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11 Best STEM Internships for High School Students

If you are aiming for a STEM major, then you should think of ways to build your skill sets and showcase qualities associated with interest, initiative, and leadership.


Admissions officers are looking for multiple, well-presented components in a student’s application for a field as popular and enriching as STEM - past research that you’ve pursued as a student, passion projects, internships, as well as a strong letter of motivation.


If you’re looking for STEM internships as a high school student, here’s a solid list of 10 of the best ones that you can apply to. Most of these internships are fully funded by the company/organization (that means 0 fees for you), and provide a stipend!


We’ve covered a variety of STEM areas, such as life sciences, medicine, aerospace engineering, as well as sustainability.


We have curated a larger list of internships, but this one is specifically curated with the most competitive and prestigious internships in STEM areas.


To shortlist the best programs, we've compared the acceptance rates and cohort sizes of each of these internships. Acceptance rates are a pretty good indicator of selectivity (and hence, prestige).


There are two ways in which we’ve calculated and mentioned these acceptance rates -

  1. Information from the organization’s official website, newsletters, and company reports, as well as mentions by alumni and new interns on their personal blogs.

  2. Estimated acceptance rate based on the number of interns in each cohort.

For example, if the cohort size is 10-12 students, and the average number of applications is about 600-800 from across the country, we can estimate the acceptance rate to be about 2- 4%.


However, if you are looking to build specific skill-sets or would like to earn a particular stipend, then don’t limit yourself only to the acceptance rates and factor the other things in.

10 Best STEM Internships


Acceptance Rate - <5%, with 5-6 students making it to the final cohort for a project.


This opportunity is for budding Computer Science majors in college, and provides opportunities and resources that you can go on to apply both during and after your degree. SparkSIP allows applicants to select 5-6 projects that they’d like to work on, and then assign sponsors to selected students.


The Spark SIP 2023 project list included topics like -

  • Detection tool for tick-borne infections or breast cancer

  • DNA Sequence Classification based on Electrical Signatures

  • 2D Materials - A new class of conductors and semiconductors for future

  • Preparing Python script for crossbar architecture and exploring its various non-idealities.)

  • Understanding spike-timing and spike-rate impact on Spiking Neural Network (SNN)

  • Quantum - Technical Writing and Problem Solving

The program not only allows you to work on real-world applications of concepts in machine learning, computer programming, computer vision, and neural networks but also lets you interact and learn from scholars and leaders. This program provides a $500 stipend upon successful completion.


Cost: Fully-funded, stipend provided

Location: Greater Seattle Area

Application deadline: May 1, 2023 (based on past year's dates)

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: High school students who can work for 40 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks


Acceptance Rate: Approximately 8-10%.

The program website does not mention acceptance stats but notes that they accept about 42 students each year (based on their 2020 report).


This long-running program, which began in 1996, invites applications from San Francisco students from underrepresented communities in the field of STEM to learn about science and sustainability. A few sessions in past cohorts covered topics such as Python for scientific programming, astronomy, science communication, biomimicry, environmental justice, and California conservation.


Alongside this, you also receive mentorship, build professional skills, and more – all while being compensated for your efforts. Throughout the program, the interns' cohort is also encouraged to participate in seminars and conferences, as well as interact with faculty, mentors, and talented students such as yourself.


We reached out to the CiS team regarding the subject tracks they offer, and here’s the answer we received- students are allocated to roles and departments in a museum setting based on their interests and the opportunities they have available in the museum at the time.


Cost: Fully-funded, stipend provided

Location: California Academy of Sciences

Application Deadline: April 3, 2023

Program Dates: Multi-year, year-round participation

Eligibility: All high schoolers residing in San Francisco can apply


Acceptance rate - <10%, with about 20 students being selected for each cohort.

