Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

Rice University Summer Programs for High School Students

8 minute read

Rice University, located in Houston, Texas, is well regarded for its undergraduate education, world-class research programs, and intimate learning environment. Founded in 1912, the private research university is best known for its science and engineering programs. A Rice University summer program can be a great way to experience the school firsthand and learn important skills. In this article, we’ll explore what you can expect from a Rice University summer program, share our list of top Rice University summer programs, and also provide some tips on the application process.

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

Do your own research through Polygence!

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own.

What to Expect Out of a Rice University Summer Program

Think of a Rice University Summer Program as an opportunity to dive deeper into a specific topic while experiencing student life on a college campus! Some summer session 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 learn from accomplished faculty or professionals and expand your skill set.

The Benefits of Summer Study at Rice University

We want to make clear that participating in a summer program or summer camp at Rice University does not guarantee or boost your chances of admission into Rice University in any way. More importantly, the benefits go directly 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 Rice University Summer Programs

Rice ELITE Tech

Through Rice ELITE Tech Camps, students participate in intensive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning activities, while learning to apply the engineering design process to solve real-world problems. Each session is one week long, and for each week you can choose one course for the morning and one course for the afternoon. Courses include topics such as learning Python, learning C++, 3D Modeling & 3D printing, and the Internet of things.

The engineering summer program's curriculum is designed to be very hands-on, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn from engineering professors, researchers, and other students, which can set you up to be more knowledgeable about the engineering field once you enter college.

Topic: Computer science, data science, engineering

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: Residential camp: $3,795, Commuter camp: $1,695

Program Dates: 4 one-week sessions available from June to July

Eligibility: All high school students

Application Deadline: Not specified

PATHS-UP Young Scholars Digital Health Summer Program

The PATHS-UP program aims to introduce students to digital circuitry, computer science, physics, and engineering research at Rice University and its practical applications in the healthcare field. The topic of this program is very unique and students will be able to work with instruments such as pulse oximeters, accelerometers, GPS devices, speakers, and microphones. By the end of the program, students will also construct an introductory device that mirrors the type of technology being created at the engineering research center and participate in a workshop challenge where they have to build and test a design and pitch their solution to a panel of judges.

If you’re a high school student interested in a career in medicine or even a career in engineering this program is a fantastic opportunity to see how digital design is impacting medical treatment. You’ll also have the chance to learn from distinguished Rice University faculty and graduate students.

Further, if you’re interested in pursuing pre-med in college, check out our piece on Pre-med Summer Programs for High School Students.

Topic: Health care, computer science, physics, engineering

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: Free

Program Dates: 3-week program in June and in July

Eligibility: Current 10th and 11th-grade students in the Houston area

Application Deadline: Currently closed, check the website to see when they reopen

Tapia STEM Camps

The Tapia Camp, named after Professor Richard Tapia, a world-renowned researcher in the field of math and computational science, is a residential STEM camp focused on values of communication and equity. Students will focus on two STEM subjects throughout the week: College Admissions and Carbon Storage projects and learn directly from Rice University students. Students will also have the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills and collaborate with fellow students to complete STEM projects. At the end of the summer camp, campers present their final projects in front of professors, students, and Dr. Richard Tapia.

Topic: STEM

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $2,500, scholarships available 

Program Dates: Throughout June and July

Eligibility: Rising 8th - 12th graders

Application Deadline: Not specified, closes when all spots are filled

Wonderworks: Closer Looks

Wonderworks is a non-profit offering pre-college summer enrichment programs for students in the Houston area, and one of their programs is Closer Looks. Closer Looks explores art history through lectures, readings, discussion, and field trips to museums such as The Menil Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Kimbell Art Museum, and The Amon Carter Museum of American Art. 

The pre-college summer program is a great way to explore the world of art in an immersive way and there’s absolutely no prior experience required. If you plan on taking AP Art History in school, this is a great program to set you for success in college life!

