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Research Opportunities for High School Students in 2024: More Than 50 Options Across Multiple Academic Disciplines and Interests

24 minute read

High school research projects offer a gateway for exploring passions, honing critical skills, and showcasing ambition for college admissions. Details from Harvard suggest that applicants who provide evidence of “substantial scholarship or academic creativity” have a much greater chance of gaining admission.

High school research projects offer a gateway for exploring passions, honing critical skills, and showcasing ambition for college admissions. Details from Harvard suggest that applicants who provide evidence of “substantial scholarship or academic creativity” have a much greater chance of gaining admission. In fact, 92% of students who completed the Polygence high school student research program were admitted to R1 universities in 2023. They significantly enhance a student's profile and academic creativity, boosting their chances of admission to top universities. These projects not only boost learning enthusiasm but also contribute positively to mental well-being.

Our curated list provides a program overview of over 50 research opportunities and programs for high school students covering various fields, emphasizing affordability, prestige, rigor, and social engagement. We encourage current students to verify program details, such as the necessary application information, and review updates as they may change yearly.

For personalized, self-driven projects, consider Polygence Core Program research mentorship to achieve your unique goals.

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.

7 Top Business, Economics, Finance, and Leadership Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. BETA Camp 

Hosting institution: BETA Camp


  • Super Early Bird (Enroll by January 15, 2024): $3,000

  • Early Bird (Enroll by March 1, 2024): $3,500

  • Regular (Enjoll by June 15, 2024): $3,950

Format: Online

Application deadline: Mid-April

In this 6-week program, high school students aged 13-18 can learn from experts at world-class companies like Google, IKEA, Airbnb, and more. Participants create a real-world company, reach out to influencers, and partner with them to promote a real solution. Participants also practice their skills on real companies with feedback from their top executives. Finally, all learnings go toward building your own startup with weekly guidance. 

2. Essentials of Finance 

Hosting institution: Wharton University

Cost: $7,299

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: Early April

This two-week intensive program gives high school students in grades 9 - 11 an opportunity to learn finance theory and methods at one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. Participants are exposed to the fundamentals of both personal and corporate finance. Other topics include the time value of money, the trade-off between risk and return, equities, and corporate accounting. You’ll learn the fundamentals of finance with real-world applications and case studies.

3. Berkeley Business Academy for Youth (B-BAY)

Hosting Institution: Haas School of Business - University of California, Berkeley

Cost: $7,050

Format: In-person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: Mid-March

With an intimate cohort of only 50 students, this immersive two-week college prep business program invites students to learn concepts of teamwork, communications, presentations, writing a business plan, and research skills. While immersed in on-campus life, participants also experience social activities, hear from guest speakers, and collaborate with a team to build a business plan which they then present at the end of the course. We think this is a great, immersive experience and B-BAY’s cost is the only reason it falls lower on the list of top business research opportunities for high school students.

4. Entrepreneurship Academy

Hosting Institution: Georgetown University

Cost: Estimated tuition $5,775

Format: In-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline:

  • Early Bird Deadline: January 31, 2024

  • Final Deadline: May 15, 2024

This high school student business program in Washington, DC, would have been higher on our list, but the Entrepreneurship Academy price tag relative to its short week-long length made it less cost-effective than our top options. That said, this program offers high school students the opportunity to hone practical business skills like public speaking, networking strategies, and team-building techniques. They also participate in the complete startup process: from doing market research to developing business plans to giving a pitch presentation to running their own enterprise. This high school student business program is a mix of classroom lectures, field trips, hands-on activities, and group discussions.

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5. Camp Business

Hosting Institution: Drexel University

Cost: $950-$2,000

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: Ongoing

Camp Business is a great option for business-minded high school students. This hands-on summer program is designed to teach rising high school sophomores and juniors skills, such as accounting, marketing, and stock market basics. Students also take part in a team business pitch competition and learn critical soft skills such as leadership, professional image, etiquette, and team building.

