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Top 20 Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Chemist/Engineer holding a test tube inside a lab

Bioengineering is an exciting and rapidly growing field that combines biology and engineering principles to solve complex problems and develop new technologies. For high school students interested in exploring this field, participating in a bioengineering program can be a great way to gain hands-on experience, learn from experts in the field, and discover what it takes to pursue a career in bioengineering. These programs typically cover various topics, including biomaterials, biomechanics, biomedical instrumentation, tissue engineering, genetic engineering, and bioinformatics.

Students in bioengineering programs learn how to apply engineering principles to biological systems, with the goal of developing innovative solutions to improve human health and quality of life. This article will explore the top 20 bioengineering programs available for high school students, discussing their unique features, application requirements, and benefits.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Research Science Institute (RSI) – Top Bioengineering Program for High School Students

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Registration fee: RSI is a cost-free program for high school students.
  • Eligibility: High school juniors are eligible to apply.
  • Important dates: The application process typically starts in November of the junior year, with deadlines around mid-January for U.S. students and early February for international students. Notifications for admission status are sent out in March, and the program runs from the end of June to the first week of August.

RSI is a highly competitive summer program hosted by MIT, offering rising high school seniors the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge scientific research with top-notch faculty and peers. Participants work on projects spanning various disciplines, including bioengineering, under the guidance of mentors, gaining invaluable experience and exposure to the field.

RSI offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in intensive STEM coursework, research projects, and presentations under the guidance of experienced mentors and researchers. The program is highly selective, with only around 100 students selected yearly from over 1,600 applicants.

2. Stanford University – Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)

  • Location: Stanford University, Stanford School of Medicine
  • Registration fee: $40 application fee
  • Eligibility: High school students at least 16 years old, US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Important dates: December & January

SIMR is a rigorous eight-week program that immerses high school students in the world of bioengineering and biomedical research. Participants work alongside Stanford faculty and researchers, gaining hands-on laboratory experience while contributing to ongoing projects. The program also includes seminars, workshops, and networking opportunities to help students explore their interests further.

This program offers students the opportunity to conduct research in areas such as neuroscience, cardiovascular biology, stem cell biology, cancer biology, immunology, bioengineering, bioinformatics, and genetics under the guidance of world-renowned researchers from Stanford University. Students work in the laboratories of Stanford faculty members, who are leading experts in their fields and are mentored by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other research team members. 

3. Johns Hopkins University – Biomedical Engineering Innovation

  • Location: Online through Johns Hopkins University
  • Registration fee: May vary
  • Eligibility: Current high school students
  • Important dates: From June 24 to August 2, 2024

Johns Hopkins offers a summer program focusing on biomedical engineering innovation for high school students. Participants engage in hands-on projects, workshops, and seminars led by faculty and industry professionals, providing a comprehensive introduction to the field. Students can work on real-world challenges, fostering creativity and critical thinking skills essential for future success in bioengineering.

The Biomedical Engineering Innovation program allows students to model biological systems, design experiments, and solve medical design problems using engineering principles. Participants engage in online coursework that includes pre-recorded lectures, optional real-time study sessions, and independent project work culminating in an online poster presentation. Students interested in this program should ensure they meet the academic prerequisites and have access to the necessary computer requirements for online learning, including reliable internet access and specific software installations for lab activities.

Marine Biologists working at the beach coast

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – Young Engineering and Science Scholars (YESS)

  • Location: Caltech’s campus or through online platforms
  • Registration fee: May vary
  • Eligibility: High school students who have completed their sophomore or junior year.
  • Important dates: May vary

YESS program in Caltech offers high school students an immersive experience in bioengineering and related fields. Through laboratory work, lectures, and projects, participants gain insight into the latest advancements and techniques in the field. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration and encourages students to explore their interests while developing problem-solving skills critical for bioengineering.

Caltech’s pre-college programs, including YESS, provide a platform for high school students to immerse themselves in cutting-edge research, interact with distinguished faculty members, and connect with peers who share a passion for science and engineering. These programs offer a valuable opportunity for students to enhance their academic skills, engage in research projects, and prepare for future studies in STEM fields.

