If you’re an international student looking to study abroad, it’s a good idea to get some U.S. based research experience under your belt! Not only will this added experience enhance your college applications, but it will also give you a glimpse into academic life in the States and help expand your network by connecting you with esteemed professors, talented professionals and like-minded individuals across the globe.
Even if further studies, (or the U.S.), may not be your final objective, these programs allow you to delve deeper into your field of interest and can help you gain a better understanding of your academic pursuits. The U.S. offers a variety of extensive, thorough, hands-on programs that equip students with highly valuable research and creative thinking skills.
While the idea of engaging in research in a foreign country may feel daunting, or even inaccessible to you at times, in reality there are a large selection of excellent programs that are excited to welcome international students! You may choose to pursue an in-person experience or can even select a virtual option from the comfort of your own home country.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve done some groundwork for you.
Here are 10 research opportunities in the US for international students
Subject: 24 fields (e.g., biology, economics, engineering, mathematics, etc.)
Location: Mix of virtual and in-person in Santa Barbara, California
Cost: $4,700 (commuter), $6,599 (residential)
Application deadline: March 15, 2023
Program dates: June 20 - August 4, 2023
Eligibility: Must currently be a high school student in the 10th or 11th grade (outstanding 9th graders accepted on a case-by-case basis)
At UC Santa Barbara’s summer research program, each student is paired with a research mentor to conduct hands-on, university level research over the course of six rigorous weeks. They are presented with a variety of interdisciplinary research topics at the beginning, and asked to rank the ones they would most prefer to work on. In this way, the program pairs you with a mentor and topic most suited to your interests. The program offers projects ranging across 24 different areas, including the sciences, social sciences and humanities.
Students spend an average of 30-40 hours per week, working closely with their mentors on their research, and develop a thorough understanding of advanced methods of investigation, showcase their discoveries in technical papers and even present their research findings at a university symposium by the end of the program. Students can earn up to 8 university credits by enrolling in two courses as part of their program - one is an introduction to research and the other explores research presentation techniques.
Cost: Individual Research Program: $2600; Premium Research & Publication Program: $4800; Research Fellowship: $8400). There is also need-based financial aid for low-income students through their non-profit the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation
Application deadline: Program runs in cohorts throughout the year - applications for the Summer Cohort close on May 14, 2023
Program dates: Applications for the summer are between February and May.
Eligibility: No restrictions on age. There is an interview process and students will also be asked to self-report grades and test scores (if available).
If you are interested in a selective, structured research program, consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, an online high school program for students founded by Harvard and Oxford researchers. The program pairs you with a full-time researcher to develop your own independent research project, in any discipline of your choice.
Last year over 2100 students applied for 500 slots in the research program! You can find the application form here.
Lumiere offers three programs:
Individual Research Program (12 weeks)
Premium Research & Publication Program (16-20 weeks)
Research Fellowship (6-12 months)
Application deadline: March 16, 2023
Program dates: July 17-28, 2023
Eligibility: At the time of application, they are in the final two years of secondary school (in Canada this means Grade 11 or 12- or first-year CEGEP); At the time of ISSYP 2023, they will have completed Grade 11 physics (or international equivalent); They are fluent at speaking, reading, and writing in English. The entire program is conducted in English.
ISSYP is a two-week online program for international high school students who are deeply interested in physics and are keen to pursue it at a college-level. The program likes to say that they “super-charge potential Einsteins and Curies” over the two weeks with courses covering the fundamentals of modern physics; keynote sessions with Perimeter Institute researchers discussing their work and career guidance from ISSYP alumni and researchers during the course of the program. They also highly value building relationships amongst each cohort and the researchers and make an active effort to step away from the science to facilitate peer-to-peer interactions. The program is highly selective, and usually accepts 30-40 students each year. Please note that this online program will follow Waterloo’s time zone, and so it is recommended that you consider the time difference before applying for the program.
Subject: Multiple (Medicine & Biological Sciences, Engineering & Computer Science, Government & Law, Design, Art & Media)
Location: Multiple states depending on your field (New York, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC. amongst others)
Cost: $3000-$7000 (Depending on your field)
Program dates: June-August 2023 (Exact dates vary per program)
Eligibility: Students must currently be enrolled in 6th-12th grade.
NSLC brings together exceptional high school students for a series of summer sessions, where students learn about cutting-edge research in their field of interest in a fast-paced, rigorous and diverse atmosphere. They offer a wide variety of programs over the summer, including biotechnology, environmental science, forensic science, marine biology, medicine, business, engineering, cyber security, game design, aerospace, data science, journalism, architecture, theater and a lot more! In each field, students participate in research projects, receive hands-on training and participate in extensive, interactive workshops to dive deeper into their field of interest.