The goal of HiSTEP is to expand the pipeline of students interested in biomedical and healthcare careers by expanding opportunities for high school students. The program is open to current high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. HiSTEP students will explore the breadth of the scientific enterprise, the importance of biomedical research, and many STEM-M careers. Sessions and activities at the HiSTEP program have included the following -

  • Basic science skills, including hands-on science experiments

  • Current topics in the health sciences, case studies, group projects, and an examination of recent topics in human health.

  • STEM-M careers assistance, learning about the roles played by scientists, health care workers, and public health experts.

  • Career readiness and leadership development:

  • College and career advising, interns are provided with resources to help them understand the college application process, find scholarships and mentors, and transition successfully to college.

Cost: Fully-funded, stipend provided

Location: National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, MD

Application deadline: February 01 (tentative)

Program dates: June 12 to August 4 (tentative)

Eligibility: High school seniors are eligible to apply


Acceptance rate - 3%, with about 50 students making it to the final cohort.


SIMR is one of the most prestigious summer programs for STEM enthusiasts in high school. SIMR provides extensive research opportunities across various medical disciplines for all its participants from immunology and neurobiology to cancer biology - they have it all covered.


Once selected, you will be assigned a particular field of study (branch) based on your preference, and spend two months as a mentee. You will be mentored by eminent scholars, researchers, and Ph.D. fellows in the field of medicine.


Each branch has a slightly different internship structure to help you get the best exposure to that branch, so be sure to read through the internship structures carefully.


This program will keep you challenged and give you an immersive learning experience into the nuances of research work such as ethics, methodology, collection and analysis of scientific data, etc. The program provides a $500 stipend.


Note: Stanford also offers some great STEM programs for high school students, including residential, immersion, and workshop-based programs. You can check out the complete list here.


Cost: Fully-funded, stipend provided

Location: MIT Campus

Application deadline: December 16 2023 (tentative)

Program dates: June 13 - August 4 2023 (tentative)

Eligibility: Open to juniors and seniors residing in the US with a permanent American residency


Acceptance rate - <5%, with only 10-15 students forming the final cohort.


SRMP offers the best of Harvard and MIT mentorship and research opportunities and is open to all high-schoolers with a passion for research to conduct independent research programs under the guidance of Harvard and MIT scholars, in the fields of astrophysics and climate science.


The program offers all the resources you may need to carry out sound research, such as a laptop. You are split into 5-6 research groups, and expected to attend weekly discussion sessions, meetings, and guest lectures. At the end of your program, you will present a cumulation of your research efforts at the annual Harvard symposium.


Cost: Free; Stipend paid by City of Cambridge

Location: Harvard or MIT

Application deadline: May 2023 (tentative)

Program dates: September - May 2023 (tentative)

Eligibility: Local high-school sophomores, juniors, and seniors (both international and US citizens).

Acceptance Rate - 4-8%, with a cohort of about 20 students each year.


The Fred Hutch Summer High School Internship is an 8-week-long, full-time internship for rising high school senior students. The program is specifically designed for students from underrepresented communities, who are interested in the field of biomedical science. Along with receiving hands-on training on laboratory safety techniques and skills in the Fred Hutch Training Labs, you will also participate in research education seminars, attend professional development workshops, and receive mentorship from Fred Hutch research groups.


Fred Hutch also conducts other opportunities for high school students, more details of which you can find here.


Note: You are required to arrange for your own transportation and accommodation for the duration of the program.

Cost: None, stipend provided

Location: Fred Hutch Cancer Center, Seattle

Application Deadline: March 31, 2023

Program Dates: June 26 - August 18, 2023

Eligibility: Rising 12th graders can apply

Acceptance Rate - 3-4%, with 6-7 students making it to each cohort.


A highly prestigious, highly competitive competition for high school students, the SEES is hosted by UT Austin in collaboration with NASA. This is a national-level internship program, where you can work beside NASA subject matter experts.


The program is focused on Earth and space research and relies on interns to assist with analyzing and visualizing data - key aspects of moving a project faster and foundational knowledge for aerospace engineering. All project teams will present their research during the Virtual SEES Science Symposium.


