20 Research Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

reviewing write ups

20 Research Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students

Exploring volunteer opportunities for research as a high school student can open doors to new knowledge and experiences. It’s a powerful way to apply your learning in real-world settings and make a significant impact.

You’re in the right place. This blog covers various programs, shares crucial information, and outlines their benefits for your success. You’ll discover how these opportunities can enhance your skills and prepare you for future academic and career endeavors.

1. Research Science Institute (RSI)

  • Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Program Dates: June 23 to August 3, 2024​​
  • Application Deadline: December 13, 2023​​
  • Eligibility: High school juniors and international students with equivalent educational standing
  • Cost: Free; travel, room, and research supplies provided

RSI is a prime example of a research volunteer opportunity for high school students that merges academic rigor with real-world research. As a free summer program, RSI invites students to engage in intensive STEM classes followed by a research internship.

Man offer stem word sign on virtual screen.

Beyond the classroom and lab, RSI scholars gain invaluable experience by presenting their research findings to a professional audience. With a competitive selection process, RSI seeks students who show remarkable academic prowess and leadership potential, making it an ideal platform for aspiring STEM leaders.

2. Monell Science Apprenticeship Program (MSAP)

  • Location: Monell Chemical Senses Center
  • Program Dates: Eight weeks during the summer
  • Application Deadline: January 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school or college students eligible to work in the US; from greater Philadelphia area, including Camden, NJ
  • Cost: Free; paid full-time internship provided

MSAP is a distinguished research volunteer opportunity for high school students. It’s designed to spark interest in biomedical science and medicine, especially among underrepresented groups. Recognized consistently as a top pre-college program, MSAP offers participants a paid seven-week immersion in research alongside Monell scientists, enriching their understanding of science and research ethics.

Participants not only engage in authentic research projects but also benefit from a range of enrichment activities. These include workshops on public speaking, written communication, and career exploration in medicine and science. By focusing on inclusivity, the program aims to diversify the STEM field.

3. Fred Hutch Summer High School Internship Program (SHIP)

  • Location: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Program Dates: June 24 to August 16, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 31, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 12th graders from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical science
  • Cost: Free; stipend, transportation, financial grants and prizes provided

SHIP offers a unique research volunteer opportunity for high school students interested in biomedical science. This eight-week paid internship provides hands-on training in laboratory safety and skills, followed by six weeks of mentored research. Aimed at students from underrepresented backgrounds, SHIP encourages diverse participation in scientific discovery.

SHIP stands out for its rigorous training and real-world research experience in a leading cancer research center. Interns not only gain valuable knowledge but also receive a stipend, promoting accessibility to all students. This program fosters networking, skill development, and the chance to present findings, making it an excellent stepping stone for future scientists.

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

  • Location: Stanford University
  • Program Dates: June 10 to August 1, 2024​​​​
  • Application Deadline: February 24, 2024​​​​
  • Eligibility: High school juniors or seniors, 16 years old or older by the start of the program
  • Cost: Free; stipend provided

Held at Stanford’s School of Medicine, SIMR allows students to choose from eight different institutes, such as Immunology or Neurobiology, for focused research. Participants commit over 40 hours a week to lab work, gaining hands-on experience and mentorship from Stanford’s elite academic community.

SIMR’s reputation as a top-tier program is bolstered by its comprehensive professional development opportunities. Students attend faculty talks, engage in seminars, and present their research findings, providing a robust platform for intellectual growth and networking. The program not only offers a stipend and a certificate of completion but also opens doors to publication and career opportunities in STEM fields.

