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Instructions for completing the High School Scientific and Training Enrichment Program 2.0 (HISTEP 2.0) APPLICATION

EXTENSION - Application deadline: February 1st, 2022 by 11:59 PM
Letters of recommendation deadline: February 8th, 2022 by 11:59 PM
Only completed applications, including letters of recommendation, will be considered.

Before you begin working on your application, read all available materials. This means at least reading the HiSTEP 2.0 program page and all the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

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The instructions below are for students applying to the NIH HISTEP 2.0 program, a subprogram of the High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP). Read all of the instructions carefully and be sure to follow them to ensure that you application is considered for this specific subprogram.


  • Write the long sections of the application in a word processor, then paste them into the application.
  • For security reasons, our system will accept only plain text. You cannot use bold or italics or bullets or special characters. Use white space, capital letters, and characters on your keyboard to format your documents.

First STEP: Creation of an Account:

  • On the SIP Application Center, please select Create a new account. Write the email address that you would like to be associated to your SIP account. The system will ask you to confirm your primary email address. If an error message appears indicating there is an account associated with your email address, please use the email address associated with your old account and reset your password.
  • When you first create an account, you will be asked to verify your email address. This is the email address that will be used when you modify, submit, and receive updates regarding your application.
  • To verify your email address, go to the email account entered during the creation of the new account and click on the link provided. The link will expire in 72 hours.
  • Once you confirmed your email address, you will be asked to provide additional information to activate your account. Complete all fields. Please check for accuracy when entering your information as it will be used to populate automatically those fields on your application. Specially, your email address that will be the main form of communication with you.
  • Write down your password for future access and store it in a safe place.
  • Once your account is created, you must complete the Eligibility and Application Requirement Forms. Please read carefully all options.
    • For students interested in HiSTEP 2.0 and who meet the eligibility criteria should:
      • Select “High School” as your current education level.
      • Select “Fourth” under year you are in. To be eligible, students must be high school seniors at the time of application.
      • Select “Yes”, if expecting to be enrolled in college by the fall of 2022.
      • Select your age by June 15, 2022. All students must be at least 17 years of age by this date.
      • Select “Yes” if residing within 40 miles of the nearest NIH facility. All students must be living with their parent (s) or legal guardian and must be within commuting distance.
    • Once you complete the Eligibility section, the system will confirm which summer program you are eligible for. To participate in HiSTEP 2.0, you must be eligible to apply to the high school version of the Summer Internship Program at the NIH. At the end of the application, you will be able to choose “HiSTEP 2.0” as your preferred program.
    • To begin your application, you will need to read and agree to all the instructions and eligibility requirements provided.
      • Once you read all the information, click on the box at the end that indicate you have read all the material provided.

Once you clicked, you will be ready to start your application. Some information might be already populated in certain fields according to the information provided when creating an account.


1. Personal Information:
Part 1. Complete ALL required fields.

  • Your name, email address, home phone number and permanent address should be populated with the information you entered when creating the account.
  • Enrollment: Select "Yes" if you are currently enrolled as a high school senior in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia. Select "Yes" to indicate that the school is in the US.
  • Minimum age requirement: You must be at least 17 years of age by June 15, 2022. No exceptions will be made. You must submit proof if selected for the program.
  • Location: You must live within 40 miles of the nearest NIH facility.
  • Citizenship status: Select your current status (US citizen or permanent resident). You must submit proof if selected for the program.

Personal Information - Continued. Complete ALL required fields.

  • Current Address: Check the box if your current address is the same as your permanent address. This is the address at which we would reach you by mail. This is NOT your school address. Your permanent and current address should be the same.
  • Preferred Phone Number: Please enter the phone number (home phone or cell phone) at which we would be most likely to reach you.
  • Previous experience at NIH: Indicate any completed research program/internship at the NIH. (HiSTEP alumni should enter “one")
  • Relative at NIH: Please tell us if you have any family member currently working at the NIH. Use the "Help" link on the application to find the definition of "relative". If answering yes, you will be asked to write the name of the relative, their relationship to you and institute/center at which they work. If you have several relatives, use the + sign to the right to add additional fields.
  • NIH Campus Selection: Please check one option ONLY - the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The HiSTEP 2.0 program is not offered on any other NIH campuses..

2. Academic Information:
Please complete ALL required fields.

  • School Name: Enter the complete name of your high school. Do not use abbreviations.
  • Current Education Level: Should indicate 'High School'
  • Year at current level: Should indicate “Fourth”. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are not eligible to apply to HiSTEP 2.0.
  • Current GPA: You must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). However, if you have a GPA between 2.75 and 3.00, you are encouraged to apply if your grades have shown a steady improvement. Please ask your guidance counselor to help you determine your cumulative unweighted GPA.
  • School Grading Scale: Please select your school's grading scale - in most cases, this is 4.0. If your school does not use one of the options provided, please select "Other". Then describe your school's system in question 3 (Coursework and Grades).

3. Coursework and Grades: 

  • List all courses taken since your freshman year, AND the courses in which you are currently enrolled. Please be clear and specific about the name of the courses.
  • For each course that has been completed indicate the grade. For example: AP Biology 101, A+.
  • For courses that you are currently taking this semester and  have not yet received a final grade, please write 'in progress.' For example, 'AP Biology 101- in progress.' Do not report your mid-semester grade for the current academic year.

