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11 Physics Internships for High School Students

As a high school student keen on exploring future endeavors in the field of physics, you can open doors to many opportunities via internships. Internship experiences go beyond textbooks, letting you dive into the practical side of physics.

In this article, we've gathered a list of 11 great physics internships for high school students that you can consider. These programs allow you to apply what you learn in the classroom to real-world experiments. You'll work with experienced scientists and faculty, conducting experiments and exploring the universe's mysteries. Whether you're fascinated by quantum mechanics or curious about space, these internships offer a chance to turn your passion into hands-on learning.

If you are interested in research opportunities and competitions in physics, you can check the hyperlinked blogs out!

Eligibility: Students who are at least 16 years old, and are graduating seniors in high school when the internship begins, may apply. Students must obtain their own transportation to and from the Laboratory. Housing is not provided. Those applying must be US citizens or have permanent resident status.

Application Deadline: March 15

Dates: 8-10 weeks in the summer (Monday-Friday) after graduation. The exact dates of the internship depend on the intern’s school schedule. Some internship options that run during school semesters are also offered.

Location: Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, PA

Stipend: Some stipend is offered. Information on the exact amount is not provided.

Selectivity: Moderate.

If you’d like to work in a plasma physics lab under the guidance of professionals, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory offers internships during semester and summer periods for high school seniors – the summer after you graduate and before college begins. Internships in the fall or spring can count for academic credit.

These internships are a chance for you to work on a project with a member of the laboratory’s research or engineering staff, at one of the most prestigious and renowned institutions in the country. You will engage in a range of activities, from experimental work to computational simulations, gaining practical skills and insights into scientific research. Through this program, you will have the chance to delve into various aspects of plasma physics, fusion energy, and related fields, broadening your understanding of these complex subjects. The program encourages the scientist in you to ask questions and do the work to find your answers, preparing you for your future pursuits.

Eligibility: Students who are high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors at the time of application are eligible. Juniors with experience programming computers or working with mechanical or electrical systems are encouraged to apply. Students applying must be enrolled in an Illinois high school, and be US citizens or have a permanent resident status.

Application Deadline: January 15, 2024

Dates: June 17, 2024 - August 2, 2024

Location: Fermilab, Batavia, IL. Transportation, housing or meals will not be provided. Fermilab can help you with discounted rates for local hotels near the internship site.

Stipend: $16.20 per hour

Selectivity: Selective.

This 7-week summer internship program is for students interested in contributing to Fermilab research. Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) operates under the U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science and is one of the country’s top labs for particle physics research. The program’s area of interest lies in particle physics and accelerator research. As an intern, you’ll work alongside scientists who conduct Fermilab research.

During the internship, you will work on projects involving particle physics, particle accelerators, and detectors, computing and quantum science in order to analyze data to advance understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe. Your main role will involve collecting data through entrance and exit surveys, working on the team’s research abstract and giving oral presentations throughout the course of the program.

Interns are encouraged to express preferences for areas of research in which they have a particular interest, although research projects vary yearly, based on the availability of projects ongoing at the lab. Projects will be a subset of the research areas which constitute the mission of Fermilab, and are described on the lab webpage.

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors, who will be at least 15 years old when the program begins, with a minimum GPA of 2.8 may apply. Students applying must be US citizens and have permanent residency in the Washington-Baltimore Metro area.

Application Deadline: June 9, 2023

Dates: October - May (Academic Year session) | Last week of June - mid-August (Summer session)

Location: In-person (90% or more at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory campus, Laurel, MD) | Hybrid (50% at APL campus, 50% remote) | Virtual (100% remote)

Stipend: This is an unpaid opportunity.

Selectivity: Competitive, but does not prioritize applicants with the highest GPA, the most STEM experience, or the strongest resume. The program looks for students who are enthusiastic, engaged, curious, and well-rounded with strong critical thinking and communication skills, and it often looks for students with some programming knowledge as well.

The ASPIRE program is an unpaid, holistic learning experience. The program offers two options – the intensive summer session and the longer academic year session.

During the program, ASPIRE interns are paired with APL staff mentors to complete projects, solve problems, and learn and apply crucial technical and interpersonal skills in a hands-on, professional environment. While you can’t select your mentor or the project you want to work on, you will be asked to choose your area of interest while applying. If you’re on the lookout for a physics-focused internship, you may select ‘Applied Physics’ from the available areas of interest.