Topic: Art history

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $1,000, full tuition scholarships available

FreeProgram Dates: June 17 - July 19

Eligibility: Rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, 3.0+ cumulative GPA

Application Deadline: June 1

Wonderworks: In the Know

Another program offered by Wonderworks is In the Know, an introduction to journalism and non-fiction. If you’ve always been interested in non-fiction and captivating documentaries this is a great opportunity to learn more about how these engaging forms of content are created. During the program you’ll read long-form articles and excerpts from books and have seminar-like discussions on the material. This program may not be for you if you don’t enjoy reading! In the afternoons you’ll also watch films based on stories and also analyze other mediums such as radio and podcasts. By the end of the summer session, you’ll also build experience with your own reporting, writing, and podcasting projects.

Topic: Journalism

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $1,000, full tuition scholarships available

FreeProgram Dates: June 17 - July 19

Eligibility: Rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, 3.0+ cumulative GPA

Application Deadline: June 1

Wonderworks: Rules of the Game

The third and final Wonderworks program hosted at Rice University is Rules of the Game, an exploration of democracy and the humanities. The program analyzes democracy through readings, case studies, films, and field trips and is a great introduction to all sorts of different topics in the humanities. The program can certainly be a great stepping stone for studying the humanities in college, but also provides the added benefit of helping you become a more informed citizen. 

Mornings begin with a lecture and afternoons typically start with a tutorial discussion of assigned readings, followed by a thematically-related documentary or narrative film. There will be all-day field trips to the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas School of Law, and the Texas Supreme Court. 

Topic: History, politics, law, philosophy

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $1,000, full tuition scholarships available

FreeProgram Dates: June 17 - July 19

Eligibility: Rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, 3.0+ cumulative GPA

Application Deadline: June 1

Rice University Aerospace Academy

If you’re looking for something cool to do this summer how does launching your own satellite sound? The Rice University Aerospace Academy is a program designed specifically for students who are interested in pursuing careers in the field of aerospace. You’ll be able to learn from Rice's renowned faculty through daily forums and also receive unparalleled exposure to industry and government space scientists through exclusive site visits, where you can observe the future of aerospace. 

Other experiences include hearing the stories of former NASA astronaut Dr. Leroy Chiao, and visiting the Lone Star Flight Museum to attend flight ground school, complete a flight prep simulation, learn the importance of flight planning, and then apply what you've learned to operate a flight simulator. You’ll also be able to work on a multi-day project where you prototype and launch a payload onto a weather balloon that goes up to 100,000 feet. These are all unique experiences that you wouldn’t be able to get at just any regular STEM camp!

Topic: Aerospace

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $6,745, learn more about scholarships here

Program Dates: June 13 - 24, and July 25 - August 5

Eligibility: All high school students

Application Deadline: Not specified

Creative Writing Camp

If you’re excited about writing and storytelling then Rice’s Creative Writing Camp offers the opportunity to develop your skills, creativity, and self-confidence. Educators for the camp work in classrooms year-round and typically have a Masters of PhD. The camp also has a maximum of 20 students per session, so you can expect support from your educators if you’re proactive about asking for help. There are also virtual options provided where students do writing assignments through the Canvas learning platform. 

Topic: Writing

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: Virtual: $495. On campus: $525. Sibling discounts and limited scholarships offered!

Program Dates: June 10 - 25, June 24 - 28, July 15 - 19

Eligibility: All incoming high school students

Application Deadline: Not specified

National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine & Health Care

A great introduction to the world of medicine, the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF): Medicine & Health Care allows you to step into the shoes of a physician and gain impactful medical school and career knowledge. The curriculum is designed to be interactive and hands-on, with experiences such as an Outdoor Medicine Simulation, which will allow you to learn and practice potentially life-saving medical techniques, including positioning and extraction, wound care, control of bleeding, usage of splints and slings, and basic wilderness first aid. Another simulation shared during the program is Triage Simulation: When Disaster Strikes. In this simulation, you'll respond to a disaster as a medical professional, assess and sort victims based on the severity of their injuries, and practice applying your medical knowledge in high-pressure environments. 

This summer science program does an especially good job of giving high school students exposure to real world scenarios, while also providing opportunities for students to speak with current med school students and listen to seminars from leading physicians and educators.