5. University of California, Berkeley – Biotechnology Leadership Camp (BLC)

  • Location: University of California, Berkeley campus
  • Registration fee: $3,198 for commuters to $5,898 for residential students
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in medicine, science, and technology can apply for the program.
  • Important dates: Session dates for 2024 include June 23 to July 5 (Session 2), July 7 to July 19 (Session 4), and July 21 to August 2 (Session 6)

UC Berkeley’s BLC is a unique summer program that introduces high school students to the intersection of biotechnology and leadership. Through hands-on laboratory experiments, workshops, and discussions with industry leaders, participants deeply understand bioengineering principles while honing their leadership and communication skills. The program also includes field trips and networking opportunities, exposing students to various career paths within the field.

The Biotechnology Leadership Camp at UC Berkeley aims to expose students to fundamental chemical processes in biology, gene expression, genetic engineering, and more. Through hands-on learning experiences and interactions with industry professionals, participants can gain valuable insights into the biotech industry and develop essential skills for future success in this field.

6. Georgia Institute of Technology – Bioengineering Summer Institute (BSI)

  • Location: Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in bioengineering and related fields
  • Important dates: Unspecified

BSI at Georgia Tech offers a comprehensive introduction to bioengineering for high school students through hands-on laboratory experiences, seminars, and workshops. Participants work on projects addressing real-world challenges, guided by faculty and graduate student mentors. The program also includes sessions on career exploration, academic planning, and college readiness, preparing students for future success in bioengineering.

The Biotechnology Leadership Camp at UC Berkeley provides a platform for high school students to understand the world of biotechnology, gain practical laboratory skills, interact with professionals in the field, and explore potential career paths in this dynamic industry. Through this program, students can enhance their understanding of biotechnology concepts and applications while preparing for future studies or careers in related fields. 

7. University of Pennsylvania – Engineering Summer Academy at Penn (ESAP)

  • Location: University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Open for High School Students
  • Important dates: July 7th to July 27th

test tubes with different chemicals

ESAP provides high school students with the opportunity to explore bioengineering and other engineering disciplines through a residential summer program at the University of Pennsylvania. Participants engage in hands-on projects, laboratory experiments, and workshops led by faculty and industry professionals. The program also includes college preparatory sessions, career panels, and social activities, fostering a supportive and enriching learning environment.

ESAP aims to provide exceptional STEM students with a challenging academic environment that mirrors college-level studies in engineering. By participating in ESAP, students can gain valuable insights into various engineering fields, develop critical thinking skills, and prepare themselves for future academic pursuits or careers in engineering.

8. Cornell University – CURIE Academy

  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Female high school students
  • Important dates: 2024 Program Dates is on July 14 – 20, 2024

CURIE Academy at Cornell is a residential summer program designed to inspire high school girls to pursue careers in engineering, including bioengineering. Participants engage in hands-on laboratory experiments, seminars, and workshops led by faculty and graduate students, gaining exposure to various aspects of the field. The program also includes mentorship opportunities, college admissions guidance, and discussions on diversity and inclusion in engineering.

The CURIE Academy at Cornell University aims to inspire and empower young women to pursue careers in engineering by providing them with a supportive and immersive learning experience. Through this program, participants can engage in hands-on projects, interact with faculty members and industry professionals, and gain valuable insights into various engineering fields, preparing them for future studies or careers in STEM disciplines.

9. Carnegie Mellon University – Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS)

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Registration fee: Free
  • Eligibility: The program is open to rising high school seniors with a strong interest in computers, engineering, and science.
  • Important dates: Starts in late June and ends in early August

SAMS at Carnegie Mellon offers a rigorous six-week residential program for high school students interested in bioengineering and other STEM disciplines. Participants engage in hands-on research projects, laboratory experiments, and seminars led by faculty and graduate students. The program also includes college preparatory workshops, career panels, and social activities, providing students with a comprehensive and immersive experience.

SAMS is designed to provide students with a comprehensive college-like experience, including living in a residence hall with a roommate, attending seminars and hands-on projects, and engaging in various academic and social activities. The program is free for admitted students and offers a unique opportunity to explore STEM fields and gain valuable skills needed to pursue careers in these fields.

10. Duke University – Summer Biomedical Engineering Camp – Bioengineering Program for High School Students

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: The program is open to current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who have a minimum GPA of 2.0.
  • Important dates: Session 4 takes place from July 16 to July 22, 2023, and Session 5 from July 23 to July 29, 2023.

