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Introduction to Yale Summer Programs

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Why Choose Yale for Summer Education

Although the majority of Yale undergraduates leave campus for the summer, a handful remain in New Haven to work and study alongside graduate students, researchers, and visiting students. Most of those visiting students come from other universities. However, some of them are participating in one of Yale’s programs for high schoolers.

In addition to the illuminating academic instruction they receive, high schoolers who are lucky enough to study through a Yale University summer program mingle with Yale students and faculty daily. Most valuably, Yale hand-selects groups of students who will build off of each other’s interests and academic curiosity to participate in each program. At Yale, the connections that students make together are just as important as what they learn from professors.

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

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Overview of Program Types

Yale has three “umbrella” programs for high schoolers during the summer, each of which houses a variety of courses and curricula to choose from:

In addition to these three categories, there are several specially targeted programs, including:

Exploring the Programs Offered

Academic Enhancement Programs

Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) is Yale’s largest summer program for high school students. Participants attend one of three, two-week-long sessions in one of the following tracks:

  • Innovations in Science & Technology

  • Literature, Philosophy, & Culture

  • Politics Law & Economics

  • Solving Global Challenges

YYGS students from all four tracks work, live, and study together in lectures, seminars, and symposiums. No grades are awarded and the curriculum does not carry course credit. 

The program is operated out of Yale’s Office of International Affairs to bring together future global leaders.

Creative Arts and Media

  • Pre-College: Yale’s “pre-college” model is simply to open up summer session courses (carrying Yale University credit and grades) to ambitious high school students who apply and are accepted. Pre-college students are treated as Yale students for the summer, learning and studying alongside undergraduates. The full list of courses is available here (note: not all summer session courses are available to high school students; consult the course descriptions and syllabi).

  • Yale Young Writers’ Workshop: this pre-college program is modeled on the renowned Yale Writers’ Workshop, but is intended for high school students. The program is limited to twelve writers per genre (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) and is taught entirely online by accomplished faculty and guest authors.

  • The Conservatory for Actors: with a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:4, this intimate and demanding program is broken down into five sections: text analysis, on-camera acting, voice and speech, movement, and clowning. View the syllabus from 2023.

  • Morse Summer Music Academy: this program, run through the Yale School of Music, is an exceptional opportunity for New Haven public school students in grades 5-11 to learn about music theory and to perform in ensembles coached by renowned teaching artists.

STEM Opportunities at Yale

  • Pre-College: Yale offers dozens of STEM classes during summer session, most of which are open to pre-college students. To find them, head to the summer session course listings page, then scroll down to “2024 course search”. Next, filter by “Distributional Req” (“distributional requirements” are how Yale classifies courses to ensure that students meet general education standards) and select either “Science” or “Quantitative Reasoning” (Yale’s term for math-related courses that aren’t necessarily in the Mathematics Department). Or, you can filter by specific subject.

  • Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics: this specialized program is limited to 32 rising high school seniors who demonstrate a strong interest in astrophysics. The program describes itself as something between a summer course, an internship, and a summer camp. It consists of two weeks of online, directed self-study followed by four weeks on campus at Yale’s Leitner Observatory. At the end of the summer science program, students write and present a scientific paper based on their findings.

  • Pathways to Science Summer Scholars Program: middle and high school students at New Haven, West Haven, or Orange Public Schools are invited to attend laboratory visits, academic lectures, symposiums, and special events designed to introduce them to STEM careers.

    • ForAGirl Program: since 2017, the Play2Prevent lab has been engaging students from Pathways to Science through two-week internships. Participants work with the lab to build evidence-based video game interventions for young people. The goal of this summer science is to encourage girls and women to enter STEM fields.

  • Young Scholars Summer Program in Biostatistics and Clinical Research: operated through the Yale Center for Analytical Sciences, this intensive program invites Connecticut high schoolers (rising 11th and 12th graders) who excel in math to collaborate with clinical researchers and biostatisticians to address challenges in the fields of medicine and public health. The program also offers instruction in the “R” programming language, which is used for statistical analyses much like its applications in computer science. Participants present their work in teams at the end of the summer.

  • Discovery to Cure Internship Program: this initiative, run by the Yale School of Medicine, pairs Connecticut high school students (who are at least 16 years old) with biomedical laboratories at Yale’s med school for six-week research internships.

  • Yale Pathways Research Internships (YPRI): accomplished high schoolers from public schools in and around New Haven are invited to complete seven-week internships at one of Yale’s scientific research laboratories. The goals of the program are to expose participants to research methods and to increase their college preparedness.

