Academic

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Get InfoApply NowSpecial programs in Science, Research, Social Justice, and Mathematics2, 3, or 6 Week ProgramsTuition ranging from $3,099 - $15,499For students completing grades 9, 10, 11 (ages 14-18)Photo Gallery
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Academic Options

Penn Summer High School Programs offer college credit classes and summer research academies in a wide range of subjects for highly motivated students. All academic aspects of the programs are run by the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) and Summer Discovery provides residential life and program management services. 

Apply now to Penn Summer High School Programs.
Apply now to the Penn Law Academy.

Choose one of the curriculum options below. Your choice indicates how you will spend your day academically during the program. 

6 Week College Credit Classes at Penn

College credit classes are open to exceptional high school students completing grades 10 and 11. Upon acceptance to the program, select your college credit classes in consultation with the academic director. Registration in a desired class is not guaranteed. Students must register, add, and drop classes through the Penn Summer High School Programs office.

Attend challenging undergraduate classes alongside Penn students. Classes are taught by Penn instructors and visiting faculty. Most classes assign homework, research papers, midterms, and/or finals. College credit classes meet 2 to 5 times a week. 

High school students are evaluated by the same academic standards as undergraduate students. Receive an official grade and earn 1-1.5 course units (CUs) for each college credit class you complete at Penn. Official transcripts are available from Penn upon request.

See our list of course options for this curriculum.

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Penn Law Pre-College Academy

The Penn Law Pre-College Academy is a rigorous academic program that gives high school students the opportunity to experience law school at a world-class university. During this 3 week intensive Academy, learn what it means to be a lawyer while gaining a better understanding of the role of laws in modern society.

Taught and sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School, classes mirror those taken by first year law students. Whether you hope to pursue a career in law, business, or government, Penn Law Pre-College Academy provides a strong foundation for success.

Here's more detailed information about the Penn Law Pre-College Academy

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Biomedical Research Academy

Taught by members of Penn's Department of Biology and other regional biology teachers, the goal of this program is to introduce you to the experimental basis of biology, including relevance to disease. The focus of the program will be on how we know what we know. Daily morning lectures and discussions on the cellular, molecular and genetic aspects of biology will be followed on some days by guest lectures from scientists and clinicians from Penn’s Department of Biology and from the Penn Medical School. Afternoons will be spent in the laboratory with hands-on experiments that introduce you to the tools and techniques used in biomedical research labs. You will also participate in a small group “journal club” where you will learn to read primary scientific literature on a current topic of interest.

Prerequisites: One year of high school Biology is required for application. One year of high school Chemistry is strongly advised.
Program Director: Dr. Linda Robinson, Ph.D.

3 Week Academy
$500 Supplemental lab fee.

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Chemistry Research Academy

Led by faculty and staff of Penn's Department of Chemistry, as well as outstanding teachers and researchers selected from the region, the Chemistry Research Academy affords participants hands-on experiences with cutting-edge research projects in the chemical sciences. Penn Chemistry is a leading center of molecular research and instruction, whose researchers are at the frontier of modern chemistry, tackling a wide variety of important societal challenges. Specific topics included in the Academy will be derived from departmental research thrusts and may include: 

  • synthesis and characterization of new compounds and materials
  • chemistry of life processes
  • spectroscopy and environmental photochemistry 
  • nanoscale materials and molecular devices
  • new materials to solve energy challenges.

Prerequisite: One year of high school chemistry strongly preferred.
Program Director: Dr. Susan Phillips

3 Week Academy
$500 Supplemental lab fee.

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Experimental Physics Research Academy

The Penn Experimental Physics Research Academy allows students to take advantage of the vast research facilities on Penn’s campus to explore modern physics topics that are out of reach for most high school programs. 

Physics is the scientific study of matter and energy and how they interact with each other. This energy can take the form of motion, light, electricity, radiation, and gravity. Each week of the program is devoted to a major topic.

A typical day starts with several lectures on topics and important ideas in physics. Once or twice a week, faculty members from Penn speak about their research work, and students present group reports on the work they have done while at PSSA. Afternoons are typically spent in the lab.

Week 1:The first week of the program is devoted to mechanics and optics. You will learn mechanics in preparation for a field trip to a local amusement park, where you will study the physics of rides with the help of electronic data logging devices and computers. 
Week 2: In the second week, we begin with basic electricity and prove basic theory through the knowledge and lab skills developed throughout the week. 
Week 3: During the final week, each lab group will construct and use its own apparatus to measure the speed of light.

The program is organized to allow students to become familiar with laboratory hardware they use and to actually assemble and test some of it. The goal is for students not just to leave the lab with data but also to understand that data and to determine its reliability.

Program Director: William Berner
Bill Berner is the Lab Director for the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to working at Penn, he taught high school Physics for 25 years.

