Top 20 Neuroscience Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

neuroscientists working inside a lab

Let’s explore the best opportunities for young enthusiasts in the captivating world of neuroscience. This guide highlights the top 20 programs that give high school students the chance to immerse themselves in brain studies, learn from top experts, and get hands-on experience in the advanced neuroscience field. Whether you’re beginning to explore your interest in neuroscience or aiming to deepen your understanding, our list of top programs offers valuable insights and helps you start your scientific journey.

Our guide offers a closer look at top neuroscience programs for high school students, providing a pathway to explore and deepen their understanding of this field.

a neuroscientist inside a laboratory


Top 20 Neuroscience Programs for High School Students

1. National Student Leadership Conference – Psychology & Neuroscience

  • Location: Durham, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
  • Estimated Cost: $3,895
  • Eligibility: Sophomore to Junior year
  • Important Dates: June 27 – July 22, 2023 (Program Dates)

Participants in this comprehensive program are ushered into a transformative healthcare experience, one that is designed to ignite a passion for medicine. Through interactive and engaging workshops, they become integral to patient care, delving into the medical field with a hands-on approach.

They engage with patients, conduct diagnostic tests, and develop treatment plans within a collaborative and realistic multi-day simulation. Armed with scalpels and forceps, participants dissect real organs to gain a firsthand understanding of human anatomy. 

The program takes participants into the realm of the human psyche. Covering cognitive, developmental, and abnormal psychology, the workshops provide insights into the core theories that inform our understanding of mental health.

Participants are given the tools to impact public health positively. They work in teams to devise and promote public service announcements that address and strategize interventions for mental health issues within the community.

Designed to provide real-world insights into healthcare, the program equips participants with knowledge and skills that reach beyond the confines of the classroom. It sets them on an educational trajectory that not only satisfies their intellectual curiosity but also enhances their capacity to contribute meaningfully to the field of healthcare.

2. UCI Brain Camp

  • Location: University of California, Irvine
  • Estimated Cost: $2,195
  • Eligibility: Grades 6 to 12
  • Important Dates: July 29 – August 9, 2024 (Camp Dates), December 5, 2023 (Registration)

The UCI Brain Camp is a summer initiative aimed at middle and high school students with a keen interest in the workings of the brain. The camp’s schedule includes a mix of lectures and seminars, interactive workshops, laboratory tours, and practical experiences such as dissections and experiments, all designed to give participants a hands-on understanding of the brain and its functions.

The camp covers a wide array of topics including the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord, the mechanics behind sensation and perception, and the complexities of learning and memory. Students will also delve into advanced areas such as brain-machine interfaces, neuropathology, neuropharmacology, and comparative neuroanatomy. 

In addition to theoretical knowledge, participants will engage directly in laboratory work to familiarize themselves with the latest neuroscience tools and technologies like electrophysiology, brain imaging, and animal models, including cutting-edge practices such as optogenetics and DREADDs.

Workshops provide skill-building opportunities in experimental design, data analysis, scientific communication, and neuroethics, ensuring students develop a well-rounded foundation in research methodology and ethics. The camp fosters interaction with distinguished neuroscience professors and scholars from UC Irvine, offering students a window into college life and career paths in neuroscience.

3. Boston University Summer Program in Neuroscience (SPIN)

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Estimated Cost: $4,000
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Important Dates: June 3 – July 25, 202 (Program Dates), March 18th, 2024 (Application Deadline)

SPIN gives students a deep dive into the neuroscience field. This comprehensive program blends coursework with hands-on lab work and research opportunities, helping you understand the brain and nervous system thoroughly. Led by experienced faculty, SPIN allows you to delve into the latest research and hone your scientific skills. It’s a unique opportunity to expand your knowledge and develop expertise in neuroscience.

4. Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience Summer Research Internship

  • Location: Palm Beach County, FL
  • Estimated Cost: $12.5-$11.50/hour
  • Eligibility: Must be 16 years of age or older
  • Important Dates: Set to open in early January 2025

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience Summer Research Internship offers students a unique opportunity to engage in cutting-edge neuroscience research. Participants work alongside leading scientists, gaining hands-on experience and exposure to state-of-the-art technologies.

