Polygence blog / Research Opportunities and Ideas

Is HiStep Right For You? A Comprehensive Guide to the HiStep Program

3 minute read

Overview of the HiStep Experience 

HiStep stands for High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program. This program is available to 12th graders to explore careers in science through conducting biomedical research in the NIH Intramural Research Program. 

If you’re a rising high school senior and interested in a career in the biomedical field, the HiSTEP program offers an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in an engaging research experience guided by experts at universities like Harvard and Stanford. Each high school student is also matched with their own mentor who provides personalized guidance focused on your interests while introducing you to their professional network. The goal is to grow intellectually, personally, and socially before college through this structured summer internship. Additionally, HiSTEP is one of the many biotech internships for high school students that provide invaluable hands-on experience and development in the field.

HiStep overview

HiStep Admissions and Logistics

Picture yourself on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, collaborating with experts in biomedical, behavioral, and social sciences. From biology to computer science, pharmaceutical sciences to physics, there's a spot for every aspiring researcher. The best part? You won't be fetching coffee—you'll be working under the guidance of a Principal Investigator in a cutting-edge research group. And it's not just about scientific research—you'll get access to professional development programs and career advising, too. Programs like HiSTEP provide great medical summer research opportunities for high school students, allowing you to gain invaluable experience and insights into your future career path.

Do your own research through Polygence!

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own.

Eligibility Criteria 

The catch? This summer program is open to a current high school junior with a specific background. A student must be:

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents living in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia within 40 miles of the main NIH campus

  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or higher

  • Attend a school where 30% or more of the high school student body participates in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

  • Commit to attending the entire 8-weeks of the biomedical research internship 

The eligibility criteria and deadlines may change from year to year, so it’s best to check on NIH’s official website for any updates before you decide to apply.

What can you get out of the program?

HiStep alumni complete the program transformed in key ways:

  • Exposure to college-level content, research experience, and discussions primes you for the intellectual rigor of higher education. 

  • You’ll build abilities to think critically, communicate persuasively, and research effectively.

  • Testing out academic interests helps solidify prospective college majors and career goals.

  • Faculty mentors provide inspiration through their mentorship and guidance

  • Mentors also become invaluable resources and offer candid advice and networking opportunities.

Contribute to the cure

Interested in Medicine? We'll match you with an expert mentor who will help you explore your next project.

Is HiStep Right for You? Key Questions to ask yourself. 

  • Are you curious to learn about what it’s like to do research?

  • Are you passionate about biomedical sciences and engineering? 

  • Do you want mentor guidance on a research project in this field? 

  • Are you interested in potentially applying to medical schools? 

  • Are you searching for purpose and self-knowledge before college fully begins?

If you answered yes, Hi-Step may be a great biomedical research internship program to invest your summer into. Note that the application portal generally opens in mid-November and closes in February. Deadlines and application criteria changes every year so it’s best to check the official NIH website for details. As of this writing, the Summer 2024 Hi-STEP Internship deadline is on January 19, 2024, and the application can be found here

What if you don’t live in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia? 

If you're itching to dive into the field of biomedical science and engineering but find yourself falling short of the eligibility criteria for the Hi-STEP internship program, fear not – there are many other opportunities available. I've crafted several articles on high school internships in various fields ranging from physics to engineering and robotics that might just hold the key to your research aspirations. Explore these articles for a comprehensive guide on various programs tailored to ambitious high school students through the Polygence blogs page. If you happen to miss a deadline or face location constraints to qualify for a summer internship, consider steering towards the Polygence Core program. 

Polygence Scholars Are Also Passionate About

Polygence opens the door for you to collaborate with mentors spanning various fields and prestigious institutions from the comfort of your own home. Additionally, there are numerous STEM scholarships for high school students that can help fund your academic and research ventures. Whether you’re curious about what you can do with a biochemistry degree, aiming for a career in biomedical science, or exploring engineering, there's a path for you, and we’re here to help you navigate it. You can learn more about our mentors' or students' projects here.

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