Topic: Medicine, healthcare

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $4,245, partial scholarships offered

Program Dates: July 6 - 13

Eligibility: All incoming high school students

Application Deadline: Not specified

Rice University Pre College Program

This pre college program is designed for high school students who are motivated to dive deeper into subjects that interest them, such as genome engineering, physiology, aerospace, law, and more. Each individual online course features video lessons by renowned Rice faculty. Since the material is delivered all through video lectures, these courses are very flexible and allow students to take multiple courses and learn at their own pace. Upon successfully completing a course's capstone presentation, students earn a Certificate of Completion from Rice University. 

Although the program is virtual, students still receive guidance from a mentor who’s an expert in your course topic and can help you brainstorm your capstone project idea. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of mentorship, read our article on why mentorship is so critical for learning.

Topic: Various

Location: Online

Cost: $1,495 per course

Program Dates: Through the year

Eligibility: All incoming high school students

Application Deadline: Rolling

Rice Architecture Summer Immersion

The Rice Architecture Summer Immersion program is designed for Houston-based students who have an interest in applying to architecture school. This hands-on workshop introduces participants to core principles of architecture and design. Students test design concepts through several media and exercises in two and three dimensions. The goal is to also produce creative works that participants can integrate into a design portfolio, a necessary component in the college application process for architecture programs. If architecture school is something you’re looking at, this program can be a great way to start learning and add your first pieces to your design portfolio!

Topic: Architecture

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: Free

Program Dates: June 9 - 21

Eligibility: Current 10th and 11th grade students in the Houston area

Application Deadline: March 17

Rice STEM Academy

This one-week, free, enrichment academy for high school girls explores different engineering under the guidance of Rice University faculty and graduate students. The Academy explores topics such as engineering landing capsules, roller coasters, circuits, motion and other physics concepts. The curriculum also has a special focus on sustainability as it relates to engineering and the challenges of making more green and sustainable designs.

Topic: STEM

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: Free

Program Dates: July 8 - 12

Eligibility: Current 10th and 11th grade girls 

Application Deadline: Currently closed, check website for when they reopen

Rice Biotech Academy

The Biotech Academy is a very hands-on program with STEM activities and design challenges that are experiential and project-based. Activities include DNA extraction and analysis, micropipetting, bacterial transformation, and testing of the PTC gene, among others. Additional programming will also help expose students to different STEM paths and careers.

Topic: Biology

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $499 per week (lunch included)

Program Dates: July 15 - 19

Eligibility: Current 9th, 10th and 11th graders who have previously taken or currently taking Biology in school

Application Deadline: April 19

Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP)

Since 1987, RUSMP has acted as a bridge between Rice University mathematics and the PreK - 12 STEM teaching community in the state of Texas. RUSMP offers different math courses in Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Calculus and Geometry. If you’re looking to strengthen your math skills and prepare for courses in the upcoming school year this is an excellent way to set you up for academic success.

Topic: Math

Location: Rice University campus - Houston, Texas

Cost: $600 or $975 depending on the course

Program Dates: Throughout summer, depends on the course

Eligibility: Current high schoolers, see website for prerequisite details

Application Deadline: Not specified

Go beyond crunching numbers

Interested in Math? We'll match you with an expert mentor who will help you explore your next project.

How to Choose the Right Rice University Program

The most important thing to consider when choosing a program is the topic of the program. Many programs are rigorous, so it’s important that you’re interested in the topic, whether that’s medicine, English, or engineering.

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

Preparing Your Application

In the application process, Rice University summer programs will typically ask you to submit essays 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, rather than by having more knowledge than other applicants. 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 look at past student projects if available. See if the work really resonates with you, and if so be sure to include bits from those resources in your essay or mention them in your general application.

Letters of Recommendation and Interviews

Some of Rice 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 Rice University summer program, try to build relationships with your teachers in high school and work hard in their class.

A few Rice 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 Rice University Experience

In a Rice University summer program you’ll be able to meet with some accomplished researchers or professionals, and 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 set up a certain frequency for staying in touch so that they can follow your journey and also connect you with future opportunities as you enter college.

Polygence Scholars Are Also Passionate About

Opportunities at Polygence

Interested in doing a research project on your own time? Explore Polygence’s Research Mentorship Program where you can explore a specific topic of your choice and work with an expert mentor to help your research come to life. 

If you’re looking for more summer programs in the state of Texas, check out our page for 27 Research Programs in Texas 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!

Related Content