Social Sciences and Humanities

  • Pre-College: to view Yale’s summer session offerings in the social sciences and the humanities, go to the summer course listings and filter by subject or choose “Social Sciences” in the “Distributional Requirements” dropdown menu. While not all courses are open to pre-college students, many of them are. Check the course syllabus to confirm your eligibility.

  • Yale Daily News Summer Program: interested in journalism? The Yale Daily News is one of the oldest undergraduate-run newspapers in the country, and they offer a summer program for high schoolers! The program takes place entirely online and is free for New Haven public school students who would not otherwise be able to participate (there is a $180 participation fee for other students).

  • Yale Pathways to Arts & Humanities Summer Scholars Program: this free, two-week program is open to local New Haven high school students. The varied schedule consists of workshops, library and museum visits, and hands-on lessons with Yale faculty, graduate students, and staff.

  • Yale Summer Debate Program: prior debate experience is useful but not required to participate in Yale’s largest debate program, which is held in August and open to students from around the country (although most come from the New Haven area). Participants work with Yale debaters and coaches from the Urban Debate League in a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:10 or better, with plenty of time for individual instruction.

Program Structure and Details

Duration and Schedule

Each of the programs discussed above has its own calendar and individual schedule. However, for the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) and Pre-College programs, the summer is divided into either two or three segments:

Yale Young Global Scholars:

  • Session 1: June 23 - July 5, 2024

  • Session 2: July 7 - July 19, 2024

  • Session 3: July 21 - August 2, 2024


  • Session A: May 27 - June 28, 2024

  • Session B: July 1 - August 2, 2024

Each YYGS session has the same curriculum. However, for pre-college students, most summer session courses are only offered during either session A or session B, although students may enroll in both sessions and take different classes.

Residential vs. Online Options

The Yale Young Global Scholars is exclusively in-person, while pre-college students have the option to enroll in on-campus or online courses for credit. Yale’s programs for New Haven students take place in person, and students generally commute to and from campus.

Class Sizes and Instruction Style

The Yale Young Global Scholars program does not specify the exact teacher-to-student ratio. However, they write that the courses take place in a variety of formats, including small seminars and large lectures. Since there are no grades and no course credit is awarded, the learning style is open and creative, with each student bringing their worldview to the discussion.

For pre-college students enrolling in summer session courses, the class size varies by course. For seminars, there is usually a limit to the number of students who can enroll (between ten and fifteen). For larger lectures, Yale prefers to let full professors teach the course material to the entire class, and then the teaching assistants (usually graduate students) take over to lead discussion sections on the material later in the week.

For summer programs targeting local New Haven and Connecticut students, the number of students and instruction style varies from program to program. For more information, click here.

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Admission Process for Summer Programs

Application Requirements

Yale Young Global Scholars is open to rising high school juniors and seniors (or international equivalents) who will be between 16 and 18 years old on the first day of Session III. The application includes:

  • A complete list of school activities

  • One 400-word essay and one 200-word response

  • Two short-answers (280 characters each)

  • An official school transcript

  • One letter of recommendation

  • Optional: English fluency test scores (TOEFL or DuoLingo)

  • Optional: Need-based financial aid request

Yale’s pre-college program is open to rising high school seniors and recent high school graduates who are 16 years or older by the program start date. The application includes:

  • High school transcript with at least 2.5 years of grades.

  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers, guidance counselors, or academic advisors

  • Online application form

Deadlines and Notification Timelines

There are two application deadlines for YYGS:

  • November 1 (early action)

    • Applicants are notified of their admissions decision by December 20 at 11:59 PM ET

  • January 10 (regular decision)

    • Applicants are notified of their admissions decision by March 10 at 11:59 PM ET

For pre-college applicants who wish to study on-campus, the deadlines to apply are:

  • April 1 (for Session A)

  • May 6 (for Session B)

For pre-college applicants who are only applying to enroll in online courses, the deadlines to submit the application are:

  • May 10 (for Session A)

  • June 14 (for Session B)

Tips for a Successful Application

There are no quick tricks for getting into a Yale University summer program. However, we recommend keeping the following points in mind:

  • Start preparing your application materials early. Beyond ensuring that you won’t miss the deadline, getting a head start on the application allows you to send a draft of the materials to your recommenders. When requesting letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors, it’s best to give them at least one month’s notice. Sending them a draft of your application materials helps them to write a letter that complements your work.

  • Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself. It can feel awkward to write about your own accomplishments as a high school student, but it’s important to sell yourself to the person reading your application.

  • Keep it simple. Be direct and concise, stick within the requested word or character limits on the application, and don’t add in fluff just to reach the maximum.

