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10 Best Summer Research Programs for High School Students

If you’re a high school student and are interested in going beyond classroom learning, you should definitely consider applying to a summer research program. Having research experience can prove to be a significant point of differentiation in your college applications, and participating in one at your dream college can improve your chances even more.


Summer research programs will give you the hands-on experience you need while allowing you to take your learning to the next level with research projects and networking opportunities. These opportunities are highly selective and geared towards attracting talented high schoolers like you! 


To help you get started, we have compiled a list of the 10 best summer research programs for high schoolers interested in various fields!


The University of Chicago's Research in the Biological Sciences (RIBS) program is a rigorous four-week pre-college summer initiative designed to introduce students to diverse research methods in molecular biology, microbiology, and cellular biology. The primary focus of the program is hands-on lab work and projects, although they are supplemented by lectures that are included in the curriculum. At the end of the program, students have the opportunity to present their individual projects.


Location: The University of Chicago campus

Cost: $14,000

Program Dates: June 15, 2024, to July 13, 2024

Application Deadline: January 18 (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: Current 10th or 11th grade students


Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 


The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here


Location: Virtual

Cost

  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 


MIT's Women's Technology Program (WTP) is an intensive four-week summer academic experience introducing high school students to engineering through hands-on classes, labs, and team projects after their 11th-grade. The program is completely free with a mechanical engineering focus and looks to empower students with limited STEM access. You can expect to be introduced to topics such as fluid mechanics, statics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, and engineering design. The program is designed and taught by graduate students and assisted by undergraduate students at MIT. 


Location: Massachusetts's Institute of Technology (MIT) campus

Cost: None

Program Dates: June 29, 2024, to July 26, 2024

Application Deadline: January 22 

Eligibility: Female-identifying 11th-grade students


This two-week course at UC Berkeley allows students to familiarize themselves with teamwork, communications, presentations, creating a business plan, and research methods in a highly selective cohort of only 50 students. In addition to the program, students will also attend guest lectures, engage in social activities, and work in teams to create a business plan that they will present at the end of the course. As part of the program, they will also be able to interact with other UC Berkeley students. 


Location: University of California (Berkeley) campus 

Cost:

  • California resident tuition: $6,050

  • Out-of-state resident tuition: $7,050

Program Dates: 

  • Session I: July 6 – July 20, 2024

  • Session II: July 20 – August 3, 2024

Application deadline: March 15, 2024

Eligibility: High school students


The Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) is an eight-week opportunity that lets high school students with diverse experiences, interests, and backgrounds engage in research alongside Stanford faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers. The program aims to boost interest in biological sciences and medicine among high school students and provides insight into the process of scientific research. Each year, about 50 students are accepted and participants are given a minimum stipend of $500. Participants are also allowed to choose from 8 research areas within the program. 


Location: Stanford University campus

Cost: $40 application fee

Program Dates: June 10, 2024, to August 1, 2024

Application Deadline: February 24, 2024

Eligibility: All 3 of the following requirements must be met (no exceptions):

  • Students must currently be juniors or seniors at the time of application (as of the spring of 2024).  Students must be in the graduating class of 2024 or 2025.

  • Students must also be 16 years old or older by the start of the program.

  • Students must currently be living in and attending school in the U.S. AND must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a green card in order to apply.


CS Scholars (CSS), part of the CS Pathways initiative, is a fully funded, 4-week immersive program at CMU for rising high school juniors. It is led by Carnegie Mellon faculty and researchers, and offers college-level courses, college prep seminars, and hands-on Python programming with a focus on problem-solving techniques. In this program, you can expect to learn algorithmic components, basic data structures and computational skills. Students will engage in a group project addressing real-world challenges using computer science and present their work at the end of the program. Beyond the program, students will get to interact with CMU faculty and industry leaders in the field of computer science. 


Location: Carnegie Mellon campus

Cost: None

Program Dates: June 22, 2024, to July 20, 2024

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

Eligibility: To be eligible for CS Scholars, students must:

  • Be 16 years old by the program start date.

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students who are registered with DACA are also eligible.

  • Be a sophomore in high school at the time of application submission.


The prestigious Spark Summer Internship Program matches high school students with industry experts, professors, and community leaders to introduce them to the idea of working on projects in the real world under their mentos. As part of the program, students take on research projects through their internship for a period of 8-12 weeks. In the new model that the program is adopting in 2024, the mentors will choose their preferred candidates for the internship and guide them through their research work. The program focuses on various STEM fields and prepares students for a potential career in scientific research. 


Location: Depends on internship provider

Cost: To be announced

Program Dates: To be announced

Application Deadline: April (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: To be able to apply for SPARK SIP, you must:

  • Be in grades 9-12 during the current school year. Each internship project may have slightly different requirements, so make sure you check before applying!

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. The program is not open to international students.

  • Be committed to full participation in a residential internship at the location specified by the sponsor. This may involve expenses above the program fees.


The Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC) program allows high school students to be a part of live research projects that enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The program helps you partner with organizations such as Indian School of Democracy, World Resources Institute, Lung Care Foundation, Breakthrough, and Teach for India. This is the perfect summer research opportunity for students interested in working on issues across advocacy, gender, governance, public policy, public health, and environment. 


Location: Virtual

Cost: INR 25,000 plus taxes

Program Dates: June 22, 2024, to July 21, 2024

Application Deadline: May 5, 2024

Eligibility: Current 10th, 11th and 12th grade students who are not more than 18 years old at the start of the program 


PROMYS is a six-week residential math program that aims to build a deeper understanding and appreciation of mathematics among students. One of the salient features of the program is the opportunity that it offers to work alongside professional mathematicians on projects at the PROMYS-designed exploration labs. The research projects that students work on in small groups are a part of the concluding material that they present at the end of the program. This program is also partially funded by sponsors and explores topics such as number theory. You will be challenged and encouraged to develop your problem-solving and investigation skills.


Location: Boston University campus

Cost: $6,100

Program Dates: June 30, 2024, to August 10, 2024

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

Eligibility: Students must satisfy ALL the following criteria by the first day of the program:

  • Be at least 14 years old

  • Have completed 9th grade (or its equivalent)

  • Not yet enrolled as a full-time college or university student

The Research Science Institute (RSI) provides students with a summer research initiative that is sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE), and hosted at MIT. During this 6-week program, students participate in intensive STEM courses while working on their research projects. You will have the opportunity to work under esteemed scientists and get a hands-on understanding of the various components of a usual research cycle. You will also create a research project that you have the opportunity to present and publish at the end of the program.


Location: MIT campus

Cost: None

Program Dates: June 23, 2024, to August 3, 2024

Application Deadline: December 13 (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: Current 11th grade students


One other option

If you are interested in building a university-level research project this summer, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: University of Chicago logo

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