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10 Most Prestigious Internships for High School Students

Internships provide a platform for you to hone your skills and work on real-world projects in your chosen field. After all, there is no teacher-like experience and such opportunities can be incredibly valuable for high school students. From all the different options available, it’s most beneficial to look for internships with a high level of prestige associated with them.

 

Why should you look for prestigious internships?

Because securing a spot for yourself in these programs can set you apart. Their highly competitive nature becomes a testament to your skill and abilities. Secondly, a well-recognized internship can give you a leg up during college applications. Such titles on your resume automatically reflect your achievements. Moreover, such opportunities come with a high quality of mentorship, exposure to industry leaders, cutting-edge research and a network that can shape your future endeavors.

 

How did we choose the internships?

In order to determine which internships were the most prestigious, we looked at several criteria like acceptance rate and the reputation of the organizing body. Here are the main determinants:

  • Acceptance Rate: A low acceptance rate signals a highly competitive program. Your successful entry into these internships signifies your exceptional capabilities.

  • Stipend Offerings: Internships that are cost free and those that provide significant stipends are considered more prestigious than paid programs.

  • Eligibility Requirements: Prestigious internships boast rigorous requirements like a high GPA, multiple letters of recommendation, or video submissions. These stringent criteria contribute to the program’s exclusivity.

  • Program Duration: The most renowned programs feature single cohorts, accepting a few students at a time. This limited availability underscores their exclusivity and high demand.

 

Now that you know what makes these internships a valuable option, here are 10 prestigious internships for high school students:

 

Subject: Science and Engineering

Application deadline: January for US citizens and March for international students (tentative, based on previous years)

Eligibility: High school juniors (international students can apply as well). Recommended scores are as follows: 740 or higher for PSAT Math, 700 or higher for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score, 33 for ACT Math and 34 for verbal scores. Low scores must be supplemented with other signifiers of academic excellence.  

Program dates: 2 months between June and August (tentative, based on previous years)

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cost: Free


The Research Science Institute is one of the most highly regarded programs for high schoolers. It is organized by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) and is hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This internship is a research program where you will work on a research project from start to finish under the guidance of a mentor. After a week of intensive STEM classes, your will be given an assignment and then spend the next five weeks engaging in guided research and laboratory work. In the final week of the program, you will present your findings.


Its association with MIT as well as the high selectivity of the RSI makes it a highly prestigious program. With over 1,600 applications and a cohort size of 80-100 students, the RSI has an acceptance rate of about 5%. Not only will this program give you a completed independent project to put on your CV but it can also increase your chances of getting into an Ivy League university. For more information on the program, go through our ultimate guide to the RSI.


Subject: Biomedicine

Application deadline: March 13, 2024

Eligibility: Students who are at least 16 years of age and have completed high school courses in chemistry and biology

Program dates: June 3, 2024 – August 9, 2024

Location: City of Hope

Stipend: $4,000


Another research-based internship, this program offers you the opportunity to work on an independent project in the field of biomedicine. Known as the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy, the internship takes place at City of Hope, a cancer treatment and research center. For ten weeks, you will work as a member of a professional biomedical research team, engaging in lab work while also attending seminars and meetings. In 2022, the program accepted 82 students out of 2,100 applicants which is a 3.9% acceptance rate. The high level of competitiveness coupled with a significant stipend and the fact that City of Hope is a renowned research center, makes this a really prestigious program for high schoolers.


Subject: Earth and Space Science

Application deadline: February 24, 2024  

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors who are US citizens  

Program dates: May 1, 2024 – August 4, 2024

Location: Part online and part on-site at the University of Austin, Texas

Cost: Free, travel scholarships to Texas are available


The SEES program is designed to provide high school students with a unique and immersive experience in earth science and related STEM fields. The program is divided into a distance learning section where you will learn modules and an on-site period where you will directly work with NASA satellite data. At the end of the program, you will present your research at a virtual symposium. This data can include remote sensing data, mission design, analysis of ice sheets, Earth’s gravity field, and other such observations. Getting into this program is extremely difficult as it has a 3-4% acceptance rate and the application process requires an essay, a recommendation form, and an introduction video.


Subject: Astrophysics and Climate Science

Application deadline: Applications open in May  

Eligibility: High-school sophomores, juniors, and seniors (international students can apply as well)

Program dates: Begins in September and runs until the end of the following May

Location: Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

Stipend: Stipend provided (amount unspecified)


This opportunity is organized by a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Harvard College Observatory, and MIT — all incredibly renowned institutions. It’s a highly competitive program with a less than 5% acceptance rate and cohorts of not more than 10-15 students. The SRMP is a research internship where students work on an independent astrophysics project over a year, under the guidance of a Harvard or MIT scientist. You can go through previous cohorts’ projects here. As a participant, you will attend weekly meetings and monthly workshops, and present your research during a symposium at Harvard. You can expect to engage in a lot of hands-on research and work with professional astrophysicists and climate scientists!


