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11 Free Online Research Programs for High School Students

Research programs are a great way for you to dive into a topic you’re interested in. These programs offer a unique and enriching experience that can significantly boost your college applications by showcasing your dedication to a particular subject. Admission committees highly value candidates who demonstrate a genuine commitment to their chosen field.


However, it's important to recognize that research programs are not a one-size-fits-all experience. For students who prefer hands-on, practical projects and learn better by building, creating, or experimenting, these programs may not be the best match due to their online format. Research programs typically involve a great deal of deep reading, data analysis, and critical thinking and you should ensure that this aligns with your learning styles. To help pick the right fit for you, we have detailed 10 free online research programs designed specifically for high school students. 


Application Deadline: There are 4 cohorts (You can apply here!)

  • Fall 2023: August 27th, 2023

  • Winter 2023: November 26th, 2023

  • Spring 2024: January 14th, 2024

  • Summer 2024

  • Early Admission: February 18, 2024

  • Priority Admission: March 17, 2024

  • Regular Admission 1: April 14, 2024

  • Regular Admission 2: May 12, 2024

Program Dates: 12 weeks starting from when you and your mentor start the project 

Eligibility:

  • You must be currently enrolled in high school or plan to enroll as a freshman in college in the fall of 2024.

  • 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!


Note: While there is no cut-off for income, past scholars have typically come from households earning less than $50,000 annually (for a typical household of 4) with minimum assets.


The Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation is a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Born out of the Lumiere Research Scholar Program (one of the largest 1-on-1 research initiatives for high school students), the foundation offers the same independent research opportunities at no cost. The Lumiere Breakthrough Scholar Program is the equivalent of the Individual Research Scholar Program at Lumiere Education. In this flagship program, talented high school students will be paired with top Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project. At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll learn about the cutting edge of your field and develop an independent research paper. You can choose topics from subjects such as psychology, physics, economics, data science, computer science, engineering, chemistry, international relations, and more.


Application Deadline: Applications typically close in January.

Program dates: June 17, 2024 - August 9, 2024

Eligibility: Students who will be in grades 11-12 at the time of application, OR full-time community college students (within the first 3 years of community college), are eligible to apply.


The SHTEM: Summer Internships for High Schoolers at Stanford University is a solid, prestigious opportunity for you to virtually explore research projects during the summer. This program is designed to provide early exposure to research that goes beyond what is typically taught in school. You will be grouped into multifaceted projects that align with your interests and strengths, while simultaneously introducing you to new and unexplored areas. These projects are diverse and integrative, covering a broad spectrum of fields including the science of information and communication, engineering, arts, linguistics, psychology, biology, neuroscience, computer science, technology, philosophy, and design, among others. Mentoring is a key component of the program, with guidance provided by Stanford Compression Forum’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as its affiliated organizations.


The goals of the SHTEM program is to provide high school and community college students with early exposure to cutting-edge research in an academic setting, and help them develop essential research, analysis and writing skills. The program places a strong emphasis on the inseparability of humanities and the human element from STEM research. By integrating these aspects, the SHTEM program fosters a holistic approach to learning and research, encouraging you to explore the interconnectedness of different fields.


Application Deadline: Applications are open all year-round, you can apply here.

Program Dates: Flexible. Students may request lengthening an internship by a week or two because of conflicting time pressure from school.

Eligibility: Sophomores, juniors and seniors who have taken at least one honors science or honors English class, with a minimum GPA of 3.25, can apply.

Note: Students can expect a competitive selection process as this program is open to college students as well!


This internship program is perfect for students interested in renewable energy and the energy storage industry. Offered in both half-time and quarter-time formats, these internships cater to different availability and commitment levels. Half-time internships, ideal for a more immersive experience, are available during the summer and run from 2 to 8 weeks, requiring about 20 hours of work per week. On the other hand, quarter-time internships are offered throughout the year, ranging from 1 to 9 months, with a commitment of approximately 8 hours per week.


During the internship, you will engage in various activities focused on renewable energy and energy storage. You will conduct research on emerging technologies, analyze market trends, or contribute to articles and reports that EnergyMag publishes. The final outcome often involves a substantial research project or a series of smaller projects. 


Application Deadline: March 1, every year.

Program Dates: 8 weeks, June 2024 - August 2024 (in-person); 5 weeks, July 2024 - August 2024 (virtual)

Eligibility:

  • Juniors and seniors from around the country are eligible to apply to the 5-week, virtual program.

  • Juniors and seniors residing in Baltimore City and the metro area, who have a strong passion and interest in science and medicine, are from underrepresented groups, and have an academically strong background are eligible for the in-person program.

Note: This program offers both virtual and in-person options. The in-person program will be held at the Johns Hopkins Department of Neurology on the East Baltimore campus.

The program also offers a stipend: In-person participants receive an hourly stipend (amount varies), while virtual interns receive a stipend of $500.


This 5-week virtual research program is for bright high school students from underrepresented communities. The program aims to make the field of neurological sciences more inclusive and representative. During the program, students will participate in research under the guidance and mentorship of leading researchers in the field and will take part in hands-on projects, discussions, scientific seminars, weekly personal and professional development sessions, and interactions with leading neuroscientists at JHU. At the end of the program, you will present your research via an oral or poster presentation. Get an idea of past projects here!


Application deadline: Varies from internship to internship. Spring programs typically have an August deadline, summer internships have an October deadline, and fall internships come with a January deadline.

Program 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).

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

Note: These internships are offered across NASA facilities, along with several virtual options.