The program emphasizes mentorship, collaboration, and professional development, providing a stimulating environment for aspiring neuroscientists to explore their interests and contribute to the field.

5. Neuroscience Camp at Drexel University

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Estimated Cost: $2,200
  • Eligibility: high school juniors and sophomores
  • Important Dates: July 8–19, 2024 (Program Dates), April 15, 2024 (Application Deadline)

The Drexel University College of Medicine opens its doors to high school sophomores and juniors through its Neuroscience Camp, led by distinguished faculty Jed Shumsky, PhD, and Michael Lane, PhD. This educational opportunity is tailored for students deeply interested in neuroscience and research, who demonstrate excellence in their academic endeavors. 

At the Neuroscience Camp, students learn the unique chance to observe brain activity in real-time through live recordings. The camp’s curriculum includes engaging lectures covering a range of subjects such as brain and spinal cord anatomy, electrophysiology, cellular neuroscience, sensory processing, and the latest advances in brain-machine interfacing.

This intensive camp is about experiencing and participating in the vibrant world of neuroscience. Aspiring young scientists will leave with a newfound appreciation for the complexities of the brain, as well as a strong foundation for their future academic and research pursuits in the realm of neuroscience.

two neuroscientists analyzing a brain scan projected through the computer screen

6. Johns Hopkins Internship in Brain Sciences (JHIBS)

  • Location: JHU, East Baltimore campus
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors
  • Important Dates: December 1 to March 1 (Application window)

The Johns Hopkins Internship in Brain Sciences (JHIBS) is a pivotal summer research program crafted for high school juniors and seniors. It is dedicated to kindling their enthusiasm for a future in neurological sciences. Recognizing that a significant number of college students decide to pursue STEM careers during their high school years, JHIBS seeks to engage these students at a crucial decision-making point in their educational journey.

This program provides them with hands-on research experiences under the guidance of seasoned mentors and a suite of supportive educational resources. The goal is to cultivate a nurturing environment that steers academically talented students toward a fulfilling career as researchers or clinician-scientists at the highest levels of the profession. 

Through pre-college exposure and sustained mentorship, JHIBS commits to assisting young minds in their quest to explore and potentially commit to the dynamic and impactful field of neurological sciences.

7. Neuroscience Summer Institute at Carleton College

  • Location: Northfield, MN
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: High School Students
  • Important Dates: July 6 to July 26, 2024 (Program Dates)

This program introduces participants to the fundamentals of neuroscience, covering topics such as brain anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. It features an intensive “Introduction to Neuroscience” course where participants engage in team-based learning, research methods, and hands-on activities, including sheep brain dissection, behavioral testing, microscope work, data analysis, and small animal brain surgery. Participants have the opportunity to earn up to six Carleton course credits, typically equivalent to three-semester credits at other institutions.

8. Emory University’s Neuroscience Institute Summer Program

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors with a background in biology, chemistry, or research.
  • Important Dates: July 8–19, 2024 (Program Dates), April 15, 2024 (Application Deadline)

This program is designed to immerse undergraduate students in the world of independent research. With the guidance of a faculty mentor, students from a wide array of academic backgrounds—including humanities, arts, social sciences, natural sciences, neuroscience, and engineering—are encouraged to dive deep into their research interests.

The program is inclusive and aims to support a diverse group of students, providing them with a housing award and stipend to facilitate a focus on their research endeavors without financial distractions. SURE’s commitment to professional development is evident in its comprehensive benefits, which include practical research experience, personalized mentorship, and valuable networking opportunities.

Participants of SURE at Emory will prepare them for graduate school through active discussions and collaborations. They have the chance to connect with leading researchers and like-minded, ambitious peers from Emory and beyond, forging professional relationships that will benefit their future academic and research careers.