6. Business Opportunities Summer Session (BOSS) 

Hosting institution: Penn State

Cost: $50 registration fee, only if accepted

Format: In–person (State College, PA)

Application deadline: Late March

BOSS is an excellent pick for business-minded high school students. This competitive two-week program gives students a taste of college life via college prep and business fundamentals courses taught by Penn State faculty. In addition to coursework in Hospitality Management, Risk Management, and Management and Organization, students are invited to participate in social activities. Typically, around 60 high school students are accepted to this business program.

7. Summer High School Sessions and Pre-College Programs

Hosting institution: Adelphi University

Cost: $5,200

Format: In-person (Garden City, NY)

Application deadline: Late May

During this three-week course, high school students can delve into various aspects of starting a business as well as review the parameters for business success. Students are introduced to the primary areas of business including accounting, finance, production, operations, marketing, human resources, and information/technology. Creating business plans and exploring communication skills are integral to the program. Adelphi University summer sessions and pre-college programs made it to the top of our business program list because participants are provided with a ton of valuable information in a very short timeframe.

Business, Economics, Finance, and Leadership Research Resources for High School Students

High school research opportunities:

High school research and passion project ideas:

High school research mentor profiles:

13 Top Biology, Medical, and Neuroscience Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. embARC Summer Design Academy

Hosting institution: UC Berkeley

Cost: $9,675

Format: In-person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: Early May 

This summer science research program is perfect for high school students interested in both environmental studies and urban planning. Students at embARC study urban design, architecture, and sustainable city components. Throughout the program, you will have access to the Cal Architecture and Urban Design Studio. You’ll also have the chance to participate in Sustainable City Planning and Digital Design workshops and engage in an Environmental Design Conversations Series and a Community Build project.

2. CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp

Hosting institution: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (Atlanta, GA)

Application deadline: End of March

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) had a lot of media exposure during the pandemic and students interested in biology and medicine may recognize its value like never before. This week-long summer program allows high school students to fully immerse themselves in subjects such as epidemiology, environmental health, public health law, global health, and public health communication. Newsworthy topics are woven into many of the camp’s activities. Students will even experience re-created outbreaks and mock press conferences. This is a short but academically rigorous program that we believe provides a unique and valuable student experience.

3. High School Research Immersion Program

Hosting institution: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Cost: Free; you get paid a $4,800 stipend

Format: In-person (Memphis - Shelby County, TN)

Application deadline: January 31, 2024

This 8-week summer program for incoming high school seniors based in the Memphis, TN area offers you a chance to work in partnership with a research mentor and showcase your research project in a community exhibition. Your research project will be conducted in St. Jude laboratories and could focus on oncology, epidemiology, clinical research, pharmaceutical science, or another topic. You will also work with a science educator; develop a personal statement for your college application; explore St. Jude career paths; and gain valuable experience in scientific research.

Student participants must attend in person 40 hours a week within a typical 9 am-5 pm weekday schedule; housing is not provided. The St. Jude High School Research Immersion Program launched in 2022, so it’s still relatively new. We believe it has great potential and is an incredible opportunity that Memphis area students with a passion for science and medical research should consider.

4. Texas Tech’s Anson L. Clark Scholars Program

Hosting institution: Texas Tech University

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (Lubbock, TX)

Application deadline: February 15, 2024

This free and intensive seven-week program offers exceptional junior and senior high school students interested in biology the opportunity to work with outstanding professors at Texas Tech University's General Health Sciences Center. Although the program is research-based, it also includes weekly hands-on seminars, discussions, and field trips. We’re very impressed by this program’s academic rigor and its on-campus experience with zero cost to the student. The biggest drawback is that only twelve students are selected every year, so getting into this research program is extremely competitive.

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5. Provost’s Summer Mentorship Program (SMP)

Hosting institution: University of Pennsylvania

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: May

Though this college preparatory experience is only available to Philadelphia, PA high school students, its academic rigor, excellent facilities, and no-cost status earned it a spot on our top biology opportunities for high school students list. SMP is a 4-week immersion summer program that pairs participants with one of the five affiliate University of Pennsylvania Professional Schools. It is highly competitive and typically accepts between 40-50 high school students each year.

