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#summer programs for high school kids at US universities: Brown

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island (one hour south of Boston) has a strong pre-college program and is also one of the few institutions (possibly the only one amonst the top/Ivy League schools) to offer residential programs also for middle school kids.

Experience college life, prepare for academic success, and make new friends from around the world in Brown Pre-College programs, with more than 300 courses to choose from – on campus, online, or abroad.

Summer Pre-College Courses
Each summer, Brown offers nearly 200 courses carefully selected to reflect the breadth of the University’s curriculum. Eligible students have completed at least the 9th grade. Experience college life and learning in these non-credit courses that vary in length from one to four weeks.

Global Programs

Global Programs offer rigorous academic experiences in the context of cultural immersions that prepare students for the increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century. High school students can choose to study this summer with Brown in Costa Rica, Rome, Naxos, Segovia or Turkey.

Brown Leadership Institute
Learn the skills necessary for effective and socially responsible leadership through coursework in environmental issues, trade, health, security, human rights, conflict and diversity.

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL)
Develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to address the environmental issues facing your local communities and the planet.

BELL: Rhode Island – Sustainable Development
BELL: Costa Rica – Biology, Conservation, and Sustainability
BELL: Hawaii – Environmental Ecology and Hawaiian Culture
BELL: New Orleans & Louisiana Gulf Coast – Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Development

Intensive English Language at Brown
English Language and Academics for University-bound Students
This acclaimed program combines focused English language study with liberal arts courses for high-achieving, university-bound students.

TheatreBridge & Playwrights Workshop
Immersive Theatre Study for High School Students
TheatreBridge and Playwrights Workshop offer a connecting link between high school and college theatre and encourage a commitment to a life of creative engagement. The highly selective programs provide promising young actors and playwrights an opportunity to stretch their imaginations and skills as they create new work under the mentorship of established theatre professionals.

SPARK – Science for Middle School Students
Identifying Talent, Opening Doors
For students who have completed 7th and 8th grade and love science. SPARK courses are designed to expose the intellectual concepts of familiar topics that are part of the student’s world. The result is an experience that’s fun, engaging, and interesting.

Summer Sports Camps
Brown University offers summer sports camps for young athletes. We are committed to providing an exceptional camp experience for campers of all ages and skill levels. Camps are led by Brown’s varsity coaches, their staff and current Brown athletes.


Fees vary by program and course length. Some courses may have a supplemental fee – please refer to the course description for details. Unless otherwise noted, Pre-College program fees include one course per session.

One-Week Courses

Residential: $2,356
Commuter: $1,826

Two-Week Courses

Residential: $3,600
Commuter: $2,542

Three-Week Courses

Residential: $5,232
Commuter: $3,644

Four-Week Courses

Residential: $5,990
Commuter: $3,873

Please note: Some courses may include a supplemental or materials fee.
Please see course catalog for details.

Pre College  Courses

Pre-College courses are for students looking to experience college level academics on an Ivy League campus – without the pressures of credit or grades. Nearly 200 courses reflecting the breadth of the Brown undergraduate curriculum provide opportunities for students to study alongside others who are focused on learning, with instructors who are passionate about their subject areas. As part of your learning at Brown you may well do things you have only dreamed of – shadow a physician, transform your thoughts into crisp writing, learn what makes things work, (or not work), map the stars, study human behavior through neuroscience, philosophy, history or literature, or analyze your own DNA.

Accepted students may choose to attend multiple sessions throughout the summer, either combining a series of related courses, one building upon the other, or to immerse themselves in a variety of subjects, each a different passion.

Complete list of available courses here

SPARK Science Camps for Middle Schoolers

SPARK is a science program for curious middle school students who seek to spend one or two weeks on the Brown University campus, immerse themselves in exciting science subjects, and gain the foundations necessary for further scientific inquiry.

The SPARK program is designed to inspire students with similar interests in the sciences. Students are immersed in a discipline of their choice, get a real taste of what it means to be a scientist, and learn how to explore and make discoveries. This process makes learning stimulating and meaningful – it is rewarding and most of all fun!

