How to Get Into Research Science Institute (RSI)

Research Science Institute
July 10, 2024
Expert Reviewed

The Research Science Institute is thought of as the pinnacle of internships for future scientists and researchers. Read on to learn how to get into the Research Science Institute.

Have you heard about the Research Science Institute (RSI)? It’s an annual event hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that provides high schoolers with a unique opportunity in their junior year. 

Attending the RSI can change the trajectory of your academic and professional career. You can even improve your chances of getting into MIT; all you have to do is apply. Applications open during the fall, with limited capacity for American and international students. Thinking about submitting an application?

Below we’ll discuss everything you need to know about how to get into the Research Science Institute.

What Is the Research Science Institute?

The Research Science Institute is an internship program that invites 100 high school students to participate in scientific research at MIT’s main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The program is hosted by its large parent organization, the Center for Excellence in Education, which focuses on STEM careers. 

Under the guidance of MIT’s brilliant professors and scientists, students will present oral and written reports on research that they’ll conduct on campus. The goal of the RSI is to give students the opportunity to experience an entire research cycle before entering college. To meet this goal, students will participate in an intensive seven-week program. 

The RSI typically accepts around 30 international students out of the 100 total participants. Students from over 60 countries have participated in the RSI since its inception in 1984. Since the program is merit-based, students won’t have to pay out of pocket for the experience, no matter where they come from!

The first week at the RSI is preparatory. The program highlights the importance of being strong communicators and well-rounded learners, so you’ll take a few humanities courses within this time. 

After this, the internship focuses on guided research for six weeks, honing the students and their passions. You’ll be paired up with an MIT mentor while taking on biology, chemistry, engineering, and math courses. You’ll then apply what you learn to your research project. After, the final research presentation wraps up the internship.

If accepted into the RSI, you’ll be surrounded by MIT professors and like-minded peers from all around the world, giving you a unique networking opportunity. This is another reason why this program is highly-regarded!

How to Get Into the Research Science Institute

If you want to get into the RSI, you’ll need a competitive GPA and impressive test scores. Aim for a score of 1500 on the SAT and 34 on the ACT, and maintain a 4.0 GPA. To make your application stand out, demonstrate your passion for STEM through extracurricular projects and essays that focus on your scientific goals!

Answering the question, “how to get into the Research Science Institute?” comes with a list of strict criteria. Though more than a thousand students apply every year, only the best and the brightest are selected. But don’t be discouraged! 

To help you get into the Research Science Institute, here’s a breakdown of its eligibility requirements. In addition to being a junior in high school, students must also include the following in their application:

Standardized Test Scores

Students must include all standardized test scores that they have taken in their application. This includes the ACT, SAT, and AP exams. If you haven't taken the SAT yet, you can also submit your PSAT score.

Concerning the SAT, the RSI requires you to score a minimum of 700 on the Reading and Writing SAT section and at least a 740 on the Math section. If you’ve opted for the ACT, however, you must meet a minimum of 33 on the Math portion and a 34 on the Verbal test. 

Letters of Recommendation

Students must provide at least two letters of recommendation from math and science teachers in their application. If you have taken on a research project at another university or laboratory, you must also ask for a third letter of recommendation for that program’s research supervisor. No matter who you ask, make sure your recommender is familiar with your academic ability. 

Official High School Transcripts

In addition to their standardized test scores, students must also submit their official high school transcripts to give program organizers a complete idea of their academic profile. Remember, RSI is very competitive. To keep up, aim to get as close to a 4.0 GPA as you can. 

Answer the Essay Questions

The students’ application must also include answers to the RSI essay questions. The answers should include their goals in science, technology, engineering, or math.

If you can meet these requirements, you should definitely consider applying to the RSI! Keep in mind that international students may have additional requirements, depending on their home country. 

If you’re worried about standing out among the other 1,600 applicants, remember that while your academic profile is important, it’s not the only thing that matters. The RSI program values candidates who are well-rounded, passionate, and excellent leaders.