There is a virtual, learning component to the program and then an onsite experience on campus at the University of Texas, Austin. You are also expected to present your research at the program's concluding symposium.


Note: Here are a few things the SEES team looks for in an intern - your academic records, a written application that includes answers to essay questions, an introduction video, a letter of recommendation form, a transcript, and a demonstration of interest in STEM.

Cost: Fully-funded

Eligibility: High school juniors who hold U.S. citizenship can apply

Location: Hybrid (On-site experience at the University of Austin, Texas campus)

Application Deadline: February 20, 2023

Program Dates: May 1 - July 26, 2023


Acceptance Rate - 8-10%, with the last cohort having 23 students.


If you are specifically interested in an internship in radar systems, then MIT’s LLRISE program will be suited for you. Throughout July, you will be taught how to build small radar systems, such as a Doppler and range radar. Highly talented scientists and engineers will be working alongside the attendees and assisting them. The workshop will be held at two locations: the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA and Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA.

Cost: Fully-funded

Locations: Held at both the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA and Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA.

Application Deadline: March 10, 2023

Program Dates: July 9 - July 22, 2023

Eligibility: Open to rising seniors passionate about STEM who hold a US citizenship.


Acceptance Rate - 8-10%, with past cohorts selecting about 63 students from across the country.


If you're an upper-level high school student interested in aerospace engineering, the ARFL program is an enriching opportunity for your pre-college summer.


Once selected, you will have the opportunity to receive guidance from full-time AFRL scientists and engineers while touring AFRL laboratories and working on cutting-edge research and technology. You can expect to work on areas such as aerospace / mechanical design for morphing aircraft technology, complex electromagnetic structures, and metalens design and modeling (to name a few).


These opportunities are also open to undergraduate and graduate-level students so be sure to filter for specific opportunities open to high school students. A few research areas open to high schoolers are Clean-up of PFAS contamination, Data Structures for Advanced Satellite Navigation Signals, and Experimental Navigation Satellite Signals Simulation and Testing, to name a few.


Cost: Fully-funded, stipend provided

Location: Kirtland/AMOS, Eglin/Hurlbert air force bases, more locations subject to their acceptance criteria of high school students.

Application Deadline: This may vary based on the AFRL sites and/or projects to which you are applying.

Program Dates: Varies from project to project, but you can expect it to be during the summer months for 9 weeks.

Eligibility: High schoolers with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, who are US citizens and have a valid driver's license. You must also be eligible to work 40 hours a week for summer internship positions.

Acceptance Rate - 4-6%, with 15 students making it to the final cohort of each of the 10 NASA centers.


NASA Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) offers paid internships at locations all around America. High school students located near NASA facilities can check which research facilities have open positions and have hands-on experience in subjects related to aerospace engineering. You can check out a complete list of positions here - you may have to use the “Filter” option to see opportunities only open to high school students. If you’re a budding engineer or astrophysicist, interning with NASA is the most prestigious experience you can showcase in your college application!

Cost: None

Location: Varies

Application Deadline: Varies from internship to internship

Program Dates: Varies from internship to internship, but should be in one of these three cohorts -

Fall - from late August/early September to mid-December (16 weeks)

Spring - from mid-January to early May (16 weeks)

Summer - from late May/early June to August (10 weeks)

Eligibility:

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen

  • Meet a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement.

Acceptance Rate - 25%, with each company accepting about 2-3 students for each cohort. The upcoming summer cohort has about 100 students.


Ladder Internship is a selective program for high school students to work with start-ups.


Ladder Startups work in fields including technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism, and more. You can explore all the options here on their application form.


As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project 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 students through the internship and helping them navigate the startup environment. 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!

As we mentioned at the start of the blog, to truly nail your college application, you need to engage in various projects, such as the internships above, and if interested, independent research projects. You can read through a complete list of 24 summer research programs here.


Bonus - Lumiere Research Scholar Program


If you are looking to start your own research journey with 1-1 mentorship from a top PhD scholar, check out the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. 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: Harvard-MIT's Science Research Mentoring Program logo



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