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Top 50 Research Opportunities for High School Students in 2023

27 minute read

woman conducting research project

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. There are countless opportunities to conduct research - read on to see our comprehensive ranking of the top research opportunities for high school students in 2023.

Why Do Research as a High School Student?

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.

More importantly, Research allow students to pursue their passions, which helps develop self-esteem and leads to a variety of positive mental health outcomes

How we Ranked the Top Research Opportunities

We’ve pulled together the top 50 Research Programs for High School students based on:

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

  • Name recognition or prestige

  • Academic rigor

  • Social opportunities

  • Time commitment

Our list includes research opportunities in architecture, engineering, medicine, fine arts, ecology, business, and many more. To help you browse, we've grouped this list by field of interest, so that you can easily discover the opportunities that are most relevant for you. Use the table of contents on the left to quickly navigate to the areas that most closely fit your passions.

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

Go Deep with your Passions

Youssef joined Polygence as a Junior and is now a Sophomore at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering exploring patents related to his Polygence project. Learn more about why he described this experience as "the most productive learning experience of [his] life."

Polygence alumni student, Youssef

Top Business Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. BETA Camp 

Hosting Institution:BETA Camp

Cost: $3000

Format: Online

Application deadline: Mid-April

In this 6-week program, 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: $7299

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: Early April

This two-week program gives you an opportunity to learn finance theory and methods at one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. Students 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, and learn 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: $7050

Format: In-person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: Mid-March

With an intimate cohort of only 50 students, this immersive two-week course invites students to learn concepts of teamwork, communications, presentations, writing a business plan, and research skills. 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. Again, we think this is a great, immersive experience, and the only reason it falls lower on the list is its cost.

4. Entrepreneurship Academy

Hosting Institution:Georgetown University

Cost: $5500

Format: In-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: Mid-May

This business program in Washington, DC, would have been higher on our list, but the price tag relative to its short week-long length made it less cost-effective than our top options. That said, this program offers 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. The program is a mix of classroom lectures, field trips, hands-on activities, and group discussions.          

Get Matched with Leading Business Mentors

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5. Camp Business

Hosting Institution:Drexel University

Cost: $950-2000

Format: In-person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: Ongoing

Here is another option for business-minded 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: End of March

Here’s our top pick for business-minded students. BOSS is a competitive two-week program that 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 andOrganization, students are also invited to participate in social activities.  Typically, around 60 students are accepted.

7. Summer High School Sessions and Pre-College Programs

Hosting Institution:Adelphi University

Cost: $8200

Format: In-Person (Garden City, NY)

Application deadline: May 31, 2023

During this three-week course students can delve into 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.

For more research programs and ideas in Business, please see our guides on:

Top Biology Research Opportunities for High School Students

Research YOUR fave areas of Biology and Medicine

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in to create a passion project around biology and medicine. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own. We also offer options to explore multiple topics, or to showcase your final product!

1. embARC Summer Design Academy

Hosting Institution:UC Berkeley

Cost: $9675

Format: In-person (Berkeley, CA)

Application deadline: May 1, 2023 

This summer program is prefect for 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 a Sustainable City Planning workshop, a Digital Design workshop, as well as 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 CDC became famous during the pandemic, and students interested in biology and medicine may recognize its value like never before. This week-long summer program gives students the opportunity 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 feel provides a unique student experience.               

3. Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program

Hosting Institution:St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Funded Internship 

Format: In person (Memphis, TN)

Application deadline: Early February

If you’re a future oncologist, this competitive program offers you a chance to get exposure to cutting edge cancer research. 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 work with scientists, postdoctoral fellows, as well as research physicians. Around 50 students are accepted each year. 

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

Hosting Institution:Texas Tech University

Cost: Free

Format: In-Person (Lubbock, TX)

Application deadline: Mid-February

This free and intensive seven-week program offers exceptional students interested in biology the opportunity to work with outstanding professors at the University's General Health Sciences Center. Although the program is research-based, it also includes weekly hand-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 only catch is that only twelve students are selected every year.

5. Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) at University of Pennsylvania

Hosting Institution:University of Pennsylvania

Cost: Free 

Format: In person (Philadelphia, PA)

Application deadline: May 2023

We realize that this program is only accessible to Philadelphia high school students, but its academic rigor, excellent facilities, and no-cost status put it at the top of our list for those of you interested in biology. The Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) is a 4-week immersion summer program hosted by UPenn’s Perelman School of Medicine, Nursing School, at the University of Pennsylvania. It is highly competitive, and typically accepts between 40-50 students each year.

6. Brown Environmental Leadership Labs (BELL)

Hosting Institution:Brown University

Cost: $2707-$9459

Format: In-person (Alaska, Eastern Sierras, or Rhode Island)

Application deadline: May

For those looking to literally expand their horizons, this 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 Action Plans and apply your learnings to issue in their own hometowns. This program can be a bit more of an investment than a paid internship, but it’s our top pick for future environmental leaders.