A great way to stand out is by pursuing a passion project in math, science, or another related field of interest!

Benefits of Attending the RSI

Students that attend the RSI gain distinction, unique experiences, and hands-on knowledge from world-class faculty. Participating could help you get into top colleges, land a higher-paying job, and perhaps set up other research opportunities in the future. 

RSI alumni have gone on to become notable scientists in their fields, earning honors and awards for work in bioengineering, physics, social media development, and more. Many of them discovered their future dreams and goals during their time researching with RSI!

Remember that all these RSI alumni were once like you, wondering how to get into the Research Science Institute. So long as you maintain a strong academic profile, have a passion for science and math, and are interested in research and leadership, you’ll have a good chance of getting into the RSI! 

If you apply yourself, participating in the RSI may shape you into a famous alumnus too!

Where to Apply for the RSI

Ready to apply for the RSI? You can submit your application through the Center for Excellence in Education’s portal if you’re ready to put what you’ve learned about how to get into the Research Science Institute into practice.

The application window only exists during the fall semester, so if you don’t see a place to submit your applications, the deadline has passed. 

If you’re considering applying, you’ll need to do so before the end of your junior year. If you need more specific information, don’t hesitate to contact the RSI by email. If you’re an international student, you must contact your RSI’s international representative to ensure you’ve met any country-specific requirements.

FAQs: Research Science Institute

Below are some common questions about the RSI from potential applicants. 

1. How Do You Qualify for RSI?

To qualify for the RSI, you must meet all their specifications regarding transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. You must also be a junior in high school; seniors are not eligible to apply. 

2. How Hard Is It to Get Into the Research Science Institute?

So, how hard is it to get into the Research Institute of Science? Looking at the requirements, you’ll find that the answer is that it’s quite challenging. The limited number of students that are accepted each year makes this internship application especially competitive. 

3. How Many Applicants Does RSI Get?

The RSI receives over 1,600 applications from qualified students. With only 100 students picked out of that number, and at least 30 spots reserved for international students, your odds as an American applicant land just over three percent. 

But don’t let this deter you! Even though the chances are low, you’ll never get in if you don’t apply!

4. What Is RSI’s International Inclusiveness Like?

The RSI reserves 30 spots for international students from more than 60 countries. If you value the insight gained from a cultural exchange and hope the program is inclusive, you’ll be relieved to find that the RSI holds these same values!

5. Who Can Apply for RSI?

RSI applications are only open to students in their junior year, which is equivalent to the eleventh grade depending on your country. 

Since the application window is only open in the fall, you will miss your chance if you have not signed up before the semester's end. Keep in mind that you will not have another chance, so you need to decide fast!

6. Are High School Internships Worth It?

Students do not often pursue internships in high school. Between trying to ace standardized tests, secure letters of recommendation, and build a solid college list, students’ schedules are typically filled to the brim! 

Many students believe it’s best to use their time during the school year to focus on extracurriculars and maintaining high GPAs. However, participating in an opportunity like the RSI in the summer will definitely be worth your time!

7. How Do You Stand Out In the RSI Application? 

There are a few key tips that can help you stand out from the competition. According to an interview with the RSI Vice President, CEE likes to see students who are passionate and involved in math, science, and leadership programs. Keep this in mind when pursuing extracurriculars in high school!

Final Thoughts

The Research Science Institute is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of researchers by offering a cost-free internship program to high school students. They aim to ignite students’ passions, encouraging them to work towards making the world a better place.

While challenging, an internship at the Research Science Institute will become a life-defining experience. If you’re still wondering, “how to get into the Research Science Institute?", the first step is to ensure you meet the requirements. If you're a driven individual with a passion for science and math, and possess the leadership skills to make a difference, an opportunity at the Research Science Institute may be the perfect fit for you.

Good luck!

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