3 Week Academy
$500 Supplemental lab fee.

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Mathematics Academy

The Mathematics Academy is a unique opportunity for students interested in examining mathematical concepts rarely offered at the high school level. This rigorous, proof-oriented program will fuse lectures, problem sessions, demonstrations, and exploratory research to engage students in topics such as:

Discrete Mathematics

  • Combinatorics (enumerative, algebraic, geometric)
  • Generating functions and partitions
  • Graph Theory
  • Probability
  • Combinatorial Game Theory


Algebra and Number Theory

  • Linear Algebra
  • Prime and factorization algorithms
  • Congruences and quadratic reciprocity
  • Galois Theory
  • Geometry of numbers


Geometry and Topology 

  • Euclidean ad non-Euclidean geometries
  • Geometric transformations
  • Algebraic geometry
  • Point-set topology
  • Knot Theory


Relevant field trips, including the National Math Museum in New York City, and the National Cryptologic Museum, may also be included.

Program Director: Avi Barr
Prerequisite: One year of high school Algebra II is required for application.

3 Week Academy

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Neuroscience Research Academy

This Academy is designed to introduce students to the biological foundations of the brain. As a cutting-edge field in both research and medicine, neuroscience has provided important insights into understanding the mind in both health and in disease. The Neuroscience Research Academy is taught by members of the University of Pennsylvania’s Biological Basis of Behavior Program (https://www.sas.upenn.edu/bbb/), as well as outstanding teachers and researchers selected from around the region. 

Lectures in the morning and afternoon will introduce students to important neuroscientific topics, progressing from the cellular foundations of the neuron, to an understanding of the sensory systems, and culminating with higher-order cognitive functions such as memory, emotion, and morality. Throughout the 3 week program, there will be guest lectures from distinguished neuroscience faculty from the University of Pennsylvania. In the afternoons, students will participate in hands-on laboratory activities, where they will learn important experimental techniques. 

During this time, students will also be able to visit several active research laboratories. Additionally, students will engage in a small group “journal club” where they will gain experience reading the neuroscience literature related to a particular topic of choice, and which culminates in a group presentation. Friday field trips will further reinforce the students’ understanding of the brain in a fun and educational setting.

Prerequisites: One year of high school biology and one year of high school chemistry is required for applicants.

Program Director: Kristen Hipolit, Ph.D. 
Dr. Hipolit is an Advanced Lecturer in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches freshmen writing seminars that are focused on neuroscience topics. For several years she was also an instructor for Penn’s post-baccalaureate pre-health program, where she taught introduction to biology and cell biology and biochemistry courses. Dr. Hipolit received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania and has been teaching at Penn since 2012.

3 Week Academy
$500 Supplemental lab fee.

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Social Justice Research Academy

The Social Justice Research Academy brings students together with Penn faculty to examine the historical importance and the contemporary relevance of struggles to overcome inequality and injustice. 

Morning Lectures and Discussions: Attend classes with Penn faculty from several disciplines, including urban/global studies, philosophy, race and gender, economics and community development, politics, law and policy, history, sociology, environment, and public health.

Afternoon Workshops and Site Visits: Participate in activities with special guests from community groups, cooperatives, socially responsible businesses, labor unions, political advocacy organizations, environmental projects, urban farms, research institutes, and philanthropies.

The promise of – and the struggle for – freedom is one of the enduring narratives of human society. The faculty will call upon knowledge and experience from many sources:

  • past struggles: peasant revolts, slave rebellions, anti-colonial and anti-apartheid independence movements
  • present struggles: Arab Spring, Occupy, and ongoing human rights campaigns across the globe 


This academy has been designed for students who are interested in: 

  • society, economy, politics, and environment 
  • doing research supplemented by photography, video, music, art, or digital design
  • developing skills for leadership and organizational development
  • doing projects related to freedom, justice, equality, sustainability, peace, and fairness


Program Director: R. Scott Hanson

3 Week Academy

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2 Week Penn Prep

Explore Penn’s broad liberal arts and sciences curriculum within an immersive and dynamic Ivy League learning environment. The Penn Summer Prep Program allows ambitious students to enroll in two undergraduate-level modules from across disciplines while benefiting from the rich educational resources of the university. Explore a new topic of interest, dive into an old favorite, or learn a new skill this summer within a Penn summer module.

Module topics may include: 

  • Biology of Antidepressants   
  • Media, Activism and Social Movements
  • Anthropology
  • College Prep
  • Critical Approaches to Popular Culture
  • Film Studies
  • Environmental Science
  • College Essay Writing
  • Public Speaking
  • Fine Art Photography
  • Urban Justice
  • Climate Change
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science


All modules are taught by Penn instructors. Instructors may assign nightly readings, writing assignments, or group work. Upon successful completion of the program, students receive a Certificate of Completion and may request letters of recommendation from their instructors. 

Visit the Penn Summer website for module descriptions and application details: www.sas.upenn.edu/summer/programs/high-school

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