Summer High School Internship Program

The Summer High School Internship Program (SHIP) is a competitive, eight-week, full-time paid internship for students between 11th and 12th grade. The program is specifically designed for students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical science. The internship begins with two weeks of hands-on training on laboratory safety techniques and skills in the Fred Hutch Training Labs.  For the remaining six weeks, interns are paired and immersed in mentored activities in a Fred Hutch research group in Seattle. Interns also participate in research seminars, attend professional development workshops focused on college and careers, and enjoy social activities with their teams and peers. The program culminates with presentations to the Fred Hutch community.

The program runs from Monday, June 24, through Friday, August 16, 2024. Applicants must be able to commit to this entire eight-week period at the Fred Hutch campus in Seattle to participate. 

The 2024 application portal opens on February 1 and closes on March 31.

If you are looking for other opportunitites, please check out the Catalog of Biomedical Research Internships

Eligibility Requirements

  • High school student entering senior year or final term after the summer
  • Strong scientific interest and academic background
  • Ability to attend a Zoom interview with the selection committee
  • Available for the entire eight-week program in Seattle

Interns are responsible for securing their own housing and transportation during their internship. The program does not provide or arrange housing.

We are unable to accept international students into our program.  

SHIP is specifically designed for students from racial and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in health sciences, persons with disabilities, and persons raised in economically disadvantaged areas.

If you don't meet the eligibility requirements, you can find additional scientific research opportunities from Pathways to Science, the Fred Hutch SURP catalog, and the Guide to Life Science Careers.

How to Apply

The application period for SHIP 2024 opens on February 1 and closes on March 31.  

The SHIP application has two online components — an applicant section that you complete and a separate online form that your references complete. We require two recommendations for your application to be considered. A PDF of the 2023 application is here for your review, however, you must use the online portal to apply. 

Thoroughly review the application and complete your section well in advance of the deadline. Proofread your application and essays carefully. You will not be able to go back into the system after you submit your application. Your references will not receive a recommendation request until your portion is submitted.

Applicant Component

To apply, you must:

  • Fill out the online form, which includes a number of short-response essays (see section below for essay questions) 
  • Provide email addresses for two references
  • Upload a PDF of your recent school transcript
  • Upload a PDF of your resume

References Component

Once you complete your part of the application, we will email a recommendation link to your references. Submit your section early so your references have time to complete their form. Follow up with your references to make sure they received the link to the recommnedation page. 

All application materials, including references, are due by 11:59 pm on March 31. 


Read this entire page carefully. Due to the high volume of inquiries, we will not respond to questions that are already answered on this page. For additional questions about the program or application process, please contact us

Application Tips

SHIP is a highly competitive program. While adhering to the following recommendations does not guarantee acceptance into the program, it does improve your chances of creating a successful application.

Before you apply, make sure you have contact information for your two recommenders, your resume (PDF) and your transcripts (PDF) ready to upload. Your most recent transcripts are acceptable, even if they do not have final grades for your current semester. Unofficial transcripts with the school's header are acceptable; however, applicants should be prepared to supply official transcripts upon request.

References must complete our online recommendation form, according to instructions we will email directly to them after your application is submitted. You do not need to submit the recommendations when you submit the application, but you must include the email contact information for your recommenders. We will not accept additional letters or emailed recommendations.

Late or incomplete applications, including those that do not receive recommendations, will not be considered.

Give Yourself Adequate Time to Complete the Application


Before you begin your application, set aside additional time to learn about Fred Hutch. We encourage all applicants to review the information on our research areas and scientific divisions. You may also browse the Hutch’s faculty page to learn more about the investigators who work at the Hutch and the types of research they conduct. This will allow you to submit a more well-informed application.

Request Informative Recommendations


Our program requires recommenders to use our online recommendation form; we do not accept free-form letters. Let your recommender know they will receive a link to the online form after you submit your portion of the application.

An informative recommendation should come from someone who can highlight the strengths you have that are relevant to the program, your quality as a student compared to other students, the accomplishments your achieved and how this program will further your academic and/or career goals.

When requesting a recommendation:

  • Choose your references wisely. Recommendations from individuals familiar with your interests, history of commitment and abilities may be viewed more favorably than one from a someone who doesn't know you as well. Additionally, a recommendation from a science teacher or similar can address your interest in and commitment to science. Your recommendations should come from teachers, school staff, or a supervisor at a volunteer or paid position. Do not ask people who haven't been in a position to evaluate your work and contributions within an academic or professional environment, such as sports coaches or family friends. 
  • Give your references at least two weeks to submit a recommendation on your behalf. We do NOT accept late application materials or recommendations. If you ask your recommender just a few days before the deadline they may not have time to submit it, and your application will be incomplete.
  • Make your request for a recommendation in writing or email, as well as in person. This helps ensure that it won't fall off their "radar."

