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10 Biology Programs for High School Students

High school is the perfect time to explore your passions and interests outside of the school curriculum. If biology is one of the subjects you’d like to pursue outside school, and probably later in college, there’s a plethora of programs you can choose from. Whether that’s during the summer or the academic year, these programs can give you a deeper insight into the subject of your choice, while offering a platform to gain valuable experience and the chance to plan your future academics!

In this article, we’ve listed 10 biology programs for high school students that include research opportunities, hands-on internships and intensive learning experiences.

Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Both residential and commuter options are offered.

Eligibility: Students who are current high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors at the time of application, at least 16 years old at the start of the program, and no more than 19 years old by the last day of the program, can apply. Those applying must also not be matriculating into Stanford as a first year.

Application Deadline: December 11, 2023 (Early Decision) | January 26, 2024 (Regular Decision). See all dates and deadlines here!

Program Dates: June 22, 2024 - August 18, 2024

Fee: $4,962 (Commuter, minimum 3 units) | $17,328 (Residential, minimum 8 credit-bearing units, which is typically 2-3 courses). Calculate your exact costs here.

Financial Assistance: Merit-based and need-based tuition grants are available

The Stanford Summer Session, offering a wide range of courses, is an intensive 8-week academic experience for high school students. It provides students with the opportunity to experience life on a campus while studying at one of the most prestigious universities. For students keen on Biology, the program offers a number of courses in that field: Microbiology: Human health & society, Introduction to Biotechnology, Introduction to Cancer Biology, Introduction to Human Physiology, and more. What sets this program apart is its comprehensive curriculum that covers a broad range of topics, from genetics and anatomy to public health. See all the courses available here.

Every credit-bearing unit represents approximately three hours of work each week for the average student, but your workload might differ based on your course selection and skill-level. The immersive eight-week session allows you to dive deep into biology subjects of your choice and paves the way for your future academics.

Location: University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. This is a residential program, students will stay on campus. Eligibility: Current high school sophomores and juniors are eligible. Students must have completed one year of high school biology by the start of the program.

Application Deadline: Mid-January (tentatively, based on previous years).

Program Dates: Tentatively, based on previous years, the program will be held from mid-June to the beginning of July. Fee: $13,600

Financial Assistance: Partial need-based scholarships are available. Take a look.

University of Chicago’s Research in the Biological Sciences (RIBS) is an intensive 4-week pre-college summer program designed to introduce students to a range of research techniques in the fields of molecular biology, microbiology, and cellular biology. During the program, you will engage with leading university researchers, and spend most of your days in the lab learning basic lab techniques to the application of current molecular techniques in developmental biology and microbiology. The program focuses on lab time and projects, though some lectures are included in the curriculum to provide background and introduce exciting new concepts. Each course ends with the students presenting results of their independent project.

Location: Most courses are held on campus at Brown University, Providence, RI, with the exception of a few that are conducted in a hybrid mode or online.

Eligibility: Some courses are open to all high school students, while some are open only to rising 9th and 10th graders.

Application deadline: In 2023, applications opened on January 18, and were accepted on a rolling basis. The last date to apply was May 12, 2023. Students can expect similar dates for the 2024 session.

Program dates: Courses are conducted as part of a program, and each program has several session dates. It’s advisable you check the dates for your preferred courses.

Financial Assistance: Brown Pre-college offers a few need-based scholarships.

Brown University’s Pre-College programs are designed for students keen to explore the challenges and opportunities of college, including academics and social life. While Brown Pre-College currently offers over 300 programs, 77 of them focus on biology, biotechnology and independent research fields. Some of these include: Marine Ecology, Research Techniques in Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology: An Evolving Puzzle, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Neuroscience in Health and Disease, Introduction to Medicine, and Genetics, Epigenetics and Human Behavior. To see all the available courses, click here. You can choose the Biology filter when viewing the courses. These courses will either be part of the Summer@Brown, Summer@Brown Online or STEM for Rising 9th and 10th Graders programs, all under the Brown Pre-College umbrella. While all these are non-credit programs, they offer an insight into college academics, and a chance to deep dive into a subject before you pursue it further in college. From understanding human emotions and ethics to asking questions about our governing bodies, these courses will ignite your curiosity as you build your intellectual skills.

