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Top 10 Neuroscience Summer Research Opportunities for High School Students

11 minute read

The term “neuroscience” or “neurosciences” encompasses a broad range of topics and areas in the human experience. Once classed as a subdivision of biology, many now understand it to be an interdisciplinary science connected with other disciplines, such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, and medicine. Many students ask us where they can go to get hands-on research experience over the summer - you asked and we listened!

The term “neuroscience” or “neurosciences” encompasses a broad range of topics and areas in the human experience. Once classed as a subdivision of biology, many now understand it to be an interdisciplinary science connected with other disciplines, such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, and medicine.

Here are our top 20 Neuroscience Summer Research Opportunities for High Schoolers scored on their:

  • Affordability (paid internships and free programs score above expensive programs)

  • Name recognition or prestige

  • Academic rigor

  • Social opportunities

  • Time commitment (longer programs score higher)

If you’re searching for a virtual research opportunity, you can also consider doing a project through Polygence with one of our neuroscience mentors.

Do your own research with Polygence this summer!

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.

20. Cognitive Psychology: How the Brain Works

Hosting institution: William & Mary

Cost: $995

Format: Online

Application deadline: None

If you need a very flexible program in terms of scheduling, this is a good one. It requires no transcripts or letters of recommendation and is very broad in its scope covering the origins of brain science to its role in robotics today. You'll also study brain anatomy and physiology. Other subjects include positive thinking, memory, decision-making, and cognitive psychology in the fields of health care, law, and education.

19. Psychology & Neuroscience

Hosting institution: National Student Leadership Conference

Cost: $3,895

Format: In-person (Durham, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.)

Application deadline: Rolling admissions

This very hands-on, 9-day program helps you explore the relationships between the brain and human behavior. You'll dissect brain tissue and learn to identify abnormal findings. You'll do clinical diagnostic simulations and humor behavior workshops, go on field trips to nearby medical facilities, and learn from esteemed guest speakers from the psychology and neuroscience communities.

18. Neuroscience Academy

Hosting institution: Oxford Scholastica Academy at Oxford

Cost: £5,995 ($7,562.33)

Format: In-person (Oxford, UK)

Application deadline: Rolling admissions

Held in historic Oxford University, this 2-week course covers a lot of ground, including neuro-imaging, love and attachment, mood, memory, and intelligence.  You’ll work with a team to complete and present a research project that answers a specific Psychology Challenge. You’ll also meet successful professionals form the field of neuroscience and discuss pathways to various career options. A great option also if you’re able to travel and want to meet people from all over the world. 

17. Neuroscience STEM Academy

Hosting institution: University of Colorado

Cost: $625.00

Format: In-person (Boulder, CO)

Application deadline: June 16th

If you’re more interested in brain physiology and how it controls what we do, this course takes you right into brain anatomy and function. You’ll take part in hands-on activities and experiments, take lab tours, and watch guest presentations. Specifically, you’ll explore the topic of brain plasticity in development and the role of genetics in behavior. 

16. Psychology & Neuroscience at Yale

Hosting institution: Summer Springboard

Cost: $3,098-$5,898 

Format: In-person (New Haven, CT)

Application deadline: February 15th

This hands-on program is a blend of psychology and neuroscience topics. You'll visit the Cushing Center at Yale, named after Harvey Cushing, the father of neurosurgery. As your final project, you will propose your own psychology theory, run an experiment to test it and give a presentation about your findings to the class. You can commute in or stay on campus. Cost varies on whether you commute or board on-campus.

15. Explorations in Neuroscience Summer Camp

Hosting institution: Ohio State University

Cost: $750

Format: In-person (Columbus, OH)

Application deadline: March 6th

For 1 week, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with faculty and graduate students carrying out neuroscience-related research and join discussion groups at the Department of Neuroscience. You’ll learn about new techniques that are being used to treat nervous system disorders, such as spinal cord injury and  Parkinson's Disease. You’ll also meet with clinicians from various clinical departments such as Neurology and Neurosurgery and discuss career options and educational paths. 