The academic experience is enriched further through collegiality and collaboration where students from diverse backgrounds work together in teams.  Students learn from each other, are inspired by each other, and form lasting friendships. This creates an enjoyable, safe, and relaxed environment which in turn encourages each student to live up to his or her full potential. As a result students build self-confidence and grow as individuals. When students return home they are transformed and energized to take charge of their learning.

Science Goals

  • Introduce students to complex scientific topics in a manner appropriate for academically talented middle school students;
  • Promote a better understanding of science and its relevance to everyday life, including how research results are applied in the world around us;
  • Provide students with an opportunity to participate in inquiry and experimentation through course and co-curricular activities; and
  • Engage students in the process of thinking as scientists – where they develop scientific questions, experiment, analyze and interpret data, and come up with sound conclusions.

Personal Goals

  • Inspire students in intellectual and experiential activities
  • Provide opportunities for students to connect with other like-minded and motivated individuals
  • Learn the art of teamwork by engaging in meaningful discussions and group projects
  • Gain self-confidence while learning novel things in a safe, comfortable, and challenging environment
  • Broaden students’ horizons by exposing them to novel situations thus preparing them for high school and beyond


SPARK students are supervised throughout the program by a team of carefully selected and trained Residential Advisors (RAs) who live in residence halls with SPARK students and chaperone students in class throughout the entire day. An average student/RA ratio of 12:1 guarantees that students will receive the personal attention they need. A professional live-in staff member who oversees student supervision is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

During his or her stay at Brown University, each SPARK student will get to know two or three RAs more personally. The idea is that the SPARK students connect with the RAs while socializing with their own peers. The RAs will help with community building and will be present during the meals and evening activities. They will be there to answer any questions concerning high school and college life.  Generally, the RAs will be friendly with the SPARK students, though they will not be their best friends. In short, the RAs will be a resource to the SPARK students and act as role models for them.

Students live in Brown’s residence halls within walking distance of classrooms and dining halls. Students are randomly assigned to single or double occupancy rooms on single-sex floors with single-sex shared bathrooms.We will attempt to honor roommate and single-room requests for SPARK students.Rooms provide typical college furniture, and do not have central air conditioning.Students must abide by a 10pm curfew – after 10:00pm, students must be in their own rooms for the remainder of the evening.Lights are out in rooms after 11:00pm.

Extended housing is not available for SPARK students.

SPARK students eat together in one of Brown’s dining halls, under the supervision of Residential Advisors.

A Typical Day at SPARK

See the SPARK 2012 Activities Calendar

Breakfast – 7:30am – 9:00am
Breakfast is served in one of Brown’s dining halls
Residential staff will escort students to the dining hall and to their class.

Commuter Student Drop off – 8:30am

Classes in Session – 9:00am – 12:00 noon 
Classes meet every morning for 3 hours. A residential staff member is assigned to escort students to and from class. Students are advised to bring their water bottles. Snacks will be provided during the class break.

Lunch – 12 noon – 1:00pm
Lunch is served in one of Brown’s dining halls. Students are supervised by residential staff.

Field Trips or Laboratories – 1:30pm – 4pm
Classes are in session on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Some classes conduct laboratories during this time, others go on field trips – location varies by class. Instructors and Residential Advisors chaperone field trips.

Inquiry Activities – 1:30pm – 3:00pm
On Monday and Wednesday students participate in science-related inquiry-based activities. These activities are led by different instructors specially trained for these activities. Students get the opportunity to mix with students from other courses.

Recreational Lectures – 3:15pm – 4:15pm
On Monday and Wednesday students will learn about other contemporary science topics like Space-Time Travel, Neuroscience, or Artificial Intelligence. Snacks will be provided before the lectures.

Commuter Student Pick up – 4:30pm

Dinner 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Dinner is served in one of Brown’s dining halls. Students are supervised by residential staff members.                

Evening Activities
After dinner, students participate in popular supervised social events such as bowling, laser tag, movies, and a talent show. Before participating in the bowling or laser tag event, students attend short presentations on the physics of bowling and on lasers.

Please note that SPARK classes that take place off-campus may have an earlier start time to allow transportation to off-site location.

Friday Afternoon Closing Event

On Fridays at 2:00pm at the close of each session, parents and students are invited to join instructors and staff for a closing event highlighting the work of SPARK students. The closing activity consists of a 20 minute presentation of highlights of the SPARK program. This will be followed by light refreshments. At 2:30pm parents will join the class of their student to hear what students actually learned. In fact, the students themselves will present their newly acquired skills and knowledge to their parents and share with them the fun they have had.