6. Brown Environmental Leadership Labs (BELL)

Hosting institution: Brown University

Cost: $2,707-$9,459

Format: In-person (Anchorage, AK; Mammoth, CA; or Providence, RI)

Application deadline: May 10, 2024

For high school students looking to literally expand their horizons, BELL is a great chance to visit a spectacular landscape, learn its native history, and do your own research. You will also investigate the causes and impacts of climate change, identify sustainability practices, and learn about socially responsible leadership. This program guides you to create your own environmental action plan and apply your learnings to issues in your hometown. This high school student research program can be a bit more of an investment than a paid internship, but it’s one of our top picks for future environmental leaders.

7. Summer Child Health Research Internship

Hosting institution: University of Colorado Boulder

Cost: None; you get paid a $3,500 stipend

Format: In-person (Boulder, CO)

Application deadline: Early February

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Pediatrics offers summer research opportunities for rising high school seniors, college students, and first-year medical students. After the research program, the summer research interns hand in a 2 to 3-page written summary of their research experience. They are encouraged to submit these abstracts to local, regional, and national meetings. The Child Health Research Internship also provides funding for travel and registration if a student’s paper is accepted at a medical conference. We feel this is a uniquely robust program and really love that it gives you the opportunity to walk away with professional presentation experience.

8. Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Honors Biology

Hosting institution: Johns Hopkins University

Cost: $1,455

Format: Online

Application deadline: Ongoing

Although the CTY Honors Biology program doesn’t have that same exciting campus feel as some of our other top picks for high school students, we’re impressed by its academic rigor, cost-effectiveness, relative affordability, flexible scheduling, and geographic accessibility. This grade 7+ course allows academically advanced students to dig into challenging biological concepts with expert instructors and a dynamic online environment. Courses are offered in various formats to fit your schedule. If biology isn’t your primary study interest, take note that CTY offers online courses in a variety of other disciplines as well.

9. Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation High School Summer Program

Hosting institution: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (Houston, TX)

Application deadline: January 17, 2024

This is an incredible opportunity for aspiring doctors. The Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation High School Summer Program offers a rare chance for high school students to participate in a research project in one of the biomedical courses under the guidance of a full-time MD Anderson faculty member. Program participants will learn the importance of basic principles that form the basis of scientific research. Selected students will work in the MD Anderson labs during the week, participating in hands-on research. Students walk away from the experience with a clear understanding of what it means and what it’s like to be a researcher in the biomedical sciences. Although this program is only open to current Texas high school seniors, it made our top 10 list of biology opportunities for teens because its no-cost aspect makes it accessible to underrepresented communities.

10. Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia (BRAINYAC)

Hosting institution: Columbia University

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Fall

BRAINYAC is a bit of a niche neuroscience program based solely in New York City, but it provides exceptional mentorship at no cost to the student. Zuckerman Institute Brain Research Apprenticeships offer 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. In the process, participants learn key skills required to work in a research environment, and the experience looks great on a college application.

11. Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)

Hosting institution: Carnegie Mellon

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (Pittsburgh, PA), with an online “pre-course”

Application deadline: March 1, 2024

This is a great program for high school students interested in taking a deep dive into engineering (it’s a five-week course) and it’s free. SAMS concludes with an exciting symposium. Students explore math, science, seminars, writing workshops, small group mentoring, and collaborative learning, as well as have a chance to learn about financial aid, FAFSA, and college admissions. We love this program because it is a fully funded, merit-based program for participants, making it accessible to traditionally underrepresented communities.

12. Summer Student Program

Hosting institution: The Jackson Laboratory

Cost: None; you get paid a $6,250 stipend

Format: In-person (Bar Harbor, ME)

Application deadline: January 29, 2024 (by 12:00 pm EST)

If you’re going to be a graduating high school senior and you love genetics, this highly competitive 10-week program is an amazing opportunity. Approximately 40 students are chosen to work alongside an experienced mentor on a genetics or genome-centered research project. Each student develops an independent project in state-of-the-art facilities, implements their plans, analyzes data, and reports results. Outside the lab, students are encouraged to visit Acadia National Park. You’ll receive a great stipend, room and board is provided, as well as roundtrip travel costs.