Duke’s Summer Biomedical Engineering Camp offers high school students the opportunity to explore bioengineering through hands-on projects, laboratory experiments, and seminars led by faculty and industry professionals. Participants work on projects ranging from tissue engineering to medical device design, gaining insight into the field’s interdisciplinary nature. The program includes college readiness sessions, career panels, and networking opportunities.

As participants in the program, students will be matched with a lab at Duke University, where they will work on a research project under the guidance of a mentor. The program includes social activities, college preparation sessions, and resume writing workshops.

11. University of Michigan – Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Summer Academy

  • Location:
  • Registration fee:
  • Eligibility:
  • Important dates:

The Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Summer Academy at the University of Michigan provides high school students with a comprehensive introduction to bioengineering through laboratory experiments, seminars, and workshops. Participants work on projects addressing real-world challenges, guided by faculty and graduate student mentors. The program also includes sessions on college admissions, career exploration, and research ethics, preparing students for future success in the field.

A researcher working on a object

12. University of California, San Diego – COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science)

  • Location: UC San Diego
  • Registration fee: $3,000 to $6,999
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important dates: January 10th and closed on February 9th

COSMOS at UC San Diego offers a four-week residential program for high school students interested in bioengineering and other STEM disciplines. Participants engage in hands-on laboratory experiments, seminars, and workshops led by faculty and industry professionals. The program also includes field trips, career panels, and social activities, providing students with a holistic and immersive experience in bioengineering.

The COSMOS program at UC San Diego provides a unique opportunity for high school students to engage in advanced coursework, hands-on research projects, and collaborative learning experiences in STEM fields. Through this program, students can enhance their academic preparedness, develop research skills, explore various STEM disciplines, and foster personal growth and development.

13. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) – Engineering Exploration (E2)

  • Location: Troy, New York
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in engineering and related fields.
  • Important dates: Unspecified

E2 at RPI is a summer program that introduces high school students to various engineering disciplines, including bioengineering. Participants engage in hands-on projects, laboratory experiments, and seminars led by faculty and graduate students. The program also includes college preparatory workshops, career panels, and networking opportunities, helping students explore their interests and prepare for future studies in bioengineering.

The Engineering Exploration (E2) program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) offers high school students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in various engineering disciplines through a comprehensive summer experience. The program aims to introduce students to the exciting engineering world, fostering their passion for innovation and problem-solving.

14. Northwestern University – College Preparation Program in Biological Sciences (CPP-Bio)

  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in biological sciences and related fields.
  • Important dates: Unspecified

Little Boy Mixes Chemicals in Beakers.

CPP-Bio at Northwestern offers a summer program for high school students interested in bioengineering and related fields. Participants engage in laboratory experiments, seminars, and workshops led by faculty and graduate students, gaining exposure to cutting-edge research and techniques. The program also includes college readiness sessions, career panels, and social activities, providing students with a supportive and enriching learning environment.

The College Preparation Program in Biological Sciences (CPP-Bio) at Northwestern University is a summer program designed to provide high school students with a comprehensive introduction to biological sciences. Aimed at preparing students for college-level studies in biology and related disciplines, CPP-Bio offers a range of academic and enrichment activities.

15. University of Washington – Young Scholars Program (YSP)

  • Location: Washington
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Researchers focusing on early childhood education policy and practice.
  • Important dates: Unspecified

YSP at the University of Washington offers high school students the opportunity to explore bioengineering through laboratory research, seminars, and workshops. Participants work on projects alongside faculty and graduate student mentors, gaining insight into the field’s interdisciplinary nature. The program also includes college preparatory sessions, career panels, and networking opportunities, helping students prepare for future studies in bioengineering.

The University of Washington’s Young Scholars Program (YSP) offers a five-day program for high school students interested in neuroscience and neural engineering. The program introduces students to the field, provides exposure to the latest developments in brain-computer interfaces, and offers tours of CNT partner labs in various departments. The program aims to prepare students for college studies in STEM subjects and future STEM careers, particularly in neural engineering and neuroscience.

16. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Discover Bioengineering Program

  • Location:  University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in bioengineering.
  • Important dates: Unspecified

The Discover Bioengineering Program at UIUC provides high school students with an immersive experience in bioengineering through laboratory experiments, seminars, and workshops. Participants work on projects addressing real-world challenges, guided by faculty and graduate student mentors. The program also includes sessions on college admissions, career exploration, and research ethics, preparing students for future success in the field.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Bioengineering offers undergraduate biomedical engineering and bioinformatics undergraduate programs. The department prepares students for rewarding careers in the field of future study, including medical school, law school, doctoral degrees, or master’s in biomedical engineering or bioinformatics. The department is known for developing innovative engineering, technology, and quantitative methods in bioengineering.

17. University of Texas at Austin – Freshman Research Initiative (FRI)

  • Location: University of Texas at Austin
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: First-year students accepted into the College of Natural Sciences
  • Important dates: Application deadline for Fall 2024: March 2024, acceptance notifications by April 2024

FRI at UT Austin allows high school students to engage in bioengineering research through hands-on projects, laboratory experiments, and seminars. Participants work on projects alongside faculty and graduate student mentors, gaining valuable research experience and exposure to the field. The program also includes college readiness sessions, career panels, and networking opportunities, helping students prepare for future studies in bioengineering.

The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) at the University of Texas at Austin is a distinctive program designed to involve first-year students in cutting-edge research projects from the start of their academic journey. The program offers research opportunities and aims to provide students with valuable hands-on experience in various scientific fields.

18. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Summer Science Institute (SSI)

  • Location: University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Registration fee: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: High-potential minority and underserved high school students.
  • Important dates: The application deadline is typically in March

SSI at UW-Madison offers high school students the opportunity to explore bioengineering through hands-on laboratory experiences, seminars, and workshops. Participants work on projects led by faculty and graduate student mentors, gaining practical skills and insight into the field’s applications. The program also includes sessions on research ethics, scientific communication, and career pathways, helping students build a strong foundation for future studies and careers in bioengineering.

The Summer Science Institute (SSI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a seven-week residential program designed for high-potential minority and underserved high school students. The program aims to provide students with an understanding of biological research by engaging them in research projects and enhancing their writing and math skills. SSI offers a valuable experience that exposes students to research labs and college life, often leading to further education in STEM fields.

19. Harvard University – Secondary School Program (SSP)

  • Location: Harvard University
  • Registration fee: $75
  • Eligibility: High school students graduating in 2024, 2025, or 2026, at least 16 years old by June 22, 2024, and not turning 19 before July 31, 2024.
  • Important dates: 
  • Early Application and Priority Financial Aid Deadline: January 10, 2024
  • Regular Application and Financial Aid Deadline: February 14, 2024
  • Late Application Deadline: April 10, 2024

Harvard’s SSP offers high school students the chance to engage in bioengineering and related fields through college-level courses and research opportunities. Participants can choose from various biology, engineering, and biotechnology courses, taught by Harvard faculty and researchers. Additionally, students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, allowing them to conduct research and explore their interests under the guidance of experts in the field.

The Secondary School Program (SSP) at Harvard University is a transformative academic program for motivated high school students. Participants can choose between a 4-week residential program or a more flexible 7-week option with residential, online, or commuting formats. The program offers over 200 college courses taught by distinguished faculty, covering various subjects from humanities to STEM. Students gain valuable college experience and earn college credit while engaging in intensive and small classes that encourage peer and faculty interaction.

Dental School

20. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Engineering Innovation Summer Residential Program

  • Location: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Registration Fee: $2,781
  • Eligibility: High school students in grades 9-11 in spring 2024, at least 15 years old by the program start date
  • Important Dates:
    • Application Deadline: June 1, 2024
    • Program Dates: Two 3-week sessions available – Session A: June 24, 2024 – July 12, 2024; Session B: July 15, 2024 – August 2, 2024

UCLA’s Engineering Innovation program offers high school students an immersive experience in bioengineering and other engineering disciplines. Participants engage in hands-on projects, laboratory experiments, and seminars led by UCLA faculty and industry professionals. The program also includes college preparatory workshops, career panels, and networking opportunities, providing students with a comprehensive introduction to bioengineering and pathways for further exploration and study.

