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High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program 2.0 (HiSTEP 2.0)

The application for summer 2021 is now CLOSED.  

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

Watch the Recording: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6976810707918634763.


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 Summer_Postbac_Quest@mail.nih.gov.


The HiSTEP 2.0 program provides high school seniors (rising college freshman) who have little or no research experience an opportunity to spend a summer performing biomedical research. In summer 2021, HiSTEP will be entirely virtual. Selected students will be matched with a principal investigator in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) and will explore the breadth of biomedical, translational, and basic science research. In addition, students will participate in weekly virtual workshops and seminars that aim to develop their scientific, professional, and personal skills and discuss strategies for success in college. Students will receive  a stipend determined by the education level completed prior to starting at the NIH. 

HiSTEP 2.0 Group Photo
2019 HiSTEP 2.0 Participants wearing shirts from the colleges they will attend in the fall.

NOTE: Due to the continued uncertainties, HiSTEP 2.0 2021 will not be a typical summer research experience. In addition to completing a virtual summer project, HiSTEP 2.0 students will still take part in the general virtual summer programming including science seminars, journal clubs, building resilience workshops and small group discussions. We will continue monitoring the situation and will make adjustments to the program as needed, always prioritizing the safety of our students and staff.

Students in HiSTEP 2.0 will most probably participate in the following activities:

  • Virtual Summer Research Project: Students will be paired in teams and work on a virtual summer project under the guidance of an NIH research mentor. The research projects will be able to be completed remotely.
  • Orientation Program: Students will attend a short orientation program prior to beginning their virtual summer projects. This includes workshops and activities aimed at developing the students' scientific and professional skills and building community as a cohort.
  • Weekly HiSTEP 2.0 Sessions: Students participate in discussions on career readiness and workshops focus on their transition to college.
  • Virtual Summer Poster Day: Students will present a poster about their research project to the NH Community at the end of the summer.

Eligibility Criteria: 

HiSTEP 2.0 welcomes applications from current high school seniors (rising college freshman) eager to explore the world of biomedical research. We encourage students from diverse backgrounds to apply. Applicants must commit to complete the entire seven-week internship experience. Applicants must also:

  • Be seventeen (17) years of age or older by June 15th, 2021. No exceptions will be made.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.  (U.S. citizens may apply if they are enrolled at least half-time in high school. Permanent residents must be enrolled in a high school in the U.S. to be eligible.)
  • 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.
  • Be a graduating high school senior from 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 (DMV) within 40 miles of the NIH main campus in Bethesda, MD. Only students living with their parents or legal guardians with primary residence in the DMV are eligible.  

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.    

Students should talk with their principal or guidance counselor to make certain they fulfill the eligibility criteria.

To Apply:


Applicants should complete the NIH High School Summer Internship Program application online. Students must choose 'HiSTEP 2.0' in Item 9 to be considered for the HiSTEP 2.0 program.

For help preparing your application, please read our "Instructions for Completing the Application for HiSTEP 2.0" and all the "HiSTEP 2.0 FAQs". Potential applicants, high school teachers, and guidance counselors are welcome to contact us with questions.

The HiSTEP 2.0 application deadline is January 25th, 2021, at 11:59 pm. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by 11:59 pm on February 1st, 2021.

How will the program work?


The selection committee will review HiSTEP 2.0 applications in February. We will notify applicants of the committee's final decisions by early March. Once final decisions are made, students who were not selected will be released to the general NIH HS-SIP applicant pool. You can refer to the HS-SIP and HS-SIP FAQs for information on how to maximize your chances for admission. 

For summer 2021, participants will be paired in teams and  matched with a research mentor from the NIH Intramural Program.. Applicants should not contact NIH investigators to discuss placements on their own.

HiSTEP 2.0 students must commit to participate virtually in the program from June 21st to August 6th, 2021 (with the exception of the July 5th when the July 4th holiday is observed). Summer internships are full-time positions; interns are expected to devote 40 hours per week to their projects and training.

Table comparing HiSTEP 2.0 and other high school summer programs at the NIH.