Location: Students can choose from NIH campuses across the country. The NIH main campus is in Bethesda, MD.

Eligibility: Students who are high school juniors or seniors at the time of application (or have recently graduated), and are 17 years or older on June 15, 2024, may apply. Do look through all the eligibility requirements before applying. There are some additional requirements for HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0.

Application Deadline: February 1, every year.

Program Dates: Minimum 8 weeks in summer, information on exact dates is not available.

Stipend: $2,300-2,530 (for students currently in high school) | $2,570-2,840 (for students who have graduated high school)

NIH offers a suite of summer internship programs for high school students in the scientific realm. HS-SIP is a unique opportunity for students to engage in hands-on biomedical research alongside leading scientists and mentors. In it, you will work on ongoing research projects, analyze data, and acquire essential laboratory skills.

HiSTEP is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and promoting diversity in STEM. The program partners with renowned research institutions to help you dive into cutting-edge scientific investigations across diverse disciplines. HiSTEP is not a hands-on, full-time research program. It will combine an introduction to scientific, professional, and personal skills with leadership training, wellness programming, and an exploration of STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, math, and medically-related) careers. In addition, it will help prepare you for future scholarships and internships.

HiSTEP 2.0, an advanced continuation program, offers an in-depth exploration of scientific research. Tailored for students who have completed HiSTEP or similar research experiences, HiSTEP 2.0 allows you to design and conduct independent research projects under the guidance of mentor scientists in the field of biomedicine. You will also participate in weekly workshops and seminars aimed at developing your scientific, professional, and personal skills.

Note: Part of the HS-SIP are two programs, High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP) and HiSTEP 2.0. We have covered these pieces in detail here!

Location: The 4-week session is residential, conducted at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. The 7-week session has residential, commuter and online options.

Eligibility: Students who will graduate from high school and enter college in 2024, 2025, or 2026; and are at least 16 years old by June 22, 2024, and will not turn 19 years old before July 31, 2024, are eligible to apply.

Application deadline: April 10, 2024

Program Dates: 4-week session (July 14, 2024 - August 9, 2024) | 7-week session (June 22 - August 10, 2024)

Fee: $75 application fee + 4-week residential - $7,700 | 7-week residential - $14,250 | 7-week commuter $7,600 | 7-week online $3,900

Financial Assistance: Need-based and merit-based scholarships are offered.

Harvard Summer School’s Secondary School Program (SSP) is a rigorous academic program for motivated high school students who want to take college courses and earn credit. Students can choose between the 4-week and 7-week session. While the 4-week program is residential (you’ll be staying on campus), the 7-week program has residential, commuter and online options. During the 4-week program, you will take one college-level course for 4 credits. During the 7-week program, you have the option of taking one or two courses, for 4 or 8 credits respectively.

Among the courses offered in the field of biology, some are Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology, Introduction to Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Biochemical Engineering and Synthetic Life. You can take a look at all the courses offered under this program here. These courses will introduce you to various concepts in biology, and help you build a strong foundation of knowledge to pursue your future academics. Through a series of lectures, seminars, and discussions, you will gain insight into subjects of your choosing, earn college credit and experience life on campus.

You can also consider taking up 2-week biology courses under Harvard University’s Pre-College Summer School Program. These are non-credit courses, and include topics such as Molecular Oncology, Human Physiology, and The Overdose Epidemic.

Location: The residential courses will be held at University of California, San Diego. There are online course options available as well.

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to apply.

Application deadline: May-end (residential) | Mid-June 4 (online). This is tentative, based on previous years.

Program dates: The program will be conducted over three weeks in July, tentatively.

Fee: $1,500 (online course tuition) | $1,700 (online course tuition + online SAT prep course) | $5,700 (residential course tuition + housing) | $5,900 (residential course tuition + housing + online SAT prep course). These are the 2023 program costs. Students can expect the 2024 fees to be in the same range.

Financial Assistance: Scholarships are available.