14. Explorations in Neuroscience: Neurons, Behavior, and Beyond

Hosting institution: University of Chicago

Cost: $8,350

Format: In-person (Chicago, IL)

Application deadline: May 1st

This on-campus program is a rigorous 3-week immersion into how the electrochemical and circuit activity of the brain create sensation, perception, and behaviors. You’ll spend time in the lab learning about the latest experimental methods being used in neuroscience research, including sequence analysis, fluorescence microscopy of nervous tissue, and behavioral assays. During your final week, you will work on a team presentation that will be presented to the entire class. 

13. Neuroscience Institute

Hosting institution: Wake Forest University

Cost: $3,000

Format: In-person (Winston-Salem, NC)

Application deadline: Rolling admissions

Roll up your sleeves because this 1-week program kicks off by exploring neuroanatomy via a sheep brain dissection. You’ll also be learning about neuropharmacology (how drugs affect the brain) and how sensory systems detect stimuli, as well as visiting neuroscience labs to see how human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) work.  

12. Summer Scholars Program

Hosting institution: University of Notre Dame

Cost: $4,475

Format: In-person (Notre Dame, IN)

Application deadline: March 18th

How does the brain change as we age? How does that affect our ability to learn and remember? How does distraction affect our ability to process information? How can we help damaged brains recover their function? This 2-week residential program covers these questions and more in a mix of class lectures and hands-on lab activities. You’ll use electroencephalography (EEG) to observe your own neural responses.  

11. Psychology and Brain Sciences Pre-College Program

Hosting institution: Johns Hopkins University

Cost: $1,950 per credit ($562 non-credit)

Format:  Online

Application deadline: March 1st

This 2-week fast-paced session gives you a taste of what a neuroscience program with world-renowned instructors and Johns Hopkins is like. You can choose from courses such as Neurobiology: Cellular and Systems, Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Psychopathology, and more. You can also choose from a host of other medicine and psychology classes to broaden your knowledge and earn academic credit.

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10. EXPLO Psychology + Neuroscience

Hosting institution: Wellesley College

Cost: $7,350

Format: In-person (Norwood, MA)

Application deadline: None

EXPLO’s Career Concentrations gives students interested in neuroscience the chance to dive deep into highly specific topics. You will dissect a brain, diagnose mental illness in patients, and analyze neurochemical reactions to connect how brain structures and biology deeply impact how humans think and behave. Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, one of the most-cited scientists in the world for her research, will be a guest instructor.

9. Neuroscience of Psychiatric Disorders

Hosting institution: Columbia University

Cost: $2,825

Format: In-person (New York City, NY)

Application deadline: March 1st

This 1-week course will explore the underlying brain processes of addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia with world-class experts and researchers. You’ll also study how molecular, cellular, and hormonal changes contribute to how these diseases progress. And you’ll experience this with a supportive group of like-minded global students in one of the world’s great cities. 

8. Neuroscience Camp

Hosting institution: Drexel University College of Medicine

Cost: $2,200

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: April 1st

This 2-week day camp (it’s not residential) is composed of a series of lectures (subjects include brain anatomy, cellular neuroscience, sensory processing, and brain machine interfacing), lab demonstrations, then hands-on lab research. You’ll work on a group project that you will present to the faculty. There will also be field trips to brain exhibits at the Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences. 

7. Clinical Neuroscience Immersion Experience (CNI-X)

Hosting institution: Stanford University

Cost: $1,295-$2,590

Format: Online or in-person (Stanford, CA)

Application deadline: March 1st

If you’re primarily interested in medicine, this is a great pick for you. This 10-day program provides you with basic exposure to the study of neuroscience, psychiatry, and brain science in addition to a potential chance to finish a cooperative capstone project. You’ll get the chance to work with Stanford professors and researchers and engage in exciting and cutting-edge research in the standards of neuroscience, clinical neuropsychiatry, and other areas within neuroscience research. In addition to participating in interactive lectures, you would also work in small teams to design solutions to pressing issues related to psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience. 

