Great Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students

Develop Your Skills in Teamwork, Communication, and Effecting Change

Do you see yourself as a leader? Strong leadership skills are a great way to set yourself apart on a college application as well as in your future career. Below are five summer programs that will give you a head start on expanding your leadership capabilities, helping you learn to work with a team, improve your communication skills, and effect change. And if you know of another worthwhile leadership program, share it with other readers using the link at the bottom of the page.

The Brown Leadership Institute

Brown University

Brown University’s pre-college summer programming includes The Brown Leadership Institute, an intensive two-week leadership training session for motivated and intellectually curious 9th through 12th graders. The program aims to apply leadership skills to social issues, encouraging students to develop the skills necessary to be socially responsible future leaders. Through case studies, group projects, field trips, simulations, and discussions and debates, they examine complex global issues and learn to apply the Social Change Model of Leadership Development to come up with effective solutions. Students also create and bring home an action plan, attempting to resolve a long-term issue that they care about.​

Leadership in the Business World

University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania. neverbutterfly / Flickr

Rising high school juniors and seniors interested in exploring undergraduate business administration and leadership are encouraged to apply to Leadership in the Business World, sponsored every summer by Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Students attend lectures and presentations by Wharton faculty and guest speakers, visit successful business enterprises and work in teams to create an original business plan to be presented to a panel of venture capitalists and other professionals. The program selects 120 students across its three sessions. Participants come from across the country and around the globe as they learn about 21st-century leadership at a world-class business institution.

LeaderShip U

LSU Campus
LSU Campus. Martin / Flickr

High school students entering grades 10-12 have the opportunity to explore and develop their core leadership skills in this residential program at Louisiana State University. Students spend a week in a college setting, learning to identify and develop their own strengths, communicate with others, manage their time and finances, resolve conflicts, and more, as well as participating a career exploration roundtable at the end of the session.

National Student Leadership Conference: Mastering Leadership

Northwestern University
Northwestern University. Photo Credit: Amy Jacobson

Among its wide selection of summer sessions for high school students, the National Student Leadership Conference offers six-day programs on Mastering Leadership. This program includes a series of interactive workshops that emphasize the “Pillars of Effective Leadership,” including goal-setting, group dynamics, conflict resolution, team building, persuasive communication, and community service, as well as taking field trips, meeting with leadership professionals, and completing a day of service in the local community. Dates and locations vary in July and August.

Georgetown Leaders in Advocacy Academy

Georgetown University
Georgetown University. Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr / CC by 2.0

This one-week program at Georgetown University is for students entering grades 9 through 12. By participating in hands-on activities, students learn strategies for organizing people and influencing policy. Through lectures, workshops, and case studies, students get to interact with leaders from non-profit organizations, political thinktanks, community coalitions, and lobbying firms.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Cody, Eileen. "Great Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students." ThoughtCo, May. 30, 2021, Cody, Eileen. (2021, May 30). Great Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students. Retrieved from Cody, Eileen. "Great Summer Leadership Programs for High School Students." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).