Top 30 Online High School Programs in Summer 2021

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Julia de Raadt
Julia de Raadt

Julia has dedicated much of her career to education. Since commencing with Empowerly, Julia has looked after the research team which handles student questions on different topics about college admission.

Are you looking for online research programs in STEM for the summer of 2021? While the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine may have arrived, most won’t access it until mid-2021. By extension, this means many high school students will be looking to participate in activities online this summer. 

So, what are your options, other than take an online course in which you learn in a traditional classroom setting? Why not try for a more hands-on research program? (Although, for safety, in this case hands-on means virtually.) Online summer programs are out there!

So next, let’s take a look at how they can help you.

STEM research programs offer participants the chance to be actively involved in group or individual research projects. In some cases, projects are combined with lectures in specific STEM subjects. In fact, in these programs, the combination overlaps with the research work. And best of all, a mentor or supervisor paired with each student group can help guide the research work. 

However, these programs tend to be more competitive than traditional summer activities. Often, they require some prior knowledge. Beyond this, in many programs, applicants need to meet a GPA requirement and/or taken specific high school courses to apply. In addition, they also tend to be targeted at students in the last two to three years of high school. 

This summer, many colleges believe that COVID restrictions will still be in place. As a result, they offer their research programs online. Others have not yet made a decision, but will offer online learning if restrictions still apply. Either way: online summer programs are a great way to expand your portfolio. Because of these changes, if these competitive programs interest you, then take a look at our top 30 list of online research programs below! 

Top 30 Online Research Programs

Firstly, option one:

1. Rockefeller University Summer Science Research Program

Online in 2021 

About: The Rockefeller University Summer Science Research Program (SSRP) provides high school students with a unique and personalized opportunity to conduct hands-on research. For instance, students study under the mentorship of leading scientists at great research facilities. Overall, during this rigorous 7-week program, students immerse themselves in scientific culture while gaining an appreciation for discovery.

Deadline: 1/4/2021

Length: 1.5 months

Age: Minimum age of 16

Cost: Free, stipend paid

2. Simons Summer Research Program

Online in 2021 

About: Similarly, the Simons Summer Research Program gives high school students the opportunity to engage in hands-on research. Research subjects include science, math or engineering. In addition, Simons Fellows work with distinguished faculty mentors, learn laboratory techniques and tools, become part of active research teams, and experience life at a research university.

Deadline: Opens late Jan 2021, last year deadline was 1/22/2020

Length: 1.5 months

Age: Minimum age of 16

Cost: Free, stipend paid

3. Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory – High School Student Summer Research Fellowship

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Salisbury Cove, ME

About: Like the first two, MDI Biological Laboratory offers summer research fellowship opportunities for high school students with an interest in developing science research skills. MDI welcomes applicants who desire hands-on, research training experience within an advanced laboratory.

Deadline: Teacher nomination due 1/8/2021

Length: 10 weeks

Age: Minimum age of 16; must be nominated by a teacher before the student can initiate an application.

Cost: Free, stipend paid

4. Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa

On campus and online options in 2021 due to COVID-19.

About: This is a unique 5 ½ week-long research experience for highly capable students. Participants conduct scientific research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Thus, students spend approximately 40 hours a week working in labs on The University of Iowa campus.

Deadline: 2/18/2021 

Length: 5 weeks

Age: Current 10-11th graders

Cost: $6,395

Next on the list?

5. Center for Excellence in Education – Research Science Institute 

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Cambridge, MA.

Deadline: 1/16/2021

About: Each summer, 80 students gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Research Science Institute (RSI). In contrast to others, RSI is the first cost-free summer science & engineering program to combine on-campus course work in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research.

Length: 7 weeks

Age: Rising 12th graders

Cost: Free

6. Broad Summer Scholars Program

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Boston, MA.

Deadline: 1/22/2021

About: The Broad Summer Scholars Program invites high school students with a strong interest in science to spend six weeks at the Broad Institute. Then, they match students with Broad scientists to conduct research projects in a variety of specialties.

