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Spring and Summer 2021 Applications Open December 1, 2020!

Program Overview

Welcome to the Tufts Research Experience - Virtual! All of Tufts University's world-class research laboratories began operating virtually in March 2020 and, as such, we are excited to welcome you to this new world of virtual research. Thanks to the wonders of digital platforms, we are able to bring the exciting and rigorous academic experience of TRE safely to you in your home. 

We welcome high school juniors and seniors with prior research experience to join us for a virtual (web-based) academic year research experience at Tufts under active mentorship by Tufts' world-class researchers and their teams. Students will learn about laboratory techniques, research methods, and data collection and analysis skills. Students will work with Tufts research laboratories, actively participating in the rigorous research activities conducted in them. Students will gain proficiency in authentic scientific practice as they work with faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and students on real life, cutting edge research projects. While the particular techniques and research areas will depend on the individual host team, all students will be directly involved in the day-to-day research work. They will learn about research ethics and how to evaluate information objectively. By program end, students will also have the opportunity to present their research findings in a virtual poster session.

Each student selected to participate in this competitive program will be paired with a Principal Investigator who directs one of Tufts' many outstanding research laboratories. The majority of time in the program will be virtual mentored research through a Tufts laboratory. Students will be fully integrated into the research team, which may include post-doctoral scholars and graduate / undergraduate students, along with including team meetings and research presentations, an incredible opportunity to interact with world-class researchers. Students will Zoom in to all mentoring sessions and online meetings. 

  • During the Fall and Spring semesters, students and their mentors will arrange times to be in the virtual lab based on the student's school schedule and the lab's staffing schedule. Typically, this will be around 15 hours a week of virtual lab time on afternoons and evenings. 
  • Our summer program offers a more intensive full-day research experience with the option to live on campus and participate in additional journal clubs, field trips, guest lectures, skills-building workshops, and networking events. If this appeals to you, check-out the Tufts Summer Research Experience

While most participating labs are located on the Medford/Somerville campus, others are on our Boston Health Sciences campus (Medical, Dental, and Nutrition) and our Grafton Campus (Veterinary). For this fall, all research activities are conducted remotely and all student research experiences will be integrated with this web-based approach. All of Tufts University, including its world-class research labs, is learning how to adapt to this new online environment in order to demonstrate our commitment to public health and the specific well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. Although we know the virtual lab will not be the same as being a part of a physical lab, we believe the virtual setting offers new and exciting opportunities to augment both research and student experiences.

Note: this page represents our best expectations for the program we will deliver this fall, but due to the ever-evolving situation, is subject to change. We will update this page as new information becomes available, especially regarding method of instruction for the spring Tufts Research Experience.

Program Highlights:

  • Study at a top-ranked R1 university
  • Work with and learn from world-class faculty and researchers
  • Gain experience in evaluating real data sets as a part of conducting lab research
  • Investigate a question related to the lab’s research and develop a poster to present at a virtual poster session

Program Outcomes:

  • Improved ability to interpret, use and analyze real experimental data
  • Increased understanding of and comfort working with a rigorous laboratory and research team
  • Research poster and lab notes for future applications
  • Refined verbal and written communication skills from participating in a poster session and in-depth conversations with other researchers
  • Enhanced understanding of college-level research

^ This video is a general representation of the general educational experience this program provides, but should not be taken as indicating specific activities that will occur in Fall 2020, as it was created for Summer 2019 when all programs ran on-campus.

Not for you? Check out one of our other programs.

This program is amazing because it allows you to do real college-level research over the summer, and you can choose from a very wide range of  subjects. While many similar programs at other schools only focus on a few narrow subjects, TSRE is unique in that you can choose anything from sociology to chemical engineering. You get to meet like-minded high school students and Tufts students, forming friendships that can last after the program ends. Additionally, you can choose between commuter or residential programs, which few similar programs let you do. It takes place at a phenomenal university in a great location, so you really can’t go wrong. If you love research, or want to try it out, I think you should seriously consider TSRE.

This program is an intensive research experience meant for students who have a passion for the social or natural sciences. It provides six weeks of meaningful exposure to college-level research at a prestigious university. The program is run well, and the staff are very nice and helpful. If you know students who are interested, I would definitely recommend TSRE for them.

It was one of the best experiences I have ever had, I felt I had learned a lot.

The quality of the program was fantastic: not just the research, but also the lectures and exposure he had to other faculty and campus resources.

