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9 AI Summer Programs for High School Students

5 minute read

In a world rapidly advancing towards digital supremacy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands at the forefront, revolutionizing numerous aspects of our daily lives. From orchestrating the rhythm of self-driving cars to bridging language barriers and even assisting in the creative process of writing blog posts - AI's prowess is truly boundless. Yet, for high school students, diving into the depths of AI might seem like venturing into an arcane realm. Fret not, for we've curated a list of top-notch AI summer programs to guide you through your maiden voyage into the exciting world of Artificial Intelligence.

Why immerse yourself in an AI summer program or summer school? The realm of computer science is vast, but AI shines as a gem worth beholding. Mastering AI not only equips high school students with a valuable skill set in modern computational tools but also opens doors to real-world project opportunities, amplifying your college application profile manifold. Even if computer science isn’t your final frontier, a solid grounding in AI enriches your understanding of the digital world, offering a peek into how data drives decisions.

Transitioning from high school to the realm of AI might seem like leaping across a chasm, but it's a leap worth taking. With Siri and Alexa becoming our digital companions and algorithms like TikTok’s dictating our digital preferences, the AI wave is here to stay. Harnessing the power of AI at an early stage not only propels you ahead on the learning curve but also sets a strong foundation for future professional endeavors.

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Exploring the Spectrum of AI Summer Programs:

The path to AI enlightenment is laden with a plethora of summer programs, each with its unique offerings. From the virtual corridors of online learning to the traditional classrooms, from compact one-week capsules to extensive multi-month engagements, the spectrum of AI summer programs is as diverse as it is enriching. Whether you are at the threshold of AI learning or seeking to delve deeper into advanced concepts, there’s an AI summer camp program tailored for every aspirant. With some programs nestled in the prestigious campuses of renowned universities, you also get a glimpse of collegiate life, a precursor to the exciting academic journey that lies ahead.

In the subsequent sections, we unveil a curated list of AI summer programs, each with its distinct flavor, aimed at nurturing the AI maestro in you. So, as you stand at the crossroads of high school and the boundless world of AI, let this compilation guide you toward a summer of learning, exploration, and endless possibilities.

#1 UC Santa Barbara’s Research Mentorship Program

  • Location: UC Santa Barbara campus.

  • Cost: $4,700 (2023 Tuition and Program Fees). Scholarships available.

  • Selectivity: Moderate.

  • Eligibility: 10th or 11th grade (outstanding 9th graders accepted on a case-by-case basis).

  • Overview: This program provides deep research opportunities, with students spending 30-40 hours per week working with a research mentor and building a research presentation. Students can choose a project and a research mentor to conduct hands-on, university-level research, allowing exposure to interdisciplinary research topics.

#2 Stanford AI4ALL | Stanford HAI

  • Location: Virtual.

  • Cost: Not specified.

  • Selectivity: High.

  • Eligibility: Current 9th-grade students (rising 10th graders).

  • Overview: This 3-week program co-organized by the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) aims to provide a focused understanding of AI. Developed by AI4ALL, the curriculum is designed to train the next generation of AI researchers. This program emphasizes increasing diversity in the AI field and encourages applications from underrepresented backgrounds.

#3 NYU’s Summer Program on Machine Learning

  • Location: NYU campus.

  • Cost: $3,850 tuition + $150 events fee.

  • Selectivity: High.

  • Eligibility: High school students (at least 15 years old) with some programming experience.

  • Overview: This 3-week program focuses on core principles in machine learning such as model development through cross-validation, linear regressions, and neural networks. It aims to help students develop an understanding of how logic and mathematics are applied to teach a computer to perform specific tasks and to improve continuously.

#4 Harvard’s College Programs for High School Students

  • Location: On-campus, commuting, or online.

  • Cost: ~$4000 - $8000 depending on program and format. Financial aid available.

  • Selectivity: High.

  • Eligibility: Expected to graduate high school and enter college in 2025 or 2026.

  • Overview: This program offers multiple computer science courses, particularly focusing on the Mathematical Elements of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. Students will explore several mathematical aspects used in modern data science algorithms, with a computational component where they edit code in Python as a final project.

#5 Beaver Works Summer Institute, MIT

  • Location: Virtual.

  • Cost: None.

  • Selectivity: High.

  • Eligibility: High school students.

  • Overview: The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) offers a blend of online prerequisite courses and summer synchronous courses, providing a layered learning experience. Students initially engage in independent study through online courses, the progress of which is crucial for selection into the subsequent summer program. The summer courses delve deeper into the concepts introduced online, with courses such as Serious Game Development with AI, Embedded Security and Hardware Hacking, Medlytics, and CogWorks: Build Your Own Cognitive Assistant.

#6 Veritas AI

  • Location: Virtual.