Length: 6 weeks

Age: Rising 12th graders attending a high school in the greater Boston area

Cost: Free

7. NIH – Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research (HS SIP)

Possibly online in 2021. If not, several campuses including Bethesda, MD

About: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world. Accordingly, these students work in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research.

Deadline: 2/1/2021

Length: Minimum 8 weeks

Age: Minimum age of 17

Cost: Free, paid a stipend

8. UCSD – Academic Connections Research Scholars

Online in 2021 

About: The UCSD Research Scholars program allows up to about 25 total students to each work individually with a UCSD Faculty researcher. They will do so in an actual Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology or Nanotechnology lab on campus. In this case, this program offers both winter and summer sessions for these online summer programs. 

Deadline: Rolling admissions. In fact, the application is open now for the winter session.

Length: 6 weeks

Age: Rising 10-12th graders


9. Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Fairfax, VA.

About: As can be seen, students work one-on-one with researchers at George Mason University or collaborating institutions. Hence, students will use state-of-the-art technology to solve hypothesis driven questions in a variety of STEM and related fields.

Deadline: 1/31/2021

Length: 7.5 weeks

Age: Minimum age of 16

Cost: Free

Still, are you looking for more suggestions?

10. IndianaU – Simon Cancer Center Summer Research Program

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Indianapolis, IN

About: The IU Simon Cancer Center Summer Research Program (SRP) aims to increase the number of under-represented high school and undergraduate students. Specifically, this program is for students pursuing biomedical and behavioral science careers. In order to do this, IU supports these students by providing first-hand exposure to these fields.

Deadline: 2/14/2021

Length 8 weeks

Age: Current 12th graders. Additionally, preference is given to students from Indianapolis

Cost: Free, stipend paid

11. CHORI – Cystic Fibrosis Summer Research Program

Online in 2021 

About: The CHORI Summer Student Research Program allows students to immerse themselves in basic and/or clinical research for three months during the summer. More importantly, the program pairs students with one or two CHORI PI’s who serve as mentors, guiding the students through all phases of research. As such, the phases include: the research design, testing of their own hypotheses, and methodology growth. Coupled with these aspects, students present their research to their peers just as any professional researcher would do.

Deadline: 2/5/2021

Length: 9 weeks

Age: Current 11-12th graders

Cost: Free

12. RISE Internship / Practicum – Boston University

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Boston, MA.

About: Students who are passionate about the sciences and entering their senior year of high school are invited to apply to the Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) program. RISE offers two tracks: Internship and Practicum. Because of this, you can spend six weeks at BU conducting university laboratory research with some of the nation’s brightest scientific minds and advance your knowledge and skills.

Deadline: 2/14/2021

Length: 6 weeks

Age: Rising 12th grader

Cost: Residential student – $7500, Commuter student – $5000

13. UPMC Cancer Center Academy

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Pittsburgh, PA.

About: The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Academy, previously the UPCI Academy, strives to provide cutting edge research and career preparatory experiences. Like other programs, they seek a diverse group of highly motivated high school students. Above all, the program is designed for students who are pursuing higher education and careers in STEM fields, especially research and medicine.

Deadline: 2/16/2021

Length: 7 weeks

Age: Minimum age of 15

Cost: Free. Cost to reside on campus – $7,000

14. The Summer Youth Intensive Program

Online in 2021 

About: The Summer Youth Intensive Program (SYIP) is designed, organized and delivered by the College of Chemistry at UC Berkeley. However, SYIP is far from the traditional summer program. In fact, SYIP goes over the course of one year and serves students who are passionate about scientific research and who are focused on maximizing their future success in college. Importantly, it’s worth noting which online summer programs like this help you transition to college life.

Deadline: Rolling admissions

Length: 4 weeks

Age: Rising 9-12th graders in the Bay Area, CA

Cost: Approx. $14, 500

Moving on, let’s take a look at the next batch:

15. Samuel Merritt University – Clinical Immersion and Mentoring Summer Internship

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Oakland, CA.

