.
The 4-Week program is entirely residential and currently open only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Below are how the different program options vary so you can compare and choose the one that works best for you.
|Format Components||4-Week Residential||7-Week Residential||7-Week Online||7-Week Commuting|
|Number of Credit Hours||4 credit hours||8 credit hours||4 or 8 credit hours||4 or 8 credit hours|
|Have the option to drop their 2nd class||Only Take 1 Class||No
(Can switch to another class)
(Unless restricted by visa)
|Live in Harvard Housing||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Participate in Activities||Yes||Yes||Some||Yes|
|Harvard ID, access to campus buildings||Yes||Yes||No||Yes
|Earn College Credit||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Admits International Students**||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Financial aid eligible(U.S. citizens and permanent residents only)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Tutoring and Writing Center access||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
*International 7-Week SSP Residential students with an I20 form cannot take online classes.
**Visit this page for more information about international student requirements and visas.
As a summer student at one of the top-ranked universities in the world, you'll experience a challenging learning environment.
U.S. State and Territories
Years of SSP
How to Apply To Harvard's Secondary School Program
Applications for Summer 2024 open on December 1.
Who Can Participate in Harvard’s Secondary School Program?
The Harvard Secondary School Program admissions committee is looking for mature, academically motivated students who are interested in experiencing what college is really like while exploring a potential major, future career, or topic they are passionate about.
To be eligible for Summer 2024, you must meet both of the following criteria:
- Will graduate from high school and enter college in 2024, 2025, or 2026.
- Are at least 16 years old by June 22, 2024, and will not turn 19 years old before July 31, 2024.
The 7-Week Secondary School Program accepts both U.S. and international students; however, the 4-Week Secondary School Program is currently only open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
See the 2023 Secondary School Program Academic Calendar for all important dates and deadlines. Summer 2024 dates and deadlines will be added in October.
Secondary School Program Activities
The Secondary School Program gives you time to connect with a diverse group of peers based on common interests. See what types of activities you could attend.
What Courses Can You Take at the Secondary School Program?
The 4- and 7-Week SSP program each has its own unique courses to choose from, with over 200 college-credit courses offered in total. Each of these classes is a real college course, taught by Harvard faculty and distinguished visiting faculty.
Summer classes cover over 50 different topic areas, from the humanities to STEM and everything in between. Discover your talent for acting or creative writing. Explore how a topic of interest could translate into a future career. Discover a potential major such as computer science or psychology. Delve into a passion or subject not offered at your high school. Learn about current events shaping our world today.
Summer courses are intensive and most of them are small, offering an opportunity to engage with faculty and peers on topics of interest to you. The length of classes and number of days you will attend class depends on if you are taking 4-week or 7-week courses.
Cost & Aid
The total cost of the Secondary School Program depends on the number of courses taken and which program format:
- Non-refundable $75 application fee
- In 2023, costs ranged from $3,600 for one course taken in SSP Online or SSP Commuting to $13,750 for SSP Residential.
How Long is Harvard’s Secondary School Program?
Harvard’s Secondary School Program has both a 4-week and 7-week offering. The 7-week session starts in mid-June and runs through early August and the 4-week session starts in mid-July and runs through early August. See the 2023 Academic Calendar for specific program dates and deadlines.
The Secondary School Program requires a full-time commitment throughout the program duration. If you choose to participate in SSP Residential, you’ll want to clear your calendar for the duration of the program. If you have other commitments during the summer, consider SSP Online where you can take one course from home, or our 2-week, non-credit Pre-College Program.
What Will You Get Out of Harvard’s Summer School Program?
At Harvard’s Secondary School Program for high school students, you will expand your academic skills and demonstrate your ability to study at an Ivy League level. Upon successful completion of the program, you’ll receive a letter grade and can request a Harvard transcript that lists your course or courses.
You’ll also begin to build core life skills—such as time management, career planning, and living on your own—that will prepare you for success in college. You will be among a global student body to learn from and have fun with. And you’ll learn that you can thrive outside your comfort zone while making connections and memories that will last a lifetime.
Are Summer School Courses Difficult?
Summer school classes at Harvard are college-level courses, and therefore academically rigorous. But it is the challenge of these courses that attracts our students to the Secondary School Program. You will be proud of all you have accomplished at the end of the summer.
At SSP, you’ll be enrolled in the same credit-bearing Harvard Summer School courses taken by college students and other adult learners. Courses are condensed and intensive, so the work will feel different from high school classes.
Faculty at Harvard Summer School expect a significant commitment of time outside of class for reading and assignments. On average, the work required outside of class time is 8-12 hours per week per four-credit course, but this varies by course and depending on the assignments for the week.
What Courses Should I Take in the Secondary School Program?
There are a lot of great courses available through the Secondary School Program, and choosing the right one or two for you can be tough. There are a variety of variables to consider, including your areas of interest and how they will enhance your college application.
When you apply, you will apply to either the 7-Week or 4-Week Secondary School Program, and if you’re accepted you will register for courses within that program length. The 7-week and 4-week programs have different courses, so make sure to look through what courses are available before you choose your program.
The Secondary School Program staff members have a lot of experience advising high school students on selecting the right course. Once you’re admitted, we will work with you to help you select courses that suit your skills, interests, and goals. Because we are intimately familiar with the summer course offerings, we can help ensure that you enroll in courses that will help you succeed.
Our office is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Contact us for more information or email us to set up an advising appointment.
Do Secondary School Programs Help with College Admissions?
Participation in Harvard’s Secondary School Program does not guarantee admission to Harvard College.
However, the Secondary School Program can help make your college application stronger, regardless of where you apply. Completion of the program shows that you can succeed in a rigorous college class, and that you are a motivated and dedicated student who is ready for life on a college campus.
The Secondary School Program also offers activities designed to help you navigate the daunting college admissions process. You can meet admissions officers from a variety of US colleges and universities at our college fairs and visits, for example, as well as work on your essays and responses at our college readiness workshops.
When you complete the Secondary School Program, you’ll have an amazing experience to add to your application, and you’ll be ready to get your applications underway.
For additional information, read more Common Questions about the Secondary School Program at Harvard Summer School.
Why Choose Harvard’s Secondary School Program?
Are you ready for the experience of a lifetime? Prepare for your future at Harvard’s Secondary School Program. Challenge yourself academically, meet new friends from around the world, and expand your perspective and horizons!
Applications for Summer 2024 open on December 1.