With college admissions processes growing more competitive each year, students and parents are often left wondering: What can I do to create the strongest possible college application? While good grades and test scores were once the primary deciding factors in college admissions, today’s applicants consistently have much higher grades and scores. This means that aspects of the college application such as the personal statement and extracurricular involvement have become more important than ever. One of the best ways to improve an already strong college application is to take advantage of unique and/or prestigious learning opportunities, particularly within a student’s field of interest. Such activities not only provide a “wow factor” for a student’s resume and application, but also provide 3rdparty validation for the applicant as well as provide interesting stories for college admissions essays.
For students who are interested in science or math, numerous internships, research opportunities, and academic programs are offered throughout the country. We offer a small sampling below, but this is a mere fraction of the available options. For more options, check with local research institutions, colleges and universities, and local government offices.
Please note that many summer opportunities require certain courses or grade levels. Some have minimum GPA requirements of 3.7 or better as well as strong PSAT and/or SAT II scores. Students should spend months preparing to apply to such programs, and application deadlines are often very early in the year. Plan ahead for the best chances of admission!
Internships and Research Opportunities for Math and Science Students:
- Research Science Institute (RSI)
- A 6-week-long summer program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Academic, corporate, and government-sponsored research teams invite RSI students to join on-going research projects in various scientific fields
- Students attend 1 week of classes before performing 5 weeks of research
- On-going evening lecture series
- Independent research opportunities
- Culminates in an academic conference in which students report their research findings
- This incredibly prestigious program accepts only 80 students internationally; some students even earn recognition in the form of co-authorship credits in journal articles
- Open to rising seniors; students should apply by January of their junior years
- Application requirements include:
- Taking the most challenging math and science courses available at your school
- Demonstrating superior achievement in math, science, and the verbal arts
- Math PSAT of 75+, total PSAT of 220+
- Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)
- During this 8-week program, students perform research with Stanford faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students, and researchers on a medically oriented project
- In addition to 40+ hours of internship each week, students may also participate in lectures, seminars, lab research, and scientific presentations
- Programs are available in several fields, including:
- Immunity, Transplantation and Infection
- Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
- Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience
- Cardiovascular Medicine
- This program accepts only 40-45 students each year. Students must commute as no housing options are offered.
- Admissions requirements include:
- A personal essay
- Top grades in all courses
- Challenging science coursework
- SAT I & II scores are strongly encouraged but not required
- Students should apply by February of their sophomore or junior years
- National Institute of Standards and Technology Summer High School Internship Program (NIST SHIP)
- This internship requires at least a 6-week commitment, though some labs may require a longer commitment
- Students participate in cutting edge research with NIST staff scientists and engineers
- Areas of research include:
- information technology
- computer science
- This is an unpaid internship and students are responsible for housing and transportation to the NIST facilities located in Gaithersburg, MD
- Initial application requirements:
- Only U.S. citizens may apply
- Minimum 3.0 GPA
- Finalists must submit:
- Teacher recommendations
- Personal statement
- Students should apply by February of their junior or senior years
- National Institutes of Health Summer Internship Program (NIH SIP)
- Internship requires a minimum 8-week commitment
- This program is highly competitive: Only about 17% of applicants are accepted each year, and of those less than 1/3 are high school students
- Most internships take place at the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, though some labs are located in other parts of the country; students should keep this in mind when applying for specific programs
- Interns receive a monthly stipend (amount determined on an annual basis); housing and transportation to the campus are the student’s responsibility
- Students should apply by March of their sophomore, junior, or senior years; admission is determined on a rolling basis, so the earlier the application is received the better the chances for admission
- Application requirements include:
- Student must turn 16 years old before the start of the program
- Student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- List of coursework and grades
- Cover letter describing applicant’s research interests and career goals
- 2 references
- Boston University Summer Term Research Internship in Science and Engineering
- Under the guidance of a BU research mentor, students work on an on-going research project for 40 hours per week for 6 weeks
- Program culminates in a scientific conference during which students present their research
- Areas of research include:
- Tuition and fees: $4,050; Room and board: $2,026-$2,196
- Less than 20% of applicants are accepted each year
- Students should apply by April 1 of their junior years; admissions is determined on a rolling basis, so the earlier a student applies the better his chances for admission
- Admissions criteria include:
- Top grades
- Challenging coursework
- High standardized test scores (PSAT, SAT, ACT, and PLAN are all accepted)
- Personal statement
- 2 letters of recommendation
To be continued…
Before you begin, take a look at theApplying Successfully Video
NOTE: In addition to the main SIP program, we describe SIP subprograms (HiSTEP, HiSTEP 2.0, CCSEP, C-SOAR, AMGEN, and G-SOAR) organized by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education at the end of this page; be certain to take a look and see if any of them interest you.