The Engineering Innovation Summer Residential Program at UCLA is a comprehensive opportunity for high school students to explore engineering design concepts. Participants engage in hands-on projects, report preparation, and result presentations. The program offers practical research experience, knowledge-building, and social activities under the guidance of experienced faculty members. While specific research disciplines may vary yearly, past options have included biology, physics, electrical and computer engineering, and chemistry. The program is highly competitive, with selected students typically having SAT scores in the 99th percentile.

Understanding the Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

Before diving into the specific programs, it’s important to clearly understand what these programs entail and what you can expect to gain from participating in them. Bioengineering programs for high school students aim to provide participants with a comprehensive overview of the field and its applications. This often includes lectures, laboratory experiments, and mentorship opportunities.

These programs are designed to be immersive experiences, allowing students to engage in hands-on activities and projects that simulate real-world bioengineering scenarios. By participating in these programs, students can enhance their knowledge of bioengineering concepts, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and get a taste of what it’s like to work in the field.

Moreover, these programs often feature guest speakers who are experts in the field of bioengineering, providing students with valuable insights and perspectives on the industry. Networking opportunities are also a key component of these programs, allowing students to connect with like-minded peers and professionals in the field.

Additionally, some bioengineering programs for high school students offer opportunities for participants to work on research projects alongside faculty members or graduate students. This hands-on research experience can be invaluable for students interested in pursuing a career in bioengineering, as it allows them to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting and contribute to ongoing research efforts in the field.

Group of high school students sitting in classroom and writing in notebooks.

Preparing for Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

Participating in a bioengineering program can be a rewarding experience that opens up a world of opportunities in the field of science and technology. To truly make the most out of this experience, it is essential to take some time for preparation. 

Research Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

Take the time to thoroughly research the top bioengineering programs available for high school students. Consider factors such as program duration, location, curriculum, and reputation. Make a list of the programs that align with your interests and goals.

Prepare your application for Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

Most bioengineering programs have a competitive application process. Prepare your application materials carefully, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement highlighting your interest in bioengineering and any relevant experience or skills you possess. Focus on building a solid foundation in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics during high school. Bioengineering programs often require strong quantitative and analytical skills, as well as a deep understanding of biological principles. Take advanced courses in these subjects to challenge yourself and demonstrate your academic preparedness for rigorous engineering coursework.

Plan your schedule in Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

Many bioengineering programs are offered during the summer months, which may require you to adjust your existing commitments. Plan your schedule to ensure you can fully engage in the program without conflicts.

Importance in Preparing for Bioengineering Programs for High School Students

By following these steps, you can maximize your chances of being accepted into a top bioengineering program and make the most out of your participation. 

Furthermore, reaching out to current or former participants of the bioengineering programs you are interested in is beneficial. They can provide valuable insights and firsthand experiences to help you make an informed decision. Connecting with alumni or program coordinators can also give you a better understanding of what to expect and how to best prepare for the program.

Additionally, consider exploring extracurricular activities or projects related to bioengineering to enhance your skills and knowledge in the field. Engaging in hands-on projects, attending workshops, or joining relevant clubs can demonstrate your passion and commitment to bioengineering, strengthening your application and setting you apart from other candidates.

Moreover, preparing for bioengineering programs requires many approaches encompassing academic readiness, practical skills development, research experience, and a strong understanding of the field’s interdisciplinary nature. Cultivating a growth mindset and resilience to navigate challenges and setbacks in scientific research and engineering projects. By taking a proactive approach to academic preparation, practical skills development, interdisciplinary exploration, and personal growth, you can position yourself for success in bioengineering programs and future endeavors in the field.

Conclusion 

Participating in a bioengineering program as a high school student can be a transformative experience, offering valuable insights into the field and setting the stage for future academic and career endeavors. By exploring the top 20 bioengineering programs highlighted in this article, you can make an informed decision and embark on a rewarding journey toward a future in bioengineering. Whether you choose a program focused on genetic engineering, biomedical imaging, or environmental engineering, know that each program will provide you with essential knowledge, skills, and connections that will undoubtedly shape your future in the field of bioengineering.

Remember, the field of bioengineering is vast and constantly evolving, offering numerous opportunities for innovation and impact. By participating in a bioengineering program, you are taking the first step towards becoming part of this exciting field and making a difference in the world through your work.

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