woman conducting research project

Top 25 Research Programs for High School Students in 2023

12 minute read

Research projects involve extensive study in a particular area of interest and are a great way for high school students to discover their passions, cultivate critical thinking and investigative skills, and demonstrate passion and focus for college admissions. Read on for our list of the top research programs for high school students in 2023.

Over the years, many college admissions experts have seen that conducting research can drive strong results. Data from Harvard suggests that students that have demonstrated a history of “substantial scholarship or academic creativity”, including conducting independent research, have a much greater chance of gaining admission. In fact, 95% of students who completed our program were admitted to R1 universities.

Here is our pick of the top 25 Summer Research Programs for High School students in 2023. Whether you are interested in engineering, medicine, fine arts, or business, we’re sure you can find a meaningful research opportunity to participate in this summer!

If you are searching for a virtual research program, please also consider Polygence's research program to help you complete your passion project!

Biology Research Programs for High School Students

For more research ideas in Biology, please see our guides on:

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

Hosting Institution: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Cost: none

Format: In person (Houston, TX)

Application deadline: January 20, 2023

This program offers a rare opportunity to participate in a research project in one of the biomedical courses under the guidance of a full-time MD Anderson faculty member. Students 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 will 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. This program is only open to current Texas high school seniors. Making our top 10 list because the no-cost aspect makes it accessible to underrepresented communities.

Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program

Hosting Institution: St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Cost: Funded Internship 

Format: In person (Memphis, TN)

Application deadline: February 1, 2023

This prestigious program offers highly motivated students a chance to get exposure to cutting edge cancer research. A reported 86% of POE alums go on to receive a doctoral degree. It also helps to prepare students for professions in the biomedical sciences, nursing, pharmacology, among other subfields that require oncology research experience and insight. Students will work with scientists, postdoctoral fellows, as well as research physicians. 

Clinical Neuroscience Immersion Experience (CNI-X)

Hosting Institution: Stanford University 

Cost: $1,295

Format: In person (Stanford, CA) as well as online options available

Application deadline: TBD

This 10-day program provides students with basic exposure to the study of neuroscience, psychiatry and brain science in addition to a potential chance to finish a cooperative capstone project. 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, students will also work in small teams to design solutions to pressing issues related to psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience. 

Interested in Psychology or Neuroscience? See our guides on the top neuroscience research programs for high school students and psychology project ideas.

Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) at University of Pennsylvania

Hosting Institution: University of Pennsylvania

Cost: none 

Format: In person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: May 2023

We love programs that strive to lift up underprivileged students, which is part of the reason this exceptional program made our top research opportunities list. The Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) is a flagship program from University of Pennsylvania’s VPSE department. It is designed to expose first-generation college students to rigorous academic research. Only students studying in high schools in Philadelphia are eligible. The course is a 4-week immersion summer program hosted by UPenn’s Perelman School of Medicine, Nursing School.

Engineering Research Programs for High School Students

Research in Science & Engineering (RISE)

Hosting Institution: Boston University 

Cost: $5,370 USD (in 2022)

Format: In person (Northampton, MA)

Application deadline: February 10, 2023

In this six-week program rising high-school seniors work together conducting university laboratory research on one of two tracks: Internship or Practicum. The internship includes 40 hours a week of research with computer engineering or mechanical engineering, among other disciplines. On the practicum track, students conduct laboratory research in computational neurobiology. Students will also have opportunities for social activities outside the academic rigors. 

CURIE Academy

Hosting Institution: Cornell University 

Cost: $1,450

Format: In-person (Ithaca, NY)

Application deadline: March 1, 2023 

This one-week residential program is designed specifically for rising junior and senior high school girls. Students will learn about engineering as well as career and graduate school pathways in engineering. Participants work collaboratively with professors as well as graduate students and undergraduate students. Additionally, students participate in nine field sessions across the school’s engineering majors, as well as a field session focused on the admissions process. We appreciate that this is a program devoted to girls. 

Engineering Academy

Hosting Institution: Oxford University

Cost: £5,495-5,995 GBP

Format: In person (Oxford, UK)l

Application deadline: Ongoing

Students experience Oxford-style teaching with practical challenges and debates. Small class sizes (15 max) help students explore the concepts of hydraulics, pneumatics and the math behind engineering. The curriculum helps students develop skills in public speaking, critical thinking and teamwork.

Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)

Hosting Institution: Carnegie Mellon

Cost: None

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

Application deadline: February 1, 2023

Students will be challenged by this five-week course focusing on STEM concluding with a symposium. Participants will explore Math, Science, seminars, writing workshops, small group mentoring, collaborative learning, as well as have a chance to learn about financial aid, FAFSA, and college admissions. We like this because it is a fully funded, merit-based program for participants, making it accessible to traditionally underrepresented communities.

Complete a 6-week Computer Science research project

Dive into highly concentrated content on a CS topic with the guidance of an expert mentor in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and build your own unique output in just 6 weeks!

STEM Research Programs for High School Students

For more research ideas, check out our guides on:

One of our expert mentors, Ross, also recently detailed the complete guide to Computer Science Research. He details everything from scoping, creating, and showcasing your own research project!

California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science  (COSMOS)

Hosting Institution: University of California (Davis, Irvine, San Diego, Santa Cruz)

Cost: $4,570 (in 2022)

Format: In-Person (California)

Application deadline: February 10, 2023

This four-week program is for future scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Participants are composed of academically gifted students and alongside university faculty working on topics that extend beyond the common high school curriculum. Students can explore Engineering Design and Control of Kinetic Sculptures, 

Yale Summer Session

Hosting Institution: Yale University

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

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

Application deadline: Ongoing

Students choose from a variety of subject areas including Multivariable Calculus for Engineers, Engineering Improv: An Introduction to Engineering Analysis, and Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, just to name a few. These five-week courses run in June and again in July/August. This provides participants an opportunity to get a feel for the rigors of an ivy-league college experience. Some courses are offered online while others are in-person.

Genes in Space

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

Format: In-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: April 15, 2023 for the 2024 competition

For the space biology pioneer. Using tools such as the fluorescence viewer, PCR thermal cycler, or the BioBits cell free system (or a combination of them), students design DNA experiments that address a challenge in space exploration. The grand prize is an opportunity to participate in Space Biology Camp and travel to Kennedy Space Center to see the launch of your DNA experiment to space.

Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Hosting Institution: The Water Environment Federation

Cost: $ USD

Format: In-person (location varies by year)

Application deadline: April 15, 2023

Students who have conducted water-related science projects present to judges who rate them on relevance, methodology, subject knowledge, practical skills, creativity and paper/presentation. This competition is held in June in order to send the national winner to the international competition in late August. The competition relies on established science fair competitions such as the ISEF.  They incorporate students from private school or non-traditional learning (home schools) via an on-line submittal opportunity.

Arts and Humanities Research Programs for High School Students

We recently highlighted the top Arts and Humanities programs.

Summer Arts Camp

Hosting Institution: Interlochen Center for the Arts

Cost: $1,750-$9,980 USD

Format: In-person (Interlochen, MI)

Application deadline: January 15, 2023 

Students choose to spend from 1 week or 6 at Interlochen where they can enjoy cabin games and explore the outdoors when they are not practicing, performing, and making art. All of the programs within Interlochen encourage the creation of original work as final projects. Areas of interest include Dance, Writing, Music, Theatre, and several others. 

RISD Pre-College

Hosting Institution: Rhode Island School of Design

Cost: $8,100-$10,700 USD

Format: In-person (Providence, RI)

Application deadline: February 1, 2023 

This visual arts summer program offers a six-week-long pre-college experience for young artists. 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 

Creative Journalism Summer Program

Hosting Institution: Columbia University

Cost: $2,825-$12,449 USD

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: March 3, 2023 

Designed for high school students hoping to quickly understand the basics of reporting. Students can choose from a one-week or three-week program incorporating teachings from renowned journalists and Columbia writing professors. Students learn reporting and interviewing skills through writing assignments such as profiles, op-eds, features, and audio pieces. 

Medill Cherubs

Hosting Institution: Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute

Cost: $5,000 USD

Format: In-person (Evanston, IL)

Application deadline: March 13, 2023 

Participants immerse themselves in all aspects of media for five weeks. Areas of study include writing, reporting and editing for print, digital and broadcast. Photography, videography and website and podcast creation are also covered. Collaborative learning occurs both inside the classroom as well as on field trips and is coupled with private mentoring sessions. Students also have opportunities to socialize through various activities. 