13. Clinical Neuroscience Immersion Experience (CNI-X)

Hosting institution: Stanford University 

Cost: $1,295

Format: In-person (Stanford, CA); online options are also available

Application deadline: Early February

If you’re interested in medicine, this immersion experience for high schoolers is a great pick for you. This shorter 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. High school students 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.

Biology, Medical, and Neuroscience Research Resources for High School Students

High school research opportunities:

High school research and passion project ideas:

High school research mentor profiles:

Check out the unique journey Polygence cancer research mentor Selena Lorrey took to discover her passions and become a cancer researcher and PhD candidate at Duke University.

14 Top STEM Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS)

Hosting institution: University of California (students apply to one of four campuses: Davis; Irvine; San Diego; and Santa Cruz)

Cost: $5,008 (for California residents)

Format: In-person (California)

Application deadline: February 9, 2024

This four-week study program for future scientists, engineers, and mathematicians lets high school students work alongside university researchers and faculty. You can explore topics that extend far beyond the common high school curriculum. Past topics have included Biodiesel from Renewable Sources, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, and Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles.

2. Engineering Academy

Hosting institution: Oxford University

Cost: £6,495 GBP

Format: In-person (Oxford, UK)

Application deadline: Ongoing

This program allows high school students to experience Oxford-style teaching with practical challenges and debates. Small class sizes help students explore the concepts of hydraulics, pneumatics and the math behind engineering. The curriculum also helps students develop skills in public speaking, critical thinking and teamwork. If you’ve always wanted to immerse yourself in Oxford life, love engineering, and can afford its price tag, Engineering Academy is an amazing teen study program to pursue.

3. Academy for Robotics

Hosting institution: University of Texas at Austin

Cost: $2,100

Format: In-person (Austin, TX)

Application deadline: Closes after first 60 accepted registrants

ChatGPT and Bing are all the rage, and the robotics market is expected to grow 400% by 2026. Our list, therefore, would not be complete without a high school research opportunity focused on robotics. This program focuses on the study of AI robotics and teaching participants how to think critically to solve complex problems. Students will delve into Linux and C++ programming, sensor thresholding, skid steering, utilize tools used in robotics research, and compete in a robot race.

4. High School Research Academy (HSRA)

Hosting institution: University of Texas at Austin

Cost: $3,500 per student

Format: In-person (Austin, TX)

Application deadline: Late March 

This great (albeit costly) on-campus experience offers STEM research opportunities for high school students. This 5-week program provides participants with immersive and hands-on research experiences in the fields of biochemistry, biology, environmental science, genetics, neuroscience, genome engineering, data analytics, ecology, and more. Students participate in research projects and active laboratories in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) and get a real taste of life as a researcher.   

5. Adler Planetarium Summer High School Internship

Hosting institution: Adler Planetarium

Cost: None; you get paid a $350 stipend

Format: In-person (Chicago, IL)

Application deadline: Early March

If you live in Chicagoland and want a more diverse yet still immersive experience, this is an amazing option. This 6-week hands-on internship allows Chicago area high schoolers to engage with STEAM fields while preparing for a variety of careers. Participants are given space for personal growth and scientific experimentation while connecting with peers from around the city. You may also get the opportunity to present your research at the end of the internship.

6. Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Hosting institution: The Water Environment Federation

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (location varies year to year)

Application deadline: Mid-April

This is a bit of a niche opportunity and more of a competition rather than a research program. However, for those high schoolers who can participate, it is an excellent opportunity to expand on your existing research (especially if you have participated in science fairs such as Regeneron ISEF) and reach a worldwide audience. If you’re a high school student who has conducted a water-related science project, you can present it to this panel of expert judges. They will rate it on relevance, methodology, subject knowledge, practical skills, creativity, and paper/presentation. A national winner is chosen to compete in an international competition in late August, with all-expenses-paid travel to Stockholm.

