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Education is now more accessible than ever before, with globalisation playing a big part in the fact that students can study all over the world. You may have your sights set on top universities and colleges, such as Oxbridge or Ivy League institutions. However, these are competitive arenas.

Fortunately, technology has also increased access to education in different ways. High school-level students can now prepare themselves for university with research programs, many of which are online. As a result, you can study from a distance and take courses in your favourite subjects, taught by tutors from the world’s best educational institutes.

We have put together a list of the ten best virtual research opportunities for high school students. First, though, let’s explore what these programmes entail and how they work.

What Are Virtual Research Opportunities? How Do They Work?

Virtual research programs involve further education-style courses that teach you some of the skills you’ll need for university. Crucially, these courses take place online. Some allow you to work at your own pace, while others allow you to attend real-time virtual classes.

There are virtual research programmes available for a huge range of courses, and their scope varies depending on the subject. For example, there are virtual research opportunities for medical students that cover some theory and analysis in place of lab-based study. Many medical students opt for in-person lab programs to help them develop their experimental skills. However, learning how to hypothesise and ask questions is just as valuable a skill, so if you don’t live near a top university, there are still options for you to study.

No matter your area of interest, there will be an online course to suit you. Make sure you look into the course duration, cost, and areas of study before choosing one. That way, you can find one that’s most valuable for the subject you intend to study at university.

10 Best Virtual Online Research Opportunities for Students

Below are Immerse Education’s top ten picks, catering to a wide variety of subjects.

Immerse Education logo

1. Immerse Education

Immerse Education specialises in educational experiences for students with their sights set on Oxbridge and Ivy League colleges. With immersive programs, Immerse provides the perfect online research opportunities for summer. 

The Oxbridge and Ivy League Online Research Programme sees students receive tuition from an Oxbridge or Ivy League tutor.

Students can choose a topic that interests them, with subject areas including:

  • Architecture
  • Coding
  • History
  • Medicine
  • Creative Writing
  • Law
  • Psychology

Whether participants choose 1-1 tuition options – Classic and Accredited Online Research Programme or the Group Accredited programme which is taught in small groups, there is a programme tailored to their needs. It is worth noting that both the Accredited and Group Accredited Online Research Programmes award participants 8 UCAS points upon completion. 

Age: 13-18

Duration: 10-15 hours

Price: £695 – £3995

Lumiere Education logo

2. The Lumiere Research Scholar Program

Founded by scholars from Harvard and Oxford, the Lumiere Research Program allows students to engage in an independently-developed research project. Students have the chance to work one-on-one with a mentor.

The program allows students to study a range of topics, including STEM subjects and humanities or social sciences. Expert mentors from Ivy League colleges will support you throughout.

There are three course options: 

  • Individual Research Program
  • Premium Research and Publication Program
  • Lumiere Research Fellowship

The former helps you craft a college-level academic paper. Meanwhile, the latter two may lead to a publication in a journal. At the end of both of these courses, the Lumiere Program supports students to submit their papers to academic journals, potentially giving them a leg up into the world of academia.

Age: 13-18

Duration: 12 weeks (Individual Research) to 12 months (Fellowship)

Price: $2800 – $8400

Cambridge Centre for International Research logo

3. Cambridge Future Scholar Program

Run by the Cambridge Centre for International Research (CCIR), the Future Scholar Program is for small groups of students. It is taught by current teachers at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, MIT, Stanford, and a handful of others. 

Students on this program can choose from 34 courses, including options in STEM, Business, and Social Sciences. Then, they are taught in small groups of 2-5 for a whole semester (13 weeks) as they complete an independent research project.

At the end, students also receive a letter of recommendation from the faculty member who taught them.

Age: 16-18

Duration: 13 weeks

Price: £5300

Indigo logo

4. Indigo Research High School Research Program

Indigo Research offers several courses, one of which is for high school students. It pairs students one-on-one with professors from top universities in both the US and the UK. Then, students get the chance to embark on their own research projects.

Indigo is renowned for having exceptionally strict requirements for its mentors, so students are guaranteed to get great tutors. The one-on-one format means that students can study any project they’re passionate about.

There are three course types: Explorer, Researcher, and Innovator. No matter which you choose, you have 100% flexibility. You can start your project at any time and set meetings according to your own schedule.

Age: 13-18

Duration: 3 months – 18 months

Price: From $3700

Beta Camp logo

5. BETA Camp

For students interested in business, BETA Camp is the perfect online course. This unique four-week course helps you to plan and launch a real business.

Styled on an MBA, BETA Camp helps young entrepreneurs to understand how to write a business plan, research, market, and pitch their startup to investors. Many alumni from the program have secured internships at multinational companies like TikTok. 

Mentors, guest speakers, and judges come from huge companies, too, giving you a chance to network with the best of the best.