Subject: Art and Culture

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

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors who live or attend school in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut

Program dates: June to mid-August (tentative, based on previous years)

Location: The Met

Stipend: $1,100


An internship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art typically offers students an immersive experience in the world of museums, art, and cultural institutions. You will be assigned to one of the museum’s departments (Curatorial, Design, Engineering, Imaging, MetLiveArts, Publications, and more). While spending 10-20 hours per week at the internship, you will assist your department with its work and also work on a specific internship project. There are also career labs that will help you explore different career paths. During the process, a member of the staff will be your mentor. The program is highly selective with a 3-4% acceptance rate but it’s a great opportunity to learn for students interested in art, design, architecture, and museum operations.


Subject: Leadership and Social Service

Application deadline: January 17, 2024  

Eligibility: Current 11th and 12th graders who are legally authorized to work in the USA

Program dates: Varies as per internship but it will take place during the summer

Location: The internship will take place at a local non-profit and will be followed by a one-week summit in Washington, D.C.

Stipend: Students receive a stipend


If you are interested in learning about government, public policy, and community well-being, then consider this national-level leadership program. It entails an 8-week compensated internship with a local non-profit organization. Following the internship, you will embark on a fully funded 1-week Summit in Washington, D.C. You can expect to learn about community needs, problem-solving, advocating for social impact, and leadership skills through hands-on, real-world experiences at the internship. The program accepts 300 students from across the country and is known to have an acceptance rate of 5-8%.


Subject: Neurological Science

Application deadline: March 1, 2024

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors with a strong academic record in STEM who live in Baltimore City. Students from underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to apply

Program dates: June to August

Location: John Hopkins University  

Stipend: Students will get an hourly wage and transportation funds, housing is not provided


The JHIBS is an immersive internship through which you can explore cutting-edge topics in brain science, ranging from neurobiology to cognitive neuroscience. While this is a research internship where you work on a guided project, the added benefit is that you will also participate in clinical rotations with Johns Hopkins neurologists. You will also attend scientific seminars and professional development sessions, and prepare a final presentation at the end of the program. This is a highly competitive internship that accepts only 5-6 students and has an acceptance rate of about 3-4%. It’s a prestigious and valuable opportunity for those pursuing careers in brain science or medicine. 


A similar program you can consider is the Fred Hutch Summer High School Internship Program.


Subject: Computer science and related fields

Application deadline: April 2024

Eligibility: High school students currently in grades 9-12

Program dates: Can range between 6-10 weeks from June to August

Location: Greater Seattle Area

Stipend: $500


Spark Summer Internship Program is a non-profit company that connects high school students with various internship opportunities where they will be connected with industry experts, educators and mentors. Every year the program offers several different internships from various providers. The 2023 edition included projects like DNA sequence classification based on machine learning and statistical learning methods, creating a detection tool for measuring the electric profile of cells, verifying solutions to quantum problems, and even social media content generation. This internship is a great way to connect with leaders from the industry and also get real-world experience. The acceptance rate for the Spark SIP is less than 5%, making it quite a competitive option.


Subject: Fisheries and Aquatic Science

Application deadline: January 16, 2024

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors who are at least 16 years of age and have residency in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Program dates: June to August

Location: Locality-based internship followed by the Hutton Scholars Summit at the University of Arkansas

Stipend: $3,000


Sponsored by the American Fisheries Society, this program pairs you with a local fisheries professional. You will receive mentoring while engaging in laboratory and field work through the eight-week internship — fish population surveys, electrofishing, water quality testing, data processing, and examining specimens under a microscope are a few possible activities. After the internship, you will also get an all-expense paid trip to the Hutton Scholars Summit, where you will hear from industry experts and have a chance to present your own work. While this is a niche field of research, the high selectivity (12% acceptance rate for 2023) and significant stipend amount make it a prestigious internship for high schoolers.


Subject: Biomedical engineering and healthcare

Application deadline: January 12, 2024

Eligibility: High school juniors who are US citizens/residents, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, attend a school where 30% or more of the student body participates in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program, and live in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia within 40 miles of the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Program dates: July 2, 2024 – August 1, 2024 (Every Tuesday to Thursday)

Location: NIH main campus, Bethesda, MD

Stipend: A stipend is provided based on interns’ education level


Through the HiSTEP, the National Institute of Health aims to increase the number of students pursuing careers in biomedicine and healthcare. As an intern, you will explore the field of biomedical research in the NIH Intramural Research Program. The curriculum includes lectures, research group visits, networking events, small group discussions, group projects, and sessions on college applications and career readiness. The acceptance rate is less than 10% for this program and the NIH itself is a respected institution, making the program quite prestigious. If you need more information on HiSTEP, go through this article



If you’re looking for the opportunity to work on an in-depth research project across various subject areas, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs 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: SPARK SIP


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