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10 Free Medical Summer Programs for High School Students

A pre-college or summer medical program can help you, as a high school student, navigate their path towards a career in the medical profession. It can give you a headstart on your college journey, by offering hands-on experience and an early exposure to the pressures and rewards of your chosen field of interest. 

It also helps enhance your portfolio and college application! Admissions officers value students who have put in an extra effort to build their knowledge and skills before alongside the school curriculum.

With such programs, you will have the opportunity to learn in a variety of spaces, including universities, hospitals and clinics, and research centers, as well as meet with industry professionals. 

Often, these programs can come with a cost that isn’t always feasible. In this article, we’ve listed 10 free summer programs to get you started in the field of medicine.

Application deadline: February 24, 2024

Eligibility: Current juniors or seniors who are at least 16 years of age are eligible.

Program dates: June 10, 2024 - August 1, 2024

Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

Stipend: Students earn a stipend of $500 - $2,500. Housing and transportation are not provided. 

Please note: There is a $40 application fee, which can be waived. Stipends of $2500 and above are given on a needs-based system from special grants. 

The SIMR is an 8-week internship program where you will get to collaborate one-on-one with a mentor, a Stanford graduate student or a postdoctoral fellow, and engage in hands-on research. You will have to select one of eight study fields – Immunology, Neurobiology, Cancer Biology, Bioengineering, Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Cardiovascular Biology, Bioinformatics and Genetics and Genomics. Based on your choice, you will be allocated to the lab where you will be mentored. This is a fairly competitive program with a cohort size of about 50 students – at an acceptance rate of less than 3% (approximately).

During the first couple weeks of the program, you will attend lectures in the morning and spend the rest of the day working in your lab. A majority of the program will be spent in full-time lab work. During the last 2 weeks of the program, you will work on your research poster of your project, which you present to your peers, teachers, family and the Stanford community at the end of the program.

Tip: We’ve covered this program in depth here!

Stanford University offers a number of other programs in the fields of medicine and biology for high school students that are worth considering:

Application deadline: Applications typically close in January. 

Eligibility: Those applying must 

  • Have completed at least 9th grade by June 2024

  • Have a genuine interest in science and laboratory research

  • Have a 3.5 GPA in science subjects

  • Be eligible to work in the United States

  • Be at least 14 years old by June 2024

Program dates: June-end to August-end (tentatively, based on previous years).

Location: Main Campus, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Manhattan, NY. 

Stipend: $1,200

MSKCC is one of the world’s leading cancer research and treatment centers, known for its innovation in the field. Its Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) Summer Student Program is designed to help students understand the nature of laboratory work and better understand what careers in translational cancer research may entail. During this 8-week program you’ll conduct independent research, attend training sessions and tours that can support your interest in the clinical side of translational research. This summer program is fairly prestigious with an acceptance rate of less than 10%.

In the program, you will be assigned to a biomedical or computational lab at MSKCC. You will be paired with a HOPP principal investigator (PI), who will match you with a mentor — typically a senior member from the lab, such as a postdoctoral fellow, graduate student, or research technician. Under your mentor’s guidance, you will conduct an independent research project that adds value to your mentor and/or PI’s overall research objectives. HOPP’s research spans multiple cancer types, and its scientists employ innovative technologies, often redefining how to find, develop, and test new cancer therapies. As a student in this program, you will be contributing to this research. 

Tip: We’ve covered this opportunity in depth here!

Application deadline: March (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: Sophomores and juniors who were born between July 29, 2005, and July 2, 2008. Students from underrepresented or underserved backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Program dates: July (tentatively, based on previous years)

Location: Johns Hopkins University, MD

Stipend: $2,400

If you’re keen on a project-based experience and improving your practical skills, Johns Hopkins’ ISPEED program is a great choice. This four-week, residential program run by JHU’s school of medicine is a chance to learn about biology, life sciences, healthcare design, computer programming and more, all while connecting them to foundational skills in biomedical engineering. The curriculum includes classes, project based, hands-on learning, research talks by students and faculty, field trips, and a final showcase where you will present your project. During the program, you will also work at the university’s BME Design Studio and the Cell & Tissue Engineering Lab. As an added benefit, you will also gain an introduction to  computer programming, machine learning and scientific computing.

Application deadline: February 1, every year.

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.

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

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

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 programs in detail here.

Application deadline: February 2, 2024

Eligibility: To apply, you must:

  • Be currently completing your junior or senior year,

  • Be at least 16 years of age by the start of the program,

  • Have a record of high academic achievement and proven interest in medical research.

  • Foreign nationals can apply if they already hold a legal visa status.

Program dates: May 28, 2024 - August 2, 2024

Location: Students can choose their research location – local colleges, hospitals, schools, private research labs. Students work with their coordinating center to identify and secure a research institution and research mentor.

Stipend: $2,500 - $6,000. Housing is not provided, but the center will suggest some options for you to find a place to stay. 

The Houston Methodist’s Summer High School Research Internship offers high-achieving high school students an opportunity to engage with medical research and healthcare. It takes place at the Houston Methodist, a leading medical center in Houston, Texas. This paid research-focused internship program is for students with strong academic backgrounds interested in developing a scientific research project. As an intern, you will work alongside undergraduate students and learn about translational research as they work on an independent project. 

