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10 Free Biology Summer Programs for High School Students

Engaging in free STEM programs can offer high school students like you invaluable opportunities to explore your academic interests without the burden of cost. Particularly in the field of biology, where equipment and materials can often be expensive, free summer programs provide access to high-quality resources and mentorship that might otherwise be inaccessible. 


Early exposure to biology through these prestigious, fully-funded programs can be a game-changer for college applications. Participating in such initiatives not only enriches a student's understanding of complex biological concepts and practical skills but also signals a proactive and committed approach to learning. 


In this article, we explore 10 free biology summer programs for high school students!


1. Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation - Biology Track

Application Deadline: Varying deadlines based on cohort.

Duration: Options range from 12 weeks to 1 year.

Location: Remote — you can participate in this program from anywhere in the world!

Eligibility:

  • You must be currently enrolled in high school

  • Students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement. (Note. students have an unweighted GPA of 3.3 out of 4)

  • No previous knowledge of your field of interest is required!

Program Dates: Summer cohort runs from June to August, Fall cohort from September to December, Winter cohort from December to February, Spring from March to June 

Cost: Full financial aid available!


The Lumiere Research Scholar Program is a rigorous research program tailored for high school students. The program offers extensive 1-on-1 research opportunities for high school students, across a broad range of subject areas that you can explore as a high schooler. 

The program pairs high-school students with Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project.


At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll have developed an independent research paper! You can choose research topics from subjects such as psychology, physics, economics, data science, computer science, engineering, chemistry, international relations, and more. You can find more details about the application here!


This engaging two-week program at the federally funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a perfect fit for high school students passionate about molecular biology and bioinformatics. The program offers an in-depth exploration into the genetics of the freshwater aquatic plant, Landoltia punctata, commonly known as Duckweed. Participants will gain hands-on experience in advanced molecular biology techniques such as isolating and purifying plasmid DNA, performing polymerase chain reactions (PCR), conducting restriction digests, and running gel electrophoresis.


Beyond laboratory skills, students will use bioinformatics tools to analyze gene sequences, aligning their findings with methodologies employed by scientists globally. A unique aspect of this program is the opportunity for students to contribute directly to scientific research by submitting their DNA sequences to Genbank, the international DNA repository, which provides a platform for individual recognition in the scientific community.


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: April 12, 2024

Program dates: July 15 - 26, 2024

Fee: There is no cost to attend this program.


The Geosciences Bridge Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC), offers a unique hands-on internship experience aimed at easing the transition from high school to university for students interested in marine sciences and geosciences. This highly competitive program, with an acceptance rate of just 2-3%, selects only 7-8 students nationwide each year, making it a prestigious opportunity for those chosen.


Participants in the program engage in a rich curriculum that includes marine biology, marine biochemistry, marine geology, physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, and geographic information systems (GIS)/Remote Sensing techniques. The internship features a mix of lectures delivered by experienced faculty, field trips that provide real-world exposure, and hands-on activities that enhance practical skills. Additionally, students participate in two for-credit college courses, which not only offer a head start on college academics but also introduce the rigors and expectations of university-level studies.


Location: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD

Eligibility: High school seniors entering their first year of an undergraduate degree program in geosciences can apply (preference will be given to students entering the institutions listed here). Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have a minimum 2.7 GPA.

Application Deadline: The exact deadline is currently unavailable, but applications are usually due in spring.

Dates: June-August (6 weeks)

Stipend: $500 per week, with free housing, meals, and transportation all provided.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a comprehensive suite of summer internship programs for high school students keen on exploring biomedical research. Participants work alongside NIH’s renowned scientists on active research projects, where they analyze data and master essential laboratory techniques. 


The High School Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (HiSTEP) program focuses on broadening participation and promoting diversity within STEM fields. Unlike HS-SIP, HiSTEP does not involve full-time hands-on research but offers a comprehensive introduction to scientific, professional, and personal skills. This program includes leadership training, wellness programming, and career exploration in STEM-M fields, preparing students for future scholarships and internships.


For students who have previously participated in HiSTEP or possess similar research experience, HiSTEP 2.0 offers a deeper dive into scientific research. This advanced program allows students to design and conduct independent research projects under the guidance of experienced mentors in biomedicine. Additionally, HiSTEP 2.0 includes weekly workshops and seminars designed to further develop scientific, professional, and personal skills, enriching the student’s overall learning experience and preparing them for a career in science.


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)


The Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program, sponsored by the American Fisheries Society, offers an exceptional 8-week paid summer internship designed to stimulate interest in fisheries and aquatic sciences, particularly among underrepresented groups. This program provides an invaluable mentoring experience, pairing Hutton Scholars with seasoned fisheries professionals in their local area to ensure relevant and enriching hands-on experience.


As a Hutton Scholar, you'll engage in both laboratory and field research, exploring the realms of marine and freshwater environments. You'll participate actively in resource conservation and management projects, gaining practical skills that could include activities such as electrofishing, specimen examination, data processing, and the establishment of aquatic vegetation and fish habitats. Throughout the internship, you will also learn about various career opportunities in the field and receive guidance on academic courses beneficial for pursuing a career in fisheries science. This program is not only a doorway to practical scientific experience but also an opportunity to make informed decisions about future academic and professional paths in environmental science.


