Top Online Research Opportunities for High School Students

Never stop learning library computer
September 12, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Read on to learn about the best online research opportunities for high school students and how to strengthen your college profile!

Enrolling in an online research program can help set you up for college success, particularly if you're interested in undergraduate research. 

This guide will teach you what you need to know about the benefits of virtual research, what to look for in research opportunities, and a list of the best online research opportunities for high school students!

Benefits of Virtual Research Opportunities for High School Students 

In general, research exposure is important for high school students. According to the American Psychological Association, research for high school students can help provide early career exposure, develop necessary life and career skills, and build and expand a professional network. 

However, virtual research opportunities for high school students in particular have added benefits: 

  • Generally lower costs compared to in-person programs 
  • No need to navigate transportation, accommodations, or any other travel logistics 
  • Flexibility (depending on the program) 
  • A mix of guided and independent work 

Overall, virtual research opportunities for high school students mean they can get valuable research experience with fewer barriers, such as high costs, time, and distance.

What to Look For in an Online Research Opportunity 

There are three main factors you should consider when looking for the best online research opportunities for high school students: 

  • Who offers the program: Check your source (an organization, school, etc.) and learn more about them. Are they reputable? Will partnering with them give you the tools you need to succeed? 
  • The program’s value: Consider what your role would be in the program and what skills you'd learn. Does the program offer enough guidance for your success? Does the program offer mixed learning through webinars and workshops? Is the research you'd be doing relevant to your passions? 
  • The time commitment/flexibility: Will the program's schedule fit with your own? Do you have to attend live meetings/lectures, or are they pre-recorded? Can you speak one-on-one in real-time with a research expert? Consider time commitments and flexibility to see if a program works for your busy schedule. 

To summarize, look for programs with a reputation for excellence, offer guidance and the opportunity to hone or build new skills, and work for you when added to your schedule.

Best Online Research Opportunities for High School Students

These are some of the best online research opportunities for high school students: 

  • The Lumiere Research Scholar Program: This research program was founded by Harvard and Oxford scholars, allowing students to work one-on-one with Ph.D. mentors to create an "independently-developed research project."
  • Pioneer Academics: Many top colleges hold Pioneer Academics in high regard: “it’s the only online credit-bearing research program” offering STEM, social sciences, and humanities disciplines. Students work one-on-one with U.S. university professors, and the program is open to students worldwide. 
  • Polygence: Polygence offers one-on-one mentorship with a research expert in the field and flexible scheduling. Students in the program can earn college credit from the University of California, write a research paper, and pursue “passion projects” such as starting a podcast, writing a novel, publishing a paper, and more.
  • Cambridge Future Scholar Programme: This online research opportunity is taught by professors from Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, and select Ivies. Students can choose from 34 STEM, Business, Social Sciences, and Humanities courses. Outcomes include a research paper and recommendation letter from an Oxbridge or Ivy League faculty member. 
  • CrowdMath: CrowdMath is an open project run by MIT Primes and the Art of Problem Solving. The purpose is for students to “experience research mathematics and discover ideas that did not exist before.” Students can comment on the message board to try and solve complex problems.
  • Indigo Research: Their High School Research Program pairs students 1:1 with professors and mentors from top universities in the US and UK to develop their own research project. Indigo is known for having some of the strictest education requirements for mentors (including professors from Ivy League universities), as well as the most flexible research program, allowing students to tailor personalized mentorship sessions according to their schedule.

These are some of our top picks, but it doesn’t stop here! Taking initiative to find research opportunities will look excellent on your college application, so you should keep looking until you find the right one for you.

Final Thoughts

Virtual research opportunities for high school students can help you explore your interest areas, gain the necessary skills you'll need for undergraduate research, and build your professional network. Before applying, consider the program's source, value, and time commitment. 

Remember, the best online research opportunity for any high school student is one that you’re passionate about participating in. Whether you're interested in STEM, business, pre-med, or humanities, there’s a research opportunity waiting for you.

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