Program Details (Fall and Spring)

Interested in our summer program? Please click here to see the program details and schedule for the Tufts Summer Research Program.


All students are required to attend a virtual orientation and a series of lab safety training sessions in advance of their first visit to the lab. During this orientation, we will review the overall program schedule including each student's specific lab schedule, discuss policies and safety, and answer any questions. For the 2020-21 academic year, orientations will take place on the following dates and times:

  • Fall Semester: September 14 2020 at 5pm
  • Spring Semester: January 25 2021 at 5pm

Regular Schedule

During the program, students will be introduced to and participate in research happening in the lab. Mentors will guide students in understanding the ongoing scientific inquiry and will work with the students on interpreting journal articles related to that research. Throughout the program, students will work with their mentors and PIs to build their research skills, perform controlled experiments, and interpret and extrapolate on real experimental data. Where possible, each student will be able to complete a research project they design with their mentor. All of this learning will culminate in the student producing a poster about their lab’s research to be presented at the program’s poster session at the end of each term.

Because each lab has different research schedules and because we know high school students are balancing a lot already, each student and the lab in which they are selected will design a schedule of up to 10-15 hours a week over an approximately 10-12 week period with visits that work best for the student and the lab. As such, there is no one schedule to which all students will adhere. Program dates for the 2020-21 academic year are as follows:

  • Fall Semester: Sept. 14, 2020 - Dec. 11, 2020
  • Spring Semester: Jan. 25, 2021 - May 7, 2021

Poster Session & Closing Ceremony

One of the highlights of our program is the opportunity for each student to develop a poster on a research question being investigated in their lab. The student's mentor will help them develop this poster, a critical skill for any researcher. At the end of each term, all of our students will display their posters at a Poster Session with the opportunity to explain their research and answer the questions of their peers, researchers, and scientists from across the University. Friends and family are welcome to view all posters and participate in the digital discussion! All posters will be available for virtual viewing along with a recorded (or written) presentation from the student. A digital discussion board will be available so viewers can comment on student's posters and ask questions and, for students who can attend live, a Zoom discussion forum will be available for guests to ask questions live! For the 2020-21 academic year, the poster sessions will take place on the following dates and times:

  • Fall Semester: December 4, 2020 at 3:00PM
  • Spring Semester: May 7, 2021 at 3:00PM

Please note that the number of interns during the academic year can vary. If there are too few interns in a given term, instead of holding a formal poster session at the end of the program, we will work with the student's department to ensure there is a specific time during which the student can present their poster and findings to the team and any guests!

Supervision (Fall and Spring)

Students are required to attend all sessions that they schedule with their PI or Mentor and any expected absences must be communicated to the PI or Mentor in advance. Tufts takes the safety of its students very seriously, even in the virtual environment. Students who enroll will receive more information about our virtual safety protocols. In an in-person program setting, current policy for pre-college students states that students cannot be in a lab or leave campus during their program without the supervision of a staff member or explicit parental permission received through official processes. 

Tufts makes reasonable efforts to secure background checks and to provide Title IX training to every staff person responsible for students in its Pre-College Programs.

Application Materials & Deadlines

Tufts Research Experience is a highly competitive program that fills up quickly. We highly recommend applying as early as possible. 

Remind me when applications open!

Application & Key Enrollment Dates

Priority deadlines may apply. Admission granted on a rolling basis.

Note: all dates are as of 11:59PM ET

Program Application Opens Deadline: All Materials* Deadline: Deposit^ Deadline: Payment Deadline: Enrollment Forms
Fall July 1 August 31 10 days after acceptance September 1 September 4
Spring October 1 December 15 10 days after acceptance December 30 January 15
Summer December 1 May 1 10 days after acceptance May 15

June 8

*Applications submitted after the payment deadline will require payment in full on admission to hold their seat.

* Admission is granted on a rolling basis and a wait list for seats may begin before Deadline for All Materials. We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible if you are interested in this program. ^ Includes weekends and holidays.

Program Eligibility

General Requirements

  • Entering high school grades 11-12 *or* a Spring 2021 high school graduate
  • Must be age 16 by the first day of the program

Residential Students (summer only)

Students electing to live in the dorms or to attend a residential program must be at least 15 and no older than 17 at the start of the program.

International Students

Both domestic and international students are welcome to apply to and attend our pre-college programs, although please note we cannot sponsor visas for this program during the academic year.