6. Research Experience for High School Students (REHS)

Hosting institution: University of California, San Diego

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (San Diego, CA)

Application deadline: March 1st

Although it’s billed as a program to increase awareness of computational science, quite a few of the available mentor projects focus on the study of neurological disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s and the modeling of neurons. During this 8-week volunteer program, you will gain exposure to career options, hands-on computational experience, work readiness skills, and mentoring by computational research scientists. You'll take part in regular lab meetings and participate in group discussions. At the end of the program, you will create a scientific poster highlighting your research and future career goals. 

5. Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) Practicum Track

Hosting institution: Boston University

Cost: Paid a stipend of $1,500

Format: In-person (Boston, MA)

Application deadline: February 1st

If you want to really hone your research skills in a lab setting before you get to college, this 6-week computational neurobiology program gives you the chance to conduct it in a structured lab setting. Your lab work will be combined with lectures and workshops on the scientific process, research ethics, reading a research paper, presenting scientific research, and networking in the scientific community. You’ll also tour biotech companies in the Boston area and get a behind-the-scenes look at how they operate.

4. Secondary School Program

Hosting institution: Harvard University

Cost: $3,600–$13,750

Format: In person (Cambridge, MA)

Application deadline: April 26th

This rigorous 7-week academic program gives you a true feel for college and the field of neurobiology. You can choose from courses such as Neuroinvesting: Neuroscience and Financial Decision Making, Mind, and Brain: Themes in the History of Neuroscience, Becoming a Brain Scientist: Neuroscience and Psychology Research, and more. Needless to say, Harvard is a prestigious institution, and you will be taking real college courses taught by distinguished Harvard professors and visiting faculty. You will also receive college credit. 

3. Summer College Immersion Program (SCIP)

Hosting institution: UCLA

Cost: $3,000-$5,000

Format: In person (Los Angeles, CA)

Application deadline: May 1st

While a competitive program with an acceptance rate around 15-20%, it’s a great opportunity for you to experience college life, lectures, workshops, and seminars at a top school. For 6 weeks, you’ll have access to courses such as Brain Made Simple: Neuroscience for 21st Century, Introduction to Neuroscience Methods: Art and Science of Studying Brain, Introduction to Functional Anatomy of Central Nervous System, among others. A co-curricular component teaches useful skills to help with college admissions and academic life. Cost depends on the number of classes taken.

2. Summer Research Internship

Hosting institution: Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI)

Cost: Full-time paid internship

Format: In-person (Jupiter, FL)

Application deadline: March 1st

Though we’re aware the eligible students for this program is smaller than most (you must be a junior or senior at a Palm Beach County or Martin County high school in Florida), it’s a great learning experience and students are fully compensated for their work. For 6 weeks, you will work directly with MPFI researchers on active projects doing “wet lab” techniques such as genetic engineering, microbiology preparations, histological staining, and microscopy.


Hosting institution: Columbia University

Cost: Paid a stipend

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: April 1st

BRAINYAC is bit of a niche neuroscience program based solely in New York City, but it provides exceptional mentorship at no cost to the student. The Zuckerman Institute’s Brain Research Apprenticeships offers New York City high-school students a hands-on summer research experience in a Columbia laboratory. Each student is matched with a Columbia neuroscientist who guides the student through a research project for 7 weeks. Participants learn key skills required to work in a research environment, and the experience looks great on a college application.        

Looking for other types of research opportunities? Read our complete guide to research opportunities for high school students in 2023.

If you're interested in a more customized experience, learn more about Polygence. We offer students the opportunity to get 1:1 project mentorship from expert mentors and researchers. Students are in the driver’s seat of their education here, and whatever project you want to do, we will help you make it happen!

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