4. CV/Resume
This section should be concise; use no more than two pages. Summarize your educational, professional, work, and volunteer experience. You should highlight:

  • Your education (school name, school year)
  • Any volunteer, extra-curricular and other work-related experience. Tell us what skills you acquired as a result. For example, list skills like public speaking acquired during participation in the debate club or organizing activities and events as part of your school's student government.
  • Any awards or honors you have received. For example, you could list the Honor Roll, National Merit Scholar selection, science fair participation, or sports awards.
  • Community service or leadership experience. For example, taking part in community clean-up events, or holding the position of vice-president of your class.

 Here is a summary of our advice on resumes/CVs. Remember, this resume is just an example - your resume should reflect your unique experiences. Don't worry if your resume is shorter - we included multiple experiences here to show you how they can be listed.

5. References: 
Please complete ALL required fields.

  • Enter the complete name, office phone number, and email address of your reference. Double check this information to make sure that it is correct. You will need to submit the names of the two individuals who will submit your letters of recommendation.
  • Once you have submitted a complete application (due February 1st, 2022), the application system will send an e-mail request for a letter of recommendation to the two individuals you listed in this section. The email will direct those individuals to submit their letters using our online system - all letters MUST be submitted online.
  • Ask science, math, or other academic teachers or leaders to write these letters.
  • The letters should highlight your potential for success and your ability to thrive in both the HiSTEP 2.0 program and a STEM career. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)
  • DO NOT ASK a family member, minister, or coach to write you a letter.
  • Ask individuals whether they will write you a STRONG letter of recommendation BEFORE you submit their names.

When the application system receives your letters, both you and your references will receive an e-mail confirmation.

It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that we receive your letters of recommendation. If your references have not submitted their letters, remind them about the deadline (11:59pm on February 8th, 2022). If a reference is not able to submit a letter, you can enter contact information for a new reference.

NOTE: You can change a reference ONLY if they have not submitted a letter. You can contact us if you have any issues with recommendation letters.

6. Cover Letter:
This is your chance to convince the HiSTEP 2.0 advisory committee to choose you for the program! Your cover letter should include the following components (no more than three to four paragraphs):

  • Why are you applying to HiSTEP 2.0? Describe why the HISTEP 2.0 program interests you. Write about the source of your interest in STEM careers. Tell us how this program will help you prepare for a science- or health-related career.
  • How has your unique life experience shaped your goals for the future? Write about hardships that you have had to overcome and challenges you see yourself facing in the future. For example, highlight if you will be a first generation college student, if you have experienced financial or educational hardships, or if your current situation lacks the resources you need to explore STEM careers.
  • How have you been a leader at your school and in your community? Write about how these and other experiences show your leadership potential. Help us understand your commitment to continued self-improvement and learning.
  • Why are you interested in conducting research? Tell us about your research interests (field areas, previous experiences in science, etc) and how this internship will contribute to reach your goals as you pursue a STEM career.
  • Why are you interested in conducting research? Tell us about your research interests (field areas, previous experiences in science, etc) and how this internship will contribute to reach your goals as you pursue a STEM career. If you participated in HiSTEP you must include what you learned and how the program impacted you (academically, personally, professionally) to pursue a research internship.

7. Research Interests Keywords:
Please highlight your research interests. This could include a scientific discipline (for example, microbiology, genomics, bioinformatics, etc) or a disease (ALS, cancer, HIV, etc).

8. Preferred Institute/Center (IC):
Please select "Office of the Director, OD" from the down drop menu.

9. SIP Subprogram Selection:

  • If you want to be considered for the HiSTEP 2.0 program, please click the default “remove” button next to HS-SIP. Once you remove HS-SIP, you will see the “ADD” button active next to the other two sub-programs.
  • Click the"ADD" button to add "HiSTEP 2.0"as your preferred sub-program.
  • If HiSTEP 2.0 was added, you will see the “remove” button appear next to HiSTEP 2.0. This indicates that your application will be included in the HiSTEP 2.0 pool of applicants.
  • Your application will not be reviewed unless you select 'HiSTEP 2.0'. Students who do not add the 'HiSTEP 2.0' option will not be included into the pool of HiSTEP 2.0 applicants. 

Additional Instructions
You can submit your information in stages if you want to complete the application later. To do this, click on the "Save Partial Application & Quit" button. Once you are ready to submit a complete application, you can select "Preview Completed Application". You will be taken to a page displaying the information you have provided. This will allow you to review the information you have submitted. Check to see that it is accurate AND that the formatting is neat. To submit your completed application, you must select the "Save" button on the Preview page.

When you submit an application, you should receive a confirmation e-mail. Be certain to save this e-mail! It contains directions for updating or modifying your application. It also includes instructions on how to check and see if the application system has received your recommendation letters. If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail, contact us IMMEDIATELY.

 Starting and finishing your application early, well ahead of the deadline, is a good way to ensure that your application is in order on time. Working ahead of time will also give you the chance to edit your application to make certain that the spelling and grammar are correct. We know that submitting this application may be stressful. We are here to answer questions and provide advice - just send us an e-mail. Good luck!