7. Genes in Space

Hosting institution: Boeing and miniPCR bio, along with ISS U.S. National Laboratory and New England Biolabs

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (location varies year to year)

Application deadline: April 15, 2024

If you love space exploration, this program for high school students is a wonderful option. To apply to the program, you must first design DNA experiments that address a challenge in space exploration using tools such as the fluorescence viewer, PCR thermal cycler, or the BioBits cell-free system (or a combination of them). The grand prize is an opportunity to participate in Space Biology Camp and travel to the Kennedy Space Center to see the launch of your DNA experiment into space! Initially, you must be self-driven enough to drive your own research and the social aspect is rather limited at first, but there is the potential for networking on a grand scale. At least one student from each finalist team must be available to present at the ISS Research & Development Conference (late July to early August).

8. CURIE Academy

Hosting institution: Cornell University

Cost: $1,850 (tuition subject to change)

Format: In-person (Ithaca, NY)

Application deadline: March 1, 2024

We appreciate that this one-week residential engineering program is designed specifically for rising junior and senior high school girls. Because, let’s face it: engineering is still a male-dominated field. This wonderful program helps female students feel more confident about engineering as a viable career choice and shows them graduate school pathways into engineering. High school students work collaboratively with professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Additionally, they participate in nine field sessions across the school’s engineering majors, as well as a field session focused on the admissions process.

9. Yale Summer Session

Hosting institution: Yale University

Cost: $4,650 (+$85 technology fee)

Format: In-person (New Haven, CT) and online

Application deadline: Ongoing

If engineering is your passion, this might be a top program for you. At these Yale Summer Sessions, high school students can pick from five-week courses such as Multivariable Calculus for Engineers, Engineering Improv: An Introduction to Engineering Analysis, and Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. You will get an on-campus feel for the rigors of an Ivy League college experience, but this experience does come with a heftier price tag than other high school STEM research opportunities on our list.

10. Simons Summer Research Program

Hosting institution: Stony Brook University

Cost: None; this is a paid fellowship

Format: In-person (Stony Brook, NY)

Application deadline: February 7, 2024

This prestigious and highly selective program matches about 30 high school students each year with a Stony Brook faculty mentor in the fields of science, math, computer science, and more. Simons Fellows are selected based on their academic achievements, research potential, and personal qualities such as creativity, curiosity, and dedication. This program gives you a great opportunity to join research groups, produce a research abstract, work with a supportive community of peers and mentors, plus receive a stipend award. This high school student fellowship program is supported by the Simons Foundation.

11. Internship and Fellowships

Hosting institution: Library of Congress

Cost: Free, with some paid internships

Format: In-person (various locations)

Application deadline: Various 

This hidden gem of a program offers around fifty different internship and research opportunities for all sorts of under-represented areas of interest and is open to high school students. Research opportunities range in focus from the Digital Data and Geographic Information Systems to the Young Readers Center to the Manuscript Division. We love that you can get paid for your time and that the program offers scheduling flexibility. This is an opportunity that’s worth looking into, especially if you’re an ambitious high school student interested in history, architecture, art, or literature.

12. Laboratory Learning Program

Hosting institution: Princeton University

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (Princeton, NJ)

Application deadline: March 15, 2024

This is an intensive, academically rigorous 5 to 6-week summer internship program with prestigious Princeton faculty and research staff, who will mentor you in ongoing research projects. The fields of study are engineering and natural science. High school students submit a 2-page research summary of their summer project at the end of the Laboratory Learning Program internship. These research papers can be used to great effect on college applications and/or serve as a jumping-off point for independent research.

13. Internship Programs

Hosting institution: NASA Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM)

Cost: None; these are paid internships

Format: In-person (Greenbelt, MD; Wallops Island, VA; New York, NY; or Fairmont, WV)

Application deadline: Varies according to program 

It doesn’t get much better than NASA when it comes to name recognition. These internships are designed to provide you with the exciting opportunity of performing research under the guidance of a NASA mentor at an actual NASA facility. NASA offers many internship opportunities for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors over 16 years of age. In addition to being able to put this research experience on your resume and college applications, you will be paid for your efforts. Students can find available intern positions via NASA STEM Gateway.

14. Research Science Institute (RSI)

Hosting institution: Center for Excellence in Education (CEE)

Cost: Free

Application deadline: December 13, 2023

Our top cost-effective, prestigious, academically rigorous, socially enriching pick is the Research Science Institute (RSI) program. The biggest caveat is that RSI is highly selective and only admits about 80 high school students each year from a pool of thousands of applicants. The program is hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Students are selected based on their academic achievements, research potential, and personal qualities such as creativity, leadership, and motivation. RSI is free, with all expenses paid (including travel, room and board, and research supplies).