Brown Leadership Institute

The world faces complicated and often daunting challenges: health crises , environmental destruction, conflicts and wars, poverty, mass immigration, global security, and human rights abuses. These challenges demand the attention of every member of the global community.

We believe that informed youth can make a positive difference in the world; thus our mission is to help students develop and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership.

Understand Global Challenges

Students develop knowledge and understanding of complex issues through case studies, lectures, films, simulations, discussions, field research  and group projects. Your learning is stimulated by creative curricula, engaging faculty and peers from around the world. Last year we had students from 28 different countries and from around the U.S. Such diversity is key to our understanding of global challenges.

Develop Leadership Skills

In class, on the Low Ropes course, and in workshops, students learn and practice leadership skills including public speaking, interpersonal communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, and teamwork.

Create an Action Plan

Students create an Action Plan focused on issues they care about. With the guidance of expert faculty and staff, students apply their strengths, passions, knowledge and skills to serve others and effect change in the world.

All Leadership Institute students create an Action Plan that addresses a pressing social issue in their school or community. Students develop these plans while they are here in the summer, present their ideas to their peers, and then work on the project when they return home. Review student plans in our digital Action Plan librarywhich contains examples of the work our students have done in the past.

Take Your Learning Home

All of us share a civic responsibility to both understand complex social issues and apply what we know in service to others. During your course, instructors and peers help you develop a plan that applies your new knowledge and leadership skills to a problem or issue in your community. Leadership alumni return to their communities as part of a network of social activists.

Student Profile

The Leadership Institute is designed for highly motivated and intellectually curious students who are interested in complex social issues. We look for young people who are excited to learn and want to make a positive difference in the world. Applications are open to qualified high school students from 9th grade through graduated seniors


  • Brown Environmental Leadership Laboratory (BELL)
  • Organize, Mobilize: Leadership for Social Change
  • Leadership and Global Development
  • Women and Leadership
  • Changing Business: Becoming a Social Entrepreneur
  • Leadership and Global Engagement
  • Ethical Leadership: Theory into Practice
  • Human Rights: History and Action
  • Leadership and Global Health
  • Documentary Film Production & Theory for Social Change
  • Identity, Diversity and Leadership
  • Leadership in Science, Technology and Society
  • Social Media and Social Change
  • The Role of Sport in Improving the Human Condition

Brown Leadership Institute students live and study on the Brown campus. This is a time-intensive program; courses meet for 5 hours each day, and students participate in workshops to sharpen leadership skills outside of class. To build community, Leadership Institute students are housed together in the same residence hall.

A Typical Day

  • 7:30– 9:00am: Breakfast is served a Brown dining hall
  • 9:00 – 12:00: Attend class
  • 12:00 – 1:30pm: Lunch in a Brown dining hall
  • 1:30 – 3:00pm: Attend class
  • 3:00 – 4:00pm: Free time (for homework or co-curricular activities)
  • 4:00 – 6:00pm: Mandatory workshops
  • 6:00 – 7:30pm: Dinner is served in a Brown dining hall
  • 7:30 – 11:30pm: Free time (for homework or co-curricular activities)
  • 11:00pm (12:00am on weekends): Curfew

When not in class or workshops, Leadership Institute students may participate in any co-curricular activities presented by the Summer@Brown program. Learn more about activities and events on campus (link to life on campus)


You’ll have at least 1-2 hours of homework most days.

Closing Program-Families are encouraged to attend

We strongly encourage parents to attend the closing day program for the Leadership Institute. This is an opportunity for parents, family and friends to meet faculty and administrators involved with the program. Your student will also be giving a short presentation of his/her Action Plan for how they will apply their new  knowledge and skills in their home communities. The schedule for the closing program:

1:00-1:30   Comments from Director, introduction of faculty and staff

1:30-2:30    Student presentations of Action Plans in small groups

We hope that you will join us for what will be the inspiring culmination to your students’ experience.

Environmental Leadership Lab



Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL) programs are designed to help students develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to create positive change on environmental issues facing their local communities and the planet as a whole.

