Summer Programs: Building a Stronger Resume in Math and Science (Part 1)

With college admissions processes growing more competitive each year, students and parents are often left wondering: What can I do to create the strongest possible college application? While good grades and test scores were once the primary deciding factors in college admissions, today’s applicants consistently have much higher grades and scores. This means that aspects of the college application such as the personal statement and extracurricular involvement have become more important than ever. One of the best ways to improve an already strong college application is to take advantage of unique and/or prestigious learning opportunities, particularly within a student’s field of interest. Such activities not only provide a “wow factor” for a student’s resume and application, but also provide 3rdparty validation for the applicant as well as provide interesting stories for college admissions essays.

For students who are interested in science or math, numerous internships, research opportunities, and academic programs are offered throughout the country. We offer a small sampling below, but this is a mere fraction of the available options. For more options, check with local research institutions, colleges and universities, and local government offices.

Please note that many summer opportunities require certain courses or grade levels. Some have minimum GPA requirements of 3.7 or better as well as strong PSAT and/or SAT II scores. Students should spend months preparing to apply to such programs, and application deadlines are often very early in the year. Plan ahead for the best chances of admission!

Internships and Research Opportunities for Math and Science Students:

  • Research Science Institute (RSI)
    • A 6-week-long summer program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    • Academic, corporate, and government-sponsored research teams invite RSI students to join on-going research projects in various scientific fields
      • Students attend 1 week of classes before performing 5 weeks of research
      • On-going evening lecture series
      • Independent research opportunities
      • Culminates in an academic conference in which students report their research findings
  • This incredibly prestigious program accepts only 80 students internationally; some students even earn recognition in the form of co-authorship credits in journal articles
  • Open to rising seniors; students should apply by January of their junior years
  • Application requirements include:
    • Taking the most challenging math and science courses available at your school
    • Demonstrating superior achievement in math, science, and the verbal arts
    • Math PSAT of 75+, total PSAT of 220+
    • Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)
      • During this 8-week program, students perform research with Stanford faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students, and researchers on a medically oriented project
      • In addition to 40+ hours of internship each week, students may also participate in lectures, seminars, lab research, and scientific presentations
      • Programs are available in several fields, including:
        • Immunity, Transplantation and Infection
        • Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
        • Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience
        • Cardiovascular Medicine
  • This program accepts only 40-45 students each year. Students must commute as no housing options are offered.
  • Admissions requirements include:
    • A personal essay
    • Top grades in all courses
    • Challenging science coursework
    • SAT I & II scores are strongly encouraged but not required
  • Students should apply by February of their sophomore or junior years
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology Summer High School Internship Program (NIST SHIP)
    • This internship requires at least a 6-week commitment, though some labs may require a longer commitment
    • Students participate in cutting edge research with NIST staff scientists and engineers
    • Areas of research include:
      • physics
      • chemistry
      • biochemistry
      • engineering
      • mathematics
      • statistics
      • information technology
      • computer science
  • This is an unpaid internship and students are responsible for housing and transportation to the NIST facilities located in Gaithersburg, MD
  • Initial application requirements:
    • Only U.S. citizens may apply
    • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Finalists must submit:
    • Resume
    • Transcript
    • Teacher recommendations
    • Personal statement
  • Students should apply by February of their junior or senior years
  • National Institutes of Health Summer Internship Program (NIH SIP)
    • Internship requires a minimum 8-week commitment
    • This program is highly competitive: Only about 17% of applicants are accepted each year, and of those less than 1/3 are high school students
    • Most internships take place at the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, though some labs are located in other parts of the country; students should keep this in mind when applying for specific programs
    • Interns receive a monthly stipend (amount determined on an annual basis); housing and transportation to the campus are the student’s responsibility
    • Students should apply by March of their sophomore, junior, or senior years; admission is determined on a rolling basis, so the earlier the application is received the better the chances for admission
    • Application requirements include:
      • Student must turn 16 years old before the start of the program
      • Student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
      • Resume
      • List of coursework and grades
      • Cover letter describing applicant’s research interests and career goals
      • 2 references
      • Boston University Summer Term Research Internship in Science and Engineering
        • Under the guidance of a BU research mentor, students work on an on-going research project for 40 hours per week for 6 weeks
        • Program culminates in a scientific conference during which students present their research
        • Areas of research include:
          • astronomy
          • biology
          • chemistry
          • engineering
          • medicine
          • physics
          • psychology
  • Tuition and fees: $4,050; Room and board: $2,026-$2,196
  • Less than 20% of applicants are accepted each year
  • Students should apply by April 1 of their junior years; admissions is determined on a rolling basis, so the earlier a student applies the better his chances for admission
  • Admissions criteria include:
    • Top grades
    • Challenging coursework
    • High standardized test scores (PSAT, SAT, ACT, and PLAN are all accepted)
    • Personal statement
    • 2 letters of recommendation

To be continued…