9. Brain Sciences Summer Institute – Washington University in St. Louis

  • Location: St. Louis, Mo
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: May 1, 2023 (Application Deadline), June 12 – June 25, 2023 (Program Dates)

The Brain Sciences Summer Institute presents high school students with a comprehensive neuroscience program. Over three weeks, participants get an experiential overview of topics like brain anatomy, physiology, and chemistry, as well as studies on sleep, brain disorders, drugs, cognitive science, and philosophical aspects of neuroscience. Students can earn up to six Carleton course credits upon successful completion, generally equivalent to three-semester credits elsewhere.

portrait of young teenager junior high school student studying at home

10. Harvard’s Secondary School Program – Neurodiversity 

  • Location: Harvard University (residential, commuting, or virtual)
  • Estimated Cost: $3,600 to $13,750
  • Eligibility: Must be at least 16 years old by June 22, 2024, and not turn 19 years old before July 31, 2024.
  • Important Dates: June 20, 2024 (Last day to register)

The course is designed to deepen participants’ understanding of neurodiversity, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to create inclusive environments for individuals with diverse neurological profiles. Participants will explore the complexities of human neurodiversity, including conditions like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia.

Exploring the scientific, social, and cultural facets of neurodiversity gives participants a solid understanding of the topic. This well-rounded approach enables them to support and value the diverse neurological landscapes in society effectively.

11. Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Opportunity (NURO)

  • Location: University of Michigan
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: Must have completed their second or third year of undergraduate studies
  • Important Dates: May 28th to July 25th, 2024 (Program Dates), February 29, 2024 (Application Deadline)

NURO aims to provide a practical research experience in a neuroscience lab, helping students build hands-on skills and deepen their knowledge. Funded by an R25 grant from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS) and the National Institute of Health, along with support from the University of Michigan’s Neuroscience Graduate Program, it’s an excellent avenue for students to advance in the neuroscience domain.

12. Rice Neuroscience Society’s Neurocamp

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Estimated Cost: Free, funded through Rice grants and scholarships.
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: July 8th or July 9th, 2023 (Online Camp), August 5-6, 2023 (In-person Camp), April 21, 2023 (Application Deadline)

The Rice Neuroscience Society’s NeuroCamp is a detailed program aimed at teaching and researching neuroscience topics for high school students. The camp focuses on introducing participants to key neuroscience areas such as neurons, neurotransmission, neurological diseases, and neuroanatomy through interactive lectures and hands-on science activities. It also helps students acquire STEM and professional skills, alongside basic laboratory techniques through independent experiments.

13. University of Chicago’s Explorations in Neuroscience

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: Grades 9th-11th
  • Important Dates: June 17 – July 5, 2024 (Session I), July 26, 2024 (Session II)

Through inquiry-driven activities, students participate in hands-on lab work, molecular sequence analysis, fluorescence microscopy of nervous tissues, and behavioral assays. The program aims to shed light on the biological basis of various functions like sensation, perception, and emotion and includes studying nervous systems across species to understand the brain’s evolution.

Emphasizing comparative analysis, molecular mechanisms, and experimental neuroscience methods, students learn to interpret neurobiological data and evaluate clinical neurological cases, enhancing their understanding of both healthy and diseased nervous system states. This course encourages scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and a comprehensive grasp of neuroscience principles.

14. University of Minnesota’s Neuroscience Summer Program

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: High School students
  • Important Dates: Not Specified

This program is designed to inspire and train undergraduate students, with an emphasis on those underrepresented in neuroscience research. It offers intensive research experience, professional mentoring, academic skills training, graduate school preparation, and workshops on research ethics.

Its objective is to empower bright, talented undergraduates to contribute to neurological disorder cures, responding to the growing incidence of nervous system disorders in society.

15. UPenn’s Neuroscience Research Academy

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Estimated Cost: Not Specified
  • Eligibility: Should have completed 1 year of high school biology and one year of high school chemistry.
  • Important Dates: July 6 to July 27, 2024 (Program Dates)

The UPenn Neuroscience Research Academy is a renowned program that offers an in-depth exploration of the brain’s biological basis, covering topics from neuron cellular structure to complex cognitive functions like memory, emotion, and ethics. Conducted by faculty from Penn’s Biological Basis of Behavior program, it equips students with a broad understanding of neuroscience in research and medical contexts. The curriculum includes lectures, faculty discussions, neuroscience literature reviews, neuroethics debates, hands-on lab work, and trips to the Mütter Museum and Franklin Institute.

a college function hall filled with students and a speaker standing in front

16. Psychology & Neuroscience at Yale (Summer Springboard)

  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Estimated Cost: $6,098 (Residential Tuition), $3,198 (Commuter Tuition)
  • Eligibility: High School students
  • Important Dates: July 14, 2024 – July 26, 2024 (Session 1), July 28, 2024 – August 9, 2024 (Session 2)

This program delves into the mysteries of the mind, exploring the intricate connections between the brain and human behavior. Participants will tackle complex questions by engaging in hands-on activities, including brain dissection and real-world experiments. The program offers insights into various treatment strategies for mental health issues, impacting countless individuals globally. 