5. United Nations Volunteer Programs

  • Location: Worldwide
  • Program Dates: Vary depending on assignment
  • Application Deadline: Varies depending on openings
  • Eligibility: 18 to 29 years old
  • Cost: Free; allowance and other basic costs provided

The United Nations volunteer programs offer a unique global research volunteer opportunity for high school students to contribute to global peace, development, and sustainable initiatives. By participating, students work on projects that tackle critical issues like human rights, climate change, and disaster management.

national flags of countries from all over the world

High school students can develop skills, adapt to new cultures, and gain a deep understanding of international development through hands-on assignments. With the backing of the United Nations’ strong reputation, these volunteer opportunities are recognized for their commitment to recruiting motivated individuals who are eager to contribute to significant societal changes.

6. SUNY Oneonta Summer Research Internship

  • Location: SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station, New York
  • Program Dates: Late May through August
  • Application Deadline: April 12, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Cost: Free; $650/week compensation, housing, transportation provided

The SUNY Oneonta Summer Research Internship provides a research volunteer opportunity for high school students to immerse themselves in the academic research world. Hosted by a reputable institution, this program allows students to work closely with faculty members on research projects, offering hands-on experience and interdisciplinary exposure.

Beyond gaining practical research experience, participants benefit from the professional development components of the program. This includes training in research methodologies, data analysis, and critical thinking. Affiliated with SUNY Oneonta, the program ensures students access to quality resources and mentorship, marking it as a credible and enriching summer engagement.

7. Seattle Children’s Research Training Program (RTP)

  • Location: Seattle Children’s Research Institute​​
  • Program Dates: July 8 to August 2, 2024​​
  • Application Deadline: March 10, 2024​​
  • Eligibility: Rising junior, rising senior, and graduating seniors who haven’t yet applied to college; students from historically underrepresented backgrounds prioritized
  • Cost: Free; stipend provided

Hosted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, RTP immerses students in authentic research experiences. They work alongside Ph.D.-level scientists and educators, gaining insights into biochemistry, immunology, and public health through a virtual format adapted due to COVID-19, allowing wider access, especially for underrepresented groups in STEM.

Besides hands-on research, the program offers comprehensive college and career preparation. Its virtual transition has not only expanded accessibility but also ensured high-quality science education continuity. With 176 applications for its selective spots, the program’s impact is underscored by significant knowledge gains among participants, making it an invaluable stepping stone for aspiring scientists and healthcare professionals.

8. Anson L. Clark Scholars Program

  • Location: Texas Tech University​​
  • Program Dates: June 16 to August 1, 2024​​​​
  • Application Deadline: February 15, 2024​​​​
  • Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors at least 17 years old by the start of the program
  • Cost: Free; meals, room, and $750 stipend​​ upon submission of report

The Anson L. Clark Scholars Program offers high school students a distinctive research volunteer opportunity, allowing them to dive deep into fields as diverse as accounting and philosophy. This six-week program emphasizes one-on-one research with academics, enhancing students’ understanding and skills in their chosen area. With its limited intake of just 12 scholars annually, it’s a testament to the program’s exclusivity and commitment to quality.

Participants not only gain hands-on research experience but also benefit from a $750 stipend, making this program accessible and rewarding. Beyond the financial perk, scholars enjoy weekly seminars, discussions, and field visits, providing a well-rounded educational experience.

Students smiling at the camera together.

9. Wave Hill Youth Internships

  • Location: Wave Hill, New York City
  • Program Dates: Vary by program
  • Application Deadline: March 8, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students, 16 years old, eligible to work in the US
  • Cost: Free; $2,275 compensation provided

The Wave Hill Youth Internships program offers a research volunteer opportunity for high school students interested in ecological science. This 14-month paid program dives into ecological restoration and urban ecology, blending community engagement with arts education. Through initiatives like the Forest Project and Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship, students receive hands-on experiences that foster a deep understanding of ecological principles.

Wave Hill, a pioneer in youth internships for over 40 years, provides students not only with compensation but also with invaluable learning experiences under the guidance of experienced educators. By engaging in real-world projects, participants gain in-depth knowledge of scientific research methods, contributing to their educational and professional growth in the field of ecological science.

