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11 Research Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male student holding something while looking at the camera

11 Research Programs for High School Students

Today’s high school students are in a unique position to explore the world of advanced research thanks to a variety of specialized programs. These programs are specifically designed for young enthusiasts who are eager to explore and contribute to the world of knowledge. They go beyond standard academic learning, providing a practical and deeper understanding of subjects ranging from science and engineering to social sciences.

These research programs are more than just educational courses; they are gateways to discovery and innovation. They offer hands-on experiences that transform theoretical knowledge into practical skills. Students get to work on real-life projects, applying what they’ve learned to solve complex problems. This practical approach not only enhances learning but also prepares students for future academic and career pursuits.

Here’s a look at 11 outstanding research programs that cater specifically to high school students:

1. UC Davis Young Scholars Program

  • Location:
UC Davis
  • Cost:
$6,750 for the six-week program (online application fee- $40)
  • Program Dates:
June 23 – August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline:
March 15, 2024
  • Eligibility:
Applicants must be 16 years old by the program’s start date and not 18 years old before the program ends. No exceptions are granted.

The UC Davis Young Scholars Program offers a unique research opportunity for high school students. Participants work individually with researchers on their projects in advanced UC Davis laboratories. Throughout the six-week program, each student focuses on preparing a journal-quality paper and a symposium presentation about their research. This program is about more than just conducting experiments; it’s about developing and communicating scientific ideas effectively.

UC Davis arboretum on a Spring morning

What sets this program apart is the depth of the research experience and the emphasis on professional development. Students are supported throughout the program with checkpoints and assignments, ensuring they are on track with their research and presentation skills. Additionally, the mentorship from counselors and researchers is invaluable, providing guidance and insights into academic research. Participation in this program can significantly benefit college applications. Not only does it demonstrate a commitment to scientific inquiry, but it also shows the ability to handle university-level research and coursework. The experience gained here, especially creating a journal-quality paper and symposium presentation, highlights a student’s readiness for higher education and potential for success in college-level research. This program is an excellent way for aspiring scientists to get a head start on their academic and career goals in the sciences.

2. Clark Scholars Program at Texas Tech

  • Location:
Texas Tech University
  • Cost:
There are no program or registration fees. The program covers on-campus meals, room and board, and weekend activities. Expenses not covered include travel to and from the program, personal expenses, and medical expenses.
  • Program Dates:
June 16, 2024, to August 1, 2024
  • Application Deadline:
The application opens on January 2, 2024, and closes on February 15, 2024.
  • Eligibility:
Applicants must be at least 17 years old by the program start date and should be graduating in 2024 or 2025. This program is for students in the summer before senior year or after high school graduation. No exceptions will be made for age requirements. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.

The Anson L. Clark Scholar Program at Texas Tech University is a prestigious seven-week summer research initiative designed for twelve highly qualified high school juniors and seniors. This program offers a unique opportunity for hands-on, practical research experiences under the mentorship of experienced and outstanding faculty. The specific research disciplines available for Summer 2024 will be announced shortly.

One of the key benefits of the Clark Scholars Program is the holistic experience it provides. Beyond the rigorous research opportunities, the program includes various social activities and weekly seminars, fostering both academic growth and social engagement. The absence of program fees makes it accessible, while the provision of stipends for successful research projects ($750) further incentivizes student achievement.

3. Project SEED: Hands-On Research For Economically Disadvantaged High School Students

  • Location:
The program is conducted in various states and territories across the United States.
  • Cost:
Project SEED offers a fellowship award to students for their participation and a chance to receive a SEED college scholarship.
  • Program Dates:
The program typically runs for 8 weeks during the summer.
  • Application Deadline:
Unavailable
  • Eligibility:
The program targets high school students who are economically disadvantaged and have historically lacked exposure to scientific careers.

Project SEED, initiated by the American Chemical Society (ACS), is a transformative program designed to provide economically disadvantaged high school students with a rare opportunity for hands-on research. In this program, students engage in practical research alongside scientists in laboratory settings. This initiative arose from a critical decision made by the ACS Council on April 4, 1968, amidst social upheaval and educational disparities, aiming to provide underprivileged communities with educational and employment opportunities.

