Do the mysteries of the human mind compel you? Curious to understand the inner workings of the brain? When you close your eyes, do you dream of neurons firing and gray matter plasticity? If any of this sounds like you, it sounds like you might be interested in learning more about the wonderful world of neuroscience! I’m not saying that taking these courses will make you a master of understanding human behavior. (But if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, this would be a good place to start.) So without further ado, here are 10 neuroscience high school programs to make the best of your summer!
Application deadline: March 1, 2023
Eligibility: Students from Baltimore City and from Greater Baltimore Metropolitan area schools
Program dates: June 26, 2023 – August 14, 2023
Location: John Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Neurology. A virtual track is available too
Stipend: $15/hour and travel costs will be compensated
This internship was started with the aim of introducing students from underrepresented backgrounds to the field of neurological sciences. As an intern, you will be matched with a scientist for a specific project as well as participate in clinical rotations with Johns Hopkins neurologists. The program also includes seminars and weekly sessions on professional development. With only 5-6 students per cohort and a rigorous admission process. (The deadline for 2023 has passed but this information can guide you for the 2024 program as well.)
Application deadline: February 25, 2023
Eligibility: Juniors or seniors who are graduating in 2023 or 2024 and are at least 16 years old
Program dates: June 12, 2023 – August 3, 2023
Location: Stanford Medicine
Stipend: In-between $500 - $1,500, depending on other applicable supporting grants
Another research program, the SIMR offers the chance to work with Stanford faculty on a medically-oriented project. You will have lectures thrice a week in the mornings and spend the rest of your time working in the lab. Neurobiology is one of the research areas for which you can put down your preference during the application process. If you’re looking for a shorter stint you can opt for the Clinical Neuroscience Immersion Experience (CNI-X) at Stanford University. However, this is a paid program. (The deadline for 2023 has passed but this information can guide you for the 2024 program as well.)
Application deadline: The 2023 application has passed
Eligibility: 16-year-old students who are entering their junior or senior year in Fall 2023 in a Palm Beach or Martin County school
Program dates: June 12, 2023 – July 21, 2023
Location: MPFI, Jupiter, Florida
Run by the non-profit research organization Max Planck Society, the MPFI provides an immersive lab experience by the end of which you will have written a scientific abstract and delivered a presentation of your research project. The program’s neuroscience track will give you hands-on experience through “wet lab” techniques such as genetic engineering, microbiology preparations, histological staining, and microscopy.
Application deadline: April 17, 2023 but priority is given to application received before April 3, 2023
Eligibility: Open to students between the ages of 16 and 18. Must graduate in 2023, 2024, or 2025 for the secondary school program
Program dates: June 17, 2023 - August 5, 2023 for the secondary school program
Location: Harvard University (residential, commuting, or virtual)
Fee: Anywhere between $3,600–$13,750 depending on course selection; Need-based scholarships awards are available
Psychology and neuroscience is one of the domains of research covered in Harvard’s Secondary School program, where you can choose up to 8 credits of coursework. Some of the interdisciplinary courses offered are Becoming a Brain Scientist: Neuroscience and Psychology Research, Neuroinvesting: Neuroscience and Financial Decision Making, and Law and Psychology. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Harvard also offers these free online courses that provide introductory courses to neuroscience.
5. Lumiere Research Scholar Program - Neuroscience Track
Application deadline: four cohorts throughout the year, applications due in February, May, September, and December, apply here.
Eligibility: All high school students may apply.
Program dates: There are four cohorts throughout the year in spring, summer, fall, and winter
Lumiere has been founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Hundreds of ambitious high school students do research in neuroscience 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 fully virtual and vary in durations based on the student’s end goal with respect to how much of a deep dive they would prefer.
Application deadline: May 20, 2023
Eligibility: All students can apply but preference is given to those from underrepresented backgrounds and those who haven’t had such opportunities before
Program dates: Beginning of July – Beginning of August
Organized by the non-profit Science Mentorship Institute, the NMP will allow students to work on an individual research project in the field of neuroscience that culminates in a presentation and write-up. The program's highlight is its focus on open-source research, meaning you will learn to do in-depth research with free and available resources like software, papers, volunteer mentors and more. Apart from a weekly lecture, the five-week program also includes a weekly journal club where you will choose a research paper and present it.
Application deadline: April 21, 2023
Eligibility: Greater Houston area students can apply for the in-person camp while anyone can apply for the virtual one
Program dates: August 5, 2023 – August 6, 2023 for the in-person program and July 8, 2023 OR July 9, 2023 for the online version
Location: In-person and virtual tracks available
Rice University’s free two-day camp (one-day for the online version) in neuroscience is a great way to get an all-round introduction to the subject. It is a three-fold program that aims to teach research skills through lab experiments, mentor through sessions on university life and career options, and educate through high-level topics like computational neuroscience and philosophy of mind. No prior knowledge of the subject is required!
8. University of Minnesota’s High-School Neuroscience Summer Program for Underrepresented Minorities
Application deadline: March 1, 2023
Eligibility: Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors from underrepresented groups attending Twin Cities schools
Program dates: July 11, 2023 – July 15, 2023
Location: University of Minnesota
Fee: $400 and a transportation pass
Also known as Go4Brains, this week-long program includes short 30-minute lectures, career skills sessions, hands-on experiments, and visits to research laboratories. Most helpful is a mentoring program which will match you with a member of the faculty to guide you through the program and even beyond it. Enrolling only 10 students per cohort makes it a very selective program. On the bright side, you might get to hold a real human brain!
Application deadline: Applications closed for 2023 (Usually, the deadline is May 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis). If you are a student from the Philadelphia School District, you may still submit an application for this program.
Eligibility: Freshmen, sophomores and juniors who have completed a year of high school biology and chemistry and have a minimum GPA of 3.3
Program dates: July 9, 2023 – July 29, 2023
Location: University of Penn, residential
Fee: $9,700; Students attending a City of Philadelphia public high school or charter high school are eligible for limited scholarships
Through a combination of lectures, journal club, lab experience and visits to museums/research institutes, this residential program will give you a strong foundation in neuroscience. Topics will range from the cellular structure of the neuron to cognitive functions such as memory, emotion, and morality. You will also take part in the neuroethics club where you will debate current ethical dilemmas in the field.
Application deadline: April 17, 2023
Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors who have a background in biology, chemistry or research
Program dates: July 10, 2023 – July 21, 2023.
Location: Queen Lane Campus, Drexel University
Like most of the programs on this list, Drexel University’s Neuroscience Camp features a combination of lectures, hands-on lab experience, field trips, and project work. Apart from the basics of neuroscience, you will also learn concepts of molecular neurobiology, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. You will also attend live brain activity recordings. Keep in mind that this is a competitive program and the application requires two letters of recommendation.
Application deadline: Brain Camp 2023 is sold out but you can join the waitlist
Eligibility: Open to students from grades 6 to 12
Program dates: July 24, 2023 - August 4, 2023
Location: University of California, Irvine
Fee: $2,150; Need based scholarships available
Organized by UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, this camp is at an introductory level fit for middle and high schoolers. The program includes lectures on topics like neuropathology and brain-machine interface, lab work using electrophysiology and optogenetics, workshops on experimental design and data analysis, and even dissections. Of course, this is only a small glimpse of the subjects covered in the course of two weeks.
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: Stock image