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Purdue University Summer Programs for High School Students

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Purdue University, located in Indiana, is known for being a great public school and having a great engineering program that ranks among the best in the U.S. Purdue is a well-rounded research university, making it a great candidate for a summer program as a high schooler! In this article, we’ll explore what you can expect from a Purdue University summer program, share our list of top Purdue University summer programs, and also provide some tips on the application process.

For a more diverse list of Ivy League summer programs for high schoolers, check out our guide!

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What to Expect Out of a Purdue University Summer Program

Think of a Purdue University Summer Program as an opportunity to dive deeper into a specific topic, and learn from accomplished faculty and graduate students, all while experiencing student life on a college campus! Some programs may feel more like a class while others may be more project-based, but regardless, across all programs, you should expect plenty of opportunities to expand your skill set and have a better understanding of what your interests are. For Purdue University’s summer programs, you can also expect a big emphasis on STEM!

The Benefits of a Summer Program at Purdue University

We want to make clear that participating in a summer program at Purdue University does not guarantee or boost your chances of admission into Purdue University in any way unless specified explicitly by the program. However, through many of these programs, you’ll learn more about what Purdue University has to offer in terms of resources, faculty, and research. More importantly, the benefits of a summer program mostly go towards your own personal growth! You get to build your skillset, figure out what interests you, and meet other motivated students from around the country. 

Top Purdue University Summer Programs

Summer College for High School Students

This flexible summer program offers a wide variety of course options that can be taken for 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks, and can be done either on campus or virtually. If you’re you’re a high school student looking to do a residential option, you can take courses alongside undergraduate students from July 7 - August 2, and if you’d prefer to do a shorter stay on campus there are also 1-2 week intensive opportunities called Fun-Sized courses (but you can only participate in one of these at a time). Purdue offers over 650 courses in the Summer Session that are credit-bearing, and course topics range from sociology, and planets, to speech communication. You can check out the list of their most popular courses. Students in the pre-college summer program also have the opportunity to take advantage of campus resources such as the co-rec center, libraries, and other summer activities. 

What’s great about the Summer College is the flexibility you have to take courses either for the entire summer or just for one week, depending on what else you have going on during your summer.

Topic: Various

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana, or Remote

Cost: Varies by in-state or out-of-state, see here for a full cost breakdown. Scholarships available for several courses

Program Dates: Courses run 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks

Eligibility: All high school students

Application Deadline: Opens December 1, closes May 15

Purdue Fast Start

Created in partnership with Modern States, a philanthropy and online learning program for earning college credit, Purdue Fast Start gives students the opportunity to take 5 free courses and receive an exam reimbursement voucher for CLEP College Board exams. If you pass these exams, you’ll be assured admission into Purdue University and get a head start on your college credits, saving you tuition money in the future.

Assured admission does not mean the same thing as guaranteed admission, but as long as you complete your courses and pass the CLEP exams, and submit all application materials by November 1 you’ll have a great shot at being admitted into Purdue with 15 college credits already under your belt. Course topics span a wide range, and the Purdue Office of Admissions can provide guidance on what courses to take. This pre-college program can be a great opportunity if you attend high school in Indiana and have Purdue as one of your top college choices!

Topic: Various

Location: Online

Cost: Free

Program Dates: Courses can be completed at any time

Eligibility: Indiana high school students only

Application Deadline: Not specified

AgDiscovery Camp

AgDiscovery is a summer camp outreach program started by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and designed to help students explore careers in animal science, veterinary medicine, agribusiness, plant pathology, aquaculture, and much more. This 2-4 week summer camp program allows participants to live on Purdue’s campus, experience college life and learn animal, plant, and agribusiness disciplines from university professors, practicing veterinarians, industry representatives, and professionals working for the U.S. government. 