Diverse group of students with young man in wheelchair

Today, Project SEED continues to offer vital research experiences and virtual summer camps to students across the U.S. The program, lasting 8 to 10 weeks each summer, has supported over 11,000 students in 40 states and territories. Participants are matched with mentors from academic, government, and industrial laboratories, gaining invaluable exposure to the chemistry field and various career paths. In addition to hands-on research, Project SEED also emphasizes college readiness, professional development, lab skills, and career exploration. This program stands out not only for the fellowship awards and potential scholarships it offers but also for the profound impact it has on the students. By nurturing their scientific interests and capabilities, Project SEED plays a crucial role in diversifying the field of chemistry and empowering students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue scientific careers.

4. Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) at the University of Iowa

  • Location:
Hosted by the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa
  • Cost:
    • Virtual participation: $4,500, covering 3 semester hours of undergraduate credit from the University of Iowa.
    • On-campus participation: $7,500, covering room, board, materials, admission to all scheduled activities, and 3 semester hours of undergraduate credit. Financial aid may cover up to 95% of costs for eligible students, but international students are not eligible for financial aid.
  • Program Dates:
The program typically starts in June and runs for four weeks.
  • Application Deadline: Unavailable
  • Eligibility:
The program is designed for academically talented high school students in grades 10-11.

The Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) at the University of Iowa offers an exceptional opportunity for advanced high school students to engage in intensive research. This highly selective program is ideal for students seeking to delve into original research and explore academic pursuits beyond the high school curriculum. Participants have the unique chance to work closely with University of Iowa faculty mentors, gaining firsthand experience in conducting and presenting scholarly research.

Students interested in SSTP can choose between virtual and on-campus experiences, both of which offer university credit. This program not only enhances participants’ research skills but also provides a glimpse into college-level academics and life. The availability of financial aid makes it accessible to a wider range of students, emphasizing the program’s commitment to educational inclusivity. For more information and application details, students can contact the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa.

5. Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)

  • Location:
Stanford University, California, USA.
  • Cost:
There is a $40 application fee. This fee can be waived if the applicant’s gross family income is under $80,000 or in cases of special financial circumstances. Applicants can request a fee waiver on the online application. If selected for the program, there are no additional costs for any student.
  • Program Dates:
June 10 – August 1, 2024 (8 weeks).
  • Application Deadline:
February 24, 2024. The application portal opens on December 20, 2023, at 5 PM PST.
  • Eligibility:
High school juniors or seniors as of Spring 2024 (graduating in 2024 or 2025), at least 16 years old by the start of the program, living and attending school in the U.S., U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) offers a unique eight-week research experience for high school students interested in biological sciences and medicine. This program allows participants to work alongside Stanford faculty, researchers, and postdoctoral fellows on medically-oriented research projects. The focus is on providing a hands-on research experience, enhancing students’ understanding of scientific methods, and fostering an interest in the medical field.

Stanford University School of Medicine - it is the medical school of Stanford University and is located in Stanford, California.

What distinguishes SIMR is the opportunity it provides for in-depth research at a leading university, without any cost to the selected students. This program is particularly beneficial for those considering college and careers in medicine or science. Participating in SIMR not only bolsters a student’s college application but also provides a substantial introduction to university-level research. The program’s financial support system, including the stipend, ensures that all students, regardless of their financial background, have access to this valuable experience.

6. Research Science Institute (RSI) at MIT

  • Location:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Cost:
RSI is a cost-free program for selected students.
  • Program Dates:
Typically runs for six weeks during the summer.
  • Application Deadline:
 Applications for RSI 2024 are now closed.
  • Eligibility:
Open to high school juniors who have demonstrated superior achievement in math, science, and engineering.

The Research Science Institute (RSI) at MIT offers a highly prestigious research summer program for high school students, focusing on math, science, and engineering. This program provides an academically rigorous experience, including college-level classes and hands-on research. Participants work on individual projects, allowing them to delve deeply into original, cutting-edge research.