Give your references a copy of your resume and/or the following information:

  1.  The name of the program and a brief description of what it entails (a link to the website can be helpful)
  2.  The name of the sponsoring institution
  3.  A brief description of how the program fits in with your goals
  4.  A brief description of what you will contribute to the program and how you will benefit from participating
  5.  The due date for the recommendation and how it should be submitted. 

How the recommendation should be submitted:

We require a specific, easy-to-complete online recommendation form. We do not accept free-form letters. In addition to contact information, our form asks your references to:

  • Rate the applicant on their Academic Qualities (Intellectual Ability, Enthusiasm for Learning, Commitment to Learning, Written Expression and Verbal Expression) and Character Traits (Respect for Others, Initiative, Self-discipline, Integrity and Independence)
  • Describe anything about the applicant that sets them apart from others (200-word limit)

After you submit your portion of the application, your references will receive an email with a link to the recommendation form.

  • Consider sending your recommenders a copy of your short essay responses. This may help them give the strongest recommendation possible.
  • Send your reference a friendly reminder, preferably one week prior to the application deadline. Confirm they submitted the recommendation.
  • Finish up by sending your reference(s) a handwritten note of thanks.

Your Short Essay Responses Should be Thoughtful and Carefully Written


Start early. The short essay responses provide an opportunity to share experiences and perspectives that don't show up in a resume or transcript. It's also the primary place where you can elaborate on the other parts of your application (i.e., resume and transcript). The essays should be written with full sentences and well-composed paragraphs.

Ask friends, teachers and advisors to review your short essay responses for content, clarity and grammar. 

The short essays each have 200-word limits, but we do not expect you to use all the space. The 2023 essay prompts are: 

Question 1:  Why do you want to participate in the Summer High School Internship Program? What do you hope to gain?

Question 2: Describe how you will contribute to the activities with fellow interns.

Question 3: Detail a challenge you faced and the steps you took to overcome it or how you're dealing with it. 

Question 4: Please share something about yourself that is important for us to know.

Create a Resume and Make Sure It's Up-To-Date


For details about what to include on a resume, Google "high school student resume example." You can also ask a teacher or school counselor to help you. Don't worry if you don't have enough experience for a long resume; the quality of your experience is much more important than the length of your resume.

Keep it simple. We recommend you use simple fonts in black. Avoid using graphics, multiple fonts, non-standard fonts and color. The content — and your experience — should be easy to see and understand.

Provide details and facts. We strongly recommend you include the dates, timespan, duration, and number of hours for work and volunteer experiences that you list. Provide clear descriptions of what your role was and what tasks you completed. For example, for a position title like Food Bank Volunteer, "volunteered at a food bank" isn't as informative as "sorted and stocked shelves for 2 hours a week, for 6 weeks." Similarly, for a position title like Summer Camp Assistant, "assisted camp counselors" isn't as informative as "assisted counselors with camper registration, craft activities and camper check-out for a 2-week summer camp." Distinguish between volunteer and paid work experiences. Both are valuable and it’s helpful for us to know which is which.

Program FAQ

What are the days of the week and hours of the internship?


We ask interns to commit up to 40 hours a week, Monday–Friday. The days typically start between 8–9 a.m. and end between 4–5 p.m., with time for lunch and breaks in between.

Are the program dates flexible?


No. Accepted interns must be available for the entire duration of the program with rare exceptions (e.g. unforeseen medical needs or family emergencies, short-duration national academic events, school-related athletic or academic competitions, etc.). Any foreseeable absences should be brought to the program director's attention at the time of an interview.

Do I need prior experience in science or medicine to be competitive for the program?


No. You just need to have interest and enthusiasm for learning about science and biomedical research and recommendations suggesting that you are a responsible, committed person.

What is a typical day like for an intern in the program?

Weeks 1-2:

During the first two weeks, the entire intern cohort participates in safety, laboratory and other training. The laboratory training covers fundamental lab skills like using a pipet, making solutions and dilutions, sterile technique and tissue culture (non-primate), blood separation (non-primate), DNA isolation, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and gel electrophoresis. Other training during the first week includes lectures and discussions about the central dogma (DNA makes RNA makes protein) and hematopoiesis, as well as discussions with experienced students on how to maximize your internship.