You can also apply to two additional programs using the SIP application: the Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship Program (BESIP) and the NINR-Summer Genetics Institute (NINR-SGI).
The application for summer 2018 is now closed. The application for summer 2019 will be available in mid-November.
Program Description: Summer programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research (At the NIH "biomedical sciences" includes everything from behavioral and social sciences, through biology and chemistry, to physics, mathematical modeling, computational biology, and biostatistics). The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1150 laboratories/research groups located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD, and the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Detroit, MI. NOTE: the number of positions in Hamilton, Framingham, Phoenix, and Detroit is limited.
Internships cover a minimum of eight weeks, with students generally arriving at the NIH in May or June. The NIH Institutes and the Office of Intramural Training & Education sponsor a wide range of summer activities including lectures featuring distinguished NIH investigators, career/professional development workshops, and Summer Poster Day.
To increase your chances of being offered a position, please do four things: (1) Watch the Applying Successfully Video by clicking on the link to the right. (2) Read the SIP FAQs carefully. (3) Read our suggestions for creating a successful application. (4) After submitting your application, if you applied to the General SIP Program, contact NIH investigators with whom you would like to work and explain why you would be a good addition to their groups. (IMPORTANT NOTE: applicants to SIP subprograms should NOT contact investigators.) You can identify NIH investigators with projects that interest you by searching the NIH Intramural Annual Reports. Use the text search feature to find project descriptions that contain the key words you enter. You can also visit the NIH Intramural Research Program Web site for a list of investigators organized by scientific focus area. You can then find contact information for the investigators in the NIH Enterprise Directory.
Eligibility: The 2018 Summer Internship Program is for students who are sixteen years of age or older by June 15, 2018. To be eligible, candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. U.S. citizens may apply if they are enrolled at least half-time in high school or an accredited college or university as undergraduate, graduate, or professional students. Students who have been accepted into an accredited college or university program may also apply. Permanent residents must be enrolled in or have been accepted into a high school or an accredited institution or higher education in the U.S. to be eligible.
Individuals who have been negatively impacted by recent natural disasters are particularly encouraged to apply.
Stipend Information: The stipends for trainees are adjusted yearly; the level depends on education completed prior to starting at the NIH. For details, see the Trainee Stipends page.
Application Procedure: Prospective candidates must apply online. The application is available from mid-November to March 1. It requires submission of
- a curriculum vitae or resume,
- a list of coursework and grades (please note: we do not need a transcript at this time),
- a cover letter describing the applicant's research interests and career goals, and
- the names and contact information for two references.
Candidates may also specify the general subject areas, scientific methodologies and/or disease/organ systems that interest them.
Selection: The NIH Summer Internship Program is highly competitive. In 2017, more than 7500 completed applications were submitted, and about 1350 interns were selected. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis from November through April by scientists in the Institutes and Centers of the NIH. Individual scientists select their own summer interns and provide their funding; there is no centralized selection process. Data for 2017 indicate that applicants who submit their materials in the first two weeks have a success rate almost 3 times greater than those who submit during the 2 weeks just before the deadline. For additional suggestions on how to increase your chances of being offered a position, please read the SIP Frequently Asked Questions. You can find a YouTube video entitled "Finding an NIH Mentor", which demonstrates how to use NIH investigator databases, on the OITE YouTube page.
Candidates will be informed of their selection by the hiring Institute, generally by May 1. Successful candidates will be required to submit the following documentation to their Institute or Center prior to beginning their training:
- Official high school, college, or graduate school transcripts
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. U.S. citizens may submit a copy of their birth certificate or passport. Permanent residents will need to provide a copy of their permanent resident (green) card.