Attendees will have the unique opportunity to interact with seasoned professionals like clinical psychologists, neurologists, and researchers. Featuring psychology simulations and neurology workshops, the program allows for a deep understanding of both the physical aspects of the brain and the nuances of human behavior, providing a comprehensive platform for those fascinated by the crossroads of psychology and neuroscience.

17. Ohio State University’s Explorations in Neuroscience Summer Camp

  • Location: Ohio State University
  • Estimated Cost: $750
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors or seniors and graduating seniors in high school
  • Important Dates: June 3 – 7, 2024 (Camp Dates), March 8, 2024 (Application Deadline)

The Ohio State University’s Explorations in Neuroscience Summer Camp is a detailed program for high school juniors and seniors to explore the complexities of the brain and spinal cord, both in health and disease. The program features talks on advanced nervous system treatments, discussions on neuroscience topics, and demonstrations of methods such as behavioral paradigms and physiological recordings. Students can rotate through research labs, participate in discussions with neuroscience graduate students, and discover various career paths in neuroscience, leading to graduate school and medical professions. The camp is designed to build a solid foundation for aspiring neuroscientists, offering a significant stepping stone for students interested in neuroscience majors and careers.

18. Wake Forest University’s Neuroscience Institute

  • Location: Winston-Salem, NC
  • Estimated Cost: $3,000
  • Eligibility: Grades 9th to 12th
  • Important Dates: July 7 – 12, July 14 – 19 (Program Dates)

This hands-on experience dives into the brain’s development, functionality, and learning processes. Participants will be involved in a variety of activities, including sheep brain dissections, neuroscience experiments, lab visits, and neuroimaging observations. The curriculum encompasses neuroanatomy, neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, neuropharmacology, and electrophysiology.

19. University of Notre Dame’s Neuroscience: Understanding the Human Body’s Command Center Summer Scholars 

  • Location: South Bend, IN
  • Estimated Cost: $4,000
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Important Dates: February 20, 2024 (Application Deadline), June 8 – 22, 2024 (Session 1), June 29 – July 13, 2024 (Session 2)

This two-week intensive program at Notre Dame immerses students in the field of neuroscience, covering neuroanatomy, neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, among other topics. Guided by Notre Dame faculty, the course offers a hands-on learning experience through discussions, lab work, and interactive activities, enhancing students’ understanding of the brain and its functions. The program’s goal is to create a stimulating and educational environment, allowing students to delve into their neuroscience interests and gain valuable insights into this captivating field.

20. Johns Hopkins University’s Psychology and Brain Sciences Pre-College Program

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Estimated Cost: $4,000
  • Eligibility: High school students with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Important Dates: Not Specified

The Johns Hopkins University’s Psychology and Brain Sciences Pre-College Program offers high school students a range of courses in psychology and neuroscience, including Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Neuroscience, and Neurobiology: Cellular and Systems, among others. This two-week program aims to give students a thorough understanding of the brain, behavior, and mental health. It blends asynchronous and synchronous learning, complemented by virtual clubs, workshops, guest lectures, and special events to enrich the educational experience.

These programs offer high school students diverse opportunities to delve into neuroscience, encompassing research, clinical exposure, and academic coursework.

medical student interns


How to Find the Best Neuroscience Programs for You?

Finding the best neuroscience programs involves considering your academic interests, career goals, and the qualities of the institutions offering these programs. Here are some steps to help you find the right neuroscience program for you:

Identify Your Interests

Neuroscience is a broad field, including areas like cognitive neuroscience, neurobiology, computational neuroscience, and more. Determine which area fascinates you the most to narrow down your search. Understanding your passion in this diverse field will guide you in choosing a program that aligns with your curiosity and long-term goals.

