middle school friends work together in science lab. They are examining a DNA structure model.

Summer Transitional Enrichment Program (STEP)

The Summer Transitional Enrichment Program (STEP) gives students finishing grades 6–8 the opportunity to spend two weeks studying one accelerated course. STEP is designed to engage, challenge and inspire students academically, while offering plenty of opportunities to build community. This program is for those who are ready for an above-grade-level challenge and are serious about having fun with their peers, both in and out of the classroom. STEP is open to all interested students; scholarships are available.


STEP offers an intense, two-week residential experience on the UW–Madison campus, designed to help students develop higher-level thinking skills, explore their creativity, build community and nurture their inner passion for learning.

With an equally strong emphasis on academic rigor and social-emotional development, challenge and community are the central pillars of STEP. Students enroll in a demanding, interdisciplinary course that encourages critical thinking and creative problem-solving. They choose their own challenge and then spend five hours each day digging deeply into the same, complex questions and activities tackled by experts in the field.

A variety of engaging group activities and ample free time allow students to explore new interests and make lasting friendships. STEP aims to equip students with the tools they need to succeed in high school and beyond.

What to expect

As a STEP student, be ready to be challenged academically while learning to balance creative and critical thinking skills. During class time, you will dive headfirst into an exciting new topic and, with support from your educational assistant and teacher, you will work on applying the course content through collaboration and independent project-based learning. You will be encouraged to take control of your own learning.

By the end of the program, you will improve your understanding of yourself both personally and as a learner. You will cultivate new strengths and talents and you will develop areas in which you can foster further growth.

Upcoming Classes

STEP at a glance

Program Dates

June 16–29, 2024


In person

Grade Level

For students finishing Grades 6–8

Application Opens

November 28, 2023

Apply by

May 1, 2024


Early bird rates through January 8

Tuition: $2,850

Starting January 9

Tuition: $3,000

Non-refundable application fee: $75

Tuition due in two parts on May 15th and June 1st.

Limited financial aid available


UW–Madison campus

Instruction Hours

50 hours of class time

Daily schedule

Time Activity
7:30–8:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30–9 a.m. Morning meeting
9-11:30 a.m. Class
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30–3 p.m. Class
3–5 p.m. Recreational activities
5–6:30 p.m. Dinner
6:30–8:30 p.m. Recreational activities
8:30–9 p.m. Block meetings
9–10:30 p.m. Dorm time
10:30 p.m.–7:30 a.m. Quiet hours

This experience you’ve given me has improved my mind and many others so that we can change the future for the better.

STEP Participant

How to apply

  1. Look through the course options available and choose your first-choice course. Please note that applications are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis and courses fill on a first-come, first-serve basis. Early registration will increase the likelihood of being placed in your first-choice course.
  2. Complete the online application, indicating only your first-choice course as your preferred course.
  3. Students will be asked to submit a current transcript or grade report and show general eligibility through the submission of a short statement answering the following prompts:
    • Why do you want to attend this program?
    • How will this program and experience benefit you now and in the future?

    You will be able to upload a PDF version of your grade report and submit answers to the above prompts directly in the application.

  4. Submit the application, along with the application fee. You will receive an email confirming your submission immediately and be notified of your acceptance decision via email within 3-4 weeks.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please visit our financial aid page.