  • Cost: $1,790 for AI Scholars program; $4,900 for AI Fellowship; $5,900 for both.

  • Selectivity: Open enrollment for AI Scholars, Moderate for AI Fellowship.

  • Eligibility: Grades 9-12

  • Overview: Veritas AI offers programs that range from collaborative learning to customized project pathways with 1:1 mentorship, designed and run by Harvard graduate students & alumni. The AI Scholars program teaches the fundamentals of Python, AI, and ML, while the AI Fellowship facilitates the creation of a novel AI project independently with mentor support over 12-15 weeks.

#5 AI Summer Camps by Adventure AI

  • Location: Virtual.

  • Cost: All options are below $500.

  • Selectivity: Open enrollment till capacity is reached.

  • Eligibility: Middle and High School Students.

  • Overview: Run through Discord and virtual classes, this camp offers a unique social program where students can explore AI to create products, tools, and ideas in their interest areas. Example creations include GPT-4-powered games, websites, amazing art, rocket diagrams, etc. Kids work in small group virtual classes with an AI expert that focuses on their interests. There are also self-paced GPT and art curriculums.

#6 AI4All at University of Washington

  • Location: Virtual.

  • Cost: None.

  • Selectivity: High.

  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors, high school seniors, or college freshmen from underrepresented backgrounds.

  • Overview: Hosted by the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology at the University of Washington, this 2-week introductory course on data science and AI allows students to understand, analyze, interpret, and discuss real-world applications of data science and machine learning. A key focus is on anti-bias in AI teachings on non-ableist AI, with a disability studies lens to interrogate bias and fairness in AI.

#7 Pre-College AI Scholars at Carnegie Mellon University

  • Location: Carnegie Mellon University campus.

  • Cost: TBA in November 2023.

  • Selectivity: High.

  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors, at least 16 years old.

  • Overview: In this program, students engage in project-based learning, attending lectures on various aspects of computing and AI. They also work on a group project that is presented to the cohort and instructors at the end, with a comprehensive evaluation provided which can be utilized as supplemental material for college admission purposes.

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Why Should High School Students Venture into AI This Summer?

Embarking on an AI learning journey over the summer could be your golden ticket to a realm of endless possibilities. Besides offering a competitive edge in college admissions, mastering the intricacies of artificial intelligence during an AI summer program prepares you for a future where AI engineers are heralded for their ability to tame the digital data deluge, with potential earnings surpassing $100,000 annually. Moreover, with the Department of Defense employing AI to bolster national security, the significance of AI professionals is more pronounced than ever.

The Python language, a cornerstone in the AI domain, is also a gateway to a plethora of other career avenues like data science and business intelligence. An AI summer camp soaked in AI learning not only demystifies the world of Artificial Intelligence but also imbues you with Python proficiency, a skill reverberating across multiple career paths.

Participating in a summer program can also help inspire future AI passion project ideas!

Selecting the Ideal AI Summer Program

Having delved into a selection of artificial intelligence summer programs, it's time to hone in on the options that resonate with your individual needs. It's a common narrative among students that financial considerations weigh heavily in their decision-making process, which is entirely valid. If finances pose a hurdle to enrolling in a summer program, casting your net towards those offering financial aid or scholarships might be a prudent move.

Your learning preferences also play a pivotal role in your choice. While virtual learning has found its stride among many students, it may not align with everyone’s learning ethos. If you thrive in a conventional classroom environment, shifting your focus to programs offering in-person courses could be beneficial. Moreover, the complexity level of the course warrants attention. Given the advanced nature of AI, certain courses necessitate a background in programming. If you're navigating the beginner's terrain, steering your search towards courses devoid of prerequisites is advisable. Conversely, if you have a rapport with Python and akin concepts, scouting for more advanced classes will ensure you're not retracing familiar grounds, thus optimizing the value derived from the program.

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Planning Your AI Summer

The spectrum of summer AI programs is crafted to accommodate a diverse array of educational and financial circumstances. Pinpointing the program that dovetails with your aspirations can seem like a daunting endeavor, yet a reflective assessment of your unique needs and objectives will pave the way for a judicious investment in your education. 

The program you elect to enroll in will undoubtedly equip you with the acumen required to step confidently onto your desired career path. It can also help guide you in choosing the best AI school to apply to. Embarking on a journey into the realm of AI and ML is not only a venture into understanding complex algorithms but a foray into how technology can be leveraged to solve real-world problems. These summer programs are not just a learning expedition but a platform to network, innovate, and contribute to the ever-evolving field of AI. Whether you are new to AI or looking to bolster your existing knowledge, these programs offer a diverse range of experiences to satiate your intellectual curiosity.

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of data, check out our guide on data science research opportunities.