Age: 13-18

Duration: 4 weeks

Price: $3000

Harvard summer school logo

6. Harvard Secondary School Program (SSP)

The Harvard Summer School Secondary School Program is a great way to prep for any top university. Harvard Summer School offers over 200 courses, which means you can study whatever you want. Students can even study multiple courses, worth four credits each toward your college application.

89% of students who took one of these courses said it helped them decide what to study in college. That’s no surprise when you consider the breadth of courses available, from Comedy Sketch Writing to astrophysics options.

Age: 15-18

Duration: 7 weeks

Price: $3700 per course, plus a $75 application fee

Polgence logo

7. Polygence

Polygence is an expert when it comes to mentorship, offering several programs for high school students. This includes the Core Program, a 10-week deep dive into a topic of your choice with one-on-one mentorship.

Not only will you learn how to devise and research a project, but you’ll also get the chance to present your findings at a bi-annual conference.

There are also Pods, 6-week courses taught in small groups. This is better suited to students with a shorter time frame. 

Age: 13-18

Duration: 3-5 months

Price: $2695

Brown logo

8. Brown University Leadership Institute

Brown University has a pre-college program specifically for students passionate about social justice. The Leadership Institute connects students in small groups to discuss complex social issues. Together, they devise potential solutions to contemporary problems.

Throughout the course, students can learn active listening, conflict resolution, problem-solving, teamwork, and public speaking. They develop an action plan, which they can use as part of their college transcript. 

Age: 13-18

Duration: 4 weeks

Price: $5313

Veritas AI logo

9. Veritas AI’s AI Fellowship

Veritas AI, run by Lumiere Education, hosts a research program for students passionate about artificial intelligence (AI). The AI Fellowship teaches students collaborative learning and project development through one-on-one mentorship.

Designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni, the course helps students engage in an independent AI research project. Students can combine AI with any of their other interests or passions, such as medicine, environment, or finance. The course lasts 12-15 weeks and gives students ample time to work on their project.

There is also a shorter 10-week AI Scholars program, which costs $1790. Students can take both courses for a combined cost of $4700.

Age: 13-18

Duration: 12-15 weeks

Price: $4900

Emory logo

10. Emory University Pre-College Program

Emory University College of Arts and Sciences offers a great program for students interested in a variety of fields. There are over 100 courses available, each taught by experts in the field. 

Some of the courses are incredibly interesting, with unique options such as:

  • Video Game Narrative 101
  • The Biology of How We Sense the World
  • Rome, Interrupted: Exploring the Last Days of Pompei

Students can take non-credit courses with fellow high schoolers, lasting 2-4 weeks. Or, they can take six-week courses with Emory undergraduates that are worth 3-4 credits.

By the end, students will have a fantastic understanding of real college courses.

Age: 15-18

Duration: 2-6 weeks

Price: $3135 – $7567 plus fees

Benefits of Online Research Opportunities

Online research opportunities for high school students are worth looking into if you want to attend a top university. Taking part in one will help to ready you for university. Here’s how.

  • Makes you a competitive applicant: Getting into a top university is challenging, so you need your application to stand out. Evidence of independent research can be really helpful. This is especially true for courses like medicine, where nearly 60% of incoming students participated in an apprenticeship while studying. 
  • Helps you adjust: University education can be tough. You’ll need to develop a lot of time management and organisational skills, and you’ll need to push yourself to succeed. A summer programme can help you prepare by teaching you the skills you need. It also shows prospective universities that you’re willing to work hard.
  • Lets you contribute to your field: If there’s a topic you’re really passionate about, a research program allows you to explore it in depth. Not only do you get to learn more, but you can potentially contribute to your chosen field. For prospective universities, this shows that you’re mature, smart, and can think outside the box.
  • Teaches you new skills: You can learn a variety of new skills depending on your course. Generally, you’ll develop research skills, analytical skills, and writing skills. However, you may also learn a variety of other things that are useful for your field. Depending on when you take the course, this may help you with your high school exam scores. At the very least, it will prepare you for university.

There are often options to take courses like this in person, so what are the benefits of doing it online? Virtual research opportunities often have a lower cost compared to in-person programmes. This is because you don’t have to pay for accommodation while studying away from home, or any of the other costs associated with that. 

Furthermore, you don’t have to work out any of the travel logistics, which is more convenient. Some programs even offer complete flexibility, which means you can complete your research in your own time and fit it around your schedule. This is a great way to learn independent time management, and it ensures you don’t have to sacrifice any of your other extracurriculars.

Apply to an Online Research Programme with Immerse

If you’re looking into virtual research opportunities, you’re already on the right track. The right course can help you develop the skills you need to excel at university.

These programmes allow you to enhance your knowledge in a topic you’re passionate about while gaining expert advice from academics who know all about your chosen institution.

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