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High School Scientific Training & Enrichment Program (HiSTEP)

HiSTEP/HiSTEP 2.0 Informational Webinar for New Applicants: December 15.

Watch the Recording:

COVID-19 UPDATE: We are now able to share information regarding the 2021 NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) and High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP). We held off deciding whether to hold an in-person, virtual, or hybrid program in 2021 as long as possible with the hopes that we would feel safe inviting hundreds of new interns to campus this June. Unfortunately, it is clear that we still face uncertain times with continuing difficulty integrating trainees who started during the pandemic. Therefore, we want to let you know that SIP2021 will be fully virtual this summer.

 If you are selected to participate in the virtual summer program at the NIH, you will be engaged in a virtual project related to your lab assignment. Our goal is for you to learn about the research process and grow as a responsible and resilient scientist. If you join us you will also be able participate in various activities provided by our office, the Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE), and/or the NIH Institutes and Centers. We will share further information on the structure and content of the virtual program with you as it becomes available. We look forward to welcoming those of you who are offered positions to Virtual SIP and Virtual HS-SIP this summer. Please send any questions to

The HiSTEP application for 2021 is now CLOSED.

What is the HiSTEP experience? Click here to watch an informational video

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Intramural Training & Education and Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity are proud to host the High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP). The goal of HiSTEP is to expand the pipeline of students interested in biomedical and healthcare careers by providing opportunities for high school students from schools with a large population of financially-disadvantaged students. We encourage current high school juniors interested in STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medically-related) fields to apply. 

In summer 2021, HiSTEP students will take part in a six-week, part-time summer internship  June 29th to August 5th. HiSTEP students will explore the breadth of the scientific enterprise, the importance of biomedical research, and many STEM-M careers. They will participate in workshops, lectures, and virtual projects. Students will receive a stipend determined by their education level completed prior to starting at the NIH and the number of hours (25) they spend in the program each week.

HISTEP Group Photo
2019 HiSTEP Participants

The HiSTEP Program includes activities on the following topics:

  • Current Topics in the Health Sciences: Students discuss case studies, engage in group projects and examine current topics in human health.
  • Exploring STEM-M Careers: Students experience the scientific enterprise and learn about the roles played by scientists, health care workers, and public health experts.
  • Career Readiness and Leadership Development: Students are aided in the development of self-awareness, assertiveness, and interpersonal and resiliency skills. Success in college and in STEM-M careers depends on these skills.
  • College and Career Advising: Students are provided with resources to help them understand the college application process, find scholarships and mentors, and make a successful transition to college. HiSTEP staff facilitate discussions about exploring careers, finding internships, writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, and professionalism.

HiSTEP Lab Photo
2018 HiSTEP Participants in lab

Eligibility Criteria: 

HiSTEP welcomes applications from current high school juniors eager to explore science and health-related careers. We encourage students from diverse backgrounds to apply. Applicants must commit to complete the entire six-week internship experience. HiSTEP applicants must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Be 17 years or older on June 15th, 2021.  No exceptions will be made.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). Students with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 should apply if their grades have shown steady improvement.
  • Attend a school where 30% or more of the student body participates in the Federal Free/Reduced Lunch Program. Please talk to your principal or school counselor to find out if your school is eligible.
  • Live in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington DC within 40 miles of the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Only students living with their parents or legal guardians with primary residence in the DMV area are eligible.
Students should talk with their principal or guidance counselor to make certain they fulfill all eligibility criteria.


Background Check:

In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a Federal background check, using Standard Form-85 (read SF-85). NOTE: Section 14 of the form asks “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?” The question pertains to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws. 

Special NOTES:

  • High school seniors are not eligible for this program. However, high school seniors who qualify are eligible to apply to HiSTEP 2.0, a research internship program for high school seniors and HiSTEP alumni. Please refer to the HiSTEP 2.0 website for additional information and important deadlines pertaining to the program, which will take place from June 21st to August 6th, 2021.
  • Table comparing HiSTEP and other high school summer programs at the NIH.

Application Process:

Applicants must complete the NIH High School Summer Internship Program application online. Please note that high school students may be eligible to participate in HS-SIP, HiSTEP, and/or HiSTEP 2.0. Students MUST choose 'HiSTEP' in Item 9 to be considered for HiSTEP.

For help preparing your application, please read our "Instructions for Completing the Application for HiSTEP" and "HiSTEP FAQs". Potential applicants, high school teachers, and guidance counselors are also welcome to contact us with questions.

The HiSTEP application deadline is January 25th, 2021, at 11:59 pm. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by 11:59 pm on February 1st, 2021. All application materials must be received by the deadlines for full consideration.

How does the selection process work?

The selection committee will review applications in February and March. Potential program participants will be interviewed by phone mid-March. We will notify applicants of the committee's final decisions by the end of March. Participants will take part in a virtual curriculum - HiSTEP students do not conduct full-time research. Thus, applicants should not contact investigators or HS-SIP Institute coordinators for research group placements. 

Before HiSTEP begins, we will host a virtual orientation where participants and a parent/legal guardian will learn more about the program. Students will also complete internship paperwork and required training. This summer internship will be a part-time position (approximately 25 hours per week). All NIH HiSTEP interns must be on their computers, Monday through Friday 9-12:30 and two afternoons a week from 2-4 pm, from June 29th through August 5th, 2021 (with the exception of the July 4th holiday which will be celebrated this year on Monday July 5th).

Read more about students' experience in HiSTEP in this article from the NIH Record.

What HiSTEP alumni say about the program:

"Being here at NIH has given me the opportunity to learn that there is a variety of things that I can get into and that my future is broad and I am not limited to one thing"

"HiSTEP has really made me realize how much I love science, I would not want to spend my summer anywhere else."

"The NIH HiSTEP experience has truly been one of the best experiences I have had so far. I was able to learn so much more about myself and my potential. The opportunities at HiSTEP has helped me to overcome fears and gain confidence in myself."

"What the HiSTEP program did was give me a family and a team that made me feel comfortable with the application process to know what is going on."

The HiSTEP Program is a collaborative effort of many individuals across NIH Institutes and Centers. We especially acknowledge critical contributions provided by the NIH Office of the Director, the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.