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Research Training

High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP)

This program is available to:

An opportunity for rising 12th graders to explore careers in science and learn more about biomedical research in the NIH Intramural Research Program.

About this program

This program is for rising 12th graders from schools where 30% or more students participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.  HISTEP students learn about research and healthcare careers through lectures, research group visits, networking events, small group discussions, and group projects. HiSTEP students also receive guidance on the college application process, develop career readiness and leadership skills, and participate in a resilience and well-being program.

The HiSTEP program takes place on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, MD. The program takes place every Tuesday through Thursday from July 2 to August 1, 2024. Interns are expected to devote a minimum 21 hours per week to their projects and training and must commit to completing the entire program.

Check out this video to learn more about the HiSTEP experience.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity strengthens our community. We welcome applicants who meet the HiSTEP eligibility requirements and strongly encourage applications from individuals:

  • from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research and healthcare fields
  • with disabilities
  • who identify as LGBTQ+
  • disadvantaged by life circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities.

Eligibility criteria

HiSTEP welcomes applicants from current high school juniors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. In addition, you must:

  • Attend a school where 30% or more of the student body participates in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Please talk to your principal or school counselor to find out if your school is eligible.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 should apply if their grades have shown steady improvement.
  • Live in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia 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 DC/Maryland/Virginia area are eligible to apply.

Applicants with a family member working at NIH should be aware of the strict nepotism policy, which may limit your ability to work in certain NIH institutes, centers, or research groups.

Stipend and other compensation

Stipends for summer interns are adjusted annually and are based on educational level. There is free parking on each NIH campus; summer interns on some campuses may be eligible to participate in the Transhare program.

All summer interns must present proof of health insurance to participate in the program.

Before you apply

Students should talk with their principal or guidance counselor to be sure that they fulfill all eligibility criteria.

This is not a full-time research position. You will not be placed in an NIH research group for a hands-on internship experience - be sure this is the experience you are looking for.

How to apply

Opening and closing dates

The HiSTEP application is currently closed.

The HiSTEP application closes on January 12, 2024 at noon ET.
Reference letters are due before Friday, January 19, 2024 at noon ET.

Complete your application

You must use the NIH Application Center to apply for this program:

  1. After you complete the required sections of your profile, you will be asked to select a preferred program. Choose 'Summer internships for high school students'.
  2. You must select 'Apply' next to ‘High School Scientific Training & Enrichment Program’ for your application to be considered for this program.
  3. Ensure that you are eligible for this program before clicking 'Start Application.'
  4. To complete your application, import any relevant information from your profile. You must also submit:
  • Coursework & Exams - a list of coursework and grades
  • CV/Resume - a list of your education, experience, and other relevant history (see an example resume)
  • References - the names and contact information of two references
  • Letter/Statement - a cover letter broadly describing your research experience, current interests and career goals. You should also answer the following questions:
    • Why are you applying to HiSTEP?
    • How has your unique life experience shaped your goals for the future? Include hardships you have overcome.
    • How have you been a leader at your school and in your community?

5. Review all of your materials carefully before you submit your application

The HiSTEP application is currently closed.

Selection process

The HiSTEP selection committee reviews applications and notifies applicants of final decisions by the end of March.

HiSTEP interns participate in a classroom and lab-based curriculum; HiSTEP interns do not conduct full-time research in a research group at NIH. Therefore, HiSTEP applicants should not contact investigators or HS-SIP Institute and Center coordinators for research group placements.

Have questions?

Check out our extensive frequently asked questions list to find answers.

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 have 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 [college] application process to know what is going on."