7. Summer Child Health Research Internship

Hosting Institution:University of Colorado Boulder

Pay you a $3500 stipend

Format: In-person (Boulder, CO)

Application deadline: Early February

Here is another hidden gem, coming very close on the heels of number 9. 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. At the completion of the research program, the summer research interns hand in a 2–3-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 you could walk away with professional presentation experience.

8. CTY Honors Biology

Hosting Institution:Johns Hopkins University

Cost: $1399

Format: Online

Application deadline: Ongoing

Although this program doesn’t have that same exciting campus feel as our top three picks, 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. CTY also offers other courses in a variety of fields. 

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: Mid-January

Here’s another incredible program for aspiring doctors. The Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation High School Summer 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 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, but it’s making our top 10 list because its rare no-cost aspect makes it accessible to underrepresented communities.


Hosting Institution:Columbia University

Cost: Free

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Fall                       

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. 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: Early February

This is a great program for a deep dive into engineering (it’s a five-week course), and it’s free. It concludes with an exciting symposium. Students 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 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

Pay you a $6250 stipend

Format: In-Person (Bar Harbor, ME)

Application deadline: Late January

If you’re going to be a graduating senior and you love genetics, this highly competitive 10-week program is an amazing opportunity. Approximately 40 students are chosen to work alongside an experience 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: $1295

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

Application deadline: Early February

If you’re interested in medicine, this 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. 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.

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

Ready to research with an expert and on your schedule?

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. We also offer options to explore multiple topics, or to showcase your final product!

Student exploring their passions

Top STEM Research Opportunities for High School Students

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

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

Cost: $4770 (for California residents)

Format: In-Person (California)

Application deadline: Early February

This four-week program for future scientists, engineers, and mathematicians lets you 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: £5,495-5,995 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 the price tag, this is an amazing program.

3. Academy for Robotics

Hosting Institution:University of Texas

Cost: $2100

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 also expected to grow 400% by 2026. Our list, therefore, would not be complete without a program focused on robotics. This program focuses on the study of AI robotics and students to think critically and 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. UT Austin’s High School Research Academy (HSRA)

Hosting Institution:University of Texas

Cost: $3500 per student

Format: In-person (Austin, TX)

Application deadline: March 26, 2023 

Get even more STEM opportunities with this great (albeit more costly) on-campus experience. This 5-week program provides 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

Pay you a $350 stipend

Format: In-person (Chicago, IL)

Application deadline: March 3, 2023

If you live in the Chicago area and want a more diverse yet still immersive experience, this is an amazing option. This 6-week hands-on internship allows Chicago 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 by year)

Application deadline: Mid-April

Again, this is a bit of a niche opportunity, and more competition than program. But for those who can participate, it is an excellent opportunity to expand on your existing research (especially if you have participated in science fairs such as ISEF) and reach a world-wide audience. If you’re a student who has conducted 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 (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: April 15, 2023 for the 2024 competition 

If you love NASA and space exploration, this program is another great 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 Kennedy Space Center to see the launch of your DNA experiment to 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.

8. CURIE Academy

Hosting Institution:Cornell University 

Cost: $1450

Format: In-person (Ithaca, NY)

Application deadline: March 1, 2023 

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. Students work collaboratively with professors as well as 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. Girl power!

9. Yale Summer Session

Hosting Institution:Yale University

Cost: $4650 (+$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, 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.

10. Simons Summer Research Program

Hosting Institution:Stony Brook University

Paid fellowship

Format: In-person (Stony Brook, NY)

Application deadline: Early February

Also known as the Simon Fellowship, this prestigious and highly selective program matches about 30 students each year with a Stony Brook faculty mentor in the fields of science, math, computer science, and more. Students 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 mentos, plus receive a stipend award. It’s also extremely competitive to get into.

11. Library of Congress

Hosting Institution:Library of Congress

Ranges from free to paid internship

Format: In-person (various)

Application deadline: Various 

This hidden gem of a program offers around fifty different internship and research opportunities for all sorts of under-represented research interests. They range in focus from the Geographic Information Science Program to the Young Readers Center Program to the Manuscript Division. We love that you can get paid for your time and that it offers scheduling flexibility. Worth looking into, especially if you’re leaning toward history, architecture, art, and literature.

12. Laboratory Learning Program

Hosting Institution:Princeton University

Cost: Free       

Format: In-person (Princeton, NJ)

Application deadline: Mid-March

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. Students submit a 2-page research summary of their summer project at the end of the internship. These papers can be used to great effect on college applications and/or serve as a jumping-off point for independent research.

13. NASA High School Internship

Hosting Institution:NASA

Paid internship

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. Not only can you put this on your resume and college application; you will also be paid for your efforts.

14. Research Science Institute (RSI)

Hosting Institution:Center for Excellence in Education (CEE)


Application deadline: Early January

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

For more research ideas and opportunities in STEM, 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!

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!