The Conservatory for Actors 

Hosting Institution: Yale University

Cost: $9,475 USD + meals/housing

Format: In-person (New Haven, CT)

Application deadline: April 15, 2023 

The Conservatory offers students a robust coursework covering the fundamental elements of acting. Applicants will 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. 

Art as Experience: Drawing and New Media Program

Hosting Institution: Cornell University

Cost: paid internship: $5,040

Format: Online

Application deadline: May 26, 2023

This introductory course expands a student’s 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 & asynchronous lectures, labs, and discussions, supplemented by readings and critiques. Students may earn 3 college credits.

Sotheby’s Summer Institute

Hosting Institution: Sotheby’s

Cost: paid internship: $6,470

Format: In person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: April 24, 2023

This two-week program brings together high schoolers who are curious and passionate about the arts for immersion in one of the most vibrant art capitals in the world: New York City. 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.

Parsons Summer Intensive Studies

Hosting Institution: Parsons New School

Cost: paid internship: $4,675

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

Application deadline: May 15, 2023 or June 8, 2023

Offered twice this summer, this three-week program is designed for arts-minded high school students. Participants enjoy skill-building project-based learning, art and design field trips, guest speakers, and portfolio reviews, and can earn 3 college credits. 

Want to Learn More?

Join Polygence and do your own research project tailored towards your passions and guided by one of our expert mentors!

Business and Finance Research Programs for High School Students

See our comprehensive list of research programs in Business,.

Berkeley Business Academy for Youth (B-BAY)

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

Cost: $7,050 USD

Format: In-person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: March 17, 2023

An intimate cohort of only 50 students, this two-week course invites students to learn concepts of teamwork, communications, presentations, writing a business plan, and research skills. They will also meet a panel of undergrads from UC Berkeley. Immersed in the 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.  

Business Opportunities Summer Session (BOSS)

Hosting Institution: Penn State University

Cost: $50 USD registration fee only if accepted

Format: In–person (State College, PA)

Application deadline: March 31, 2022

BOSS is a two-week program designed for high school students interested in pursuing a business education. It allows participants to experience 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 an Organization, students are also invited to participate in social activities.  

Essentials of Finance

Hosting Institution: Wharton, University of Pennsylvania

Cost: $7,299 USD

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: April 5, 2023

This two-week program provides an introduction to the theory, the methods and the concerns of the world of finance. Students are exposed to the fundamentals of both personal and corporate finance. Additionally, participants look into topics like the time value of money, the trade-off between risk and return, equities and corporate accounting, and learn fundamentals of finance with real-world applications and case studies.

Summer High School Sessions and Pre-College Programs

Hosting Institution: Adelphi University

Cost: $8,200 USD

Format: In-Person (Garden City, NY)

Application deadline: May 31, 2023

During this three-week course students delve into the various aspects of starting a business as well as review the parameters for success in business. 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. This one made our top 10 mix because it is short but packed with valuable information.

UC Berkeley’s Pre-College Scholars Residential-Track Program

Hosting Institution: University of California, Berkeley

Cost: $15,100 (for 8-week session); $13,800 (for 6-week session)

Format: In person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: March 14, 2022

This program offers students from all over the world a chance to experience college campus life at UC Berkeley!  Students get the chance to enroll in college-level courses taught by Berkeley professors, earn college credit for their work, all while experiencing university campus life with a cohort of students. Throughout the program, students can enroll in 2 different courses offered through Berkeley’s Summer Sessions program and participate in a series of extracurricular activities and excursions. 

Other Ways to Conduct Research as a High School Student

In addition to the options outlined above, there are several other ways to get started on your own research project:

Working with a Professor Directly

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. Please see our guide to cold emailing professors written by Daniel Hazard, a PhD candidate in literature.

Conducting your own research

Students with initiative and focus can even conduct research on their own. Carly Taylor, a Stanford Senior who has conducted several of her own research projects, outlines the steps here. Needing inspiration? See our list of passion project ideas to get you started

Polygence Project

Polygence has helped over 2000 students connect with leading mentors in their field and conduct high-quality research projects. Students have been able to achieve amazing outcomes ranging from award winning short films to conversations with local politicians to improve policy. We provide research project support from project mentorship, showcasing, to even passion identification and discovery.

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!