  • Are you concerned by the environmental challenges facing the world?
  • Do you want the scientific knowledge and leadership skills needed to take action on critical environmental issues?
  • Are you interested in understanding how biology, geology, chemistry, anthropology and environmental policy intersect?
  • Do you enjoy learning through hands on, experiential activities?

What we learn

Each BELL course focuses on a subset of environmental issues and the curriculum evolves each year to cover the most pressing topics. Academic content is drawn from a variety of disciplines including: biology, chemistry, geology, engineering, economics, environmental policy, leadership theory and the social sciences.

BELL programs develop leadership and science process skills through activities, workshops, experiments and field trips designed to actively engage students in the learning process.

How we live

In addition to providing rigorous academic content, we see the BELL programs as 24-hour learning laboratories for sustainable living. We make a conscious effort to live in ways that reflect what we teach. We consider our inputs and outputs, such as energy consumption, water use, waste generation/disposal, food consumption.

Students spend the majority of their time outdoors, where they explore, reflect and play. These experiences afford students a unique opportunity to develop a personal connection to the environment that they are studying. Students are introduced to local activists who are making a difference by taking action in their communities. BELL students form their own support/research network of young people who are motivated and working to create change.

Student Profile

BELL programs are designed for highly motivated and intellectually curious students who are eager to engage with today’s environmental issues. We look for young people who are excited to learn and want to make a positive difference in the world. Our students come from across the U.S. and around the globe. For some students, environmental science is a whole new field. For others, these programs expand on your prior learning and help you to apply familiar concepts in new ways.

Life on Campus

Outside of class, you’ll have the experience of independent living on an Ivy League campus, making friends, attending events and social activities on campus, and having time for summer fun. Preparing for college continues with an extensive Co-Curricular activity calendar – workshops and presentations designed specifically to help you succeed with your college applications, better prepare you for the transition to college life and college-level academics.


Students live in residence halls within walking distance of academic buildings and campus resources. A team of carefully selected and trained Residence Directors (RDs) and Residential Advisors (RAs) live along with the pre-college students in each of residence halls. These skilled and caring live-in professionals and Brown undergraduates help students create a balanced academic and social life.

Each student room provides typical college furniture – bed, desk and chair, dresser, wireless internet and trash can. Telephone service is available in all rooms, but you must bring your own telephone and answering machine. The most reliable and easiest way to make long distance calls is with a pre-paid calling card sold at the Brown Bookstore. Many students find that cell phones are a more convenient alternative.

There are laundry facilities in the basements of all residence halls. All washers & dryers operate using Bear Bucks. TO pay for laundry services you must purchase a bear Bucks Guest Card for $1.00 at any Value Port machine. You will need to supply your own detergent, softener and bleach.

A team of carefully selected and trained Residence Directors (RDs) and Residential Advisors (RAs) live in the residence halls. These skilled and caring adult professionals and Brown undergraduates are on hand to assist you in navigating the transition from home to college life. The residential staff will help you balance the competing demands of academics and socializing and enforce policies when necessary. The staff will be your resource for everything from finding the nearest restaurant to guiding you through the academic resource and support system.

Students are randomly assigned to single, double, triple occupancy rooms or single-sex suites in various residence halls on campus. Every residence hall is different so the number of double rooms available may be limited in some buildings. Please notify us if you have a request for special housing accommodations by filling out the Disability and Medical Accommodation Form and please provide a maximum amount of notice.

To provide a typical Brown University experience and due to the volume of residential students arriving each week, students are randomly assigned a roommate so that they can build friendships with new people. We are unable to honor roommate, suitemate, floormate, or same building requests.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in one of Brown’s dining halls daily. You may invite guests to enjoy a meal with you on a cash basis. Thayer Street offers numerous shops and restaurants, as well.  If you have significant food allergies, please complete the Medical and Disability Accommodations form.

Link to Brown Pre College web site here

Personal Conclusions: Good courses and interesting offer of targeted programs (e.g. leadership). As it also accepts middle school kids it might be an “efficient” solution for brothers/sisters (reassure them, they won’t have to see each other after you drop them off!). Being set in Providence, and not in NY or LA, it may be less “exciting” for the city-loving kids while appealing more to the nature buffs, both for its specific programs and natual environs.

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