About: As has been noted, participants experience direct patient observation, shadow mentors in patient care settings, and interact with a broad spectrum of health staff. Along with this, students attend daily development seminars.

Deadline: Opens 1/4/202, last year deadline: 2/21/2020

Length: 4 weeks

Age: Current 9-12th graders from underrepresented groups in health in the SF Bay Area

Cost: Free, may receive a stipend

16. Summer Science Program

Possibly online in 2021.  If not, several campuses.

About: Students learn the fundamentals of enzyme structure, function, and evolution. After that, each team of three combines bench experiments and computer tools to characterize a member of an enzyme family that is implicated in crop infection by fungal pathogens. In fact, students work with one which has never been modeled by anyone before.


Length: 39 days

Age: Rising 12th graders but will consider rising 11th graders too

Cost: 3,950 if online, or $6,950 if in-person

17. NEI Summer Intern Program

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Bethesda, MD

About: The National Eye Institute NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) provides opportunities for students to spend the summer working with some of the world’s leading scientists. As a result, summer interns come to the NEI to participate in research projects.

Deadline: 2/1/2021

Length: 8 weeks

Age: Minimum age of 17. In addition, applicants must reside approximately 40 miles of the NIH Bethesda campus at the time of application, if they are not eighteen by June 15, 2021

Cost: Free, monthly stipend is paid

18. Science Internship Program @ UCSC

Possibly online In 2020, online. If not, Santa Cruz, CA.

About: SIP is a summer-long (10 week) research internship program for high-school students in STEM fields.In other words, UCSC faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers provide one-on-one mentoring of these high-school interns. As you can see, this is a great opportunity to see how some online summer programs allow you to work at a collegiate level. The research projects are real, in that they are not made up just for the high-school students; instead, students are inserted into existing research projects here at UCSC.

Deadline: TBD; however, note last year deadline: 3/20/2020

Length: 8 weeks

Age: Must be 14 (or 16 for some projects)

Cost: Approx. $4,000

19. UIllinois – High School STEM Research Programs

Online in 2021 

About: Rising high school juniors and seniors are invited to apply for an authentic STEM research experience at a world-class research university for 6 weeks during the summer. Given that they are accepted, students gain hands-on experience in various STEM fields.

Deadline: Opens March 2021, last yr deadline: 3/20/2020

Length: 1.5 months

Age: Current 10-11th graders

Cost: Free, stipend is paid

In this section, let’s keep considering options:

20. Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center Stanford Summer Internship

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Stanford, CA.

About: This summer internship is an elective course for high school and pre-med students. To be specific, this internship will provide exposure to the steps towards mastering basic and advanced cardiothoracic surgery (for example, knot tying, dissection, suturing, coronary artery bypass graft, and aortic valve replacements).

Deadline: 3/21/2021

Length: 2 weeks

Age: Minimum age of 16

Cost: Approx. $6,000

21. Fred Hutch – Summer High School Internship Program

Possibly online in 2021.  If not, Seattle, WA

About: High school students are welcome to apply for an 8 week, paid summer research internship at Fred Hutch. Indeed, the Hutch has an international reputation for its pioneering research in biological sciences, bone marrow and stem cell transplantation, cancer prevention, epidemiology, and biostatistics.

Deadline: 3/31/2021

Length: 1.5 months

Age: Rising 12th graders

Cost: Free, stipend paid.

22. Seattle Children’s Research Institute – Research Training Program

Online and in-person in Seattle, WA.

About: Become familiar with working in a research lab environment and gain hands-on experience. In addition, learn about what you want to do with your future and possible careers. Beyond this, you can increase your knowledge of global health. What’s more, you will discover options for college and scholarships.

Further, students will also participate in workshops on college readiness and career exploration. These programs provide students with a solid foundation for a future career in biomedical research, and there is no cost to participate. 

Deadline: In-person: 4/4/2021; or Online: 6/20/21

Length: Online: 1 week, In-person: 3 weeks

Age: High school students

Cost: Free

23. Pioneer Academics


About: Pioneer Academics is an online research program founded in cooperation between American university professors and international education experts. Its goal is to provide outstanding high school students around the world with challenging and creative research opportunities across a wide range of disciplines.