The NASA Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) provides an opportunity for high school students to participate in ongoing research at the agency through this internship program. You will have the chance to contribute to current projects at NASA, working under the guidance of experienced NASA mentors. Internships are offered in a range of subjects and disciplines, including space science, engineering, aeronautics, technology, space microbiology, ecology, and even outreach and communications. 


This program allows students to work with the best science, engineering, financial, information technology and business minds in the world. 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. These internships also include a component on personal and professional development.


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.


Application Deadline: Rolling, see the application portal for open opportunities

Program dates: Year-Round

Eligibility: High school student, specific details vary based on the internship

Note: These internships are offered both in-person (Washington, D.C.) and remotely. 


Internships at APA are intended for students passionate about applying psychological knowledge for societal benefit, with roles in policy, communications, operations research, IT and financial services. As an intern, you will have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the needs of the office you’re assigned to and your particular interests and skills. You may participate in research, writing and web-based projects, and assist staff with administrative tasks and special projects. Interns will have an opportunity to engage in different activities in their office, applying theoretical knowledge to practice and foster a better understanding of a workplace environment in professional psychology. Interns will report directly to their supervisor for daily tasks and support for overall learning objectives. Interns may also attend workshops, discussions, participate in group projects, or other various tasks.


Application Deadline: February 1, 2024

Program dates: Six months from June to December 

Eligibility: High school juniors; underrepresented, underserved, and first generation students are especially encouraged to apply.


The MITES Semester Program offers high school students a unique six-month, hybrid learning STEM and college preparation experience that will equip you with the foundational knowledge you need to know for future research experiences. This national program, running from June through December, combines engaging, rigorous online courses with weekly virtual webinars, including social events, workshops, and meetings, to build students' skills and confidence necessary for success


You will tackle two courses in science and engineering disciplines, ranging from Machine Learning to Thermodynamics and Astrophysics, and engage in one project-based course alongside a supplemental core course in areas such as Calculus, Physics, Computer Science, or Science Writing and Communication. This curriculum will prepare you for your future research pursuits and the college application process through admissions counseling and networking opportunities with STEM professionals. With live, online classes held in the evenings, this program will also allow you to balance it with other commitments. The fall schedule primarily focuses on college application support through tailored weekly webinars


Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Program Dates: Internships with ME are offered year-round.

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible.


Medicine Encompassed is best for students interested in exploring the medical field through active participation in various committees focused on researching and developing medical education resources. In this program, you primarily take on the roles of researchers, writers, and resource creators across 18 diverse committees. 


You will be tasked with creating educational content and resources that contribute to an inclusive medical curriculum. This may involve researching medical topics, writing informative articles or guides, and developing educational materials that can be used by others to learn about various medical fields. Additionally, you can contribute to the ‘Project Cultivation’ outreach initiative, which aims to increase awareness and accessibility of medical education. The final outcome of the program typically includes a comprehensive set of educational materials that students have contributed to or created. 


Application Deadline: November 30

Program Dates: Year long program

Eligibility: Everyone is eligible


CrowdMath is a joint program between MIT PRIMES and the Art of Problem Solving. It is a massive online collaborative year-long research project open to all high school and college students around the world. At Crowdmath, you are invited to participate in a free, year-long program that is an extraordinary opportunity for high school students to engage in advanced research. In this program, you will work on individual and group research projects, as well as participate in reading groups. The program encompasses mathematical concepts like number theory, linear algebra, etc,


Every year, PRIMES offers a crowdmath project where high school students from around the world can collaborate with undergrads to conduct independent research projects. For 2024, the project is on Generalizations of the Notion of Primes. 2023’s project was on Arithmetic of Power Monoids and 2022’s program was on Factorizations in Additive Structures. These projects are a great way for students to get a sense of what college level research looks like and is especially valuable for those who want to pursue computational research in the future.


Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Rolling deadlines, it is recommended that you apply as soon as possible.

Program Dates: Usually 3 months from June to August. If the intern is keen, the internship can be extended!

Eligibility: All high school students can apply.


The Building-U High School Internship is oriented around its mission to research and compile a comprehensive database of opportunities including internships, scholarships, contests, and educational programs specifically tailored for high school students. The organization is looking for interns to assist in the administrative/business aspect of the organization. 


Once selected as an intern, you join one of their teams – these include R&D roles, student ambassador roles, Business Development roles, and others that you can read about here. These teams might concentrate on areas like digital marketing, content writing, web development, or data analytics. This structure not only allows interns to employ research skills in areas that align with their interests and skills but also promotes teamwork, leadership, and project management skills. 


Need blind financial aid

Application Deadline: January 8, 2024

Program dates: Three weeks (late June to mid-July)

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores (summer between freshman and sophomore year)


At Stanford AI4ALL, you'll have the opportunity to be a part of a pioneering program that focuses on increasing diversity in artificial intelligence (AI). This three-week live virtual program is designed to immerse you in the world of AI through a unique blend of lectures, hands-on research projects, and mentoring activities. You will learn about how AI can be applied to critical areas like medicine, disaster response, and combating poverty. 


During your time at Stanford AI4ALL, you'll benefit from a learning approach that allows you to explore how AI tools can be used to better the world. You'll find yourself in a supportive community of peers, connecting and learning with students from diverse backgrounds, all sharing a passion for AI. This is a chance to not just learn about AI but to engage with it actively, guided by mentorship from outstanding professionals and researchers in the field. The program emphasizes the practical application of AI, encouraging you to think about how this technology can be used to solve problems that you care about. 



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in building a university-level research project this summer, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 


Image Source: Lumiere logo

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