High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP)

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Michigan State University front building and signage

High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP)

Are you a high school junior who loves science, math, or engineering? If yes, there’s an exciting opportunity waiting for you at Michigan State University – the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP). This program isn’t your typical classroom experience. It’s a chance to work alongside university researchers on real science and engineering projects.

The HSHSP is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the U.S. It’s specially designed for students like you who are serious about STEM subjects and can work well on their own. You won’t get school credit, but you’ll gain something much more valuable: real-world experience in science and engineering research.

In this blog post, we’re going to take a close look at the HSHSP. We’ll talk about everything from what the program is really like, to how you can apply, and what you’ll get out of it. If you’re curious about taking your love for STEM to a new level, keep reading. The HSHSP could be the start of something big for you. Let’s find out more about what this program has to offer!

What is the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program?

The High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) at Michigan State University is a prestigious and intensive program for high school juniors with a strong interest in science, engineering, and mathematics. Started in 1958, it’s the oldest ongoing program of its kind in the U.S., designed to give students a hands-on experience in STEM fields. Originally a local initiative, it has grown into a highly selective, nationally recognized program, attracting students from across the country.

a group of students talking each other in the library

Mission and Goals of the Program

The core mission of HSHSP is to immerse students in the world of scientific research and to foster a deep understanding and appreciation for STEM disciplines. The program’s goals include:

  • Educating Students About Research: HSHSP isn’t just about learning facts; it’s about getting hands-on experience in the research process. Students get to “live and breathe” research in a real university setting.
  • Creating a Supportive Social Environment: The program emphasizes the importance of a nurturing social context for learning. It aims not only to teach students but also to help them form lasting friendships and connections.
  • Enriching Knowledge: More than producing award-winning projects (which often happens), the goal is to enrich students’ understanding of intellectual work in science and mathematics.
  • Preparing for Future Success: Alumni of HSHSP have gone on to attend top colleges and universities and often choose to major in science or science-related fields. Many continue their education in graduate or professional schools.

Unique Aspects of the Program

What makes HSHSP stand out from other high school programs?

  • Long History and Evolution: Having begun over six decades ago, HSHSP has a rich history. It’s evolved from focusing on life sciences to offering opportunities in all areas of science, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Seven-Week On-Campus Experience: Students spend seven weeks on the MSU campus, one of the top 50 research institutions in the U.S. This immersive experience allows for deeper involvement in research projects and a taste of college life.
  • Wide Range of Research Opportunities: Since 1989, the program has expanded to include all areas of STEM, giving students a broad spectrum of research topics to explore.
  • Selective and Prestigious: Being a part of HSHSP is a mark of distinction due to its selective nature. It attracts some of the brightest young minds from across the country.
  • Impact on Academic and Career Paths: The program has a significant impact on students’ academic choices and career paths. Alumni have a track record of attending renowned universities and pursuing advanced degrees.
  • Balance of Education and Social Experience: HSHSP is not just about academic growth. It also focuses on creating a supportive and enjoyable social environment, helping students build lasting friendships and networks.

In summary, the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program at Michigan State University is more than just a summer program. It’s a comprehensive experience that offers deep insights into STEM research, fosters personal growth, and prepares students for their future academic and professional endeavors. For high school juniors passionate about STEM, HSHSP represents a unique opportunity to advance their skills, knowledge, and networks in these critical fields.

Where is the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program Being Held?

The High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) takes place at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing. This university is huge – it spreads across 5,100 acres. It’s not only big but also really beautiful. The northern part of the campus, where the Red Cedar River flows, has lots of buildings and places where students study and research. The southern part has farms, forests, and nature areas used for learning and doing science experiments.

What’s Special About Michigan State University?

Michigan State University is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere of discovery and learning. It’s a hub where various fields of science come to life. The university is known for its work in biotechnology, food science, genetic diseases, and environmental studies. There’s even a significant plant biology center supported by the U.S. government. Imagine having over 400 different science projects to learn from and over 300 scientists to interact with at the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. This place is a treasure trove for anyone curious about how scientific research is done.

Michigan State University signage

What’s more, the facilities at MSU are top-notch. From a center dedicated to studying rare isotopes to various other science centers focusing on materials, biotechnology, and the physical aspects of life, the university is equipped with everything needed for cutting-edge research. It’s not all about science and engineering, though. The campus also houses three medical schools and a law school, adding to the diverse learning environment.

Why is This Location Great for Students?

Now, why is MSU the perfect location for HSHSP students? Firstly, the access to these outstanding facilities is a game-changer. As a student in the program, you get to use labs and equipment that are usually reserved for professional researchers. This hands-on experience with advanced tools is invaluable for anyone aspiring to a career in STEM.

