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25+ Research Ideas in Computer Science for High School Students

As a high school student, you may be wondering how to take your interest in computer science to the next level. One way to do so is by pursuing a research project. By conducting research in computer science, you can deepen your understanding of this field, gain valuable skills, and make a contribution to the broader community. With more colleges going test-optional, a great research project will also help you stand out in an authentic way!

Research experience can help you develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. These skills are valuable not only in computer science but also in many other fields. Moreover, research experience can be a valuable asset when applying to college or for scholarships, as it demonstrates your intellectual curiosity and commitment to learning.

Ambitious high school students who are selected for the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs work on a research area of their interest and receive 1-1 mentorship by top Ph.D. scholars. Below, we share some of the research ideas that have been proposed by our research mentors – we hope they inspire you!

Topic 1: Generative AI

Tools such as ChatGPT,, StableDiffusion and NeuralText have taken the world by storm. But this is just one major application of what AI is capable of accomplishing. These are deep learning-based models, a field of computer science that is inspired by the structure of the human brain and tries to build systems that can learn! AI is a vast field with substantial overlaps with machine learning, with multiple intersections with disciplines such as medicine, art, and other STEM subjects. You could pick any of the following topics (as an example) on which to base your research.

1. Research on how to use AI systems to create tools that augment human skills. For example, how to use AI to create detailed templates for websites, apps, and all sorts of technical and non-technical documentation

2. Research on how to create multi-modal systems. For example, use AI to create a chatbot that can allow users Q&A capabilities on the contents of a podcast series, a television show, and a very diverse range of content.

3. Research on how to use AI to create tools that can do automated checks for quality and ease of understanding for student essays and other natural language tasks. This can help students quickly improve their writing skills by improving the feedback mechanism.

4. Develop a computer vision system to monitor wildlife populations in a specific region.

5. Investigate the use of computer vision in detecting and diagnosing medical conditions from medical images.

6. Extracting fashion trends (or insert any other observable here) from public street scene data (i.e. Google Street View, dash cam datasets, etc.)

Ideas by a Lumiere Mentor from Cornell University.

Topic 2: Data Science

As a budding computer scientist, you must have studied the importance of sound, accurate data that can be used by computer systems for multiple uses. A good example of data science used in education is tools that help calculate your chances of admission to a particular college. By collecting a small amount of data from you, and by comparing it with a much larger database that has been refined and updated regularly, these tools effectively use data science to calculate acceptance rates for students in a matter of seconds.

Another area is Natural Language Processing, or NLP, for short, aims to understand and improve machines' ability to understand and interpret human language. Be it the auto-moderation of content on Reddit, or developing more helpful, intuitive chatbots, you can pick any research idea that you're interested in.

You could pick one of the following, or related questions to study, that come under the umbrella of data science.

7. Develop a predictive model to forecast traffic congestion in your city.

8. Analyze the relationship between social media usage and mental health outcomes in a specific demographic.

9. Investigate the use of data analytics in reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings.

10. Develop a chatbot that can answer questions about a specific topic or domain, such as healthcare or sports.

11. Learn the different machine learning and natural language processing methods to categorize text (e.g. Amazon reviews) as positive or negative.

12. Investigate the use of natural language processing techniques in sentiment analysis of social media data.

Ideas by a Lumiere Mentor from the University of California, Irvine.

Topic 3: Robotics

A perfect research area if you're interested in both engineering and computer science, robotics is a vast field with multiple real-world applications. Robotics as a research area is a lot more hands-on than the other topics covered in this blog, so it's a good idea to make a note of all the possible tools, guides, time, and space that you may need for the following ideas. You can also pitch some of these ideas to your school if equipped with a robotics lab so that you can conduct your research in the safety of your school, and also receive guidance from your teachers!

13. Design and build a robot that can perform a specific task, such as picking up and stacking blocks.

14. Investigate the use of robots in medicine, such as high-precision surgical robots.

15. Develop algorithms to enable a robot to navigate and interact with an unfamiliar environment.

Ideas by a Lumiere Mentor from University College London.

Topic 4: Ethics in computer science

With the rapid development of technology, ethics has become a significant area of study. Ethical principles and moral values in computer science can relate to the design, development, use, and impact of computer systems and technology. It involves analyzing the potential ethical implications of new technologies and considering how they may affect individuals, society, and the environment. Some of the key ethical issues in computer science include privacy, security, fairness, accountability, transparency, and responsibility. If this sounds interesting, you could consider the following topics:

16. Investigate fairness in machine learning. There is growing concern about the potential for machine learning algorithms to perpetuate and amplify biases in data. Research in this area could explore ways to ensure that machine learning models are fair and do not discriminate against certain groups of people.

17. Study the energy consumption and carbon footprint of machine learning can have significant environmental impacts. Research in this area could explore ways to make machine learning more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable.

18. Conduct Privacy Impact Assessments for a variety of tools for identifying and evaluating the privacy risks associated with a particular technology or system.

Topic 5: Game Development

According to statistics, the number of gamers worldwide is expected to hit 3.32 billion by 2024. This leaves an enormous demand for innovation and research in the field of game design, an exciting field of research. You could explore the field from multiple viewpoints, such as backend game development, analysis of various games, user targeting, as well as using AI to build and improve gaming models. If you're a gamer, or someone interested in game design, pursuing ideas like the one below can be a great starting point for your research -

19. Design and build a serious game that teaches users about a specific topic, such as renewable energy or financial literacy.