Financial Information

Tuition and Fees

For YYGS, the full cost of tuition and housing is $6,500. 

For pre-college students, the cost per course credit is $5,070, and the cost for housing is $4,075 per session.

Programs for New Haven public school students are tuition-free.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

YYGS offers need-based financial aid. A financial aid request must be submitted in the online application form for admission.

There is no financial aid available for pre-college students.

Life at Yale During the Summer

Campus Life and Activities

Yale’s campus is built around fourteen residential colleges, as well as hundreds of academic buildings housing departmental faculty offices, labs, and administration. For students living on campus, social activities tend to revolve around the residences: in one of the residential colleges (each with distinctive architecture, dedicated dining hall, and private library), on Old Campus — where most first-year undergraduates live — or in off-campus housing.

Summer students living on campus get a peek into Yale’s campus life under the supervision of counselors and residential advisors. The programs organize group activities, set curfews, and help students navigate the campus.

Housing and Dining

Students participating in one of Yale’s programs for New Haven high schoolers generally commute from home. For other programs, students staying on campus generally live in Yale student dorms, i.e. in one of the undergraduate residential colleges or on Old Campus. For pre-college students taking in-person courses, you will stay in either Grace Hopper College, Ezra Stiles College, or Morse College. Yale’s on-campus housing is a mixture of double and single rooms, so there is a chance that you will be assigned a roommate. In many cases, students live in “suites” of between three and six, sharing a common room. 

Some of the dining halls stay open during the summer, and summer students living on campus get three meals per day. Menus can be checked here: https://hospitality.yale.edu/menus 

Exploring New Haven

New Haven is beautiful in summer. During your pre-college summer program, you might be tempted to stick around campus (which is also beautiful). But outside of Yale, the city is vibrant. 

Wooster Square, for instance, is the city’s center for Italian-American culture and food. Strolling around the park and its surroundings, you’ll come across world-famous pizza joints and Italian pastry shops. (Tip: New Haven locals spell pizza “apizza” and pronounce it “uh-beetz”.) Each year, the Italian-American community celebrates the Feast of Saint Andrew with local dishes and music. If you’re in New Haven in late June, don’t miss this! 

New Haven is famous for their distinctive thin-crust pizza. Pepe’s and Sally’s are the two most famous examples. During my first year of student life at Yale, I did a taste test, and have been a devoted fan of Sally’s ever since. I suggest trying them both for yourself. I also highly recommend Da Legna and Modern.

For ice cream, there are two major players: Ashley’s and Arethusa. Both are fantastic. I recommend Arethusa for its sweet cream flavor and Ashley’s for their enormous ice cream sundae served on a frisbee called a “Downside Watson” (bring friends). As a wildcard, the old-fashioned milkshakes at Yorkside (next to Ashley’s) are also a personal favorite.

Getting Ready for the Summer Experience

What to Bring

According to Yale, summer students should pack the following items:

  • Government-issued photo ID and Valid Travel Documents (for participants traveling by plane and/or train)

  • Laptop Computer, Tablet, or Equivalent

  • Cell phone

  • Extra-Long Twin Sheet Set and a Bath Towel, plus a Blanket if needed

  • Toiletries (shampoo, soap, deodorant/antiperspirant, toothpaste, toothbrush)

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Fan and desk lamp (if desired)

  • Pens or pencils and notebooks or writing tablets

  • Sunscreen

  • Prescription medications in original bottles/containers with dosage information

  • Umbrella and light rain jacket

  • Quarters for laundry (laundry machines also accept debit/credit cards), as well as travel-sized laundry detergent and/or dryer sheets.

Academic Preparation

Yale’s academic environment is collaborative, rigorous, and open. Most high schoolers are not accustomed to the same expectations as university students, so the shift might be overwhelming. Polygence can help you prepare for your summer at Yale by matching you with a one-on-one mentor leading up to the program. With the help of your mentor, you’ll learn how to conduct a research project in a rigorous academic setting. One recent Polygence student researched solar panels and manufacturing processes, while another wrote a paper on poverty among farm workers in Latin America. If you are a high schooler interested in conducting research this summer, check out our research ideas!

Networking and Building Connections

Spending the summer at Yale as a high schooler is an opportunity to get a glimpse of college life and learn from the top professors in the world. It is also a chance to connect with your classmates, as well as the other students and researchers in the Yale community. Remember to be open to meeting new people and to collaborating with them on projects over the summer or in the future.

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Yale is an inspiring place to live and learn, and that is especially true during the summer. While there are many excellent summer programs for high school students, Yale stands out for their quality of instruction and their commitment to building a community of curious and accomplished students to inhabit their halls and courtyards each summer.

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