STEM Research Resources for High School Students

High school research opportunities:

Participating in a high school science fair or competition is another opportunity for teens to utilize STEM research - and maybe win awards!

High school research and passion project ideas:

High school research mentor profiles:

Polygence computer science mentor Ross Greer wrote a High School Computer Science Research Guide that details everything from how to scope, create, and showcase your own high school research project. It’s a great resource to refer to when deciding on a passion project to pursue, especially if you’re considering taking on a STEM-related study topic.

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13 Top Humanities Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. Medill Cherubs

Hosting institution: Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute

Cost: $5,000

Format: In-person (Evanston, IL)

Application deadline: Mid-March 

Notable alumni of the Medill School of Journalism include NPR host Peter Sagal, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Guupta and Vox co-founder Ezra Klein, which gives you some indication of its reputation and proven track record. This Northwestern University summer program for high school students gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in all aspects of media for five weeks at this esteemed school. Areas of study include: writing, reporting, and editing for print, digital and broadcast; photography; videography; and website and podcast creation. Collaborative learning occurs both inside the classroom and on field trips. The Medill Cherubs program includes private mentoring sessions.

2. Sotheby’s Summer Institute

Hosting institution: Sotheby’s

Cost: $5,560 for day students; $6,845 for residential students

Format: In person (New York, NY)

Application deadline:

  • Monday, February 6 (Early Decision)

  • Monday, March 13 (Priority + Financial Aid)

  • Monday, April 24 (Regular)

Curious and passionate about the arts? This two-week program will immerse you in one of the most vibrant art capitals in the world: New York City. High school students are invited to learn the intricacies of running galleries and museums as well as to explore painting and drawing techniques throughout history. Each course draws on the caché of Sotheby's Institute of Art, taking students behind the scenes of world class museums, galleries, auction houses, artists’ studios, and more. 

3. RISD Pre-College

Hosting institution: Rhode Island School of Design

Cost: $8,715 - $11,350

Format: In-person (Providence, RI)

Application deadline: February 8, 2024 

This visual arts summer program offers an intensive six-week-long pre-college experience for young artists at, arguably, one of the top design schools in the world. High school students experience a college-style curriculum with day-long studio classes and can avail themselves of resources such as the RISD Nature Lab and the RISD Museum. Participants experiment with new materials, tools and techniques, learn from mentors, and create final projects that can be used for college application. Its hefty cost kept this opportunity for high school students from being higher on our list. However, need-based financial aid can cover up to 50% of the RISD Pre-College program tuition and fees.

4. SCAD Rising Star

Hosting institution: Savannah College of Art and Design

Cost: $6,334

Format: In-person (Atlanta, GA; Savannah, GA; or Hong Kong) and online

Application deadline: May 31, 2024

Creative high school students should definitely consider SCAD Rising Star as one of the top US design schools. This intensive five-week program lets you take two college-level art classes while helping you build your personal portfolios. The program includes courses in a variety of disciplines, and students have the option of participating online, or in-person in Savannah, Atlanta, or even Hong Kong. If the SCAD Rising Star pre-college program cost is prohibitive, you might be eligible for financial aid.

5. Summer Drama Program

Hosting institution: Yale

Cost: $9,475 (plus meals and housing)

Format: In-person (New Haven, CT)

Application deadline: Mid-April 

This is our top pick for high school students interested in theater. The Yale School of Drama is considered to be one of the most prestigious and selective drama programs in the world, and the Summer Drama Program at Yale is no exception. Applicants can choose between the 5-week-long Conservatory for Actors and the 10-day Director’s Workshop. With small groups of 10-12 students, participants will benefit from focused collaboration and attention. Rehearsing and clowning are part of the “out of classroom” experience of living on campus.