This program aims to provide students the chance to explore a subject in depth before committing to an area of study in college. As an intern, you must be able to work independently, communicate with APL staff members and mentors, persist when faced with challenges, and continually think outside the box.

The program specifies that its primary goal is not to test and evaluate students, but to offer a supportive environment to learn more about STEM skills and careers.

Eligibility: High school students who have completed at least grade 9, are at least 16 years old when the internship begins, can apply. Graduating seniors are eligible as well. There is room for some exceptions. Students are recommended to check whether their preferred lab choice has any other particular requirements.

Application deadline: Applications open in August and close on November 1st every year.

Dates: Eight weeks in the summer. Exact dates are not provided at the moment.

Location: While there are several lab locations to choose from, students in DC may select the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) or the United States Naval Observatory (USNO), both located in Washington, DC.

Stipend: $4,000 (new participant) | $4,500 (returning participant)

Selectivity: Competitive.

This program is an opportunity to work alongside leading researchers and engineers at Navy laboratories and facilities across the country, on real Naval research. During the program, you will receive mentoring from expert scientists and engineers. While working on projects hands-on, you will gain valuable knowledge and skills in various STEM disciplines. Based on where you’re located, you will have several Navy labs to choose from, and you can make a selection based on your area of interest as well (search by subject). Nearly every lab option, however, does engage in research in the field of physics!

SEAP is a fairly competitive program, with only 300 placements a year – and several students go on to pursue careers at the DoN.

Eligibility: Internships are available for full-time high school students who meet a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement.

Application deadline: January (Fall session) | August (Spring session) | October (Summer session)

Dates: These internships are offered in 3 sessions – Fall (16-week program, from late August or early September to mid-December) | Spring (16-week program, from mid-January to early May) | Summer (10-week program, from late May or early June to August).

Location: These internships are offered across NASA facilities. Students may select roles based in the NASA center closest to them.

Stipend: Interns may receive a stipend based on academic level and session length.

Selectivity: Selective.

These NASA internships are a unique opportunity for high school students to contribute to projects ongoing at the agency under the guidance of a NASA mentor. The program provides training, mentoring, and career development opportunities alongside the chance to work with the best science, engineering, financial, information technology and business minds in the world.

The internships are offered in a range of subjects and disciplines, including space science, engineering, aeronautics, technology. Students located near NASA facilities can check which research facilities have open positions and have hands-on experience in subjects related to physics, such as engineering and information sciences. During this internship, you may be involved in designing experiments, analyzing data from space missions, or developing new technologies – engaging in real-world experiences, gaining valuable experience and insight into NASA's work.

Students interested in engineering or astrophysics can consider this program as it’s an excellent value-add for college applications, owing to the reputation and prestige of this program and NASA.

Note: All internships part of this program are posted here. Details will vary from role to role, and will be available to view on each separate posting. Be sure to check internships eligible for your grade when applying.

Eligibility: Interns for in-person, remote or hybrid internships in computer labs must be 15 years or older by June 20, 2023. Interns for "wet-lab" in-person or hybrid internships must be 16 or older by June 20, 2023.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in the beginning of February.

Dates: 8 weeks in the summer, tentatively mid-June to mid-August.

Location: In-person (George Mason University, Fairfax, VA), remote and hybrid options are offered. Housing is not provided for minors.

Stipend: This is an unpaid opportunity. There is a $25 application fee which can be waived.

Selectivity: Moderate.

This program offers a strong research experience for students keen on pursuing STEM. During the internship, you will work one-on-one with faculty researchers at the university and its affiliated institutions, and learn to use cutting-edge technology in various disciplines. Scientific areas of focus include spatial sciences, mathematical modeling, physics, renewable energy, micro-/nano-manufacturing, robotics, and more.

As an intern, you will gain hands-on expertise, refine your scientific writing and communication skills, and explore STEM career options through discussions and meetings with role models. You will also have the opportunity to publish your work in scientific journals and present at conferences.

Take a look at some of the 2019-2022 ASSIP abstracts in the Mason Journal of Student Scientists Research.

Eligibility: High school students aged 16 or above, with a GPA of 3.0 or above, can apply.

Application deadline: No information is available.

