Secondary School Intensive English Language Program (SIEL)

The Secondary School Intensive English Language Program (SIEL) is a selective seven-week program open to students who will graduate in 2014, 2015, or 2016 and who are already rather fluent in English.

The students accepted into this program are guided to develop balanced proficiency in the four major communicative skills—listening, reading, speaking, and writing—by thoroughly examining a common theme of topical importance from educational, political, and environmental perspectives.

The program offers students opportunities to use English in a wide variety of academic contexts and to practice the methods that meet the classroom requirements of American universities:

  • Reading contemporary literature and journalism, including novels and data from several media sources
  • Completing group and individual oral assignments that analyze and comment on many types of spoken and written English
  • Writing research papers that follow the process method and appropriately incorporate Internet and print resources
  • Listening to lectures by Harvard faculty and engaging them in formal Q&A sessions

The program’s weekly format involves:

  • Small daily classes led by one instructor
  • Three workshops comprising two of these classes that are team-taught by their two instructors
  • Tuesday site visits to locations related to the summer’s theme that alternate with level-wide lectures by Harvard faculty
  • Plenary lectures by Harvard faculty each Friday afternoon

Housing and activities

As a student in this program, you are part of the Secondary School Program. You live on campus with other high school students and can participate in activities and college prep. (However, note that due to visa regulations, SIEL students may not enroll in Summer School courses for credit.)


This is a zero-absence program, so you need to arrive in Cambridge on Saturday, June 21, take the placement test on Sunday, June 22, attend all orientation and class meetings, stay on campus throughout the program, and take the post-test on Friday, August 8.


You can apply online. See Admission and Getting Started. You can see all the key dates for applying to the SIEL program in the calendar.

Once admitted, complete these steps as soon as possible:

  1. Accept your place in the program.
  2. Request housing. Housing is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  3. Complete all I-20 requirements by May 5.
  4. Pay in full by May 19 or sooner. Your enrollment in the SIEL program is not complete until you have paid in full.

Complete these steps right away. If you have not requested housing and paid in full by May 19, you will be withdrawn from the program. We encourage early payment in full so that a place in the program will be held for you.

Admitted SIEL students must also complete and submit forms related to rules, medical information, proof of immunization, and (if applicable) accommodations due to a disability.

Program cost

Application fee (nonrefundable) $50
Course tuition $5,700
On-campus housing (room and board) $5,100
Health insurance $200


See all the important dates for SIEL students in the calendar.

If you are in Cambridge before Opening Weekend, you may take the English language placement test in April or May, the dates to be announced.