10. Scripps Research California High School Internship Program

  • Location: Scripps Research, La Jolla Campus
  • Program Dates: June 3 to August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 30, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in biomedical research and related fields
  • Cost: Free; $500 stipend provided

Over ten weeks, participants engage in hands-on projects at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, receiving mentorship from leading faculty members. This immersive program is designed to introduce students to the forefront of personalized healthcare research, making it highly competitive with limited spots available.

Participants not only gain invaluable research experience but also benefit from professional development sessions aimed at preparing them for STEM careers. The opportunity to network with peers and professionals in the field further enhances their learning experience. With a strong focus on mentorship and career advancement, the program supports students in developing the skills necessary for success in the rapidly evolving biomedical sector.

11. Simons Summer Research Program

  • Location: Stony Brook University
  • Program Dates: July 1 to August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 7, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school juniors; at least 16 years old
  • Cost: Free

The Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University presents a premier research volunteer opportunity for high school students. It immerses participants in STEM fields through hands-on research, under the guidance of distinguished faculty mentors. Students learn valuable laboratory techniques, join active research teams, and experience the dynamics of a research university environment.

Beyond the lab, the program offers a stipend, enhancing its accessibility to all students. Participants also develop presentation skills and network with professionals, laying a solid foundation for their future careers in STEM. This program not only equips students with practical research experience but also fosters community engagement and personal growth.

12. Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)

  • Location: Carnegie Mellon University
  • Program Dates: June 22 to August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school juniors at least 16 years old by the program start date
  • Cost: Free; all program-related costs covered, except transportation

SAMS at Carnegie Mellon University is a beacon for high school juniors from underrepresented communities. This six-week program immerses scholars in STEM through a mix of classroom instruction, hands-on projects, and mentorship by distinguished faculty. It’s designed to strengthen commitment to STEM disciplines, offering a rigorous academic challenge and fostering a diverse community of learners.

a math problem with a pencil

A standout feature of SAMS is its commitment to making STEM accessible to all, offering a fully funded research volunteer opportunity for high school students. Participants benefit from seminars to enhance quantitative and computational skills, mentorship groups, and writing workshops. This comprehensive approach not only broadens their understanding of STEM but also prepares them for success in top-tier universities.

13. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP)

  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, or Gaithersburg, Maryland campuses of NIST
  • Program Dates: Typically from June to August
  • Application Deadline: Typically mid-February
  • Eligibility: Juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Cost: Free

NIST SHIP is a competitive research volunteer opportunity for high school students. Located at either Boulder, CO, or Gaithersburg, MD, SHIP offers the chance to dive into scientific research alongside NIST’s top scientists. Despite being unpaid and requiring students to handle their housing and transportation, the program is a unique gateway into the world of cutting-edge scientific exploration.

Participants in SHIP gain valuable laboratory experience, working on projects that span disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and computer science. The program’s association with NIST, a leading research institution, underscores its credibility and the remarkable chance it offers students to advance their understanding and capabilities in various scientific fields.

14. Princeton University Laboratory Learning Program

  • Location: Princeton University
  • Program Dates: Five weeks during the summer
  • Application Deadline: March 15, 2024​​
  • Eligibility: High school students at least 16 years old by June 15, 2024
  • Cost: Free

The Princeton University Laboratory Learning Program is a prestigious eight-week research volunteer opportunity for high school students, immersing them in the heart of scientific exploration. Working alongside Princeton faculty and researchers, students delve into engineering and natural sciences projects, gaining unparalleled experience.

With a rigorous selection process, only 40 interns are chosen annually from over 700 applicants, underlining the program’s exclusivity and high standards. By participating, students prepare for future careers by engaging in real-world projects, receiving mentorship, and developing skills crucial for their academic and professional growth.