Dates: Based on the school schedule, each student’s internship manager will decide with them the duration and schedule of their internship.

Location: Livermore, CA

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend commensurate to the work they put in.

Sandia is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). Internships at these laboratories provide an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a cutting-edge research environment. As an intern, you will work alongside experienced scientists and engineers on projects that contribute to technological advancements. Through this program, you have the chance to explore various STEM disciplines, including engineering, computer science, physics, and more, under the guidance of your manager who will help define your work assignment, schedule, and the duration of your internship. You will participate in real-world research and development activities, collaborate with professionals, and gain insights into the scientific process.

Sandia conducts research in a wide range of subject areas, and the work you do during your internship will contribute to the institution’s larger mission. Some of the subjects Sandia does research in are – Physical Science, High Energy Physics, Radiation, Fusion Energy and Plasma Physics.

Eligibility: At the time of application, students must be a sophomore or junior. Students applying must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, be enrolled in an Illinois high school, and be eligible to work in the US.

Application Deadline: January 15, 2024

Dates: June 17, 2024 - July 26, 2024

Location: Fermilab, Batavia, IL.

Transportation, housing or meals will not be provided.

Stipend: $16.20 per hour

Selectivity: Competitive.

This program is a highly competitive six-week summer internship opportunity for students in Illinois who are keen to explore, and show a strong aptitude for physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. The program is designed to combine both work and experiential learning. Annually, the TARGET Program cohort is approximately 15-25 interns.

During the program, interns will work with scientists and engineers at Fermilab, on some cutting-edge research that is being conducted at one of the country’s top particle physics laboratories. Fermilab uses a range of techniques, asks different questions and uses different tools – all aimed at the same scientific goal: a complete understanding of the laws of nature and the cosmos. Your work will be conducted at state-of-the-art lab facilities, covering subjects such as particle physics and quantum science.

If you have further questions, explore the program FAQs.

Eligibility: Students who are juniors or seniors in high school during the application period, with a minimum GPA of 3.0, can apply. Those applying must be US citizens.

Application Deadline: Applications typically open in December and close by mid-February.

Dates: Typically from the third week of June to the second week of August.

Location: National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories, Gaithersburg, MD. Students need to arrange for their own transportation and housing.

Stipend: This is an unpaid opportunity.

Selectivity: Fairly competitive.

At this 8-week internship program you will learn from top scientists at NIST and work on your own research project. A fairly competitive program, SHIP gives you a chance to participate in cutting-edge research in the country and work with NISY staff scientists and engineers on a research problem.

NIST research is divided into six organizational laboratories that conduct research in a range of physical and engineering sciences. The labs respond to industry needs for measurement methods, tools, data, and technology. These 6 laboratories participate in the SHIP program. Here are some examples of subjects you could conduct your internship research in – semiconductor and organic electronics, advanced nanomaterials (such as structural steels and complex fluids), alternate fuels, lightweight alloys for manufacturing, polymers and plastics, atomic, molecular, and optical physics, radioactivity in environmental sensing, industrial radiation dosimetry, quantum optics, astrophysics, nanotechnology. Take a look at previous SHIP students’ research projects for more information.

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12 for the current school year are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: usually early April. Students are advised to check the website for updates in March.

Dates: Varies (generally 8-12 weeks between June and August)

Location: Seattle, Washington

Stipend: A maximum stipend of $500 is offered.

Selectivity: Moderate.

Spark is an organization that connects students to internship opportunities in different disciplines, many of them STEM-focused, with industry experts, educators, and mentors from various organizations in Seattle, Washington. The exact internship requirements vary depending on the partner organization, but there is one common application and you can apply online for up to five projects. SIP offers a selection of internships, and the subjects covered vary year on year.

Spark SIP is an opportunity for students to learn from and connect with prominent industry professionals, while undertaking research in real-world settings through the internship program. The program requires a student to be able to work full-time (30-40 hours per work) for 8-12 weeks throughout the summer to be eligible to participate.

Here's a bonus program!

Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas. The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 

You can explore all the industry options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 

Interns are offered one-on-one training in communication, time management and other such valuable skills and will also have the opportunity to attend group training sessions with other interns in their cohort. The virtual internship is usually 8 weeks long.

Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!

If you are interested in doing university-level research in physics, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 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 Ph.D. 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: PPPL logo



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