The variety of research areas at MSU means you can explore multiple interests. Whether you’re sure about your passion or still exploring, there’s something for everyone. This diversity is crucial, especially for high school students who are on the cusp of deciding their future academic and career paths.

a busy Michigan street

Moreover, the beauty of the campus cannot be overstated. It’s not just a place for rigorous study; it’s also a space where you can enjoy nature and find inspiration. This blend of academic and natural environments makes MSU a stimulating place to learn and grow.

Lastly, the university’s location is convenient. Whether you’re driving, taking a train, a bus, or flying in, MSU is easily accessible. The nearby airport makes it hassle-free for students coming from different parts of the country, ensuring that no matter where you are, a world of scientific learning and discovery is within your reach.

In short, the location and facilities at Michigan State University are a big part of what makes the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program so special. It’s more than just a place to learn. It’s a chance to do real science in a beautiful, well-equipped, and easy-to-get-to university. For any high school student into STEM, MSU’s campus isn’t just a place for classes; it’s a doorway to a world full of scientific possibilities and discoveries.

Why Should You Join the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program?

Joining the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) at Michigan State University is an exciting step for any high school student interested in science, math, or engineering. Here’s why it’s a great choice:

1. Learn More Than in School

HSHSP isn’t like your regular high school classes. Here, you’ll learn by doing real scientific research. This means you won’t just memorize facts; you’ll be asking your own questions and finding answers like a real scientist or engineer. It’s a chance to dive deep into topics that interest you, which you might not get to do in your regular classes.

2. Career Preparation

This program is more than just learning; it’s about preparing for your future. You’ll get a feel for what it’s like to work on actual projects in science, math, or engineering. This experience is really helpful when you’re deciding what to study in college and what kind of job you want in the future.


student explores STEM as one of her extracurriculars.

Many students who join HSHSP go on to major in these subjects at top colleges like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. A lot of them become well-known scientists and engineers. This shows how the program helps students get ready for successful careers.

3. Grow Personally

Living on a university campus and meeting other students from different places is a big part of the HSHSP experience. You’ll learn to be more independent, make new friends, and understand more about yourself. These are important skills not just for college, but for your whole life.

4. Successful Alumni

The best way to know how good HSHSP is to hear from students who have been in the program. Many say it helped them get ready for college and understand what they want to do in life. Even though the program isn’t about winning science competitions, many students have gone on to do really well in big science fairs. This success shows how much you can learn and grow in the program.

Ultimately, the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program is a great chance to learn a lot, get ready for college and future jobs, and grow as a person. If you love STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), this program is a fantastic opportunity to explore your interests in a fun and challenging way.

How to Get into the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program

Getting into the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) is a competitive process, but with the right preparation, it’s certainly achievable. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply and some tips for putting together a strong application.

Eligibility for the Program

First, let’s make sure you’re eligible:

  • Grade Level: You must be a junior in high school at the time of applying.
  • Academic Performance: You need to be in the upper 20% of your class.
  • Coursework: You should have completed at least 3 years of college preparatory math and 2 or more years of science.
  • Age: Participants are usually 16-18 years old.
  • Citizenship: Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply.

Remember, around 24 students get selected each year. There are scholarships available for room and board based on financial need. Also, look into financial aid options from local schools, businesses, and service organizations.

How to Apply to the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program

Here’s how to apply:

  1. Recommendations: You need two letters of recommendation. One should be from a science teacher you’ve recently had. These recommendations should highlight your strengths, motivation, independence, and why you’re a good fit for this program. Contact your recommenders as soon as possible. Once they agree, send them this link to submit their recommendation: MSU Recommendation Form.
  2. Personal Essay: Write a 400-600 word essay about your interest in scientific research, what you hope to gain from HSHSP, and why it’s important for you. Focus on your personal story and aspirations rather than just listing your achievements.
  3. Book Impact Essay: Write another 400-600 word essay about how a particular book has influenced your thinking or life. This can be any book, whether it’s from a course or one you read for pleasure.
  4. Transcript: Upload a copy of your current school transcript.
  5. Standardized Test Scores: If you have SAT or ACT scores, upload a screenshot of these scores.
  6. List of Current Courses: Upload a list of courses you’re currently taking.
  7. Financial Aid: If you’re applying for financial aid, complete the relevant section in the online application.
  8. Application Fee: There’s a $25 fee for applying. You’ll find the details about this in the application form.

