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Landing a NASA Internship as a High Schooler - 7 Opportunities You Should Check Out

To get into a prestigious university, you need to have an exceptional college application. And one method of doing that is working with one of the world’s leading space agencies. NASA offers several different opportunities for high school students to gain valuable work experience. Securing an internship at NASA not only provides an unparalleled opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects but also adds a stellar highlight to one's resume. The competitiveness of such programs will further emphasize the caliber of your skills.


Apart from the solid boost your resume gets, you will also leave with hands-on experiences and learnings that go far beyond the classroom. By going above and beyond high school requirements, an internship proves your dedication to the field. Additionally, working at NASA will bring you the rare opportunity to network with professionals from the organization. Overall, a NASA internship could go a long way and open several doors for your career.  


Without further ado, here are 7 NASA internships for high school students:

 

Application deadline: February 2, 2024 for the summer session  

Eligibility: High school students who are at least 16 years old, with a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and are U.S. citizens, can apply.

Program dates: Internships are offered as 10-16 week programs that take place during fall, spring and summer sessions

Location: Varies as per internship

Stipend: Some internships offer stipends


The OSTEM Internships at NASA offer you a unique opportunity to contribute to an agency project under the guidance of a NASA mentor. Not only will you learn from a seasoned professional but you will gain hands-on experience in the field. There are a variety of internships available in subjects like engineering, aeronautics, or space microbiology, and you might need to filter results open for high school students. This program is a great way to go beyond textbooks and gain practical experience while networking with the country’s top scientists.

 

Application deadline: October (tentative, as per previous years)  

Eligibility: Rising juniors who have access to the internet

Program dates: Virtual learning from November – February. The summer virtual component will be for one week in June and the two-day residential component will be in July

Location: Virtual and in-person components at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Fee: Free


If you’re particularly interested in the fields of space exploration, Earth science, technology, and aeronautics, then consider the HAS internship. As a participant, you will engage in five months of online learning after which the highest-achieving students will attend a five-day gamified virtual summer experience and a two-day residential experience at NASA! The coursework includes interactive lessons and design challenges while the summer experience will have you work in teams to plan a mission to the moon or to Mars. The program also offers the opportunity to earn one science elective credit. While this is a year-long commitment, the program’s project work is rare and rewarding enough to be worth it. 


Application deadline: February 24, 2024  

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors who are US citizens and at least 16 years of age

Program dates: May 1, 2024 – August 4, 2024

Location: Part online and part on-site at the University of Austin, Texas

Fee: Free, travel scholarships to Texas are available


Organized by NASA, the Texas Space Grant Consortium, and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research, this program offers hands-on experiences in working with NASA's satellite data. As an intern, you will work on a project and analyze related data — such as comparing the Earth’s surface to the surface of other celestial bodies or developing concepts for refueling spacecraft in orbit. The project may fall under a number of different themes like Earth and space science, engineering, mission design, or climate research.

The program consists of a distance learning component, remote work component, and a residential internship. It concludes with a virtual science symposium where you can present your findings. This internship is a great option for those looking to add a research project to their resume. However, do keep in mind that this is a competitive program with a 3-4% acceptance rate.  


Application deadline: October 20, 2023  

Eligibility: All high school students

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

Location: The program will take place at either NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, CUNY City College of Technology in New York City, or NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD

Stipend: $2,400


The CCRI is essentially a program for educators and graduate students to lead research teams for NASA projects. However, the year-long program has a summer component that high school students can take part in as well. As an intern, you will aid the team in completing the research, delivering presentations, creating a scientific poster, and publishing a research paper. Previous projects have included topics like ‘Deciphering Changing Probabilities of Extreme Climate Events in Climate Models and Measurements’ or ‘Monitoring and Studying Lakes from Space in a Changing Climate’. You can read about them in detail here. This is a great choice for those interested in research and who would like to have a completed project on their resume.


Application deadline: February for the summer session, October for the spring session  

Eligibility: High school students who are at least 18 years of age and a minimum GPA of 3.0 (International students may apply to regional and virtual locations)  

Program dates: June 3, 2024 – August 9, 2024 for the summer session, January to March for the spring session

Location: Various locations are available as well as a virtual option

Stipend: An hourly wage will be provided depending on your education level


DEVELOP is meant to explore how NASA’s Earth observation data can be used to address real-world problems in society. In teams of 4-5 people from different disciplines, you will work on a research project that examines geospatial information and its connection fields like agriculture, ecological conservation, urban development, energy, or water resources.

A mentor will guide your team and you will work alongside an organization like a federal agency or non-profit, using your research to guide their decision making process. While you can expect to gain significant hands-on experience and research skills, keep in mind that this program is open to graduates and professionals and would be competitive to get into. Click here to learn more about the projects and areas of research. 


Application deadline: 

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors who are at least 16 years of age, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and have taken at least one high school biology course  

Program dates: July 1, 2024 – July 26, 2024

Location: Virtual

Stipend: A small stipend is provided for miscellaneous expenses


Sponsored by NASA’s Ames Research Center, the GL4HS is a virtual training program in the field of omics-based bioinformatics research, which is the science of collecting and analyzing complex biological data such as genetic codes and computational biology. You will learn about the field through interactive classes, computer laboratory training, virtual field trips, and networking opportunities. The program also includes a research training competition where you will develop on a research proposal in teams and the best team will be selected by NASA to present their work at the annual conference of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR). This is a great option if you’re looking to add a completed research project to your resume. The 2023 cohort included 27 students from across the country, so the application process could be fairly selective.


Application deadline: February 4, 2024  

Eligibility: Current freshmen, sophomores and juniors  

Program dates: 8-weeks during the summer months

Location: Virtual

Fee: Not specified


Another entirely virtual option, this program is ideal for students interested in the fields of aviation and aerospace. Apart from learning about aerospace opportunities and networking with professionals, you will also work in teams of six to develop an aviation concept or application that can solve a real-world problem. At the end of the program, each team will present their report to the Aviation Systems Division, some of which will be published on the NASA STI Repository. Two NASA volunteers will mentor your team through the whole process. Aside from that, you will also attend virtual seminars and meet with NASA experts. 



If you’re looking for the opportunity to work on an in-depth research project across various subject areas, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I 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.


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: NASA logo

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