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Top 20 Psychology Summer Research Opportunities for High School Students

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Top 10 psychology summer research opportunities for high school students - brain section

Psychology touches every aspect of human life. Whether you want to be a counselor or just better understand how humans make choices, psychology may be the field for you! This field explores the mind and how it affects social interactions, society itself, and individual health and happiness.

Our top 20 Psychology Summer Research Opportunities for High Schoolers were ranked based 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 psychology research opportunity, consider doing a project through Polygence with one of our psychology mentors.

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Psychology Summer Programs for Teens

20. Cognitive Psychology: How the Brain Works 

Hosting institution: William & Mary

Cost: $995

Format: Online

Application deadline: None

This is a very flexible program in terms of scheduling, and it requires no transcripts or letters of recommendation. It's very broad in its scope and takes you from the origins of psychology 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. Pre-College Summer Session 

Hosting institution: Carnegie Mellon

Cost: $6,282-$12,454 

Format: In-person (Pittsburgh, PA)

Application deadline: March 15th

Get an authentic college experience with this 6-week program that lets high schoolers take undergrad classes from college faculty on the Carnegie Mellon campus and earn college credit. The courses offered vary from year to year, but there is always at least an intro to psychology and a neuroscience class. The cost of the program varies, depending on the number of classes you take and whether you decide to commute in or stay on campus in the dorms.

18. Camp Psych 

Hosting institution: Gettysburg College

Cost: TBD; the program was on hiatus in 2023 and will return in 2024

Format: In-person (Gettysburg, PA)

Application deadline: Rolling admissions

If you’re curious about psychology but not yet ready to commit your entire summer to it, this is a great starter program. This camp is geared toward introducing you to some of the major questions addressed by psychologists, a view into the profession, and then a foray into psychological research methods and hands-on experience applying new skills to real-world issues.

17. Summer Sessions 

Hosting institution: UCLA

Cost: $821-$1,541

Format: In-person (Los Angeles, CA)

Application deadline: February 15th

UCLA Summer Courses gives you the opportunity to take college-level psych classes in person or hybrid (i.e., combination of in person and online). Courses you can take at UCLA as a high school student include: PSYCH 10: Introductory Psychology; PSYCH 15: Introductory Psychobiology; and PSYCH 85: Introduction to Cognitive Science. Your cost depends on how many courses you decide to take. California high school students may be eligible for full or partial scholarships.

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. Your cost varies on whether you commute or board on-campus.

15. Psychology Institute 

Hosting institution: Wake Forest University

Cost: $3,000

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

Application deadline: None

In this deep-dive of a program, you’ll explore the structure of the brain through hands-on dissection. You’ll learn how illusions, emotions, and biases affect how humans see and interact with the world. Finally, you’ll team up and conduct your own observational study and present your research findings. We love how rigorous this program is and how it gives students access to world-class faculty, researchers, and industry professionals. Spring sessions lasting from 1 to 4 weeks are also offered.

14. Experimental Psychology

Hosting institution: Oxford Royale

Cost: £5995 (~$7,572 USD)

Format: In-person (Oxford, UK)

Application deadline: Rolling admissions

Ever wanted to attend the legendary University of Oxford? This program gives you that experience while helping you explore the mind’s inner workings. In addition to studying fundamental psychological concepts, you will debate compelling and controversial issues with fellow students from all over the world. Small class sizes and seminars with world-class guest speakers also make this a compelling program. Despite the prestige of the organization and the many social opportunities, we rated it a bit lower based on the higher price.

13. Introduction to Psychology 

Hosting institution: Cornell University

Cost: $5,040

Format: Online

Application deadline: None

Why don’t psychopaths feel guilty when they harm others? How reliable are childhood memories? Why do we laugh? Do violent video games make people act violently? This online, synchronous/live 6-week course will use the science of psychology to explore these and other existential questions. You can earn up to 3 college credits by completing this immersive course - and still keep your afternoons free for other activities.

12. Pre-College Accelerated Online Semester: Social Psychology 

Hosting institution: Syracuse University

Cost: $695

Format: Online

Application deadline: Rolling basis

This 8-week online, pre-college course is an introduction to social psychology and its experimental approach. While they currently only offer Fall/Spring courses, students attend classes and explore research on topics such as social influence, conformity, social perception, attitude changes, small groups, and collective behavior.

11. EXPLO Psychology + Neuroscience 

Hosting institution: Wellesley College

Cost: $7,350

Format: In-person (Norwood, MA)

Application deadline: None

During this program’s 3-week summer session, you will explore the crossroads of psychology and neuroscience in an attempt to understand and unlock the mysteries of the human brain. Activities include brain dissection, diagnosing mental illness, and analyzing neurochemical reactions.