The participant fee for the 2024 HSHSP is $4,000, covering room, board, and some instructional costs. Applying to HSHSP is a chance to challenge yourself and grow in ways you might not have imagined.

Tips for a Strong Application

Applying to the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) can be a big step in your academic journey. To make your application stand out, here are some detailed tips:

Start Early

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to start your application. The earlier you begin, the more time you have to think about every part of it carefully. Collect all necessary documents, such as your transcripts and test scores, well in advance. This way, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute. Set aside regular time slots each week to work on your application. This helps you manage your time better and reduces stress.

Be Genuine in Your Essays

  • Your essays should reflect who you are. Talk about your experiences, what excites you about science, math, or engineering, and why you want to join the HSHSP. Don’t just list your awards or grades. The program wants to know about your journey, your challenges, and what makes you unique. Write in your own voice. If you’re passionate about a particular project or topic, let that enthusiasm come through in your writing.

A male student using his laptop and writing at the same time.

Choose Recommenders Wisely

  • Choose teachers who not only know your academic skills but also understand your personality and work ethic. They should be able to speak about you personally. Also, ask your teachers early. They need time to write a recommendation that really captures your strengths. Last-minute requests might result in rushed or generic letters. Help your recommenders by telling them why you’re applying to HSHSP and what you hope to achieve. This can guide them in writing a more tailored and effective recommendation.


  • Small mistakes can make a big difference. Proofread your essays and application multiple times for any spelling or grammar errors. Have a teacher, friend, or family member read your essays. They can catch errors you might have missed and offer valuable feedback. Sometimes, reading your writing out loud can help you catch mistakes and improve the flow of your essays.

Show Your Passion

  • Let the selection committee see your excitement for STEM fields. Talk about specific experiences, projects, or classes that sparked your interest. Instead of just saying you love science, explain what aspects of science fascinate you. Is it conducting experiments, solving complex problems, or inventing new things? Discuss how HSHSP fits into your future plans. How will this program help you achieve your academic or career goals?

Remember, applying to HSHSP is not just about showcasing your academic achievements. It’s about showing who you are as a student and a person. Your application should reflect your dedication, curiosity, and the unique qualities that make you a great fit for this challenging and rewarding program.

How Hard is it to Get into the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program?

Getting into the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program is quite challenging. It’s a program that many high school juniors across the country aim for, mainly because of its excellent reputation in science, math, and engineering. The program isn’t just about learning in a classroom; it gives you a chance to do real research under the guidance of university experts, making it a dream opportunity for students interested in these fields.

Admission Difficulty

HSHSP is known for its competitive admission process. Each year, the program attracts a large number of applications from talented high school juniors across the country. The reason for this high interest is the program’s longstanding reputation for excellence in science, math, and engineering education. With its hands-on approach to learning and the opportunity to work under the mentorship of university researchers, HSHSP is a coveted program for any aspiring scientist or engineer.

Side view at multi-ethnic group of students using laptop while studying in college

The program’s admission criteria are stringent. Applicants are expected to be in the upper echelon of their class, with a strong background in science and math courses. The selection process doesn’t only look at academic achievements; it also considers the student’s passion for STEM, their potential for research, and their ability to contribute to the HSHSP community.

Application Numbers and Acceptance Rates

Each year, HSHSP selects about 24 participants from a large pool of applicants. This small number reflects the program’s commitment to providing a focused and intensive research experience. With a limited number of spots available, the acceptance rate is quite low, making it one of the more selective summer programs for high school students in the U.S.

The high application numbers and low acceptance rates can be daunting, but they also highlight the quality and value of the program. Being selected for HSHSP is not just an honor; it’s a testament to a student’s capabilities and potential in the STEM fields.

Program Demand

The demand for HSHSP has been consistently high over the years. This is partly due to the increasing interest among high school students in STEM careers and the growing recognition of the importance of early research experience. The program’s ability to provide a university-level research experience and its track record of preparing students for top-tier colleges and universities contribute to its popularity.

Furthermore, HSHSP’s unique offering of a seven-week on-campus experience at one of the nation’s top research universities makes it stand out. Students get to live and breathe the life of a researcher, an opportunity that’s rare at the high school level.

Comparison with Similar Programs

Nationally, there are several summer programs aimed at high school students interested in STEM. However, HSHSP distinguishes itself through its duration, depth of research experience, and the resources of Michigan State University. While other programs might offer shorter experiences or focus on classroom-based learning, HSHSP immerses students in actual research, providing a taste of what a career in science, math, or engineering entails.