Topic: Agriculture, wildlife, biology

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: Free

Program Dates: July 7 - 19

Eligibility: High schoolers currently in grades 9-11, and ages 15-17

Application Deadline: April 5

Boiler Vet Camp

If you’re excited to help out animals and learn about overall wellness care, the Boiler Vet Camp is the perfect learning opportunity. The Vet Camp for high schoolers focuses on the wellness of a dog, and during learning sessions students will learn about the fundamentals of animal behavior, how to complete a physical exam, and health basics such as blood and parasites. Students will also have the opportunity to explore the behind the scenes of the Purdue University Veterinary Hospital and the Pet ER and begin to understand pet surgeries. The program concludes with campers working alongside a second or third year veterinary student and presenting a 5 minute overview of all that they learned about taking care of their dogs!

Topic: Veterinary healthcare

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: $1,600, partial scholarships available

Program Dates: June 15 - 21

Eligibility: High schoolers entering grades 10-12

Application Deadline: Opens back up in December

Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute Summer Program

For over 40 years, GER2I has been a program where students live in campus residence halls, take challenging courses, and participate in engaging recreational activities. GER2I for high schoolers offers two different two-week sessions during the summer, Pulsar I and Pulsar II. Each session has a variety of different AM and PM classes that cover topics like mathematics, gaming, ethics, leadership, and quantum computing. Based on class descriptions, these definitely aren’t your traditional classes that you’ll see in school!

Topic: Various

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: $2,500

Program Dates: June 30 - July 13, and July 14 - 27

Eligibility: High schoolers entering grades 10-12

Application Deadline: Opens back up in December

Pre-Freshman and Cooperative Education (PREFACE)

PREFACE stands for Pre-Freshman and Cooperative Education. PREFACE is a 1-week, 1-credit residential summer workshop focused on college readiness with a strong emphasis on math and engineering projects. The program aims to attract underrepresented students, i.e., African American, Native American, Hispanic American, to Purdue. Students will learn more about engineering careers and how engineers impact the world, and apply engineering principles through hands-on learning and an engineering project competition. Students also have the benefit of meeting current undergraduate and graduate engineering students, faculty, administrators, and learning about 15 unique engineering majors.

Topic: Engineering, math

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: Indiana resident: $724. Nonresident: $1,325. Application fee is $60. Scholarships available

Program Dates: June 23 - 28

Eligibility: Rising 10th and 11th grade students

Application Deadline: April 22

Multiethnic Introduction to Engineering (MITE)

Developed in the summer of 1975, MITE is now a four-week, two-credit college simulation program with a curriculum similar to PREFACE. Like PREFACE, students will learn about Purdue’s 15 unique engineering majors and a wide variety of potential engineering careers. In this engineering summer program, they will also get to work on two engineering design projects led by graduate assistants. 

However, the difference with MITE is that since it’s for rising high school seniors, part of the curriculum is also dedicated to college readiness and SAT Prep. Students learn how to improve their math and english scores, and the MITE website says that students see an average improvement of SAT math scores of 90 points.

Topic: Engineering, math, SAT review

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: Indiana resident: $3,800. Nonresident: $5,000. Application fee is $60. Scholarships available

Program Dates: July 8 - August 2

Eligibility: Rising 12th grade students

Application Deadline: April 22

Cargill-Purdue Agribusiness Science Academy (C-PASA) High School Camp

C-PASA’s signature high school program exposes students to the world of agriculture and the diversity of career opportunities within agribusiness and communication, biological sciences and engineering, and plant and environmental sciences. Participating students become immersed in agriculture with presentations, projects, workshops, and industry tours facilitated by departments within the College of Agriculture, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and various industry and governmental partners. Participants in the program can choose one of two educational tracks: Biological Sciences and Engineering or Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Topic: Biology, environmental science, agriculture

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: Not specified

Program Dates: July 7 - 19

Eligibility: All high school students, must be accepted through Purdue’s Summer College for High School Students application

Application Deadline: May (specific date not specified)

Seminar for Top Engineering Prospects (STEP)

During the STEP program, students learn about engineering in engaging classroom environments, and then work with a group of 3 peers throughout the week as they explore and apply new skills to solve challenging problems. In this engineering summer program, students will be able to learn from world-renowned Purdue faculty members, Purdue College of Engineering Honors student interns and guest lecturers throughout the week. 