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10. Social Psychology and the Law 

Hosting institution: Duke

Cost: $3,200-$4,900

Format: In-person (Durham, NC)

Application deadline: May 1st

Those most interested in social psychology might prefer this 2-week option. Psychology and how it impacts (and is impacted by) the law are the subjects you will explore. Some subjects include eyewitness testimony, interrogation, and confessions. You'll also collaborate on a research project with fellow students and deliver a final presentation. The cost depends on whether you decide to commute or board on-campus. 

9. Psychology Summer Program 

Hosting institution: Illinois Tech

Cost: $595-$1,395

Format: In-person (Chicago, IL)

Application deadline: March 1st

This program shines a light on the participants' understanding of themselves, while providing an idea of what it is to be a therapist. During the week, you’ll explore five different topics each day: a general introduction, multicultural psychology, psychology research and technology, psychotherapy, and careers. The cost of the program varies on whether you commute or decide to board on-campus.

8. Summer Challenge 

Hosting institution: Boston University

Cost: $4,550  

Format: In-person (Boston, MA), with limited remote options through Summer Challenge Online

Application deadline: None

Explore the subject(s) you love in-depth without worrying about grades. This 2-week interdisciplinary program offers seminars ranging from Abnormal Psychology to Persuasive Writing. You can choose two non-credit seminars (one in the morning, one in the afternoon). You’ll participate in lectures, discussions, individual and group work, project-based assignments, and field trips. Each seminar concludes with a final class presentation.

7. Psychology and Its Impact on Everyday Life 

Hosting institution: Georgetown University

Cost: $1,495

Format: Online 

Application deadline: April 1st

Need lots of flexibility? This program lets you work a 1-week, 2-week, or 4-week intensive psychology class into your own schedule. It covers social media's effects on the brain, the influence of perception, how the brain works, insight into learning and memory, possible psychology careers, and more. You will complete and present a final product at the end of your session.

6. Psychology and Brain Sciences Pre-College Program 

Hosting institution: Johns Hopkins University

Cost: $4,711-$6,063

Format: In-person (Baltimore, MD)

Application deadline: March 1st

This 2-week session offers a fast-paced college-level learning experience, a chance to learn from Hopkins’ world-renowned instructors, and a peer group of academically oriented students from around the globe. Use this summer course to broaden your knowledge, enhance your college application, and earn college credit. Cost varies depending on whether you want to commute or board on campus.

5. NSLC on Psychology & Neuroscience

Hosting institution: National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)

Cost: $3,895

Format: In-person (Durham, NC; Washington, DC; or San Francisco, CA)

Application deadline: None

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 within the psychology and neuroscience communities.

4. Summer Scholars Program 

Hosting institution: University of Notre Dame

Cost: $4,475

Format: In-person (Notre Dame, IN)

Application deadline: March 18th

This 2-week residential program gives you a taste of what taking a psychology course in college will be like. You'll attend a mix of lectures and discussion seminars, and your reading list will include works on social psychology and philosophical tools. Students can earn one transferable college credit upon the completion of their program. 

3. Summer@Brown 

Hosting institution: Brown University

Cost: $3,000-$6,000

Format: Online or In-person (Providence, RI)

Application deadline: May 12th

You have a lot of options here. Courses range from 1-7 weeks, and you can take them online or in person. Offerings include a variety of study areas, from "Radical Social Movements of the Late 20th Century" to "Food, Identity, and Place", to "Reading Psychoanalysis in American Film & Fiction", and more. If you’re staying on campus, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in additional workshops, activities, and group events.

2. Recruitment & Training for Under-Represented Populations (RTURP) Program 

Hosting institution: Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus

Cost: Full-time, paid position

Format: In-person (Baltimore, MD)

Application deadline: February 1st

This program specializes in the psychology of addiction. And not only is this an immersive 10-week learning experience. It is also a paid summer full-time job. In this highly competitive psychology program, participants will work side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the primary source of scientific knowledge concerning addiction for nearly 60 years. Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to apply. 

1. SHTEM: Summer Internships for High Schoolers 

Hosting institution: Stanford

Cost: Unpaid internship

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

Application deadline: March 15th

SHTEM includes: Science; Humanities; Technology; Engineering; and Mathematics. In this 8-week internship, you work on interdisciplinary projects directly with Stanford faculty and graduate students. Past multifaceted projects have incorporated themes from psychology, neuroscience, design, linguistics, technology, and more. This is an unpaid internship and you will be expected to work anywhere from 30 to 40 hours per week. You will work directly with a mentor once you have been assigned a project.

Other Research Opportunities for High School Students

In addition to this list of psychology research opportunities, there are many more available that you can pursue, either in a formal psychology study program or in another subject area that interests you. Here are a some Polygence resources to check out: 

At 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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Your passion can be your college admissions edge! Polygence provides high schoolers a personalized, flexible research experience proven to boost your admission odds. Get matched to a mentor now!"

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