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High School Scientific Training & Enrichment Program (HiSTEP)

COVID-19 Update: In mid-March of 2020, all NIH employees, contractors, and trainees, with the exception of those conducting research on the coronavirus and COVID-19 and those caring for patients (Group 0), were assigned to mandatory telework. In June, 2020, those whose work cannot be completed remotely (Group A), were allowed to begin returning to on-site work. However, the return was limited. Safe distancing was required, in addition to mask wearing and strict disinfection measures, with the result that most scientists were permitted only part-time or shift work. Those whose work is difficult to complete via telework (Group B) were allowed to join Group A in July, 2020, still with safe distancing required. Group C, individuals who can telework effectively, are still working remotely. That situation continues (revised 10/15/21).

All NIH summer programs were cancelled in 2020. In 2021, all were entirely virtual. As soon as the coronavirus situation becomes clear, we will update this page with information on the summer programs for 2022. We hope to welcome summer interns to our NIH campuses.

The application for summer 2022 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 (OITE) 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. 

HiSTEP students will take part in a six-week, full-time summer internship located on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD from June 28th to August 4th, 2022. 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 hands-on activities. Students will receive Transhare benefits to cover the cost of public transportation and a stipend determined by their education level completed prior to starting at the NIH.

HISTEP Group Photo
2019 HiSTEP Participants

The HiSTEP Program includes activities on the following topics: 

  • Basic Science Skills: Students conduct hands-on science experiments to learn and develop basic skills that scientists use in a laboratory setting.
  • 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 transition successfully 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 seven-week internship experience.

HiSTEP applicants must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Be 17 years or older on June 15th, 2022.
  • 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.

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 13th to August 5th, 2022.
  • Table comparing HiSTEP and other summer programs at the NIH.

Application Process
Applicants must complete the NIH High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP) application online. HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0 are subprograms of HS-SIP. 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, 2022 at 11:59 pm. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by 11:59 pm on February 1st, 2022. All application materials must be received by February 1st 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 in mid-March. We will notify applicants of the committee's final decisions by the end of March. Participants will take place in a classroom and lab-based 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 invite program participants and their parents/legal guardians to visit NIH to learn more about the program. Students will also complete internship paperwork and required training. Summer internships are considered full-time positions. All NIH HiSTEP interns must be on campus from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, from June 28th through August 4th, 2022 (with the exception of the July 4th holiday).

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.