Location: Depends on where you live. Thanks to its network of mentors, Hutton can place students within a 45-minute commute of the intern’s home.

Eligibility: Current high school students who are at least 16 and live and are residents of the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico

Application Deadline: Applications for 2024 closed on January 16, 2024. Applications for 2025 will open in November 2024.

Dates: June - August (8 weeks)

Stipend: $3,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to the Hutton Scholars Summit conducted at the University of Arkansas.


The Keller BLOOM Program at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences provides an immersive experience in ocean science for high school students. This unique opportunity allows selected participants to engage directly with professional researchers, exploring the biological, geological, and chemical aspects of the local marine environment through a combination of field and laboratory work.


Throughout the program, interns participate in hands-on activities including field sampling, data collection, and the synthesis and analysis of data. The experience begins with the use of oceanographic equipment to collect samples and data from the marine environment. This initial fieldwork is followed by three intensive days in the laboratory, where students analyze their collected samples and interpret the data they've gathered. The program culminates in a presentation day, where each student has the opportunity to share their research findings and insights, demonstrating the knowledge and skills they've acquired over the course of the program. 


Location: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, ME

Eligibility: High school juniors in Maine

Application Deadline: April 5, 2024

Dates: May 19, 2024 - May 24, 2024 (1 week)

Stipend: This is an unpaid internship. The program provides housing on Bigelow’s campus as well as meals and snacks.


The Rockefeller University Summer Science Research Program (SSRP) provides a unique opportunity for you to dive into authentic scientific research within a collaborative team environment. Each team, composed of about eight SSRP scholars, is led by an experienced trainee who serves as the team lead, with additional support from dedicated scientist-mentors. This structure ensures that you receive focused guidance and expertise throughout the program.


Located in the specially equipped RockEDU lab, you will have your own workspace where you'll embark on a project that not only aligns with the team lead’s area of expertise but also caters to your individual scientific interests. The program is enriched with elective scientific courses, guest lectures, and social events that broaden your learning experience and integrate you into the vibrant scientific community at Rockefeller University.


The program begins with an orientation week where you are introduced to your team's research topic, essential laboratory techniques, and standard practices. As the program progresses into the second week, you are encouraged to formulate and choose a specific research question within the broader team topic to investigate in-depth. 


Location: RockEDU Science Outreach Laboratory at The Rockefeller University, NY

Eligibility: Current high school juniors or seniors

Application Deadline: January 5, 2024

Dates: June 24 - August 8, 2024

Stipend: None


The Genspace Biorocket Research Internship Program offers a compelling 6-month, paid opportunity for those deeply interested in biotechnology and genetic engineering. As an intern, you will be immersed in cutting-edge research, tackling diverse topics that include DNA sequencing, genetic engineering, and bioinformatics. This hands-on experience is enhanced by the use of state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and advanced technologies.


Alongside rigorous research activities, you will benefit from dedicated mentorship from experienced scientists, enriching field trips, and innovative improv training aimed at bolstering your scientific communication skills. Previous interns at Genspace have engaged in significant projects such as analyzing the microbiome differences between two Red Oak species and studying algal growth for water purification applications. For a closer look at past intern projects and their outcomes, you can explore detailed examples here


Location: Genspace, Brooklyn, NY

Eligibility: 

  1. Must be 16 years or older by orientation date. 

  2. Live or attend a NYC Public or Charter School within 45 minutes of Genspace (exceptions are possible, we recommend emailing Genspace for confirmation!)

Application Deadline: January 10, 2024

Dates: July 1 - August 16, 2024

Stipend: $2,000


BioSTAR, a distinguished community outreach program hosted at the engineering campus in Allston, offers self-motivated high school students an immersive introduction to bioengineering. During this program, you'll have the unique opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art research lab, where you'll learn foundational bioengineering principles and techniques directly from Harvard faculty and researchers. The program is tailored to give you a comprehensive understanding of the pivotal role bioengineering plays in advancing human health.


Throughout the duration of BioSTAR, you'll be engaged in hands-on activities that include designing and conducting research experiments related to cutting-edge topics such as drug delivery techniques, nanoparticle synthesis for drug delivery, and cell staining. You'll also utilize fluorescence microscopy for visualization, conduct cell viability assays, and handle data collection and analysis. Given the competitive nature of this program, it's advisable to apply early.


Location: Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), Harvard University, MA

Eligibility: High school students who are at least 16 years old

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling bases

Dates: June 8 - 12, 2024

Stipend: None


The Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program offers a unique opportunity for students who are passionate about genetics and genomics. Each year, the program selects a diverse cohort of about 40 high school and undergraduate students from across the United States, fostering a vibrant community of young researchers. This program is an excellent way for participants to meet and collaborate with peers from various backgrounds, all while engaging in high-level scientific research.


As part of the program, you will be fully immersed in an ongoing research project, working under the mentorship of seasoned scientists from The Jackson Laboratory, a leading non-profit biomedical research institution. Throughout the summer, you will not only assist in important genetic research but also develop and conduct your own independent project. This involves planning the research, collecting and analyzing data, and ultimately, reporting the findings. The program culminates in a formal presentation where you will showcase your research outcomes, highlighting the knowledge and skills acquired over the summer.


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.



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: LLNL logo

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