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8 Psychology and Neuroscience Competitions for High School Students

If you're a high school student working on a psychology project, are interested in the subject, or wish to gain some competitive experience in the field, this blog is for you! Competitions in psychology and neuroscience not only give you a platform to showcase your knowledge and passion but also provide an opportunity to connect with fellow curious minds.


Taking part in competitions, especially in fields like psychology or neuroscience, can really catch the eye of college admissions officers. It shows them a bunch of things:


  • Passion and Dedication: Your involvement demonstrates genuine interest and commitment to the field. It shows you're not just about grades; you're actively exploring and engaging in your interests.

  • Skills in Communication and Research: These competitions highlight your ability to explain complex ideas and present research effectively, which are essential skills in higher education.

  • Adaptability and Drive: Meeting competition deadlines and following submission guidelines showcases your adaptability and drive to excel, qualities that colleges highly value.

  • Demonstrated Success: Winning or even participating successfully in these competitions adds a tangible achievement to your application. It's proof of your abilities in a competitive setting.


So, when admissions officers see your involvement in these competitions, it paints a picture of a motivated, passionate, and capable student, which can make a significant impression on your college applications.


In this blog, let's take a look at 8 psychology and neuroscience competitions for high school students designed to engage and inspire students like you.


The IPsyO welcomes high school students from across the globe. It's crafted to be a demanding competition, so participants should view it as a chance to grow, putting their grasp of psychology, creativity, and originality to the test.


Participants are assessed on their concept clarity, real-world application, critical analysis of research scenarios, and proficiency in experimental design and quantitative data interpretation.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close on the 25th of July.

Eligibility: Participation in the IPSYO is not directly open to individuals. If a student is interested in competing, the IPSYO might know teachers in their country who are willing to assist in assembling a team.

Prize: Winners will receive gold, silver, and bronze medals based on aggregate scores, while the top 5 teams worldwide will be awarded based on team members' average scores.


This contest challenges students to create a concise, under 3-minute video demonstrating their grasp of a psychological concept from the Cognition Pillar of the National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula.


The video should include an accurate explanation of the chosen psychological construct, reference at least one relevant research study showcasing its potential societal benefits, and provide a practical example of how this knowledge can improve their school or local community.


Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

Eligibility: Only current high school students, including international students, can participate in the competition. Teams are not allowed, and each school can submit a maximum of five entries.

Mode/Platform: The mode/platform for video submission is YouTube. The complete set of rules for video submission can be found here.

Prize: $300 scholarship award


JSHS encourages high school research and offers scholarships and recognition to support students' future STEM endeavors. Registration for JSHS is completely free for student participants, providing them with the chance to showcase their STEM research among peers and professionals from various STEM fields, including Behavioral Sciences, Neuroscience, and more.


Application Deadline: Regional symposium deadlines fall between September and December, with variations based on location.

Eligibility: Participants must select a regional symposium based on their school's address (except for the Virtual Region) and must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

Mode/Platform: Regional Symposium - https://jshs.org/students/find-your-region/

Prize: Up to $12,000 in undergraduate tuition scholarships



The Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) stands as the oldest and most prestigious science competition for high school seniors in the United States. It provides a platform for these seniors to present their original research, which is assessed by a national panel of professional scientists.


Participants can choose from a range of categories, each offering sub-categories. For instance, under Behavioral and Social Sciences, you'll find topics related to human and animal behavior, and social and community relationships, which encompass fields like psychology, sociology, and anthropology, as well as subjects like learning and perception, among others. Remarkably, alumni of this competition have gone on to make significant contributions to science, earning numerous prestigious awards including thirteen Nobel Prizes.


We have covered this competition in detail here.


Application Deadline: November 8, 2023

Eligibility: US high school seniors and US citizens living abroad are eligible to apply. Non-US citizens attending American schools abroad are not eligible.

Prize:

  • Scholars receive $2,000 each

  • Schools supporting scholars get $2,000

  • Finalists receive awards ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.


This award aims to inspire high school students to delve into the intricacies of the brain and nervous system via research endeavors. It seeks to identify and commend students who exhibit exceptional scientific prowess, indicating potential contributions to neuroscience.


Additionally, the award acknowledges science educators who have shown exceptional support for students passionate about neuroscience.


You read more about the competition here!


Application Deadline: November 2, 2023

Eligibility: U.S. high school students (grades 9-12) can apply with original research projects, conducted individually, without the need for formal lab settings. Relatives of judges, AAN Science Committee, or AAN staff are not eligible.

Prize: Each winner will receive a $1,000 prize


The Minds Underground™ Psychology Essay Competition & Challenge welcomes Year 12 students, although younger participants are also encouraged. This competition offers students a chance to delve into university-level research, refine their writing and persuasive abilities, and get ready for university interviews.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close on 16 April 2023

Eligibility: Open to Year 10-13 students (ages 16-18) worldwide. Essays must be in English.

Mode/Platform: Essays should be submitted in PDF or Microsoft Word format on Online Form.

Prize: Winners receive a £30 voucher for educational resources and a custom Resource Pack for university applications.


These competitions are widespread, spanning almost every U.S. state and over 70 countries, regions, and territories worldwide. They operate at various tiers, including local, regional, state, and even national levels, with some being associated with the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge.


To qualify for ISEF, participants must first secure a victory at a fair affiliated with the Society. Each affiliated fair is allotted a specific number of projects, either individual or team-based, that they can sponsor to participate in ISEF.


We have covered this competition in detail here.


Application Deadline: Applications for the 2023 sessions are already closed. Based on this year’s deadlines, the applications close on June 14, 2023.

Eligibility: To participate in ISEF, students in grades 9-12 must first win at an affiliated fair.

Mode/Platform: Submission to an Affiliated fair.

Prize: Winners receive the $25,000 Thermo Fisher Scientific ASCEND Award, along with scientific trips and cash rewards for finalist teachers and schools.


Established in 1998 by Dr. Norbert Myslinski, the International Brain Bee aims to enhance our understanding of the brain and combat brain disorders. Over the years, it has motivated numerous students to delve into neuroscience and consider it as a career path.


The competition unfolds in three stages: participants begin with a Local Brain Bee, with the victors progressing to their nation's National Brain Bee. Ultimately, the winner of each National Brain Bee competes in the prestigious IBB World Championship.


Eligibility: Brain Bees typically accept high school students aged 13-19, with eligibility based on school enrollment or neuroscience knowledge. Participants need to qualify through a National Brain Bee.

Mode/Platform: This year, it was held virtually.

Prize: Up to $3000



If you are looking to start your own research journey in psychology 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: ISEF logo

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