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Research Training

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

This program is available to:

An opportunity for high school seniors to explore careers in science and learn about biomedical research in the NIH Intramural Research Program.

About this program

This program is for graduating high school seniors from schools where 30% or more students participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. These are full-time research positions within one of the NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) in the NIH Intramural Research Program. The program takes place on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

HiSTEP 2.0 is a cohort program within the broader High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP).  In addition to having access to the resources offered to all summer interns, HiSTEP 2.0 interns participate in orientation, leadership, professional development and well-being programs as part of a cohort or learning community. Elements of the HiSTEP 2.0 curriculum address strategies for success in college.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity strengthens our community. We welcome applicants who meet the HiSTEP 2.0 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 are Pell Grant-eligible in college
  • students who are entering Tribal Colleges and Universities, community colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • who identify as LGBTQ+
  • disadvantaged by life circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities.

Eligibility criteria

HiSTEP 2.0 welcomes applications from current high school seniors who have little or no research experience and who want first-hand experience working in a biomedical research laboratory. To be considered for HiSTEP 2.0, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In addition, you must:

  • Be a graduating high school senior from a school where 30 percent 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 (on a 4.0 scale). 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.

HiSTEP 2.0 interns must commit to completing the entire eight-week internship.  HiSTEP 2.0 participants must be on campus from June 10, to August 2, 2024. Summer internships are full-time positions; interns are expected to devote 40 hours per week to their projects and training.

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. The decision to come to NIH as a HiSTEP 2.0 intern is an important one. These are full-time positions and it is not possible to take summer classes or tend to other responsibilities during work hours. Your college may offer transition programs that conflict with the HiSTEP 2.0 schedule, so verify that you are available before applying.

How to apply

Opening and closing dates

The HiSTEP 2.0 application is currently closed.

The HiSTEP 2.0 application closes on Friday, 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 2.0’ 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 2.0?
    • 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?
    • If you participated in HiSTEP, how did that program impact you?

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

The HiSTEP 2.0 application is currently closed.

Selection process

The HiSTEP 2.0 selection committee reviews applications and notifies applicants of final decisions no later than March 1, 2024.

HiSTEP 2.0 applicants should not contact NIH investigators to discuss placements on their own. Individuals who are selected to participate in the 2024 HiSTEP 2.0 Program will work closely with OITE staff throughout the mentor selection process.

Once final decisions are made, applicants who were not selected can be released to the general NIH HS-SIP applicant pool for further consideration.

Have questions?

Check out our extensive frequently asked questions to find answers.

Contact us

Reach out and contact us at

High school teachers, and guidance counselors are welcome to contact us.