Seven free STEM summer programs for underserved students
One of the best ways to build up your resume for college applications is through summer programs! Summer programs not only give you college experience but also build up necessary life skills and interest in certain career pathways. Unfortunately, many of these summer programs are statistically harder to access for students of color and are too expensive for economically disadvantaged students to participate in. This is why I created a list of free summer programs that target students underrepresented in STEM, economically disadvantaged, or first-generation students!
The High School Apprenticeship Challenge is a paid program that aims to provide underrepresented STEM students with an internship opportunity at a life science company or research institution. Over six weeks between May and April 30th students participate in either a part-time or full-time program during school or the summer, and develop workplace professional skills, the awareness of life science careers, and build STEM skills. 16-year-old students enrolled in a vocational technical, public charter school, or in the METCO program located in one of the “Gateway cities” as determined by Section 3A of chapter 32A of the General Law of Massachusetts (or Boston and its surrounding neighborhoods) are eligible. Eligible schools must have a student population of at least 25% classified as low-income by the Massachusetts department of elementary and secondary education.
The Lincoln Laboratory Radar Intro for Student Engineers or LLRISE is a two-week radar program for rising high school seniors. Students will be connected to professional scientists and engineers in enriching lectures and hands-on activities to build radar systems like a doppler and range radar. Through LLRISE participants will learn creative problem-solving strategies, teamwork skills, and complex engineering knowledge. Rising seniors who are fully vaccinated and U.S. citizens are eligible to apply. Additionally, underrepresented students are highly encouraged to apply. LLRISE is a free two-week residential program from July 9th – 22nd in either Cambridge, Massachusetts on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (or MIT) campus or at Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Youth Scholars Program (YSP) is a free-of-cost six-week science and engineering program. Participants work with Northeastern University’s laboratory materials to research various topics from new cancer therapies to particles in flow to overcome multidrug resistance and more! Additionally, students attend field trips to STEM corporations and government sites like Biogen, MIT Chemical Engineer Labs, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Rising seniors with permanent Massachusetts residency living a commuter distance away from Northeastern university campus are eligible.
Research Science Institute (RSI) is the first free science and engineering summer program that combines on-campus work in scientific theory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with off-campus work in STEM research. During RSI, students have a week of intensive STEM classes led by accomplished professors, five-week internships with mentors experienced in STEM and research, and conduct individual projects that are presented through a conference-style oral presentation in their final week. Rising seniors with U.S. citizenship and permanent residency and international students are eligible. It’s recommended students have a PSAT math score of 720 and reading and writing score of 700 or ACT math of 33 and a verbal score of 34. However low scores can be offset by letters of recommendation exemplifying strong science skills, good grades, or science activities.
Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) is a full-time summer program that encourages to pursue careers in biosciences – particularly cancer research. Over 12 weeks students engage in academic coursework taught by experts devoted to preventing, treating, and curing cancer at the Dana Farber or Harvard Cancer Center to expand scientific research skills and present an oral presentation on their research. Additionally, students participate in scientific and career development seminars and journal clubs and then receive a stipend. Students interested in science, biomedicine, or health-related research should apply to CURE. High School and College students with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency who are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group are first-generation college students or are economically disadvantaged are eligible.
Project Success is an eight-week-long paid summer internship at Harvard Medical School and several of its affiliated buildings. This program aims to link students with scientists and physicians, develop academic and professional career paths, and provide students with engaging hands-on research. Throughout this program, students will give a formal oral presentation and a written report, attend sponsored seminars and workshops, and visit hospitals and biotechnology firms. Participants will enhance their technical skills, and scientific knowledge, and become critical thinkers. Rising high school juniors or seniors students in Boston or Cambridge that are underrepresented/disadvantaged in medicine and interested in pursuing a biomedical science or health-related career. Additionally, 16 years old, maintain a GPA of at least a B-, commit to attending college, and have completed biology, algebra, and chemistry. Lastly, participants should commit to being in a selected Harvard Medical School Educational outreach Program for a year after the program’s completion.
The High School Health Careers program at UMass Chan Medical School or HSHCP aims to aid participants to graduate high school and prepare for college and help in the financial aid process in order to pursue a career in biomedicine, biotechnology, and healthcare professions. Students will take enrichment classes on various topics in STEM, improve academic study and communication skills, and job shadow or work at an internship in health care or science where they’ll be acquainted with healthcare professionals and medical students. High school sophomores or juniors with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status who come from an underrepresented group in the medical field or economically disadvantaged background are eligible. HSHCP is a four-week tuition-free residential program that offers stipends to students with good attendance and classwork completion. Students are housed in dormitories at Worcester State University, provided with daily meal tickers for lunch, and provided transportation between UMASS Chan Medical School and Worcester State University.
I truly do hope that you have found a STEM that interests you. As a black woman in a low-income household myself, I am aware of the challenges of trying to thrive in the STEM field. In the situation that you have not found a STEM program just know that there are several other options available; LEAH Knox Data Science and Biomedical Research Summer Internship, H-prep, MITES (MIT Introduction to Technology, Engineering, and Science), MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital Youth Scholars Program. Additionally, there are options besides the summer program if you want a STEM-based topic for your college resume; volunteer at your local community center or hospital, shadow a doctor, babysit, and more! Now then let’s get started with a memorable summer full of opportunities.