NIH high school internship: Things you need to know about NIH Summer Internship Program

NIH high school internship summer program provides great opportunities for high school students to do what they love and want to do.

Summer internships are beneficial for high school students. It allows them to take part in something they want to consider. Besides looking good on college applications, summer internships provide job experience. Students acquire skills in the field and it helps to build connections. NIH high school internship summer program for biomedical research gives students hands-on experience on the subject.

NIH high school internship: High School SIP program description

The High School Summer Internship Program is exclusively devoted to biomedical research.  It provides high school students a unique opportunity of working in a biomedical research environment at the NIH. The students spend the summer working with the leading scientists in the world.  The main campus of the NIH is in Bethesda, MD. More than 1150 laboratories/research projects are located on the main campus and in the surrounding area. It consists of a 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center.  The NIH Institutes and Centers and the NIH OITE (Office of Intramural Training & Education) require summer orientation in June, usually on June 13th, 20th, and 27th. All interns have to complete orientation before joining their research groups. The NIH high school internship HS-SIP covers a minimum of eight weeks and includes a wide range of activities. The interns attend lectures by eminent NIH investigators; join professional development workshops and many other activities.

nih high school internship

The Summer Internship Program, like many other NIH research training programs, is very competitive. In the past few years, the program has been selected by less than 20% of applicants. We received over 7500 applications in 2017, and offered jobs to 1350 applicants.

NIH intern activities

NIH high school internship summer program covers full-time biomedical research. They need to work hard like graduate students and postdocs in the group as the research group depends on their results. While the techniques depend on the group doing the research, the interns usually get a small independent project to work on during the summer.

Scope of the NIH summer internship program

NIH high school internship summer program is not for or restricted to individuals with specific interests. While the summer positions in research labs or groups have a biological focus, they help in completing courses in biology and chemistry successfully. It covers a broad spectrum that starts from behavioral and social science and passes through computational biology and biophysics.

Eligibility for NIH high school internship summer program

High school students meeting the following are eligible to apply.

  • Students 17 years or older by June, 15
  • Students who are high school juniors or seniors at the time of application
  • Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Live within 40 miles of  the NIH campus where they will intern

NIH encourages students with disabilities, underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in health-related sciences, students identifying as LGBTQ, etc to apply. Candidates should pass a Federal background check to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems.

NIH high school internship application procedure

Applicants must apply online. They can access the application from mid-November to February 1. Applicants need to submit

  • Their curriculum vitae or resume
  • A list of coursework and grades (no transcript is needed)
  • A letter describing the research interests and career goals of the applicant
  • Two references with names and contact information.
  • Candidates may specify the scientific methodologies or disease, or organ systems that interest them.

The deadline to apply for HS-SIP (High School Summer Internship Program) is February 1 for all NIH Institutes and Centers. Partial applications that remain not completed by February 1, will not have any further consideration. Applicants are not allowed to update the application from last year. They need to apply again and request new reference letters.

Stipend for NIH high school internship

HS-SIP is a paid internship. Selected students can receive a monthly stipend. It depends on the level of education and is adjusted yearly. The Institute or Center (IC) or the research group of the intern pays this stipend. However, a lab may invite a student to join as an unpaid Special Volunteer, if it does not have the fund for a stipend.

Summer housing of interns

The NIH does not provide housing for summer interns. They offer information that helps interns to find a place to live. The NIH Moving Guide provides valuable information about moving to Bethesda, Baltimore, or Frederick, MD. Rocky Mountain Laboratories has also created “A Guide to Help You Move to Hamilton, MT.”

COVID-19 update: The 2022 NIH summer internship program will offer a mix of virtual and in-person interns. Notification of acceptance will be sent to applicants by April 1, 2022. If you are applying for a job or have been offered a position by an NIH investigator, program director or administrator, be sure to mention your preference for an in person or virtual internship. Some offers will be contingent on your willingness and ability to work remotely, while others will require you to travel to campus. All interns, in-person and virtual, will need to be fully engaged in internship activities. They will also receive stipend support by the NIH. Virtual education will be available for all OITE educational programs, including the 2022 NIH Graduate & Professional School Fair, and the Summer Presentation Week. As you decide whether to participate in SIP2022, the OITE will be available to assist you. Please contact us .

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 below; be certain to take a look and see if either of them interests you.


Program Description of HS-SIP

The High School SIP program (HS-SIP), allows you to spend a summer at the NIH alongside some of the most prominent scientists around the globe, in an environment that is exclusively dedicated 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 in 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: there are only a few positions in Hamilton Framingham Phoenix and Detroit. For 2022, NIEHS in North Carolina will not accept summer interns from high schools.

When does the program start and finish?
On each of the three dates listed below, the required summer orientation is sponsored by the NIH Institutes and Centers and NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education. Before joining their research group, all interns must have completed an orientation. HS-SIP internships typically last for eight weeks. OITE also offers a variety of summer activities for high schools, including Summer Lectures featuring distinguished NIH researchers, career/professional growth workshops, college readiness activities and wellness programming.