NIH SIP Subprograms
One of the goals of the NIH is to build a highly diverse and inclusive scientific workforce. Toward that goal, the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education welcomes applications for six special subprograms of the NIH Summer Internship Program. The subprograms target high school students from schools with large numbers of students from financially-disadvantaged backgrounds, community college students, college students who would not normally have the opportunity to pursue research projects during the academic year, and beginning graduate students in the biomedical sciences. Note that an individual would normally be eligible to apply to only ONE subprogram.
The High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP) and HiSTEP 2.0 are programs for high school students in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, area within commuting distance of the main NIH campus in Bethesda. The programs aim to introduce students from high schools with a high percentage of financially-disadvantaged students to the exciting possibility of careers in the sciences and biomedical research. Unlike the other NIH summer programs, HiSTEP is not a hands-on, full-time research program. Instead, HiSTEP will combine an introduction to scientific, professional, and personal skills with leadership training and an exploration of STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, math, and medically-related) careers. In addition, college and career advising will help prepare HiSTEP participants for future scholarships and internships. If you are a current high school junior and interested, please read more about HiSTEP. HiSTEP 2.0 provides high school seniors and HiSTEP alumni an opportunity to spend eight weeks performing biomedical research. Students will work side-by-side with some of the world's leading scientists on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. In addition, students will participate in weekly workshops and seminars aimed at developing ther scientific, professional, and personal skills. They will also discuss strategies for succeeding in college. If you are interested in HiSTEP 2.0, please read more.
Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP): In summer 2018, the NIH will again offer a special SIP program designed to recruit community college students to the NIH. Students in CCSEP can take advantage of all the opportunities available to other SIP interns. In addition, they will make a commitment to completing an enrichment curriculum. If you are a community college student and interested, please read about CCSEP.
College Summer Opportunities to Advance Research (C-SOAR): We are pleased to announce the new NIH College Summer Opportunities to Advance Research (C-SOAR). The goal of the program is to encourage a diverse group of individuals to consider careers in the biomedical sciences. In addition to performing full-time research in a laboratory or on a project at the NIH, C-SOAR interns will meet each week as a group with students in the Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP). Together they will participate in workshops and courses focused on the development of academic and professional skills in preparation for careers in health care and in social, behavioral, and biomedical research.
Students with disabilities; students who are Pell Grant-eligible; students who are enrolled in Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); students who identify as LGBTQ; and individuals disadvantaged by circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities, including recent natural disasters, are encouraged to apply to C-SOAR. Please read more about C-SOAR.
The Amgen Scholars Program at NIH is a partnership between the Amgen Foundation, the Foundation for the NIH, and the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education. This program is for undergraduates who are interested in learning more about health disparities and the role science, policy, and community engagement can play in their elimination. Preference will be given to students that lack opportunities to carry out independent research during the school year (due to family responsibilities, economic exigencies, or inability of their institutions to provide such opportunities). Amgen Scholars at NIH will spend the summer working on the main NIH campus in Bethesda. The Program will have four core components: 1) independent research performed under the mentorship of an NIH intramural scientist; 2) roundtable discussions exploring the intersection of research and public policy related to health disparities; 3) career guidance and mentorship focused on the broad array of biomedical careers; and 4) leadership training focused on the skills needed to successfully work in team-oriented global research environments. If you are interested, please read about the Amgen Scholars Program at NIH.
Graduate Summer Opportunity to Advance Research (G-SOAR) Program: In summer 2016, the NIH launched a SIP subprogram designed around the unique experiences of graduate students in the biomedical sciences. This program is a partnership between the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity and the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education. G-SOAR students at NIH will spend the summer working on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition to working in a research group at the NIH, G-SOAR students will participate in an enrichment curriculum to develop critical thinking skills and graduate school survival skills, receive career guidance and mentorship focused on the broad array of biomedical careers, and attend leadership training focused on the skills needed to work successfully in team-oriented and global research environments. If you are interested, please visit the G-SOAR Program Web page for more information.
IMPORTANT SUBPROGRAM NOTES:
- Although you use the online SIP application to apply for all these subprograms, eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and program curricula vary (view a program comparison chart). Please read each program's description carefully to decide which, if any, will best fit your needs.
- If you choose to apply to a subprogram, your application will not be available as part of the general SIP program until AFTER subprogram selections have been made. Individuals selected to participate in the subprogram will be matched with NIH investigators by the selection committee. If you are not selected for the subprogram, your application will be released to the general SIP applicant pool and you can then begin the process of finding a research group.