This summer program is designed for high-achieving students who are keen to explore subjects like biophysics, programming, marine science, health, language and more at the college level. Through engaging coursework, interactive discussions, and hands-on projects, you will dive into the subject area of your choice, learn the basics and build your way to a final project. With this program, you have the opportunity to learn from UC San Diego faculty members and engage in intellectual discussions with peers who share your passion for learning.

Location: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Discovery Center, Livermore, CA

Eligibility: Students who are 16 years or older by the start of the workshop, with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher, may apply.

Application deadline: May-end (tentatively, based on previous years)

Program dates: Tentatively, the program will be conducted in July.

Fee: There is no cost to attend this program.

This two-week, hands-on program is designed for students interested in molecular biology and bioinformatics. This program focuses on the isolation, characterization, and DNA sequence analyses of genes from the freshwater aquatic plant species Landoltia punctata, commonly known as Duckweed. As a participant, you will be expected to isolate and purify plasmid DNA and perform PCR (polymerase chain reactions), restriction digests, and gel electrophoresis. You will also analyze gene sequences with the same bioinformatic tools used by scientists worldwide. Your DNA sequences are submitted for publication in the international DNA repository, Genbank, an opportunity for individual recognition. This is a competitive and sought-after program, especially considering there is no cost to attend, and the fact that LLNL is a federally funded research and development center.

Location: Mānoa, Hawai’i

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible.l

Application Deadline: Dates for the 2024 session are yet to be confirmed. Check here for updates! Program Dates: The program is typically held over one week in July.

Fee: $1,000.

Financial Assistance: Students from Hawai’i may be eligible for $500 subsidies.

If you’re up to traveling the distance, the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology offers a great marine biology program for high school students. A week-long immersive experience, the program takes advantage of its location, allowing students to explore the subject while on an island in the heart of the Pacific ocean. Under the guidance of experienced researchers, faculty and marine biologists, you will engage in field studies, lab experiments, hands-on data collection and other projects. You will get the chance to study coral reefs, marine ecosystems, and the diverse marine life found in the Pacific. You will also have access to the University of Hawaii's top-notch research facilities. This program offers students a comprehensive understanding of marine biology, going beyond the classroom.

Location: The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine

Eligibility: High school seniors are eligible to apply. At the time of participation in the 2024 program, a high school student must have completed Grade 12; be at least 18 years old; and be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Application Deadline: January 29, 2024 Program Dates: June 1, 2024 - August 10, 2024

Stipend: $6500. Housing, travel and meals will be covered.

The Jackson Laboratory is a renowned non-profit biomedical research institution. Its Summer Student Program is designed for students keen on genetics and genomics research. Every year, a diverse group of approximately 40 undergraduate and high school students is chosen from across the country. As a part of this group, you will get to meet and connect with other research-focused students from different backgrounds, and form a community of motivated science scholars. During the program, you will work on an ongoing research project under the guidance of experienced scientists. You will develop an independent project, implement your plan, analyze the data, and report the results. At the end of the summer, you will present their findings to researchers, other students, and parents

Location: Boston Leadership Institute, Wellesley, MA. The institute offers a few online program options as well.

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: Applications for Summer 2024 open on November 1, 2023. There is no deadline, but the institute recommends students submit their applications early.

Program Dates: Session 1: June 24, 2024 - July 12, 2024 | Session 2: July 15, 2024 - August 2, 2024 Fee: $2,200

This research program is an immersive 3-week introduction to the world of biological research. One of the most lab-intensive programs at the institute, it has won several awards. During the program, you will cover a range of topics beyond your school curriculum, including synthetic Biology, gene therapy, and genetic engineering – concepts that help eliminate genetic diseases and mutations. Under the guidance of Dr Maria Lazebnik, an adjunct assistant professor at Bentley University, you will conduct hands-on laboratory experiments, and hone your lab and research skills.

The institute also offers a number of other programs in various fields of biology, such as Biomedical and Surgical Research (online), Biotech Research (online), Marine Biology, Neuroscience Research, several programs in medicine, and a few one-week programs in biology and medicine.

Here’s a few bonus programs you can consider!

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research in biology, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online program for students I 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: UChicago logo


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