Subject: Bioengineering, Life Sciences, Marine Sciences, Medicine, Business
Location: Virtual or at UC San Diego
Cost: $2000- $3000, depending on the program you select
Application deadline: Depends on the program you select (earliest for Medicine: March 31, 2023)
Program dates: Spring, Summer and Winter cohorts
Eligibility: high school students (grade 9-12)
UC San Diego offers motivated high school students the opportunity to adopt the role of a researcher alongside their reputed faculty members. As a research scholar, you will work closely with the UCSD instructors to dive deeply into your preferred subject area and learn how to apply theoretical knowledge to real world applications. You will participate in cutting edge research projects and be exposed to a world of research utilizing innovative techniques, creative thinking, problem solving, and modern analytic tools. Courses are offered online and in-person.
6. Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) (University of Iowa)
Subject: Biomedical Engineering, Business Analytics, Geographical & Sustainability Sciences, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, Religious Studies
Location: Virtual program associated with The University of Iowa.
Application deadline: February 16, 2023
Program dates: June 19 - July 28, 2023
Eligibility: Grades 10-11
SSTP is an intensive research program that selects a limited number of high school students to join them for a series of workshops, events, courses and research over the summer. As part of the SSTP, you will be paired with a reputed faculty member who will serve as your mentor as you proceed to conduct research in your chosen field. The duration of the program is about 5 weeks, and while they do offer an in-person component, international students can only apply for the online program. They are particularly interested in highly advanced students in their sophomore and junior years of high school. In addition to the exhaustive research experience, students also earn 3 semester hours of undergraduate credit from the University of Iowa by completing the courses in this program.
Subject: Multiple (eg. Psychology+Neuroscience , AI & Machine Learning, Forensic Science, Engineering, Law, Business)
Cost: $7,350 (Additional fee of $75 for international students)
Program dates: June to August, 2023
Eligibility: Grades 10-12
EXPLO offers a variety of programs for high school students to immerse themselves in coursework, workshops and research in their favorite subjects. Students who would like to specialize in a particular field can dig deeper through EXPLO Career Concentrations and work closely with experts in the field on real-world projects. They offer a variety of concentrations to choose from, including AI & machine learning, psychology & neuroscience, engineering, law, business, crime scene investigation, biomedical engineering, entrepreneurship and more. You would work closely with a mentor under any of these concentrations, producing a portfolio of projects by the end of your summer.
If you’re a high school student who isn’t quite sure about their preferred track yet, EXPLO also offers you the opportunity to explore different areas with a three-week long multi-course program called EXPLO 360°. You would choose two courses and three electives from a selection of 50, and dive into these subject areas in addition to learning from the workshops, activities and clubs that make up an important part of your pre-college experience.
Cost: $1,490 for the AI Scholars program (A 10-week bootcamp). $4,200 for the AI Fellowship (the 12-15 week 1-1 mentorship). $4,700 for both. Need-based financial aid is available.
Application deadline: Program runs in cohorts throughout the year - applications this year will happen on March 1, May 1, September 1, and December 1 (as of writing) .
Program dates: Applications for the summer are between February and May.
Program selectivity: Moderate (AI Fellowship)
Eligibility: Applicants must be ambitious, high school and can be anywhere in the world. For the AI Scholars program, no previous experience is required - applicants need to show a keen interest in AI. For the AI Fellowship program, applicants will either need to complete the AI Scholars program or have had past experience with AI concepts or Python.
Veritas AI has a range of AI programs for ambitious high school students, starting from close-group, collaborative learning to customized project pathways with 1:1 mentorship. The programs have been designed and run by Harvard graduate students & alumni.
In the AI Fellowship, students create a novel AI project independently with the support of a mentor over 12-15 weeks. Examples of past projects can be found here.
Application deadline: Early April
Program dates: June or July
Eligibility: Current 10th grade (rising junior), 11th grade (rising senior) or 12th grade (graduating senior) high school students who have not yet applied to college.
Seattle Children’s Research Institute offers high school students the chance to work closely with PhD-level scientists over the course of one rigorous week. The program is free of cost, and exposes you to lab work and courses in biochemistry, immunology, infectious diseases and gene editing. You will also participate in various workshops and activities to help better prepare you for college and guide you to explore questions about your career.
Subject: Computer Science
Location: University of Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Application deadline: March 14, 2023
Program dates: June 18 - June 30, 2023
Eligibility: Motivated students between ages 16 and 17 who are interested in computer science
University of Berkeley offers motivated high school students the opportunity to sharpen their computer science skills and experience life at college over two jam-packed weeks. This Summer Academy welcomes anyone (between the ages of 16 and17) who is interested in computer science, even if they may not have prior coding experience. Based on one of UC Berkeley’s undergraduate courses, this program introduces you to powerful computer science concepts, collaborative programming, problem-solving and a series of interesting coding challenges. After an initial introduction to coding languages and computing fundamentals, you will develop your own programming project as part of the program. Mentors and Resident Assistants at UC Berkeley will also plan several activities and excursions to help you connect with your peers and make sure you make the most of your time at Berkeley - aiming to truly prepare you for college.
Jahaan Singh is a writer and actor currently based in Mumbai. She spent most of the last decade living in New York City, where she worked with The New York Times. She graduated with honors in Economics and Dramatic Literature from New York University (NYU).