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10 Summer Research Programs for High School Students in California

If you’re a high school student interested in research, you should consider pursuing a summer research program in your chosen field.  Participating in a summer research program will allow you to improve your skills, gain practical experience, work with state-of-the-art technologies and facilities, and learn about the research process from seasoned experts.


Many universities and organizations in California offer fully-funded summer research programs, some of which also offer stipends, allowing you to save up during the summer! Not to mention, such programs are usually highly selective and renowned, so getting into one of them can add considerable prestige to your portfolio and applications.


To get you started, we have curated a list of 10 summer research programs for high school students in California including both virtual and in-person options


Subject Areas: Multidisciplinary

Location: Remote — you can participate in this program from anywhere in the world!

Eligibility:

  • You must be currently enrolled in high school

  • Students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement. (Note. students have an unweighted GPA of 3.3 out of 4)

  • No previous knowledge of your field of interest is required!

Application Deadline: Varying deadlines based on cohort. The main summer deadlines are March 15, April 15, and May 15. The final deadline for the upcoming summer cohort is June 2, 2024.

Dates: The summer cohort runs from June to August, the Fall cohort from September to December, the Winter cohort from December to February, and the Spring cohort from March to June. Applications for the summer cohort are now open! (The program options range from 12 weeks to 1 year).

Cost: Full financial aid is available!


The Lumiere Research Scholar Program is a rigorous research program tailored for high school students. The program offers extensive 1-on-1 research opportunities for high school students, across a broad range of subject areas that you can explore as a high schooler. 


The program pairs high-school students with Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project. At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll have developed an independent research paper! You can choose research topics from subjects such as psychology, physics, economics, data science, computer science, engineering, chemistry, international relations, and more. You can find more details about the application here!


Subject Areas: AI, ML, Computer Science

Location: Virtual

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application deadline: The applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The upcoming deadline for the summer cohort is June 23, 2024.

Dates: Varies according to the cohort. 

Cost

  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

(Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here).


Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 


The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their independent AI research projects. Students work on their research projects over 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the fields of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! This program is moderately selective and requires interested candidates to fill out an application form answering a few questions about their background and coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. You can find examples of previous projects here.


Subject Areas: Medicine, biotechnology, diseases, and genomics.Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors aged at least 16 with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Dates: June 10 - August 1, 2024 (8 weeks)

Cost/Stipend: No cost to attend, although there is an application fee. All students receive a minimum stipend of $500 for the program. Students from underrepresented groups will receive a minimum of $1,500. Housing and meals are not provided.


The SIMR is a prestigious and competitive summer research program that allows around 50 high school students to work on a medically-oriented research project with Stanford faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers. You will learn how to undertake the scientific research process under the support of a one-on-one mentor at a cutting-edge lab within the Institutes of Medicine.


Applicants can choose from eight research institutes—stem cell and regenerative medicine, bioengineering, immunology, neurobiology, genetics and genomics, bioinformatics, cardiovascular biology, and cancer biology. Programming includes safety training, lectures, lab work, and a final poster session where you will deliver a presentation.


Subject Areas: Biomedical and biological sciences, healthcare, and regenerative medicine.

Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Eligibility: High school and community college students who are at least 16 years old

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in November.

Dates: June 17 - August 2, 2024

Cost/Stipend: No cost to attend, but students may need to pay for their housing, meals, and transport. This is an unpaid program.


The Stanford Science Technology and Reconstructive Surgery (STaRS) Internship Program is a summer research program for students interested in healthcare. If selected, you will work under the direct supervision of accomplished scientists and clinicians on a research project that you and your mentor will design. Note that this is an extremely selective program, with only around 20 students making the cut each year.


Throughout this research program, you will primarily work in one of Stanford’s cutting-edge laboratories using their advanced technologies and resources, for which you will initially receive safety training. One day of the week (usually Wednesday) will be devoted to out-of-lab learning experiences.


Subject Areas: STEM, with a focus on the scientific process 

Location: San Diego, CA

Eligibility: All high school students who reside in San Diego or can acquire housing there are eligible to participate.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: June 17 - August 9, 2024                    

Cost: Program with research project: $1,500 | Program without research project: Free.

(Financial assistance is available for participating in the program with the research project. In addition, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch will be exempt from the program fee).


The UCSD Research Experience for High School Students (REHS) offers an opportunity to contribute to an ongoing research project over an eight-week volunteer period. The program is designed to immerse you in the scientific process, encompassing everything from hypothesis formulation and testing to conducting computational experiments and making conclusions. You will take part in regular laboratory meetings and group discussions, becoming an integral member of the research community.