RSI stands out for its comprehensive approach to the scientific research process. Students not only learn advanced concepts but also experience the full cycle of research—from conducting literature reviews to presenting their findings both orally and in written form. This gives students a realistic view of what it’s like to be a scientist or engineer. Participating in RSI can have a significant impact on college applications, demonstrating a student’s commitment to excellence in academic research. The program is especially beneficial for those aiming for careers in STEM fields, offering an unparalleled opportunity to conduct research at one of the world’s leading institutions. RSI equips students with both the knowledge and skills needed to excel in math, science, and engineering, setting a strong foundation for their future academic and professional pursuits.

7. Research Mentorship Program

  • Location:
University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Cost:
    • Residential option: $6,500
    • Commuter option: $4,500
    • Financial aid is available for qualifying students.
  • Program Dates:
June 17 – August 2, 2024. Students must attend the full program, including the virtual component and closing events.
  • Application Window:
December 15, 2023 – March 18, 2024. Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis.
  • Eligibility:
High school students in the 10th or 11th grade, with a few spots available for advanced 9th graders.

The Research Mentorship Program at UCSB is a competitive summer program that immerses high-achieving high school students from around the world in interdisciplinary, university-level research. Participants are paired with a mentor – a graduate student, postdoc, or faculty member – and can choose from a variety of research projects. The program not only teaches research techniques and offers insight into professional opportunities but also helps students develop their academic goals.

View of University of California, Santa Barbara

What sets this program apart is its comprehensive approach to learning and research. The GRIT Talks lecture series exposes students to leading researchers at UCSB, who present their groundbreaking work. Beyond academic growth, participants experience university life and build networks with peers who share similar ambitions and curiosity. This program includes two courses, each worth four credits, and runs for six weeks. Students engage in hands-on activities, including meetings, experiments, data collection, and analysis, contributing meaningfully to research objectives. Successful completion of the program earns participants eight hours of college credit, enhancing their college applications and providing a head start in university-level academics. The Research Mentorship Program at UCSB is an invaluable opportunity for students to explore research interests, develop skills, and experience the rigor and excitement of academic research.

8. High School Research Program at Brookhaven National Laboratory

  • Location: 
Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Cost:
 Commuter program; transportation and housing are not provided.
  • Program Dates:
    • Program Start: July 8 (Monday), 8:30 a.m.
    • Program End: August 16 (Friday), 5 p.m.
  • Application Deadline:
    • Application Due: March 27 (Wednesday), 5 p.m.
    • Reference Letters Due:  March 29 (Friday), 11:45 p.m.
  • Eligibility:
    • Recommended for students who have completed the 11th grade.
    • Must be at least 16 years old by the start of the program.
    • Available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the program.
    • Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
    • Must have active health insurance for the duration of the program.

The High School Research Program (HSRP) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is a six-week, highly competitive educational program designed for students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The program offers students the opportunity to engage in a real-world scientific community and gain hands-on research experience. Participants in the HSRP program collaborate with Brookhaven’s scientific, engineering, and technical staff on projects that support the laboratory’s and the Department of Energy’s missions. These projects encompass various disciplines, including energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges and transformative science and technology solutions. The program offers both onsite and remote research collaboration opportunities.

Students have the unique opportunity to be involved in diverse research projects. For example, previous participants have conducted computational studies exploring inhibitor drugs for COVID-19 research. The program culminates in a poster session and oral presentation, allowing students to showcase their work. This program is an excellent opportunity for high school students to gain a deeper understanding of scientific research processes, collaborate on meaningful projects, and develop skills that are valuable for college applications and future academic endeavors in STEM fields.

9. Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University

  • Location:
Stony Brook University
  • Cost:
Estimated at $3046.75 for the residential program, including a $600 meal plan and a $61.50 Student Health Services Fee.
  • Program Dates:
July 1 to August 9, 2024.
  • Application Deadline:
February 7, 2024, at 11:59 PM EST.
  • Eligibility:
    • Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
    • Applicants must be in their junior year (11th grade) of high school.
    • Must be at least 16 years of age by the start of the program.

The Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University is a prestigious and competitive program designed for academically talented and motivated high school juniors. This program provides students with the unique opportunity to participate in hands-on research in science, math, or engineering, offering an immersive experience in a university setting. The program is renowned for its selectivity, with an acceptance rate of about 5%. To apply, students must submit essays and receive a school nomination. Once accepted, participants have the option to either live on campus alongside other student researchers or commute.

