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#Summer Programs in the US for High School Kids: part 2 – Harvard


What better way to experience college than studying during the summer at one of the best universities in the world?

College courses

As a Secondary School Program (SSP) student, you can choose from over  200 courses in more than 60 fields—such as biology, math, creative writing, and drama. Many of the classes are taught by Harvard faculty who teach the same courses to Harvard undergraduates during the academic year.

See course listing here

English language program

International high school students who want to study English can apply to the Secondary School Intensive English Language Program.

Summer seminars

High school juniors and seniors can register for summer seminars—inspired by the renowned freshman seminars at Harvard College. Limited to 15 students, these seminars offer an intense academic experience and are a great introduction to small college classes. Many require original research and involve discussion and other kinds of class participation, such as giving presentations.

College credit

The Harvard summer term is seven weeks, and most courses open to SSP students meet for six weeks, with a final exam during the seventh week.

SSP students take college courses for undergraduate credit only, and only for a letter grade. The single exception to this policy is EXPO S-C, a writing course that is offered only on a noncredit basis.

Cost of the Secondary School Program

The tuition and fees for the Secondary School Program are as follows:
Application fee (nonrefundable) $50
4-credit course $2,770
8-credit course $5,540
Secondary School English Language Program tuition $5,540
Housing (room and board) $4,950
Health insurance
If you do not have US health insurance that covers major illnesses and accidents, you must purchase it through the Summer School.

Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Housing for Secondary School Students

The cost of room and board for the Harvard Secondary School Program is $4,950. See Tuition and Financial Aid for more information.

You will live in Harvard Yard or Union residences, where Harvard College freshmen live during the academic year, or in an upper-class House. Residences are divided into entryways: an entryway can be a building or a floor or a combination of floors. A proctor is in charge of each entryway.

Resident staff advise and supervise students in the residences. Rising sophomores—who will graduate in 2015 and are typically younger than other SSP students—observe a curfew and are housed with a higher ratio of proctors to supervise and assist them.

On Opening Weekend, SSP students wait until all roommates arrive before determining who settles in which bedroom and sleeps in which bed. This is an excellent way to get to know your roommates and develop a way to resolve differences. If you and your roommates ever need help resolving a dispute, you should talk with your proctor.

As a registered Summer School student, you may request to live in on-campus housing. Housing in Harvard College dorms and undergraduate Houses costs $4,950 for the seven-week session.

Housing is not available to students enrolled only in Institute for English Language Programs part-time evening courses, mathematics for teaching courses (MATH S-302, S-318, and S-322), MCHU S-A, or GMAT S-1.

Residential buildings have various configurations. All buildings are coed. Most buildings have suites, typically featuring a common room, two to four bedrooms, and a shared bathroom. Other buildings have rooms off a hallway with a shared bath. Some bedrooms have bunk beds. All rooms and bathrooms are single sex. Learn more about the rooms.


On Opening Weekend, SSP students who live on campus traditionally wait until all roommates have arrived before they get together and decide who settles in which bedroom and sleeps in which bed. We have found this to be an excellent way for those who share space with others to begin to get to know one another and establish a pattern of working together constructively. We encourage all SSP students to seek guidance from their proctor if they feel they need help resolving a dispute of any kind.

Safety, accommodations, and supervision

Four SSP assistant deans oversee the proctors who live in the residences where your student lives for the summer. Proctors are carefully chosen from an application pool of Harvard undergraduate students, and they lead orientations, are responsible for student safety, and serve as a vital source of information. In addition to being residence supervisors, proctors organize fun activities and study breaks.

Because high school sophomores—known over the summer as rising juniors—are typically younger than other SSP students, they observe a curfew (11 pm weeknights, 12:30 am weekends) and are housed with a higher ratio of proctors to supervise and assist them.

Students will receive information about where they can expect to live after housing is assigned to students who meet all requirements. They will receive an e-mail directing them to information on move-in procedures, Opening Weekend festivities, disability services, transportation, and other details about living on campus.

Your student should read the student handbook they will receive, and the policy section of the website, both of which outline student responsibilities in such areas as conduct, attendance, and academic integrity, and which contain information concerning the SSP’s zero-tolerance policy on alcohol and drugs. Harvard Summer School puts safety first, and SSP rules prohibiting involvement with alcohol and drugs are an important factor in our effort to provide students a positive environment for study in the summer.

Academic counseling

Many academic services are available to high school students during their studies at Harvard. The SSP staff—including the assistant director, the assistant deans, and myself—has extensive experience counseling high school students on course selection and looks forward to doing the same for your student.

For specific course-related matters once classes are under way, a group of talented academic tutors is at hand and eager to help. Students are also encouraged to spend time speaking with faculty and teaching fellows. The SSP assistant deans provide counsel in all areas of student life, personal and academic, as well as oversee student safety and welfare. Learn more about academic advising.

Leaving for the weekend

Going away and sleeping off campus overnight, even with parents or guardians, requires approval of an SSP assistant dean. See Weekends Policy for more information.