Participants will select two engineering disciplines in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, and will tour those facilities during their week at STEP, where they can connect with current students and faculty in that academic area. The STEP program also provides students the opportunity to see engineering in practice, and participants can select an area engineering company and visit that company. The STEP program also introduces students to fun Purdue Traditions, such as fountain runs, movie night on Slayter Hill, a campus scavenger hunt, and Cosmic Bowling.

Topic: Engineering

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: $1,900 (covers meals). Need-based scholarships available

Program Dates: July 7 - 13, July 14 - 20, July 21 - 27

Eligibility: Rising high school seniors

Application Deadline: Rolling admissions until spots are filled

Turned Onto Technology And Leadership (TOTAL) STEM Camp

Interested in a career in the technology industry? TOTAL introduces high school students to the various fields of technology that are offered as Bachelor of Science degree programs at Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute. Students will earn one college credit during the program by working on a week-long project with faculty members and will also take part in activities with each of the six departments to gain a better understanding of technology fields and tech careers. 

Topic: Engineering

Location: Purdue University campus - West Lafayette, Indiana

Cost: Not specified

Program Dates: June 16 - 21

Eligibility: Rising 10th and 11th grade students, must apply through Purdue’s Summer College for High School Students application

Application Deadline: May 15

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How to Choose the Right Purdue University Program

The most important thing to consider when choosing a program is the topic of the program. Many programs are rigorous and full-time, so it’s important that you’re interested in the topic.

You should also be mindful of program costs and financial aid. Some of the Purdue University summer programs are free, but others have fees. Be sure to browse through websites carefully to understand tuition costs and potential scholarship opportunities.

Also be on the lookout for programs that offer college credit! If programs offer credit, this can have direct monetary value since that can save you from maybe having to take an additional class during college.

Preparing Your Application

In the application process, Purdue University summer programs will typically ask you to submit essay questions explaining your interest in the program and what you hope to gain from it. In general these programs don’t have technical skill requirements unless you’re taking a class with specific prerequisites.

Writing a Stand-Out Essay

In the essay portion of the application, it’s important that you emphasize your excitement to dive deeper into the specific topic that your program focuses on. Remember that applicants stand out by having clear reasons for why they’re interested in the program, since programs want to know that you have an interest in their field. Do your research by looking through the internship program website and find several parts of the program that really appeal to you. Read through testimonials and watch the Youtube videos that some programs will post. 

Letters of Recommendation and Interviews

Some of Purdue University’s summer programs may require letters of recommendation, so if you know during the school year that you’d like to apply for a Purdue University summer program, try to build relationships with your teachers in high school and work hard in their class.

A few Purdue University programs may also have in-person interviews. For these, we recommend that you review your essays and know by heart your reasons for why you’re interested in the program. Other than that, just relax! Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer more questions about the program to figure out if it is a good fit for you. 

Making the Most Out of Your Purdue University Experience

In a Purdue University summer program you’ll be able to meet with some accomplished researchers, graduate students, and industry experts. You can make the most out of your summer by building a relationship with them. Ask them questions, show enthusiasm for the work you do, and stay curious. You’ll find that professionals appreciate enthusiasm and initiative from students! Also, in the final days of your summer program, be sure to express your interest in staying in touch with anyone who you feel like you connected with and learned a lot from. Get their contact info and follow up after the program to stay in touch so that they can follow your journey as you enter college.

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Looking for more engineering programs, check out our list of 13 Engineering Summer Programs for High School Students. And if you’re just looking for more summer program options, read our list for the 20 Most Competitive Summer Programs!

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