15. Data Science Institute (DSI) Summer Lab

  • Location: University of Chicago​​
  • Program Dates: June 10 to August 2​​, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 16​​, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students and undergraduate students (except seniors) from the Chicago area
  • Cost: Free; $4,800 stipend provided

The DSI Summer Lab at the University of Chicago offers a unique research volunteer opportunity for high school students from the Chicago area. This prestigious 8-week program dives into the world of data science, pairing students with mentors to tackle real-world projects. From climate policy to biomedical research, participants gain hands-on experience in a variety of fields, alongside professional development to kickstart their data science careers.

With only 9 high school spots available, the DSI Summer Lab is highly competitive, providing a $4,800 stipend to support students during the program. This immersive experience not only enhances technical skills but also offers significant networking opportunities. Students engage with experts from leading institutions, benefiting from mentorship that paves the way for future success in data science.

Analyst working with Business Analytics and Data Management System on computer to make report with KPI and metrics connected to database.

16. Broad Summer Scholars Program (BSSP)

  • Location: Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • Program Dates: June 27 to August 5, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 21, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising senior in high school within commuting distance to the Broad Institute; with a B grade or better in science and math classes
  • Cost: Free; $3,420 stipend provided

BSSP presents high school students with a research volunteer opportunity in the exciting field of biomedical science. Participants get hands-on research experience, working under the mentorship of some of the leading scientists in the industry. This exposure to cutting-edge research projects offers an invaluable glimpse into the professional world of science and medicine.

This program stands out due to its association with the Broad Institute, renowned for its groundbreaking research. Students benefit from professional development activities designed to enhance their research skills and scientific knowledge. By participating in BSSP, students gain access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources, setting a strong foundation for their future academic and career pursuits in biomedical sciences.

17. Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS)

  • Location: Pomona College
  • Program Dates: June 23 to July 19, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 4, 2024​​
  • Eligibility: 9th graders attending high school in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties; high-achieving students from historically underrepresented backgrounds​​
  • Cost: Free; housing, food, travel provided

PAYS is a standout program for high school students, offering an unparalleled research volunteer opportunity. This month-long immersive experience at Pomona College provides underprivileged students with the chance to live on campus, attend college-level classes, and benefit from comprehensive mentorship.

With only 30 spots available annually, PAYS is both selective and impactful, aiming to prepare students for higher education success. Beyond the early college experience, PAYS enriches students with free SAT preparation, extensive mentorship, and a supportive community network. This program not only prepares students academically but also guides them through the college admissions process.

18. Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP)

  • Location: George Mason University
  • Program Dates: June 18 to August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 11, 2024
  • Eligibility: At least 15 years old by June 18, 2024; have completed STEM courses
  • Cost: Free; $25 application fee

ASSIP provides a notable research volunteer opportunity for high school students. This nationally recognized program immerses participants in meaningful research, guiding them from idea development to real-world application. Through mentorship and hands-on projects, students gain the skills and confidence needed to make significant contributions to science and technology.

ASSIP is celebrated for transforming students into innovative scientists and engineers. Participants have the unique chance to file patents and develop technologies with societal benefits. With positive feedback from past attendees and its national reputation, ASSIP equips students with practical experience, fostering their growth into future leaders in scientific research and innovation.

19. Project SEED

  • Location: Various sites across US
  • Program Dates: June 12 to August 4, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 8, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors or seniors who have completed at least one chemistry course
  • Cost: Free; $4,000 stipend provided

Project SEED offers a prestigious research volunteer opportunity for high school students, setting a high bar with its paid summer fellowship in science and chemistry. For 8 to 10 weeks, students immerse themselves in research labs, engaging in projects that allow for significant hands-on experience. This initiative, sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), provides a platform for students to develop critical scientific skills and contribute to meaningful research.

Students working on chemicals in a laboratory.

Beyond research, Project SEED enriches students’ experiences with field trips, career panels, and competitions, supplemented by a $4,000 fellowship award. Recognized for its commitment to economically disadvantaged students, the program has a long-standing history of fostering young talent.

20. Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program

  • Location: Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine; Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut
  • Program Dates: June 1 to August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 29, 2024
  • Eligibility: At least 18 years old and have completed Grade 12
  • Cost: Free; $6,000 stiped, room and board, round-trip travel provided

The Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program offers high school students a research volunteer opportunity in the cutting-edge fields of genetics and genomics. Under the mentorship of experienced scientists, students work on independent projects, enhancing their professional growth and ability to communicate scientific knowledge effectively.

The program’s national selection process brings together around 40 motivated students from across the United States, creating a diverse and collaborative community. This competitive nature and the opportunity for personal and professional development make it a standout choice for high school students interested in science.

What are the benefits of participating in research volunteer programs?

Participating in research volunteer programs offers high school students unparalleled exposure to real-world scientific inquiry and problem-solving. These experiences not only enhance technical skills like data analysis and laboratory techniques but also foster soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and time management.

For high school students, a research volunteer opportunity is a gateway to understanding complex scientific concepts and methodologies firsthand. It allows them to apply classroom knowledge in practical settings, promoting a deeper appreciation for their subjects of interest.

Additionally, these programs often provide mentorship from professionals in the field, offering valuable insights into potential career paths.

How can high school students find research volunteer opportunities?

High school students can find research volunteer opportunities by consulting with science teachers or career counselors who often have information on local programs and internships.

Additionally, students can reach out directly to nearby universities, research institutions, and companies to inquire about available positions for young researchers eager to gain experience.

Leveraging online platforms and databases dedicated to volunteer and internship opportunities is another effective strategy. Websites like the American Chemical Society or specific university portals often list programs designed for high school engagement in research.

Networking through science fairs, conferences, and social media can also uncover hidden opportunities in the research community.

How do research volunteer programs impact college applications?

Research volunteer programs can significantly bolster a high school student’s college application. Admissions committees look favorably on students who demonstrate initiative, curiosity, and a commitment to their field of interest through extracurricular activities. A research volunteer opportunity for high school students showcases a student’s ability to engage with complex subjects and contribute to genuine scientific work.

Furthermore, these experiences provide compelling material for college essays and interviews. Students can discuss the challenges they overcame, the skills they developed, and the impact of their research findings. This not only highlights their academic potential but also their personal growth and maturity, making them stand out in the competitive college admissions process.

Students conduct science experiments.

Can high school students publish research findings from volunteer programs?

High school students participating in research volunteer programs often have the opportunity to contribute to significant scientific discoveries. While publishing research findings can be challenging, many programs mentor students through the process of academic writing and submission to journals. This experience not only enhances a student’s resume but also contributes to the global body of knowledge in their field of study.

Collaborating with scientists and mentors, students can co-author papers and present findings at conferences, gaining recognition for their work. Such accomplishments demonstrate a student’s dedication and capability in research, setting them apart in future academic and professional endeavors. It’s a testament to the impact that young researchers can have when given the chance to explore their scientific curiosity.

How to prepare for a research volunteer program

Preparing for a research volunteer program involves a proactive approach to both learning and logistics.

Students should familiarize themselves with the basics of the research field they’ll be entering, including key terminology, methodologies, and current challenges. Reading relevant scientific literature or participating in online courses can provide a solid foundation.

Logistically, students should ensure they have the necessary documentation and clearances required, especially for lab work. This might include safety certifications or health clearances. Time management skills are crucial, as students will need to balance their research commitments with their regular academic workload and personal responsibilities.

Setting clear goals and expectations with their program mentors from the start can also help maximize the learning experience.


Research volunteer programs for high school students offer invaluable experiences that extend far beyond the classroom. They prepare you for future academic and career successes. These opportunities enrich your knowledge and skills and allow you to contribute meaningfully to the world of science.

As you join these programs, you not only pave the way for your future but also leave a lasting imprint on the scientific community.


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