“After completing the SSP, your student will have grown as a student and as a person. Living like a college student, even for just a summer, will give your student the confidence to succeed as he or she finishes secondary school and moves forward into a bright academic future. We look forward to seeing your student on campus this summer. (William J. Holinger,  Director of the Secondary School Program at Harvard Summer School)


Harvard Summer School offers a rich schedule of free films and concerts, events, volunteer opportunities, and sports competitions, as well as short trips (for a modest fee) around New England.

Just for Secondary School Program students

The SSP offers several activities specifically for high school students:

  • The trivia bowl involves three-member teams competing for several weeks until one team wins in an amusing and impressive final round.
  • The talent show is the most popular summer event. SSP students perform for, and cheer on, their talented peers (and proctors) in musical, theatrical, and dance performances.
  • Two dances draw more than 500 SSP students.

College prep

College preparatory activities are an important aspect of the SSP. We sponsor many events designed to help you prepare for your academic future. Events are scheduled on a recurring basis so you won’t miss out because of class or exam conflicts. A schedule of all SSP college prep activities will be available once the summer term begins.

College fair

More than 50 colleges from around the country send representatives to meet students and provide information about their schools. Represented schools include Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, George Washington University, MIT, Middlebury, Rice, Smith, Stanford, Swarthmore, Tufts, the Universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania, Wellesley, Williams, Yale, and other universities.

College visits

Organized trips to New England colleges—typically Amherst, Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale—provide an opportunity to tour campuses and speak with students and admissions personnel.

College advice

SSP proctors and assistant deans are eager to help you explore options for choosing the college that will be right for you. They offer college counseling, by appointment, and organize several question-and-answer panels on college admissions.

Harvard College admissions

Although attending the Secondary School Program does not guarantee or imply admission to Harvard College, you can take advantage of being on campus by visiting the Admissions Office and attending a talk given by a Harvard admissions officer. Additionally, qualified SSP students who live far from Cambridge are often granted application interviews.

College prep workshops

Many SSP students take advantage of the noncredit college preparation workshops on topics like writing a college application essay and preparing for test-taking in college.

A schedule of workshop times and locations will be available by Opening Weekend.

Harvard course in reading and study strategies

This intensive, noncredit course is offered by the Harvard Bureau of Study Counsel (BSC). It can help you develop reading, learning, time management, and study strategies to increase your efficiency and effectiveness. The course meets one hour a day, Monday through Friday, for two weeks. For more information and the tuition price, visit the BSC website.

English Proficiency Requirement

English is the language of instruction at Harvard Summer School. You must be proficient in English, unless you are enrolled only in Institute for English Language Programs (IEL) courses (for which basic English literacy is required).

In all Summer School courses except IEL:

  • Your oral comprehension and expression must be sufficient for effective class participation.
  • Your reading comprehension and writing skills must be sufficient for responding clearly and accurately to course assignments.
  • Your comprehension and communication skills must be sufficient for completing examinations without the use of dictionaries or other exam aids, except those authorized by the instructor for all students taking the exam.
  • You may be dropped from a course for a full-tuition refund if the instructor determines before the full-tuition refund deadline that you lack the English proficiency required for the course. After the full-tuition refund deadline, you may beexcluded from a course for no refund if the instructor determines that your lack of English proficiency is disruptive to the progress of instruction.

How to meet the requirement

Secondary School Program applicants: See Secondary School Program Admission for instructions on meeting this requirement.

If your native language is not English, you must provide one of the minimum test scores listed below to demonstrate English proficiency. Your course registration is conditional until you meet this requirement. If you do not meet it by the appropriate deadline for you, you will be dropped from your courses after May 20.

Earn the minimum score on any of the following tests.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Harvard University English language placement test for local students

Alternate proof of proficiency appeal

If you are not local and cannot take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic, you may appeal to submit alternate proof of proficiency.

Appeals are considered case-by-case until the deadline that applies to you. Materials must be accompanied by the English proficiency appeal form. Submitting an appeal does not guarantee that you will meet the requirement.

Appeals may be submitted as follows:

  • If you have taken the Institutional TOEFL, University of Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), Business English Certificate Higher (BEC Higher), or the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC, 800 or higher), you may submit official score reports for these tests.
  • If you have taken or are currently taking courses other than English language skills courses at a college or university located in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, or the United States at which English is the sole language of instruction, you may submit an official transcript.

No letters of reference, résumés, or certificates of English language study will be considered.  Most appeals are approved for one semester only, and minimum test scores are required for future enrollment.

Personal Conclusions: Great “name” and good “value for money” compared to other programs. They seem quite rigid on requiring evidence of fluency only through standardized tests. Vast selection of courses, interesting but that seems a little more “traditional” than those offered at Columbia. Course structure seems also more traditional, with exams in the last week. When it comes to summer courses I personally favour other forms of evaluation and, participation being voluntary and not leading to a degree, I would not “spoil” the passion for learning with exam anxiety.

1 Comment

  1. […] #Summer Programs in the US for High School Kids: part 2 – Harvard. […]

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