20. Analyze the impact of different game mechanics on player engagement and enjoyment.

21. Develop an AI-powered game that can adjust difficulty based on player skill level.

Topic 6: Cybersecurity

According to past research, there are over 2,200 attacks each day which breaks down to nearly 1 cyberattack every 39 seconds. In a world where digital privacy is of utmost importance, research in the field of cybersecurity deals with improving security in online platforms, spotting malware and potential attacks, and protecting databases and systems from malware and cybercrime is an excellent, relevant area of research. Here are a few ideas you could explore -

22. Investigate the use of blockchain technology in enhancing cybersecurity in a specific industry or application.

23. Apply ML to solve real-world security challenges, detect malware, and build solutions to safeguard critical infrastructure.

24. Analyze the effectiveness of different biometric authentication methods in enhancing cybersecurity.

Ideas by Lumiere Mentor from Columbia University

Topic 7: Human-Computer Interaction

Human-Computer Interaction, or HCI, is a growing field in the world of research. As a high school student, tapping into the various applications of HCI-based research can be a fruitful path for further research in college. You can delve into fields such as medicine, marketing, and even design using tools developed using concepts in HCI. Here are a few research ideas that you could pick -

25. Research the use of color in user interfaces and how it affects user experience.

26. Investigate the use of machine learning in predicting and improving user satisfaction with a specific software application.

27. Develop a system to allow individuals with mobility impairments to control computers and mobile devices using eye tracking.

28. Use tools like WAVE or WebAIM to evaluate the accessibility of different websites

Topic 8: Computer Networks

Computer networks refer to the communication channels that allow multiple computers and other devices to connect and communicate with each other. An advantage of conducting research in the field of computer networks is that these networks span from local, regional, and other small-scale networks to global networks. This gives you a great amount of flexibility while scoping out your research, enabling you to study a particular region that is accessible to you and is achievable in terms of time, resources, and complexity. Here are a few ideas -

29. Investigate the use of software-defined networking in enhancing network security and performance.

30. Develop a network traffic classification system to detect and block malicious traffic.

31. Analyze the effectiveness of different network topology designs in reducing network latency and congestion.

Topic 9: Cryptography

Cryptography is the practice of secure communication in the presence of third parties or adversaries. It uses mathematical algorithms and protocols to transform plain text into a form that is unintelligible to unauthorized users - the process known as encryption.

Cryptography has grown in uses - starting from securing communication over the internet, protecting sensitive information like passwords and financial transactions, and securing digital signatures and certificates.

32. Investigating side-channel attacks that exploit weaknesses in the physical implementation of cryptographic systems.

33. Research techniques that can enable secure and private machine learning using cryptographic methods.

Additional topics:

  • IoT: How can networked devices help us enrich human lives?

  • Computational Modeling: Using CS to model and study complex systems using math, physics, and computer science. Used for everything from weather forecasts, flight simulators, earthquake prediction, etc.

  • Parallel and distributed systems: Research into algorithms, operating systems and computer architectures built to operate in a highly parallelized manner and take advantage of large clusters of computing devices to perform highly specialized tasks. Used in data centers, supercomputers and by all major web-scale platforms like Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.

  • UI/UX Design: Research into using design to improve all kinds of applications

  • Social Network Analysis: Exploring social structures through network and graph theory. Was used during COVID to make apps that can alert people about potential vectors of disease – be they places, events or people.

  • Optimization Techniques: optimization problems are common in all engineering disciplines, as well as AI and Machine Learning. Many of the common algorithms to solve them have been inspired by natural phenomena such as foraging behavior of ants or how birds naturally seem to be able to form large swarms that don’t crash into each other. This is a rich area of research that can help with innumerable problems across the disciplines.

  • Experimental Design: Research into the design and implementation of experimental procedures. Used in everything from Ai and Machine learning, to medicine, sociology, and most social and natural sciences.

  • Autonomous vehicle: Research into technical and non-technical aspects (user adoption, driver behavior) of self-driving cars

  • Augmented and Artificial Reality systems: Research into integrating AR to enhance and enrich everyday human experience. Augmenting gaming or augmented learning, for example.

  • Customized Hardware Research: Modern applications run on customized hardware. AI systems have their own architecture; crypto, its own. Modern systems have decoders built into your CPU, and this allows for highly compressed high quality video streams to play in real-time. Customized hardware is becoming increasingly critical for next-gen applications, from both a performance and an efficiency lens.

  • Database Systems: Research in the algorithms, systems, and architecture of database systems to enable effective storage, retrieval and usage of data of different types (text, image, sensor, streaming, etc) and sizes (small to petabytes)

  • Programming languages: Research into how computing languages translate human thought into machine code, and how the design of the language can significantly modify the kind of tools and applications that can be built in that language.

  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology: Research into how computational methods can be applied to biological data such as cell populations, genetic sequences, to make predictions/discovery. Interdisciplinary field involving biology, modeling and simulation, and analytical methods.

If you’re looking for a competitive mentored research program in subjects like data science, machine learning, political theory, biology, and chemistry, consider applying to Horizon’s Research Seminars and Labs

This is a selective virtual research program that lets you engage in advanced research and develop a research paper in a subject of your choosing. Horizon has worked with 1000+ high school students so far, and offers 600+ research specializations for you to choose from. 

You can find the application link here

If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!

Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 

The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas.

The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 

The fields include 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 that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, 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 you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 

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!

Additionally, you can also work on independent research in AI, through Veritas AI's Fellowship Program!

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 own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 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 field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here

Location: Virtual


  • $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

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

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

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 

Additionally, you can check out some summer programs that offer courses in computer science such as the Lumiere Scholars Program!

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: Stock image



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