Many students are looking for research opportunities and ways to volunteer with researchers, but often don’t know where to look for them. In this article, we outline 15 research volunteer opportunities for high school students. These opportunities are all free, and while some have an application process, others are always open to volunteers.
Here are 15 Research Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students in 2022:
1. Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) This program combines college-level workshops and lab research in subjects such as civil and urban engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, and robotics. It is open to high school sophomores and juniors. Students can get supervision from graduate or postdoctoral students at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering over the course of seven weeks. Students will also receive presentation and public speaking training from ARISE's partners at Irondale Ensemble Project, and will present their research findings to NYU faculty and graduate students, ARISE peers, other academic experts, family members, and friends at the program's concluding colloquium. A stipend of at least $750 is provided to each participant.
2. Anson L. Clark Scholars Program The Clark Scholars Program is a 6 week long comprehensive research program, giving students the opportunity to conduct research in practically every field, from accounting to dance to philosophy and everything in between. One-on-one research with academics, as well as weekly seminars, discussions, and field visits, are all part of the curriculum. With just 12 students selected each year, the Clark Scholars Program is very competitive. Applicants must be 17+ by the program start date. The program offers a stipend of $750. The application for this year closes on February 16th.
3. University of Illinois High School STEM Research Program This program is for rising high school juniors and seniors. Students are offered research experience in areas of various STEM fields, such as cancer immunology, pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents, physics, biophysics, bioengineering, and electrical engineering. Those accepted into the program are matched with another student and a teacher from the field of their choice. The program is 6 weeks long, with a required time commitment of 30-35 hours per week.
4. Research in Materials Science Program (RIMS) RIMS, which is hosted by the City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), allows students to conduct research in ASRC facilities. They also attend professional development workshops during the 8-week program. Students earn a stipend for their participation, and admission is very competitive.
5. The Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program The Jackson Laboratory Student Summer Program is a 10 week genetics and genomics research program for undergraduates and high school students who are 18 years old and have finished grade 12 at the time of enrollment (current seniors can apply). Only around 40 students, or about 3% of those who apply, are accepted each year. Students spend the summer engaged in an independent research project under the guidance of a mentor, with the goal of presenting their findings at the conclusion of the program. The program offers a stipend of $6000.
6. National Institute of Health High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP) HS-SIP provides high school students with the opportunity to do full-time biomedical research at NIH facilities, working alongside world-renowned professionals. Applicants must be juniors or seniors at the time of application and 17 years old at the commencement of the program to be considered. HS-SIP is extremely competitive, with only around 15% of candidates being accepted. The program length is 8 weeks, and offers a stipend of $2080 per month.
7. United Nations On the United Nations' database, there are a plethora of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers who work from home are connected to government bodies, like the United Nations, and they help with a variety of civic advocacy efforts. Research, writing, translation, social media, and art and design are among the other volunteer activities available through the United Nations platform.
8. Rockefeller Summer Science Research Program (SSRP) This summer program takes place at the Rockefeller University and is a full-time in-person research program from June 27 - August 11. Students must be 16+ at time of application to be eligible and must be a current high school junior or senior. The program requires a letter of recommendation. Applications close early for this program (usually the fall of the summer before), so be sure to apply early!
9. Simons Summer Research Program Conducted from June 27th to July 29th this year, the Simons Summer Research Program gives high school students the opportunity to undertake hands-on research in a variety of disciplines, ranging from science and math to engineering. Students can join research teams, collaborate with faculty members, learn about laboratory equipment and methodologies, and get to fully experience life at a research university. Students must be 16+ to be eligible for application, and obtain 2 letters of recommendation. The program has an acceptance rate of about 8%. Students receive a stipend for their participation.
10. Spark Summer Internship Program (Spark SIP) A program for students interested in computer science and related fields, Spark SIP offers students the opportunity 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. The program offers a maximum stipend of $500.
11. Coriell Institute For Medical Research Summer Experience The Coriell Institute is a leader in stem cell research and genetic discoveries. Select students are invited to participate in the four-week Summer Experience, which allows them to work with world-renowned scientists and researchers. Students attend staff lectures, conduct independent research, learn data analysis, attend a resume-building session, and present their findings in a final presentation. The program gives participants the opportunity to work in Coriell's Cytogenomics and Stem Cell labs while also receiving a $1,000 stipend. Before beginning the program, students must be 17 years old.
12. Fred Hutch Summer High School Internship Program 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, students also participate in research education seminars, attend professional development workshops, and receive mentorship from Fred Hutch research groups. Applications for 2022 will open on February 1st. Students receive a stipend for their participation.
13. Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) Offered by Carnegie Mellon University, SAMS is for current sophomores and juniors from underrepresented backgrounds who want to earn college credit while "developing mastery of fundamental ideas in higher-level collegiate math and science." Classroom training, hands-on research projects, and professional and academic development courses are all part of SAMS. The program is 6 weeks long. Students engage in a rigorous curriculum taught by Carnegie Mellon University faculty.
14. Research Science Institute (RSI) RSI is generally considered the most selective research program for high school students in STEM. This program, hosted at MIT, accepts about 80 students each year. In the program, students work with a Boston-based researcher on an independent project. At the end of the program, students then present their research to the broader community in a conference style. In 2019, there were about 1600 applicants for 80 spots or around a 5% acceptance rate for the program.
15. BC Children’s Hospital The BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute offers high school students the opportunity to participate in research education events throughout the year. These events aim to inform students of exciting research discoveries and encourage careers in science and research. The research institute does not have a formal placement process for high school students but those interested can get involved in research by volunteering to work with investigators at BC Children's Hospital. Interested students can view the profiles of affiliated investigators and contact the research teams directly about available opportunities. Students must be at least 16 years of age to volunteer.
You can also reach out to professors using cold outreach. Cold emailing is an effective method to virtually reach out to research professors to convey your interest in working with them in their field, on a topic of your interest, in hopes of learning more about that field. A cold email for a research position must be formal, but also show genuine interest in the professor’s research. Emails that demonstrate clear research of their work, an interest in their prior publications, and an honest passion for their field of work are usually well received. Ensure that your email is concise, to the point, and describe how you were introduced to the professor’s research and express why you are interested in what they do. Consider A Research Program
If you are interested in a selective, structured research program, consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective 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. Last year over 1500 students applied to 500 slots in the research 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 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.