Three things can increase your chances of getting a job offer:

  1. View the Applying Well Video for High School Students.
  2. Please read the High Schools SIP FAQs.
  3. Our suggestions for creating a successful HS–SIP application.

Eligibility Students who are high school seniors may be eligible for the 2022 High School Internship Program.

  • Are at least seventeen (17) years old by June 15, 2022 (No exceptions).
  • Are high school seniors or juniors when you submit your application ?
  • Are U.S. citizens, or permanent residents. If they are at least half-time students in high school, U.S. citizens can apply. To be eligible, permanent residents must be enrolled at least half-time in high school in the United States. ()
  • If they are 17 years old by June 15, 2022, they must live within 40 miles of the NIH campus where they will intern. * This requirement is not applicable to applicants aged 18 or older.

High school students who are 17 years old by June 15, 2022 and wish to request a waiver from the requirement that they reside within 40 miles of the NIH campus where they plan to intern should consult the HS-SIP FAQs.

Students with disabilities, students from racial or ethnic groups that are underrepresented in health-related science on a national level (Blacks or African Americans or Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans or Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders), students who identify themselves as LGBTQ, and students who have suffered hardships due to recent natural disasters are encouraged to apply.

Background check: To be granted logical and physical access at NIH facilities and services, applicants must pass a Federal background screening using Standard Form-85 ( SF-85). NOTE: Section 14 asks about illegal drug use.

Information about the Stipend: Training stipends are adjusted each year. The level of the stipends depends on the education received before starting at the NIH. See the Traineestipends page for more information. Stipends are paid out by the Institute or Center or research group where the intern is working.

Application Procedure Prospective applicants must Apply online. The application can be downloaded from mid-November through February 1,. You must submit it

  • a curriculum vitae or resume,
  • A list of your coursework and grades (please note that we don’t need a transcript at the moment).
  • A cover letter that describes the applicant’s career goals and research interests.
  • Names and contact information of two references

Candidats may also indicate the scientific methods or diseases/organ systems they are interested in.

Selection The NIH-HS-SIP is extremely competitive. The NIH Institutes and Centers will select the 2022 summer interns from their central committees. It will be ensured that no summer intern from high school works in the same IC with their guardian or parent. NIH investigators won’t be able view applications from high schools or choose their high school interns. High school applicants are advised not to contact NIH investigators. NOTE: The OITE does not play a role in the selection process.

The hiring Institute will inform candidates about their selection, usually by May 1. Before beginning their training, successful candidates will need to provide the following documentation to their Institute/Center:

  • Official transcripts from high school
  • Documentation proving U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens can submit a copy their passport or birth certificate. Permanent residents will need a copy their permanent resident (green card) card.
  • Evidence of COVID-19 vaccination.

IMPORTANT NOTES (1) Internships at the NIH will only be granted to individuals who have applied through the SIP online application process. (2) The program will only be offered to those who can prove that they meet the eligibility criteria for High School SIP. This applies to both unpaid Special Volunteers and paid interns. (3) High school students should not contact NIH investigators for information about available positions. The selection of summer interns for HS-SIP is not done by individual investigators.


The NIH’s goal is to create a diverse and inclusive scientific workforce. The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education invites applications to two high school summer internship programs (HiSTEP 2.0 and HiSTEP 2.0).

High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Programs (HiSTEP) and HiSTEP2.0 are programs that serve high school students from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. They can be accessed within a 40-mile radius of the main NIH campus at 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 other NIH summer programs HiSTEP does not offer a full-time, hands-on research program. HiSTEP will provide an introduction to scientific, personal, and professional skills, as well as wellness programming and exploration of STEM-M (science technology, engineering math, and other medically-related careers). HiSTEP participants will also be able to receive career and college advice in preparation for internships and scholarships. If you are currently a high school junior and are interested in HiSTEP , please learn more. HiSTEP is only for juniors when you apply.

HiSTEP 2.0 offers high school seniors and HiSTEP alumni the opportunity to spend eight weeks doing full-time biomedical science research. The students will be paired with mentors to work in research groups at the main NIH campus, Bethesda. Students will also participate in weekly seminars and workshops that aim to develop their professional, scientific, and personal skills (including wellness). They will also discuss strategies to succeed in college. HiSTEP 2.0 is available


  1. You can apply online for both programs using the SIP online application. However, there are different eligibility criteria and application deadlines. To determine which program is best suited for you, please carefully read the description of each program.
  2. Your application to HiSTEP/HiSTEP2.0 will not be considered for the general HS SIP program until after HiSTEP/HiSTEP 2.0 selections are made. Your application will then be reviewed along with all other applicants in the general HS–SIP applicant pool if you aren’t selected.
  3. The HiSTEP 2.0 selection panel will match individuals with NIH investigators.

Passing words

NIH high school internship summer program increases opportunities for authentic research experiences with an exploration of the field and hands-on training. It has a positive impact on high school students and prepares them for biomedical careers.

Other resources:

If you are a high schooler interested in science, you can check out my post on the Summer Science Program.

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