To date, REHS has hosted 680 students from 73 different high schools, with a remarkable 70% of these alumni pursuing college majors in computer science and engineering. Furthermore, 65% of REHS alumni have progressed to attend colleges and universities ranked among the top 20 worldwide. The program includes software training, scholarly readings, and discussions with your mentor and their graduate student team, requiring a commitment of 15-20 hours per week. This internship provides a rare opportunity for direct mentorship and insight into advanced scientific research.


Subject Areas: Translational science research, medicine, and healthcare

Location: Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA

Eligibility: High school students who are at least 16 years old

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: June 3 - August 9, 2024 | June 17 - August 23, 2024

Cost/Stipend: No cost to attend, but students may need to pay for their housing, meals, and transport. Funding is yet to be determined.


SRTI’s Student Research Internship Program aims to make students adept in translational medical research. This competitive program accepts only 40 students comprising not only high school students but also undergraduates, graduates, and professionals. If selected, you will be assigned a mentor who will guide you during your program and offer advice regarding your career.


You will work in a dry or wet lab wherein you will learn about translational science and mobile technologies in healthcare, understand study design and analysis procedures, present scientific concepts, and observe the steps involved in clinical trials. The program further requires regular seminar attendance, developing a research project, and presenting the project at a meeting as well as a final poster symposium.


Subject Areas: Computational biology

Location: UC Irvine, Irvine, CA

Eligibility: High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: June 17 - July 25, 2024

Cost/Stipend: No cost to attend, but students may need to pay for their housing, meals, and transport. Information about the stipend is not available.


Hosted by the NSF-Simons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research at UC Irvine, the Math ExpLR Summer Research Program divides selected students into small groups and allows them to work on a research project in computational biology under the direct mentorship of qualified professors and researchers. The program includes Matlab programming, mathematical modeling, delivering research presentations, and writing a research paper.

You will also get to attend courses, meetings, trips, and other activities during this program. Note that project descriptions for 2024 will be updated soon on this page, using which you can get an idea of what to expect for the 2025 program. You can take a look at 2023’s offerings here.


Subject Areas: STEM fields

Location: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA

Eligibility: San Diego County high school students who are at least 16 years old, have a minimum 2.75 GPA, and have completed at least one year of high school biology and chemistry

Application Deadline: Applications are closed for 2024 and will reopen in late 2024/early 2025 for the 2025 program.

Dates: June 17 - August 9, 2024

Cost/Stipend: No cost to attend, although students will need to arrange their housing, meals, and transportation. Stipends are provided, but the amount is not specified. Transportation options and public transit stipends are available for students who cannot secure transportation.


The Salk Institute’s Heithoff Brody High School Summer Scholars Program is a chance for high school students to receive one-on-one mentorship from a Salk scientist to tackle, execute, and complete a research project.


You will attend seminars to learn about data analysis, wet lab techniques, bioinformatics, and science communication alongside workshops, seminars, and events to network with peers and members of the institute. The program will conclude with the Summer Scholars Research Symposium where you will present your final research project through a scientific poster or oral presentation.


Subject Areas: AI, machine learning, programming, robotics.

Location: UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley (San Francisco Bay Area), CA

Eligibility: Bay Area high school youth entering grades 10–12 can apply.

Application Deadline: The applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 8 - July 12, 2024

Cost: Free


In this free program, students entering grades 10–12 will explore cutting-edge AI technologies, concepts, and ethics as they learn about ongoing artificial intelligence research from Berkeley scientists and experts. You’ll get to work with UC Berkeley researchers across the areas of computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, planning, control, and robotics.


The entire program will take place on campus at BAIR Lab, where students participate in daily guest lectures and activities guided by BAIR Lab researchers, and select visits to research labs. Participants experience life on a college campus, including lunch provided daily at UC Berkeley dining halls and a campus tour. You can access the application here.


Subject Areas: Microbiology

Location: Joint BioEnergy Institute, Emeryville, CA

Eligibility: Economically disadvantaged high school sophomores and juniors studying and residing in Alameda, Contra Costa, or San Francisco County

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: June 10 - July 26, 2024

Cost/Stipend: No cost to attend, although students will need to arrange for their own transportation. Students will receive a stipend of $3,000.


JBEI’s iCLEM (Introductory College Level Experience in Microbiology) allows high school students to complete a hands-on research project in microbiology while being mentored by scientists and researchers at JBEI. As a research student, you will receive knowledge about the fundamental concepts in microbiology, biofuels, molecular biology, biochemistry, and synthetic biology.


You will further receive guidance in career exploration, professional development, and college application preparation. Visits to local biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are also included. You can check out the students’ past experiences and projects here.



Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard 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: UCSD seal

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