6. Parsons Summer Intensive Studies

Hosting institution: Parsons New School

Cost: $4,675

Format: In-person (New York, NY or Paris, France)

Application deadline: Mid-May to Mid-June

Parsons School of Design is a highly esteemed art school and this three-week summer program can provide a life-changing experience for arts-minded high school students. Offered in two cultural centers of the art world, this program enables students to focus on their own projects, present their work, explore the city during art and design field trips, network with guest speakers, and earn up to 3 college credits.

7. Met High School Internships

Hosting institution: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cost: None; this is a paid internship

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Early March

If you’re interested in art history, writing, marketing, social media, education, or conservation, this is a top pick for you. The program accepts rising juniors and seniors from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut high schools and connects them with professionals at one of the world’s finest museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Throughout this program, students will develop professional skills, build a network, gain work experience amidst masterpieces, and get paid.

8. Summer Immersion: New York City

Hosting institution: Columbia University

Cost: $2,825-$12,449

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Early March

This is our top pick for future journalists, but we also recognize the cost might be prohibitive for some. High school students can choose either a one-week or three-week program and will learn reporting and interviewing skills through writing assignments such as profiles, op-eds, features, and audio pieces. Summer Immersion: New York City is an exciting pre-college program since you will work with Columbia writing professors and acclaimed journalists in the field.

9. Pre-College Scholars: Summer Residential-Track

Hosting institution: University of California, Berkeley

Cost: $15,800 (8-week session); $14,500 (6-week session)

Format: In-person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: March 11, 2024

Although this program’s social, prestigious, intensive, and academic advantages put it in our top ten picks of humanities research opportunities for high school students, we took points off for its expense. Still, it offers students from all over the world a chance to experience college campus life at UC Berkeley and take college-level courses taught by Berkeley professors. Here, you can earn college credit while experiencing university campus life with a cohort of students. Like us, you may believe that earning college credit can later justify the program’s expense. High school students can enroll in 2 different courses offered through Berkeley’s Summer Sessions program and participate in a series of extracurricular activities and excursions.

10. Camp ARCH

Hosting institution: Texas A&M University

Cost: $1,500

Format: In-person (College Station, TX)

Application deadline: Early April

This week-long program sponsored by the Texas A&M School of Architecture is for high-achieving high school students. Camp ARCH combines academic courses with social activities to create an in-depth research-focused pre-college experience. Participants work with faculty and choose an area of focus from architecture, construction science, or landscape architecture and urban planning.

11. Summer Arts Camp

Hosting institution: Interlochen Center for the Arts

Cost: $1,830-$10,880

Format: In-person (Interlochen, MI)

Application deadline: January 15, 2024

Art students, this is a fantastic option for you. High schoolers can choose to spend 1 week, 3 weeks, or 6 weeks at Interlochen Center for the Arts pursuing visual arts, dance, creative writing, music, theatre, or film and new media. Arts Merge, a 3-week interdisciplinary arts program, is open to students in grades 6 through 9. All of Interlochen’s programs encourage the creation of original work as final projects. The social opportunities and beautiful natural surroundings it provides also really round out the teen participants’ experience.

12. Film and Television Summer Institute - Digital Filmmaking

Hosting institution: UCLA

Cost: $4,225

Format: In-person (Los Angeles, CA)

Application deadline: June 1, 2024

Future filmmakers, this is the research opportunity for you. This two-week, intensive production workshop gives high school students a chance to get hands-on experience course can expand high school at one of the most prestigious film schools in the world. Along with filming collaboratively on projects, students will attend film screenings, hear guest speakers, and visit a Hollywood studio. If cost is a barrier, UCLA Summer Sessions Summer Scholars Support is a financial aid option for California high school students that is worth looking into.

13. Art as Experience: Drawing and New Media Program

Hosting institution: Cornell University

Cost: $5,040

Format: Online

Application deadline: Late May

Art is woefully under-represented on this list, but this immersive Cornell University pre-college studies course can expand high school students’ understanding of the ideas and practices of art today. Studio projects include a range of media from drawing and collage to digital photography and video installation. Participants attend online seminars; synchronous and asynchronous lectures; labs; and discussions, supplemented by readings and critiques. You may earn up to 3 college credits and an official Cornell transcript as a high school student, which helps justify the cost. Despite its virtual nature, many participants have made long-lasting friendships with other artistically gifted students all over the globe.