Non-Native English Speakers

If you indicate that English is not your primary language, you will be asked to submit evidence of English Language proficiency. Please see our "How to Apply" page for details.

Application Requirements

Step 1: Complete an Online Application (opens on December 1, 2020)

The online application will ask you for the following information:

  • Basic personal information, including parents/guardians and emergency contact (if you are under 18, we will contact a parent for permission to enroll)
  • Program preferences (e.g., whether you would like to be a residential or commuter student)
  • Up to 3 lab preferences, indicating your order of preference
    • Please note that students indicating only 1 lab are not typically considered for additional labs if their first choice is unavailable
    • For each lab preference, you will need to submit one 250-word statement describing your interest in that specific lab
  • One 250-word Personal Statement describing your research experience and your interest in research
  • Contact information for 1 individual to submit a Letter of Recommendation - this individual can be a teacher, counselor, or mentor. We will contact this individual on your behalf
  • Test scores - optional, unless you must submit scores as evidence of English proficiency
  • Warrants and signatures

If you need to log back into this application after starting, click here: return to my application.

Step 2: Upload Your High School Transcript

During your application process, you will be asked to provide us with contact information for an official from your high school. They will receive an email with further instructions to upload your transcript.

Step 3: Parental Consent and Letter of Recommendation

As a part of your application, you will be asked to provide contact information for both a parent/guardian and a recommender. Once you submit your application, our systems will automatically email the parent/guardian and recommender you listed in the application with instructions for how to fill out the online permission or recommendation form.

Please note your application will not be considered submitted and review of your application will not begin until the materials from Step 2 and Step 3 have been received by Tufts Pre-College Programs.

Pre-College Admissions Decision

Once an applicant has submitted an application and all required admissions documents are received, the applicant will be considered for admission by the Tufts Pre-College Programs review committee for the specific program(s) to which they applied.

Decisions are made on a rolling basis and students will typically receive an official email informing them of their admissions status within 10 days (including weekends and holidays) of Tufts receiving all required materials.

If you do not receive your email within two weeks of all materials being submitted, please contact us at or 617-627-2926.

Disclaimer: This program is not related to Tufts University Undergraduate Admissions. Participation in this program does not result in admission to a Tufts University degree program. Tufts reserves the right to admit as requested, to deny admission, or to offer provisional admission. The program will not provide feedback to applicants if admission is denied.

Post-Enrollment Materials

Admitted students must do the following prior to the start of the program:

  • Submit a deposit to hold your seat; this program requires a deposit within 10 days (including weekends and holidays) of the date on which the admissions decision was posted
  • Pay your balance in full prior to the stated deadline
  • Complete all enrollment forms and/or follow-up requests prior to the stated deadline

Should the above not be completed prior to the stated deadlines, the student will be automatically withdrawn from the program.

Tuition & Fees

Program Fees - Fall 2019 and Spring 2020

Interested in our summer program? Please click here to see program fees for the Tufts Summer Research Program.

Fall/Spring Commuter Program Fee: $5,000 per semester

  • Includes: up to 10-15 hours of lab time a week as arranged by student and lab for approximately 10-12 weeks a semester, PI mentorship, all lab materials, closing ceremony, poster session, use of select campus facilities, and daily activities
  • Excludes: residential accommodations, meals, airfare/transportation to and from home city or residence, courses and activities shown to have an extra fee, laundry, spending money, souvenirs, meals eaten away from program, trip cancellation insurance, medical insurance, required vaccinations, medical and dental expenses and any non-program-related transportation needs.

Non-Refundable Program Deposit: $550, applied to the Program Fee

  • A pre-payment on program fees is required to reserve space in the program within 10 days (including weekends and holidays) of admission to the program
  • This deposit will be applied toward program fees and is not an additional fee
  • The balance of payment for program fees is due upon notification of charges, and no later than the payment deadline listed above
  • This deposit is non-refundable in the event of withdrawal from the program

Health Fees - Fall and Spring 2020

Health Insurance: n/a

  • Students carrying sufficient, valid U.S.-based health insurance do not need to pay this fee
  • All high school students enrolled in Tufts Pre-College Programs must carry valid U.S.-based health insurance
  • Students will be asked to provide evidence of sufficient insurance during the enrollment process. If your student has sufficient insurance, no further action will be necessary
  • Those who do not have sufficient insurance will not be eligible to participate in the program