Through practical lab experience and guided mentorship, you will develop your own project within a specific area of research. You will then have the chance to present your findings at a symposium, to Houston Methodist's leading scientists, students, and staff. The program includes a strong career and professional development curriculum, where you’ll also learn the skill of scientific writing.

Tip: We’ve covered this program in detail here.

Application deadline: February 15, 2024

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors, who are at least 16 years old, with a GPA of 3.0 or above are eligible.

Program dates: The start dates are determined by the student’s coordinating center and research mentor; however, high school students must begin the program no later than the first week of June. All students are expected to have a minimum of eight weeks of research experience, and can have a maximum of 10 weeks.

Location: Students can choose their research location – local colleges, hospitals, schools, private research labs. Students work with their coordinating center to identify and secure a research institution and research mentor.

Stipend: $2,500

If you’re passionate about conducting research in biomedicine and related subjects, this program is for you. This is a federally funded program that provides students from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to engage in hands-on research. At STEP-UP, you will be paired with experienced mentors and work on research projects at a renowned institution of your choice. You will gain practical laboratory skills, learn about cutting-edge research techniques in fields such as biology, genetics, neuroscience, and more. In addition to research experience, you will receive mentorship, which you can access for up to 9 months after you have completed your research.

Application deadline: February 29, 2024

Eligibility: Highly motivated students in high school who will be at least 16 years old before the internship begins can apply.

Program dates: May 20, 2024 - July 29, 2024. If these dates do not work for you, the institute recommends you note your available dates in your application (You are required to give 8-weeks, with 40 hours per week). 

Location: Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA. The institute provides a few resources to help students find housing.

Stipend: A stipend will be provided, but there is no information on the exact amount. Travel, and housing expenses will be covered.

The competitive 10-week internship brings together 40 talented and motivated students (high school, undergraduate, graduate and professional) from across the country for an immersive, college-level research experience. During it, you will learn about current topics in translational science, precision medicine, focusing on digital health, clinical genomics, and community engagement. You will also study design and analysis procedures relevant for translational research, including genomic/genetic association studies. You will observe the steps of proposing, designing, undertaking and analyzing clinical trials. At the end of the program, you will present a scientific concept to your peers and mentors. Based on your interests, you will be assigned a primary mentor for the program who will guide and advise you. 

Application deadline: Applications typically close at the end of December (tentative, based on previous years).

Eligibility: Students aged 16-19 by June 1, 2024 can apply.

Program dates: June 17, 2024 - August 2, 2024

Location: The internship is conducted at most KP locations across the country. Find the one closest to you.

Stipend: $15.50 - $18 per hour.

For those interested in the healthcare industry, this seven-week paid internship opportunity offers practical experience and insight into it. Through this program, you will have the chance to work alongside healthcare professionals and learn about various medical disciplines, such as nursing, pharmacy, laboratory sciences, and more. You will be engaged with hands-on activities, shadowing experiences, and educational workshops that enhance your understanding of healthcare practices. The program also includes weekly workshops designed to give you valuable personal and professional skills development. You will have the chance to connect with your supervisors and mentors, network with peers and leaders in the field. The program serves as solid preparation for you to explore your career interest in the medical field. 

Application deadline: Applications typically close by January-end.

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors, who are at least 16 years old by the start of the program, are eligible.

Program dates: Typically, mid-June to the first week of August. 

Location: This is a multi-institutional program, and will take place in a number of locations around the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign area.

Stipend: $3,000

ResearcHStart is a multi-institutional program, conducted in partnership by the University of Chicago in partnership with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and Rush University. It’s an opportunity for students to explore cancer research and potential careers in the field. During the program you will work full-time in the laboratories of established cancer researchers, gaining hands-on experience in areas at the forefront of the field: cancer immunology, bioengineering, experimental cancer therapeutics, cancer disparities and more.

You will receive rigorous training, and be part of career development and skill-building workshops and a lecture series. The program is a chance to network with faculty and peer mentors. At the end of the program, you will participate in a research symposium attended by your peers, family and members of the scientific community. Note, that this program is highly competitive, with only 30 students being accepted every year.

Application deadline: Applications are typically due mid-February. 

Eligibility: Eligible students must 

  • Be high school juniors or seniors, who have at least one completed year in math and biology

  • Be 16 or older by June 1, 2024

  • Be from backgrounds considered under-represented in the sciences (individuals from racial/ethnic groups typically underrepresented in the sciences, individuals with disabilities, first-generation college students, individuals who reside with families who are low income or otherwise considered disadvantaged. 

Program dates: Typically 9 weeks, from early June to early August.

Location: University of California, San Francisco, CA.

Stipend: Summer stipends range from $3000–$4300, varying by student status and granting agency.

Integrated with the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, this summer program offers students one-on-one mentorship with health care providers and researchers, along with access to unique workshops, seminars, training, simulations, and networking opportunities. The goal of the program is to stimulate an interest in health sciences for underrepresented students, while helping them build their professional skills for a STEM career. 

During the program, you will conduct clinical or basic science research under your mentor’s guidance. At the end of the program, you will present your independent research findings to the scientific community, many of which continue on as future grants, publications, and advances in healthcare. 

Here’s a few bonus programs that are free, held in the summer, and are conducted in fields of medicine:  

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research in medicine, 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: SIMR logo


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