Stony Brook University

The benefits of participating in the Simons Summer Research Program extend beyond the summer experience. It significantly enhances college applications, showcasing the student’s commitment to academic excellence and research. This program is an excellent stepping stone for students aspiring to pursue careers in STEM fields, providing them with early exposure to research and a platform for academic and personal growth.

10. Garcia Research Scholar Program at Stony Brook University

  • Location:
Stony Brook University, New York
  • Cost:
    • Laboratory usage fee: $4000
    • Optional room and board: Rates for 2024 are not specified, but the 2023 rate for a double room was $2436, plus a mandatory meal plan of $600.
  • Program Dates:
June 26 to August 9, 2024.
  • Application Deadline:
All application materials must be postmarked by March 1st.
  • Eligibility:
    • Open to high school students who are at least 16 years old by July 4, 2024, with an unweighted GPA of 95/100 (3.8/4.0).
    • Applicants must have completed at least three subjects from English, Chemistry, Mathematics/Calculus, Physics, and Biology.
    • Standardized test scores (SAT/Regents) should be at least 60th percentile.
    • The program also welcomes matriculated undergraduate students, rising college freshmen, teachers, or professors.
    • International students are accepted, but the program does not support visa applications.

The Garcia Research Scholar Program at Stony Brook University, administered by the Garcia Center for Polymers at Engineered Interfaces, offers a unique research experience for students at different academic levels. The program is tailored for high school students, college undergraduates, and rising seniors, providing an opportunity to engage in advanced research in a university setting. Participants in this program gain valuable hands-on experience in research, preparing them for future academic and professional endeavors. They work on projects at the forefront of polymer science and engineering, developing skills and knowledge that are critical for careers in STEM fields.

One of the program’s key strengths is its inclusive nature. It accepts a diverse range of students, from high school students excelling in sciences to undergraduate students and educators. International students are also welcome, broadening the cultural and academic diversity of the program.

By participating in the Garcia Research Scholar Program, students not only enhance their research skills but also gain a competitive edge for college applications and future career paths. The program’s emphasis on advanced research and its commitment to fostering a diverse learning environment make it an invaluable experience for aspiring scientists and engineers.

11. SMS Summer Research Program at Baylor College of Medicine

  • Location:
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
  • Cost:
Unavailable
  • Program Dates:
June 10, 2024 – August 5, 2024
  • Application Deadline:
Unavailable
  • Eligibility:
    • Must be 18 years of age by June 1, 2024. Exceptions for 16- or 17-year-olds are rare and not guaranteed.
    • Must have a U.S. Social Security card or a U.S. Permanent Resident card.
    • Commitment to work 8 full weeks in the summer and fulfill all program requirements.
    • Commitment to present research as per program requirements.

The SMS Summer Research Program at Baylor College of Medicine is an exceptional opportunity for students affiliated with Saturday Morning Science or minority-serving institutions like Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M. This 8-week program engages students in hands-on laboratory research with Baylor College of Medicine researchers. Participants work full-time on a research project, dedicating 40 hours each week. In addition to research, the program includes ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions, where students learn about research and professional development from experts at the Baylor College of Medicine, Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Texas Southern University.

As Summer Project Interns, participants gain valuable experience in a real-world research setting. They are required to partake in research meetings and special seminars tailored to their research group. At the end of the program, students present their findings at the SMS Summer Research Symposium and other events, with opportunities to showcase their work at various research and health equity symposia during the academic year. This program is highly competitive, with limited availability and a substantial number of applicants. Students not selected are encouraged to participate in other SMS programs offered throughout the year. The SMS Summer Research Program provides an unparalleled platform for aspiring researchers, offering practical experience, professional development, and networking opportunities in the scientific community.

Multinational group of students in an auditorium

In conclusion, these research programs for high school students not only enhance your understanding of scientific concepts but also offer valuable experiences that are beneficial for college applications and future career paths. By participating in these programs, you gain practical skills, develop critical thinking, and establish a foundation for success in higher education and beyond in the fields of science and research.

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