Programs like HSHSP are essential in shaping the next generation of scientists and engineers. They offer a glimpse into the future of STEM education and career paths, and for the students who are part of these programs, the experience is transformative.

When Does the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program Take Place?

The High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) at Michigan State University offers a detailed and immersive experience for students interested in STEM fields. Scheduled to run from June 16 to August 3, 2024, this 63rd annual program packs a variety of activities, research, and learning opportunities into its seven-week duration.

Campus Activities and Accommodations

The High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program at Michigan State University not only focuses on academics but also offers a range of activities on campus for a well-rounded experience. Students can enjoy a variety of events such as guest lectures, theater productions, music concerts, movie screenings, and programs in the planetarium. For those who love outdoor activities, there are facilities for canoeing, swimming, tennis, and various team sports. The program participants, along with the counselors and the program director, actively participate in planning these events.

Additional Program Activities

  • Daily Record-Keeping and Report Writing: Students keep daily records of their research and work on writing a research proposal and a final report.
  • Library and Lab Safety: Participants have access to the science reference library and learn essential lab safety procedures.
  • Special Visits and Discussions: The program includes visits to places like the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory/FRIB and the campus observatory/planetarium. There are also discussions about college admissions, scholarships, careers in science, the responsibility in science, and the implications of scientific discovery.
  • Conference-Style Presentations: Students get the opportunity to present their research in a conference-style setting and participate in program evaluations.

For living arrangements, you’ll stay in a dorm with other students. The dorm has common areas where everyone can hang out, play games, and eat together. There are two counselors, one female and one male, who look after the living and activity parts of the program. They know a lot about science and teaching.

two college students inside their dorm

In the dorm, you’ll share a room with one other student. You’ll be near students who are there for other study programs too. It’s important to know that the rules in the dorm are pretty strict, more so than for college students. These rules are there to make sure everyone is safe and the program runs smoothly. If someone breaks these rules in a big way, they might have to leave the program. The idea is to make sure everyone has a good, safe time while they’re learning and having fun at the program.

Daily Routine

The typical day at HSHSP is structured yet flexible, allowing students to immerse themselves in their individual research projects while also participating in various other educational activities.

  • Morning (7:00 AM – 12:00 PM): The day starts with breakfast between 7:00 and 8:30 AM. After breakfast, students dive into their individual research projects in laboratories. This research time runs from approximately 8:30 AM until noon, although lunchtime is flexible to accommodate different research schedules.
  • Afternoon (1:00 PM – 5:30 PM): Post-lunch, students return to their research work, continuing until about 5:30 PM. This is the core part of the program where students get hands-on experience in their chosen research areas.
  • Evening (5:30 PM – 9:00 PM): Dinner is served from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. After dinner, students engage in various activities including discussions, seminars, classes, and special events. These are scheduled on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.

Research Projects and Mentorship

Each student, upon being accepted into the program, indicates their preferred research area from a list of options. On arrival, they have a discussion with their faculty advisor to pin down their specific research project and procedure. This setup allows students to work on a project that’s part of their mentor’s research program while still maintaining a degree of independence. They receive guidance from faculty, staff, and graduate students who are experts in these areas.

Robotics engineer students teamwork on project

After the program, students are required to give a presentation in their high school science class or another appropriate forum about their research project and program experience. They are also encouraged to prepare their project for local or national science fairs.

When is the Deadline to Apply to the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program?

Applying to the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program at Michigan State University involves keeping track of some important dates. It’s crucial to know when the application materials are due and what happens if you miss these deadlines.

Key Dates to Remember

  • March 1: This is the big deadline. By this date, you need to have all your application stuff turned in. That includes the application form, letters of recommendation from two of your teachers, and any forms you need for financial aid if you’re applying for that. Make sure everything is complete and sent in by this date.
  • May 1: By this time, the program usually has all its students picked out. So, if you’ve applied, you might hear back around then.
  • May 20: If you got into the program, this is when you need to have paid all the program fees.
  • June 16: This is when the program starts. You’ll arrive on campus, register, and there’s an orientation meeting that starts at 7 pm. You can show up anytime between 1 pm and 6 pm that day.
  • August 3: All good things must come to an end, and this is when the program finishes. You can leave anytime before 2 pm on this day.

What If You Miss the Deadline?

Missing the March 1 deadline can be a big deal. If your application isn’t complete by then, you might not be considered for the program. Since the program often fills up quickly, they might not have space left if you’re late. This is why it’s really important to start working on your application well in advance and make sure you have everything ready by March 1.

Financial Considerations

When planning to join the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) for the year 2024, it’s essential to think about the costs involved and the financial aid that may be available to you. Here’s a straightforward look at what you need to know financially.

Program Cost

For the 2024 HSHSP, the fee for participating in the program is set at $4,000. Now, what does this fee cover? It includes your stay on the Michigan State University campus (that’s your room), all your meals (which is the board part), and some of the costs that come with the instructional part of the program. This means the fee covers most of what you need while you’re part of the program.

Additional Costs

There are a couple of things that this fee doesn’t cover. First, you need to arrange and pay for your travel to and from the campus at the start and end of the program. So, you’ll need to think about how you’re getting there and back home. Also, if you plan to buy personal items or want to do things outside the program that cost money, that’s on you too. It’s a good idea to have a little extra money for these kinds of things.

Financial Aid Options

The good news is, if the cost of the program is a bit too much for your budget, there are scholarships available to help out. These scholarships are based on financial need. This means they’re there to help students who might not be able to afford the program otherwise.

How do you apply for these scholarships? You can download the necessary forms from the HSHSP website. Fill these out and send them in with your application. It’s a way to let the program know that you need some financial help to join.

Overall, while the cost of the HSHSP is $4,000, which covers most of your basic needs during the program, you should also plan for your travel and personal expenses. And don’t forget, if the cost is a concern, check out the scholarship options. They are there to make sure that the program is accessible to everyone who qualifies, regardless of their financial situation. It’s all about giving every interested and qualified student a chance to be part of this amazing learning experience.


When considering joining the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) at Michigan State University, you might have a lot of questions. Here are some FAQs that cover aspects not mentioned in the main content. These should give you a clearer picture of what to expect and how to prepare.

Q: Can I Choose My Own Research Project?

Answer: Yes, you can! When you’re accepted into HSHSP, you’ll be asked about your preferred research area. After you arrive, you’ll discuss with your faculty advisor to finalize your specific project. This means you get to work on something that really interests you, under the guidance of experts.

Q: What If I’ve Never Done Research Before?

Answer: That’s totally okay! HSHSP is designed for high school students, and the program expects that many participants may not have prior research experience. You’ll get plenty of guidance and support to learn the ropes of conducting research in a university setting.

Q: Are There Any Extracurricular Activities?

Answer: Absolutely! Apart from research, HSHSP offers various activities like visiting lecturers, films, musical performances, and even trips to the planetarium. There are also outdoor activities like canoeing and tennis. These activities are a great way to relax and have fun after a day of research.

Q: What Should I Bring With Me?

Answer: You should bring clothes, personal items, and any school supplies you might need for note-taking and studying. Also, remember to bring some spending money for personal use, as the program fee doesn’t cover personal expenses or non-program activities.

Q: How Many Students Participate Each Year?

Answer: Typically, around 24 students are selected for the program each year. This small group size ensures that each participant receives individual attention and a tailored research experience.

Q: Is There Internet Access?

Answer: Yes, there is internet access on campus. You’ll be able to stay connected with family and friends, and also use the internet for your research and educational purposes.

Q: Can I Leave the Campus During the Program?

Answer: Students are expected to stay on campus for the duration of the program. However, there may be organized outings or trips as part of the program’s activities.

Remember, the HSHSP team is always ready to help answer any questions you might have, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Final Thoughts

Looking at the High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program (HSHSP) at Michigan State University, we see a great chance for high school students who love STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math. This program is more than just regular classes. It’s about getting your hands on real science and engineering projects, working in awesome labs, and learning new things in a fun and challenging way.

Diverse group of young people chatting in college library

Think about spending your summer doing cool science projects and meeting other students who like the same things you do. HSHSP is not just about learning; it’s about doing. You get to use what you learn in real situations, work on exciting projects, and see what a career in STEM could be like. And it’s not just about the science. You’ll grow a lot, make new friends, and discover what you’re really passionate about.

Yes, getting into HSHSP can be tough because lots of students want to join, but if you’re good at science and math and really like these subjects, you should definitely try to get in. And about the cost, remember there are ways to get help with this. There are scholarships and aid if you need it, so don’t let money worries stop you from applying.

So, if you’re thinking about your future and you’re excited about STEM, HSHSP could be a great choice for you this summer. It’s not just a way to learn; it’s a step toward your future in science or engineering. This program is a chance to see what you can do, challenge yourself, and have a great time learning and growing.

In STEM, there’s so much to explore, and programs like HSHSP are a great start. This is your chance to step into the world of STEM, to learn, to have fun, and to be part of something really exciting. Your journey in science and engineering is just starting, and HSHSP is a great place to begin.

What Next?

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications,  at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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