Research Institutions

Look for universities or institutions known for their neuroscience research and programs. Check their rankings, but also consider the faculty, research facilities, and the focus areas they offer. Investigate the institution’s reputation in the neuroscience community and its contribution to groundbreaking research.

Program Offerings

Investigate the specific programs offered. Look at the curriculum, the required coursework, and the electives. Ensure they align with your interests and career aspirations. A program that offers a blend of theory and practical application can provide a comprehensive learning experience.


Location and Resources

Consider the location of the program and what resources are available, including labs, research opportunities, and internships. Proximity to research hospitals, tech companies, or neuroscience institutes can enhance practical learning experiences. Access to state-of-the-art facilities and collaboration opportunities can significantly impact your academic and research development.

View of students using computers.

Alumni and Employment Outcomes

Research where graduates of the program end up working and in what roles. This can give you a sense of the program’s reputation in the job market and its network. Understanding the success of alumni can provide insights into the program’s effectiveness in preparing students for their careers.

Financial Considerations

Look into tuition costs, availability of scholarships, and financial aid options. Remember, investing in education should be sustainable and not overly burdensome financially. Assessing the return on investment can help in making an informed decision about your education.

Visit and Connect

If possible, visit the campuses, meet faculty members, and talk to current students. Attending open days or virtual tours can provide insight into the program’s culture and environment. Personal interactions can offer a deeper understanding of the community and support systems available.


Ensure the program is accredited by a recognized body. Accreditation assures the quality and standards of the educational program. This recognition is crucial for ensuring that your degree will be respected and valued in the professional world.

To find the right neuroscience program, align it with your academic, professional, and personal goals. This informed decision will lay the groundwork for a fulfilling career in neuroscience.

Young woman using a laptop in a table.

How Can Participants Benefit from Attending Top Neuroscience Programs for High School Students?

Students get the opportunity to learn about complex topics in neuroscience that are often not covered in standard high school curricula. This can include learning about brain anatomy, neural networks, cognitive processes, and the latest research in the field.

Many of these programs provide hands-on laboratory experience, allowing students to conduct experiments, use advanced equipment, and learn research techniques. This practical experience can be invaluable for understanding the day-to-day work of neuroscientists.

These programs can help students determine if they want to pursue a career in neuroscience or a related field. They often include career talks, mentoring sessions, and opportunities to meet with professionals in the field.

Students can better prepare for the challenges of college-level coursework. They also gain experience in a college environment, which can ease the transition from high school to college.

This will help build relationships with peers who have similar interests, as well as with faculty and professionals in the neuroscience field. These connections can be helpful for future academic and career opportunities.

Participation in prestigious neuroscience programs can enhance a student’s college application, demonstrating their commitment to and passion for the field. Some programs also offer college credits or certificates that can bolster a student’s academic credentials.

Engaging with challenging content, collaborating with peers, and navigating a semi-independent learning environment can foster personal growth, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.

Top neuroscience programs for high school students offer a comprehensive set of benefits that can support academic development, career exploration, college preparation, networking, and personal growth.

Multi-ethnic students standing near the building.

How Does Participation in Neuroscience Programs for High School Students Impact College Admissions?

Participating in neuroscience programs for high school students can greatly influence college admissions in several key ways. These programs offer rigorous academic enrichment and research opportunities, showcasing a student’s capability for college-level work in neuroscience. They also demonstrate a sustained interest in the field, which colleges value in applicants.

Being selected for such programs provides a competitive advantage, offers valuable research experience, helps in securing strong letters of recommendation, fosters skill development, and facilitates networking with peers and professionals. Overall, participation in these programs enhances a student’s college application by highlighting academic abilities, commitment to neuroscience, and valuable experiences and skills.

a female pre law student using her laptop inside the library

Final Thoughts

Joining top neuroscience programs for high school students can be a game-changer. These programs provide a chance to dive into the intriguing world of neuroscience, get hands-on research experience, and meet others with similar interests and experts in the field.

Participating in these programs helps students build crucial skills, boost their college applications, and set a strong foundation for a future in neuroscience or related fields. It’s not just about learning; it’s about growing academically and personally while paving the way for long-term success.


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