Chemistry is one of the most popular STEM majors, and getting into a renowned institute for the subject boosts your shot at gaining research experience, mentorship, and networking opportunities. To make your application stand out, you must demonstrate interest, as well as experience, to stand a chance at an acceptance from your dream school. You can do this by participating in chemistry competitions such as USNCO, picking up a related passion project, and participating and learning in chemistry programs.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 great summer chemistry programs for high school students - check it out!
RSI is a highly competitive (and prestigious) program that covers an array of STEM subjects - and chemistry is no exception! It has an acceptance rate of less than 5% so you’ll definitely find yourself among the brightest of peers and mentors!
This is a research-based summer program which invites independent research in chemistry while engaging in college-level chemistry courses.
Here’s a chemistry project that previous RSI participants worked on - The Monoreduction of Diketones and its Application towards the Total Synthesis of Kalmanol (2006) by Kenneth I. Brewer. You can view more such projects here.
To make the most of this program, you are expected to keep yourself aware of the latest literature in the field of chemistry, design a research plan from scratch, and work on oral and written presentations of your findings, all under the guidance of the brightest scholars in the world.
Note: All RSI participants can reasonably expect an acceptance from MIT for their undergraduate program
Cost: Free of cost, stipend provided
Location: MIT Campus
Application deadline: January 15, 2023, for US citizens, and March 15 for International Students
Program dates: June 26 to August 6, 2023 (tentative)
Eligibility: All high school juniors can apply
2. Lumiere Research Scholar Program, Chemistry Track
Lumiere was founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Hundreds of ambitious high school students do chemistry research through the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs. Each student is paired with a top PhD and works with their mentor 1-1 to produce a university-level research paper.
The programs are entirely virtual and vary in duration based on the student’s end goal with respect to how much of a deep dive they would prefer. The research opportunities range from
Organic & Inorganic Chemistry, to Chemical Kinetics & Dynamics.
Also, check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.
Applications open throughout the year for the four cohorts - they are due in February, May, September, and December, you can apply here!
Program start dates:
There are four cohorts that run throughout the year, namely the spring, summer, winter, and fall cohorts.
Eligibility: High school students
Another great program that is free of cost is Illinois Tech University’s 8-week annual Summer Scholar Program. If you have already displayed a strong grasp of chemistry and want to work in a research lab, then the Department of Chemistry (which hosts this program) had solid research options for you program is for high-achieving high school students who display a passion for chemistry and have the aptitude to work in a research lab.
Research areas in the program include bioanalytical chemistry, computational chemistry and biochemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, and medicinal chemistry related to energy and sustainability science, materials science, sensor science and technology, computational science, data science, bioanalysis, and health with real-world applications.
We hope you love working in a lab because you can expect to work for 30 hours a week for 8-10 weeks in the summer.
Location: Mies Campus, Chicago, IL
Cost: Free of cost
Application deadline: March 30, 2023
Program dates: May 15 - July 10, 2023 (tentative)
Eligibility: Rising 10th-12th graders who have taken at least one chemistry course in high school.
A 7-week full-day summer program, ARISE is offered by NYU, and combines college-level workshops and lab research in chemical engineering, in addition to other subjects. If you choose to participate in the program, you will be expected to engage in college-level research, expository writing, scientific methods, professional development, and ethics. Alongside these skills and exposure to academic research, you also receive presentation and public speaking training. And as part of the program’s conclusion, you and your peers present your research findings to NYU faculty and graduate students, ARISE, peers, other academic experts, family members, and friends at the ARISE’s concluding colloquium.
Location: Tandon and Washington Square campuses, NYC
Cost: Free of cost, a stipend of $750
Application deadline: March 1, 2023
Program dates: June 28 – August 11, 2023
Eligibility: High school juniors and sophomores residing in NYC can apply
Penn University hosts the Chemistry Research Academy annually, an on-campus summer program. CRA is aimed at providing students with foundational knowledge that is necessary for cutting-edge research in the field of chemistry, right before their college careers. You can expect to do the following activities and work on a capstone project. If you’re worried about not knowing where to start, you will be mentored and guided by top scholars in your field at Penn. The Academy curriculum also includes lectures, lab experience, presentations, trips and tours, and group discussions. As for the cherry on the top, you can also choose to work on a capstone project - this is particularly useful if you plan on pursuing research/academia right after college. The capstone project provides you with guidance through a process to choose and plan your own independent research project using Penn’s online resources. You will leave with a plan you can use for entering a science fair such as ISEF or STS, or for meeting your high school’s independent research requirements.
This program is perfect for any student looking to create a strong foundation in chemistry and scientific research!
You are expected to put in about 6 hours of work each day, from Monday to Friday. As for specific timings and other details, you can find the complete schedule on the official website.