Humanities Research Resources for High School Students

High school research opportunities:

High school research and passion project ideas:

High school research project mentors:

3 Top Social Science Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. EXPLO Psychology + Neuroscience

Hosting institution: Wellesley College

Cost: Residential: $7,895; Commuter: $3,995

Format: In-person (Norwood, MA)

Application deadline: Ongoing

This EXPLO Pre-College Career Concentrations program gives high school students interested in psychology the chance to deep dive into highly specific topics. For the neuroscience concentration, participants will dissect a brain, diagnose mental illness in patients, and analyze neurochemical reactions to connect how brain structures and biology deeply impact the way that humans think and behave. Key benefits for participants include the chances to learn from industry experts, such as Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett – one of the most-cited scientists in the world for her psychology and neuroscience research – who was a guest instructor in 2023; and earn credits at Sarah Lawrence College, Hampshire College, or Wheaton College.

2. Pre-College Program in American History

Hosting institution: William & Mary and National Institute of American History & Democracy (NIAHD)

Cost: $5,600

Format: Online and in-person (Williamsburg, VA)

Application deadline:

  • 15 May 2024: Deadline for domestic students applying to Session 1

  • 1 June 2024: Deadline for domestic students applying to Session 2

History buffs will love this program, both for its historic campus and its curriculum. This three-week program gives high schoolers a good preview of college-level history while helping you earn college credit. Students will participate in class discussions, read 30-60 pages of college-level articles and primary source documents each night, and submit written work each week. Coursework includes Artifacts of American History (a new course), The Road to the American Revolution, and The Road to the United States Civil War.

3. Student Volunteer Program

Hosting institution: United States Secret Service (USSS)

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (various)

Application deadline: Various

If you’re interested in sociology, criminal justice, history, government, homeland security, and other related fields, the Secret Service Student Volunteer Program is a unique, hands-on, and fast-paced opportunity. It gives high school students insight into the nature and structure of the USSS while teaching important “soft skills”, such as excellent communication, analytical observation, and problem solving. Student volunteers must be at least 16 years old and devote at least 12 hours per week. While the positions are unpaid, you may receive academic credit for your time.

History and Social Science Research Resources for High School Students

High school research opportunities:

High school research and passion project ideas:

High school research mentor profiles:

Psychology research guides

Additional Ways to Conduct Research as a High School Student

Of course, our lists don’t include every pre-college program, internship, and research opportunity available to high schoolers; there are lots of other amazing options out there, likely in your city or state. If you don’t come across a perfect match for you and your interests, create your own research opportunity!

Find high school research programs close to home

Our High School Student Research Opportunities Database is an excellent resource you can use to find research programs for teens based on location.

Work directly with a professor

If you have a clear idea of your passions, you can reach out to professors in your field to see if they are open to collaborating with you. Refer to our Guide to Cold-Emailing Professors (written by Polygence literature research mentor Daniel Hazard, a PhD candidate at Princeton University).

Engage in your own research project

Students with initiative and focus can opt to tackle research on their own. Carly Taylor, a Stanford University senior who has completed several research projects this way, outlined a guide about how to write a self-guided research paper. By reading it, you’ll get a better understanding of what to expect when taking on this type of project.

Need some inspiration to prepare yourself to develop your own high school research opportunity? Here are some resources to help you:

Connect with a research project mentor

You’re never too young to start researching, especially if you think you'll be interested in doing undergraduate research as a college student. And if you're one of many prospective students looking to get into a great school like Rice University, Baylor College, or George Mason University contact us to get matched to a mentor from one of those schools!

Polygence has helped over 2,000 students work with leading research mentors in their field to conduct high-quality research projects. High school students have been able to achieve amazing outcomes, ranging from award-winning short films to conversations with local politicians about policy improvement. We provide research project support, from pairing students with mentors to offering showcasing opportunities, to guiding students in their passion identification and discovery process.

Learn more about what sets Polygence apart from other middle school and high school student research opportunities.

Want to start a project of your own?

Click below to get matched with one of our expert mentors who can help take your project off the ground!