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HERE at ORNL - Entering College Freshmen

Higher Education Research Experiences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (HERE at ORNL) provides research opportunities and associated activities for entering freshmen, between high school and college. The program is designed to complement academic programs by utilizing the unique resources of ORNL to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, encourage careers in science and technology, and improve scientific literacy, while at the same time contributing to the Laboratory mission.


  • Applications are accepted for spring and/or summer  
  • Appointments are limited to spring and/or summer after high school graduation and prior to starting college
  • Applicant must be 18 by January 1 if applying for spring and by June 1 if applying for summer
  • Applicant must be 18 prior to the start of the appointment
  • Full-time or part-time appointments may be offered



  • Have received a high school diploma from a U.S. accredited institution in the 12 months preceding participation - verification required
  • Be accepted at an accredited U.S. college or university for the term immediately following participation - verification required
  • Have a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale - copy of academic record required
  • Be 18 years of age by January 1 if applying for spring and by June 1 if applying for summer and 18 years of age by the start date of appointment
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident at the time of application - verification required
  • