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Summer Internships in Biomedical Research for high school students

As you will see below, the summer internship programs for 2021 were entirely virtual. To read more about SIP and HS-SIP, and the Summer Enrichment Curriculum we offered for individuals who were not selected for SIP 2021, please visit

We will update this page with information on summer 2022 as soon as the coronavirus situation becomes clear. We hope to welcome summer interns to NIH campuses.

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.

Important Note: High school students will apply to High School SIP (HS-SIP), HiSTEP, or HiSTEP 2.0. SIP is only for college, graduate school, and professional (e.g., medical, dental, pharmacy, etc.) school students.

Note: HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0, which are organized by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE), are described at the end of this page; be certain to take a look and see if either of them interests you.

The application for summer 2022 will be available in mid-November.

Program Description: High School SIP (HS-SIP) provides an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1150 laboratories/research projects located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD, and the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Detroit, MI.  NOTE: the number of positions in Hamilton, Framingham, Phoenix, and Detroit is limited. In fact, for 2021, there will be no high school positions in Framingham or Detroit.

What are the start and end dates for the program?
The NIH Institutes and Centers and the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education sponsor a required summer orientation on each of three dates: June 4th, 11th, and 18th. All interns must complete an orientation before joining their research groups. HS-SIP internships generally cover a minimum of eight weeks. The OITE also offers a wide range of summer high school activities including lectures featuring distinguished NIH investigators, career/professional development workshops, college readiness activities, and Summer Poster Day.

To increase your chances of being offered a position, please do three things:

  1. Watch the Applying Successfully Video for High School Students. External Link
  2. Read the High School SIP FAQs carefully.
  3. Read our suggestions for creating a successful HS-SIP application.

Eligibility: The 2021 High School Summer Internship Program is for students who

  • are seventeen (17) years of age or older by June 15, 2021(No exceptions will be made),
  • are high school juniors or seniors at the time of application,
  • are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. (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.), and
  • if they will be 17 years of age on June 15, 2021, live, at the time of application, within 40 miles of the NIH campus on which they will intern.* (This requirement does not apply to applicants who are 18 and older.)

*High school applicants who will be 17 on June 15, 2021, and would like to request a waiver of the requirement that, at the time of application, they live within 40 miles of the NIH campus at which they hope to intern,  should check the HS-SIP FAQs for guidance on requesting a waiver of this requirement.

Students with disabilities; students from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the NSF to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders); students who identify as LGBTQ; and others disadvantaged by circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities, including recent natural disasters, are encouraged to apply.

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.    

Stipend Information: The stipends for trainees are adjusted yearly; the level depends on education completed prior to starting at the NIH. For details, see the Trainee Stipends page. Stipends are paid by the Institute or Center (IC) or the research group in which the intern works.

Application Procedure: Prospective candidates must apply online. The application is available from mid-November to February 1. It requires submission of

  • a curriculum vitae or resume,
  • a list of coursework and grades (please note: we do not need a transcript at this time),
  • a cover letter describing the applicant's research interests and career goals, and
  • the names and contact information for two references.

Candidates may also specify the scientific methodologies or disease/organ systems that interest them.

Selection: The NIH HS-SIP is highly competitive. Summer interns for 2021 will be selected by central committees in the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs). Care will be taken to ensure that no high school summer intern works in the same IC as his/her parent or guardian. NIH investigators will no longer be able to view high school applications or select their own high school interns. Therefore, high school applicants should NOT contact NIH investigators. NOTE: the OITE plays no role in the selection process.

Candidates will be informed of their selection by the hiring Institute, generally by May 1. Successful candidates will be required to submit the following documentation to their Institute or Center prior to beginning their training:

  • Official high school transcripts
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. U.S. citizens may submit a copy of their birth certificate or passport. Permanent residents will need to provide a copy of their permanent resident (green) card.

IMPORTANT NOTES: (1) Only individuals who apply through the SIP online application system will be allowed to intern at the NIH. (2) Only individuals whose official documents demonstrate that they meet all High School SIP eligibility criteria will be appointed to the program. This applies to both paid interns and unpaid Special Volunteers. (3) High school students should NOT contact NIH investigators to inquire about positions. Individual investigators are no longer involved in the HS-SIP summer intern selection process.

HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0

One of the goals of the NIH is to build a highly diverse and inclusive scientific workforce. Toward that goal, the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education welcomes applications for two special high school summer internship programs (HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0).

The High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP) and HiSTEP 2.0 are programs for high school students in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, area within commuting distance (40 miles) of the main NIH campus in Bethesda. The programs aim to introduce students from high schools with a high percentage of financially-disadvantaged students (schools in which at least 30% of students participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program) to the exciting possibility of careers in the sciences and biomedical research.

HiSTEP: Unlike the other NIH summer programs, HiSTEP is not a hands-on, full-time research program. Instead, HiSTEP will combine an introduction to scientific, professional, and personal skills with leadership training and an exploration of STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, math, and medically-related) careers. In addition, college and career advising will help prepare HiSTEP participants for future scholarships and internships. If you are a current high school junior and interested, please read more about HiSTEP.

HiSTEP 2.0 provides high school seniors and HiSTEP alumni an opportunity to spend eight weeks performing full-time biomedical research.  Students will work side-by-side with NIH scientists on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. In addition, students will participate in weekly workshops and seminars aimed at developing their scientific, professional, and personal skills.  They will also discuss strategies for succeeding in college.  If you are interested in HiSTEP 2.0, please read more


  1. Although you use the online SIP application to apply for both these programs, eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and program curricula vary (view a high school summer program comparison chart). Please read each program's description carefully to decide which, if any, will best fit your needs.
  2. If you choose to apply to HiSTEP or HiSTEP 2.0, your application will not be available as part of the general HS-SIP program until AFTER HiSTEP/HiSTEP 2.0 selections have been made. If you are not selected, your application will be then be considered along with other applications in the general HS-SIP applicant pool.
  3. Individuals selected to participate in HiSTEP 2.0 will be matched with NIH investigators by the HiSTEP 2.0 selection committee.