Carry out research in the areas of natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences and humanities. This is one of several online summer programs especially equipped for digital learning.

Deadline: Deadline will be announced March 10, 2021, last yr deadline 4/26/2020

Length: 10 weeks

Age: Current 9-12th graders

Cost: Approx. $6,500

24. Cell-Science Summer Internship Program

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Fremont, CA

About: The goal of this program is to educate next generation scientists about rational drug design & discovery in biotechnology.  As such, the Summer Internship program will also have guest lectures by experts from leading Pharma/Biotech companies. In addition, they will host two workshops for career development. Students will have a chance to work on the Bioinformatics project for 7 weeks and give oral presentations and submit project reports.

Deadline: TBD, last yr deadline 5/20/2020

Length: 7 weeks

Age: Rising 12th graders


If you’ve made it this far, there are still more to review!

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

Online in 2021

About: A program for talented high school students hosted by the University of California, Irvine. COSMOS students apply to a specific “cluster”, with each cluster addressing advanced topics in STEM fields, including a variety of engineering disciplines, pharmaceutical sciences, and computer science (to name a few).

Deadline: 2/19/2021

Length: 4 weeks

Age: High school students

Cost: Approx. $2,000

26. UCSB Research Mentorship Program

Online in 2021.

About: The Research Mentorship Program is a competitive, six-week summer program that engages high-achieving high school students from all over the world in university-level research. Students will be paired up with a mentor (graduate student, postdoc, or faculty) and choose a research project from a large list of disciplines offered by the program each year.

Deadline: 3/15/2021

Length: 6 weeks

Age: Current 10-11th graders

Cost: Approx. $10,500 

27. US Youth Ambassadors and TechGirls

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Blacksburg VA

About: Join 28 girls from 7 countries in the Middle East and North African (MENA) for an exciting and unparalleled week of quality tech training and international friendship on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA. Participants will collaborate on tech projects by day and participate in stimulating cross-cultural dialogues and fun times at night!

Deadline: 1/15/2021

Length: 22 days

Age: Minimum age of 15, GIRLS ONLY

Cost: Free

28. Facebook Summer Academy

Online in 2021

About: Facebook Summer Academy Externs will have the opportunity to learn about the day-to-day operations of one of the leading social media networks by being part of a live workforce. Externs will work closely with Facebook Mentors to gain real-world work experience and on-the-job skills that will help propel them into successful careers.

Deadline: 2/14/2021

Length: 6 weeks

Age: Current 10th graders. Must be full-year residents of Bay Area

Cost: Free, stipend paid

29. Camp Euclid – A Mathematics Research Camp


About: Camp Euclid is an online math research program for youth. Participants will encounter math problems (which have never been solved before). Mull over and grapple with difficult math problems within a circle of fellow researchers.

Deadline: TBD, last year deadline 6/13/2020

Length: 6 weeks

Age: Maximum age of 19

Cost: Approx $1,400

And finally, our last entry today:

30. UC Irvine Math ExpLR: Summer Research Program

Possibly online in 2021. If not, Irvine, CA

About: Math ExpLR is a program in mathematical biology. Students will be paired up with undergraduates and work with a PI on a computational biology research project.  In addition, there will be weekly activities in skills development, including how to give presentations, or how to write math in the computer. By the end of the project all students will give a presentation about their research and submit an expository paper about their work.

Deadline: TBD, last year deadline 3/1/2020

Length: 6 weeks

Age: High school students

How do I apply?

Yes, applications for these programs tend to be lengthier than other less competitive programs. Not only that, these apps usually require essay responses to several questions as well as letters of rec. Furthermore, these online summer programs will definitely be in-demand this year and years to come.

But, if you need help constructing a quality application, why not get us to help? We can not only help you find programs that suit your interests and edit your essay responses, but working with a counselor can even ensure that you meet the fast-approaching deadlines. Schedule a free consultation with us today! 

Questions? Let us know!