All About Summer Schools


Aniket Nikumb and Apurva Raghavan, who spent a summer at London School of Economics (LSE) and Harvard University respectively, write about the summer school system outside India and its benefits

What is a summer school?
Most universities around the world take a hiatus from their standard academic programmes during the summer months (June to September) as students head out for vacations or internships. During this period, some universities including Harvard University, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University of California at Berkeley offer a summer programme that lasts for 3 to 7 weeks. A summer school programme would typically cover a single topic or subject that is taught over the course of one semester with high intensity over the few weeks. Applications are open to both internal and external students.

The Admission Process Admission process for a summer school starts usually by January of the year for which one is applying for summer school. The admission process is relatively simple as compared to a traditional full-year programme. Schools will generally not ask for a Statement of Purpose (SoP), specific test scores (GMAT/ GRE) or letters of recommendation.For advanced courses, schools may require one to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in subjectfundamental – for instance, the Alternative Investments programmeat the LSE prescribes prerequisites as basic mathematics and statistics, microeconomics and introductory finance. Students can prove their proficiency via an exam-passing certificate in the specified subject from any university. In Harvard, students may be required to write an exam in the first week of their course and are allowed to continue only if they pass the same to a satisfactory degree. Since individual schools may have their own policies, it is best to check them up on their website or with their admission office before applying.

Choosing a summer school and a course of study
Making a choice between the manicured greens of Cambridge, the cosmopolitan life at the LSE or the charm of Berkeley in California is a tough task. One key constraint for students is school dates since summer holidays at home universities will match programme dates of only a few schools. The other key factors one should consider are the reputation and prestige of the university (nothing matches a Harvard on your resume), the professors for the course, the location of the school (London is one of the most amazing places to spend your summer) and of course, the programmes it offers.

Generally speaking, when choosing a course of study, try and pick courses that will complement your current programme that are not offered in your home university. For instance, a summer programme on alternative investments is a  very good fit for someone majoring in finance, since most universities in India  do not offer it in their undergraduate programmes. It is also a very good idea to look at courses that complement the expertise of the university, for instance, finance or law is a better choice to study at LSE rather than marketing.

Money Matters
Summer schools are an expensive affair and can cost as much as US$2,500-US$5,000 (Rs. 1,34,200-Rs. 2,68,400) in tuition fees. Accommodation and meals are generally extra and can cost another US$1,200-US$5,000 (Rs. 64,416-Rs. 2,68,400) depending on the duration of the programme and the type of accommodation chosen (shared, single, etc). In budgeting one’s expenses, one should not forget to include lifestyle expenses, flight tickets, visa fees and incidentals which can easily go up to an additional Rs. 2,00,00 at least. Unfortunately, most schools generally do not offer financial aid or scholarships for summer school students.

The Advantages of summer schools

•    Summer schools offers students a unique opportunity to study a topic that might not be offered in one’s undergraduate course, and bring together would-class thinking and the latest knowledge on the subject.
•    Schools such as Harvard and LSE are cultural melting pots with students of different nationalities. Interacting with different students helps to broaden your own views while making lasting friendships.
•    It provides a unique opportunity to ‘experience’ a university if one is keen to study further for a postgraduate program in that university.
•    It provides one ‘bragging rights’ on having been an alumna of a really prestigious university. This undoubtedly helps in job applications and interviews as it can be a real stand-out on one’s resume. Most summer schools also conduct written exams, provide transcripts and offer credits for the course takes.

Prominent Summer School Universities
•     LSE, UK: http://www2.lse. summerSchool/Home.aspx
•    Oxford University, UK:
•    University of Cambridge, UK:
•    Harvard University, USA:
•    New York University, USA:
•    University of California, Berkeley, USA:
•    Stanford University, USA:


Volume 2 Issue 10



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here