Vaccinations: n/a

  • Students who can demonstrate that all required vaccinations were received prior to the program start date do not need to pay these fees
  • All high school students enrolled in Tufts Pre-College Programs must show evidence of required vaccinations during the enrollment process. If your student has all required vaccinations, no further action will be necessary
  • Those who do not have all required vaccinations will be asked to provide further documentation; students who cannot provide the required documentation will be unable to participate in the program

Other Key Financial Policies

Refund Policies

Billing & Payment Policies

All Policies

Financial Aid

Availability of Awards

Tufts Pre-College Programs are committed to welcoming students from all backgrounds to Tufts’ campus. Although we have only limited financial aid available, we do our best to distribute the funds to students for whom it can make the greatest difference in their ability to attend.

Each of the programs offering financial aid in this way offers a very limited number of scholarships, typically covering 75—100% of the program fee based on demonstrated need.

  • Fall: we will distribute any available aid in August
  • Spring: we will distribute any available aid in December
  • Summer: we will typically distribute two awards in February and will continue to issue awards once a month in March and April, until all available funds have been distributed

Please note:

  • International students are not eligible for financial aid at this time. Families should expect to contribute to the remaining portion of the program cost as well as other expenses like travel, books, etc.
  • This program is not available for Tuition Remission or Reimbursement


  1. Complete the Admissions Application for the pre-college program you would like to attend.
  2. During the application process, you will be asked to indicate whether you are interested in being considered for financial aid.
  3. After submission, you will have the option of completing a financial aid application in your student portal
  4. We will review your financial aid application. Your financial aid application will be considered for the next monthly aid award(s).
  5. If you receive an award,
    1. You will be notified by email of the amount of the award
    2. You will have 10 days (including weekends and holidays) to accept the award by completing your Financial Aid Award Form and submitting your deposit
    3. Tufts Pre-College Programs will then credit your student account with the amount of financial aid you received
    4. Please note: Your enrollment in the program is still contingent on payment of any remaining balance after the award is applied to your account, and on receiving your enrollment forms
  6. If you do not receive an award, your application will be automatically considered in the next application cycle for the program term in which you are applying, unless funds are no longer available.
  7. Once all of our funds have been distributed, we will notify all remaining applicants.

Please see the policies section of this website for a complete list of applicable policies.

Life at Tufts

Tufts Virtual Campus

We endeavor to make each moment of the student experience at Tufts memorable for our students. Tufts Virtual Campus brings new meaning to this as we strive to recreate the critical learning and social environment students expect from Tufts University through digital tools. Tufts Virtual campus exists on a series of software platforms to which students will have full access during their program. In particular, the following two platforms will be used for the majority of our activities:

  • Zoom: allows students to connect for lectures, webinars, breakout sessions, one-on-one mentoring, phone calls, chat sessions ... and more!
  • Canvas: provides a collaborative space for course content, assignments, and grading. Many programs will host course material (syllabus, readings, review questions, etc.) on a Canvas course site.

Take a Tufts Virtual Tour

Academic Experience

Tufts Virtual Campus programs are being designed to provide high-quality, flexible, and interactive experiences to our students. We are carefully designing them to have the same academic rigor and expectations for teaching, studying, and achievement as their on-campus counterparts. The benefits of learning in a virtual environment include giving students greater freedom to interact with course content (lectures, presentations, discussions, forums, etc.) on a schedule that works for them, using a wider network of resources to achieve educational goals.

Residential Students (Summer Only)

If you are interested in experiencing life on Tufts' campus while having a world-class mentored research experience, please see our intensive summer program: Tufts Summer Research Experience.

At this time, we are unable to offer housing during the academic year.

Commuter Students

Commuting to the Program (Fall and Spring)

Interested in our summer program? Please click here to see information for commuters during the Tufts Summer Research Program.

Please note that for the Fall 2020 semester, the Tufts Research Experience will occur on our Tufts virtual campus-- as such, students will not need to commute to any of our Tufts research labs during this term. 

During the academic year, all students must be able to commute to the Tufts campus on which their lab is located. Commuter students and their parents are responsible for ensuring their student travels to and from campus safely and on time each day. Detailed information about traveling to each of our campuses, including details on parking, can be found here.

Students are only permitted to be on campus during the specific times scheduled with their PI or Mentor and are only permitted to enter spaces as instructed by their PI, Mentor, or Tufts Pre-College Programs. Commuter students are not permitted to enter any residence halls on campus.