Computer Science Student

Top Humanities Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. Medill Cherubs

Hosting Institution:Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute

Cost: $5000

Format: In-person (Evanston, IL)

Application deadline: March 13, 2023 

Peter Sagal (NPR), Sanjay Guupta (CNN), and Ezra Kelin (Vox.com) are all notable alumni from the Medill School of Journalism. This summer program 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 are also covered. Collaborative learning occurs both inside the classroom as well as on field trips and is coupled with private mentoring sessions.

2. Sotheby’s Summer Institute

Hosting Institution:Sotheby’s

Cost: $6470

Format: In person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: April 24, 2023

Curious and passionate about the arts? This two-week program will immerse you in one of 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. 

3. RISD Pre-College

Hosting Institution:Rhode Island School of Design

Cost: $8100-$10,700

Format: In-person (Providence, RI)

Application deadline: Early February 

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. 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. It would be much higher on the list, but for the hefty cost.  Need-based financial aid can cover up to 50% of the cost.

4. SCAD Rising Star

Hosting Institution:Savannah College of Art and Design

Cost: $6165

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

Application deadline: Mid-May

Creative students should definitely consider SCAD Rising Star at one of the top U.S. 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 Savannah, Atlanta, or even Hong Kong. If the cost is prohibitive, you might be eligible for financial aid.

5. The Conservatory for Actors

Hosting Institution:Yale

Cost: $9475 + meals/housing

Format: In-person (New Haven, CT)

Application deadline: Mid-April 

This is our top pick for students interested in theater. The Yale School of Drama is considered one of the most prestigious and selective drama programs in the world, and The Conservatory for Actors 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: $4675

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

Application deadline: Mid-May and Mid-June

Parsons 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

Paid internship

Format: In-person (NYC)

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 and connects them with professionals at one of the world’s finest museums—The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Over the course of this program, students will develop professional skills, build a network, gain work experience amidst masterpieces, and get paid.

8. Creative Journalism Summer Program

Hosting Institution:Columbia University

Cost: $2825-$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. You can choose from 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. It’s an exciting program since you will work with Columbia writing professors and acclaimed journalists in the field.

9. 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: Mid-March

Although this program’s social, prestigious, intensive, and academic advantages put it in our top ten picks, 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. (Earning college credit can also justify the expense later.) Students can enroll in 2 different courses offered throughBerkeley’s Summer Sessions program and participate in a series of extracurricular activities and excursions.

10. Texas A&M’s Camp

Hosting Institution:Texas A&M University

Cost: $1200    

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. The ARCH campus 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: $1750-$9980

Format: In-person (Interlochen, MI)

Application deadline: January 15, 2023 

Art students: Here is another option for you. You can choose to spend from 1 week or 6 at Interlochen pursuing visual art, dance, writing, music, theatre, or film. All the programs within Interlochen encourage the creation of original work as final projects. The social opportunities and beautiful natural surroundings also really round out the experience.

12. Digital Filmmaking Summer Institute UCLA

Hosting Institution:UCLA

Cost: $4225

Format: In-person (Los Angeles, CA)

Application deadline: Early June 

Future filmmakers, this is the research opportunity for you. This two-week, intensive production workshop gives you a chance to get hands on-experience 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, there are financial aid options worth looking into.

13. Art as Experience: Drawing and New Media Program

Hosting Institution:Cornell University

Cost: $5040

Format: Online

Application deadline: May 26, 2023

Art is woefully under-represented on this list, but this immersive course can expand your 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. You may earn up to 3 college credits, which helps justify the cost. Despite its virtual nature, many have made long-lasting friendships with other artistically gifted students all over the globe.

If you want to learn more about specific research opportunities for high schools students in Literature and the Arts, please check out our guides here: 

Express Your Creative Side

Interested in visual arts, music, or literature? We can match you with an expert mentor who will help you explore your creative streak!

Motivated student standing on books holding a graduation hat

Top Social Science Research Opportunities for High School Students

1. EXPLO Psychology + Neuroscience

Hosting Institution:Wellesley College

Cost: $7550

Format: In-person (Norwood, MA)

Application deadline: None

EXPLO’s Career Concentrations gives 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. Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, one of the most-cited scientists in the world on her research, will be a guest instructor.       

2. Pre-College Program in American History

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

Cost: $2500-5000

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

Application deadline: Late May

History buffs will love this program, both for its historic campus and its curriculum. This three-week program gives you 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. Course work includes Artifacts of American History (a new course), The Road to the American Revolution, and The Road to the United States Civil War.   

3. USSS Student Volunteer Program

Hosting Institution:US Secret Service

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, this is a unique, hands-on, and fast-paced opportunity. The USSS Student Volunteer Program gives students insight into the nature and structure of the Secret Service while teaching important “soft skills” such as excellent communication, analytical observation, and problem solving. Students must be at least 16 years old and volunteer at least 12 hours per week. While the position is unpaid, you may receive academic credit for your time.

For more research ideas and opportunities in the Social Sciences, check out our guides on:

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!

Student working on a rocket ship