Location: Penn University Campus
Cost: $9,700 + $150 application fee. Additionally, you are eligible for a full scholarship if you attend a School District of Philadelphia public or charter high school as part of the Penn Summer Scholarship.
Application deadline: March 31 for international students, and May 1 for domestic students.
Program dates: July 9 – July 29, 2023
Eligibility: High school students who have completed at least one year of high school chemistry before applying to the program.
Looking for an internship cum learning program in chemistry? UC Berkeley's SYIP program, hosted by its College of Chemistry, is for talented high schoolers passionate about a career in chemistry. One reason why this program made it to our list is because apart from basic chemistry, you are also encouraged to pursue research in related fields such as chemistry, biochemical chemistry, material science, etc. This immersion gives you the right kind of exposure, especially if you’re confused about which stream(s) to pursue after picking Chemistry as your undergrad major. The program accepts about 30 students and offers an extensive 4-week internship program that includes data analysis, non- hazardous laboratory procedures and attending seminars and group meetings. Once selected, you will be paired with a mentor, who shall take you through concept development, methods design, decision-making, scientific processes, and the inner workings of world-renowned laboratories.
Before the 4-week on-site internship, there is a 9-month remote coaching program that preps you for the projects you will take up under the guidance of your assigned mentor, as well as provide an introduction to advanced chemical concepts.
Note: You can find past presentations by previous SYIP participants here.
Location: UC Berkeley Campus
Cost: $14,750 + $75 application fees
Application deadline: TBA for the 2024 cohort
9-Month Remote Coaching
October 2022 through June 2023
4-week On-Site Internship
July 9 to August 5, 2023
Eligibility: Rising high school students who stand in the top 10% of their class, and who have already taken general or AP chemistry are eligible to apply.
Columbia University's Pre College program in Chemistry, or the Intensive Seminars in Modern Chemistry enhances your understanding of chemistry and current research methods, all while you're in high school. The summer program is open to all high-achieving high schoolers and follows a seminar format. You are expected to attend daily presentations, group discussions, and lab experiences. You are also guided through various advanced instrumental methods such as spectroscopy, chromatography, magnetic resonance, and computer simulations.
Guest lectures and field trips are also part of the experience, and to successfully complete the program, you are expected to submit a small research project, prepare a scientific paper, and participate regularly in class discussions.
Location: Columbia University Campus
Application deadline: March 3, 2023
Program dates: June 26–July 14, 2023
Eligibility: All high school students can apply, although at least one year of high school chemistry experience and two years of high school algebra experience is preferred.
This summer program selects 25 students to work on research, individually with a UCSD faculty researcher across various subjects and research topics. Students receive access to laboratories on campus and are encouraged to carry out research in the field of their choice. Apart from working on your scientific thinking and research skills, the Research Scholars Program also lets you build strong connections with peers, mentors, and other faculty. You can pick from the following program tracks - Design Thinking Lab, Bioengineering, Life Sciences, Marine Science, etc.
Apart from research-based programs, you can also opt for an internship-based program for each of the subjects UC San Diego offers as part of this program. You can check out subject-specific information here.
Cost: Varies from program to program
Application deadline: Varies from program to program
Program dates: This program runs in the summer, you can check out subject-wise dates here.
Eligibility: High school students are eligible to apply
This long-running program, which began in 1996, allows San Francisco students from underrepresented populations in STEM professions to learn about science and sustainability while also receiving mentorship, building professional skills, and more – all while being compensated for their efforts. Throughout the program, you are also encouraged to participate in seminars and conferences, as well as interact with faculty, mentors, and talented students such as yourself.
As for specific subject tracks such as chemistry, we reached out to the CiS team, and here’s the answer we received - students are allocated to roles and departments in a museum setting based on their interests and opportunities they have available in the museum at the time.
Location: California Academy of Sciences
Cost: Fully funded, stipend provided
Application deadline: April 3, 2023
Program dates: multi-year, year-round participation
Eligibility: All high schoolers residing in San Francisco can apply
The Simons Summer Research Program allows high school students to undertake hands-on research in a variety of disciplines, including chemistry. You can join research teams, collaborate with faculty members, learn about laboratory equipment and methodologies, and get to fully experience life at a research university. As part of the program, you are expected to carry out your own research, using cutting-edge equipment provided by the university. To complete this apprenticeship, you are required to produce a written research abstract and a research poster. The program has an acceptance rate of about 8%, making it quite competitive as well as prestigious.
Note: The application requires you to submit 2 letters of recommendation, so make sure you have those handy before applying!
Location: Stony Brook University Campus
Cost: Fully funded, stipend provided
Application deadline: February 10, 2023
Program dates: June 26, 2023 - August 11, 2023
Eligibility: Junior-year students who hold US citizenship are eligible to apply
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.