Weeks 3-8:

Interns are placed in pairs and join a host mentor/lab at the beginning of the third week of the program. The daily routine of interns varies greatly from lab to lab, based on the ongoing work. Interns arrange daily schedules and hours with their host mentor and are on campus within normal business hours (see above). The daily routine is determined by the host mentor and may include data entry, attending regular laboratory meetings, making solutions or dilutions, creating culture plates, and other tasks. Interns under 18 (most interns) are not allowed to handle hazardous materials, so may observe ongoing work in the host lab.

The entire intern cohort participates in weekly interactive presentations on ethics, "meet the scientist" sessions, health disparities research, "Big Data" visualization, making a good presentation, and biostatistics. These cohort-based activities typically take place over lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and all day on Fridays. There are also sessions on college-essay writing, laboratory techniques and casual lunch-time conversations. 

The internship concludes with a reflection presentation that summarizes what interns did and learned, as well as future directions for their academic and career development. The presentation is open to the Fred Hutch community, teachers and interns' families.

Are interns paid?


Yes, interns are provided a stipend. More details will be provided to applicants invited for an interview. We also provide a free ORCA card to interns for commuting in the greater Seattle area. 

Is there a place for me at Fred Hutch if I'm interested in computer science, programming or math?


Yes. Many high school students and undergraduates are surprised to find there is a place in biology and medicine for people with strong interest or skills in computer science or math. However, interest or skills in computer science or math is absolutely NOT a requirement to be competitive for admissions to the program.

I'm not from the Seattle area. Can you help arrange housing for me?


No, we are not able to help arrange housing for SHIP interns.

When are recommendation forms due?


We use an online system for references to complete a recommendation form. Recommendation forms are due by the application deadline, March 31. Once you submit your application, an email will notify your recommenders how to access the online form. They must use this form. We do not accept free-form letters.

When can I expect to hear an answer about my application?


All applicants will be notified of their status by mid-May.

If I am not the eligible grade level this year, can I apply anyway?


No. SHIP is specifically designed for rising high school seniors. If you are too young for SHIP, check out the Pathways Explorers program. If you are currently a high school senior, check out the Pathways Undergraduate Researchers program. 

Where do internships take place?


On the Fred Hutch campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

What kind of attire will I need to wear if I am accepted to the internship program?


Workplace casual attire. Interns must be dressed for laboratory safety (sturdy, closed-toe shoes; long pants; and hair, scarves, or necklaces pulled back or otherwise secured). Jeans and t-shirts are fine.

I am a Running Start student. Does that affect my eligibility? How do I list grades from my high school and running start school (community college) on my transcript?


Interns must have completed the equivalent of 11th grade, but have not yet graduated high school. Participation in Running Start will not necessarily affect this criterion. The SHIP is designed for students who will enter their final year of high school (i.e. earn their high school diploma) in the academic year that immediately follows their participation in the summer program. For the vast majority of students, this refers to the summer between 11th and 12th grades.

If you take classes through Running Start, you likely have transcripts from both your high school and the college at which you take Running Start classes. Please submit both transcripts as a single PDF in the "transcripts" section of the application. To get the two transcripts into a single file, you can either scan them at once OR use PDF merge software, such as PDF Mergy, which is available in Google Drive.

Does the Hutch offer any other opportunities for biomedical research internships?


To learn more about other biomedical research internships for high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate, and first-year medical students offered nationwide, please view the catalog and visit Pathways to Science.

The Guide to Life Science Careers helps you to explore and choose what career is best for you. Starting with an assessment of who you are and how you work best, this guide takes you on a journey that extends from a survey of possible careers through the steps necessary to get there. Interviews with professionals about how they chose their career paths are included so you can learn how others became successful and understand the positive and negative aspects of various career choices. Strategies for networking, overcoming shyness and building your résumé are also discussed to help you lay the groundwork for success and present the best you to potential employers. This guide is a must read for anyone embarking on a career in the life sciences.

Related Programs

Fred Hutch campus

Summer High School Internship Program

Please contact us with questions that are not addressed on this webpage.

SHIP staff do not facilitate research internships for students outside of the 8-week summer program and will not accept unsolicited or late applications. 

SHIP Sponsors

The Summer High School Internship Program thanks our current and past sponsors: Shelley Hovind, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Muckleshoot Tribe of Indians, Wells Fargo, the Van Sloun Foundation, ATT, and the Fred Hutch. For information about becoming a program sponsor, please contact Corporate Gifts.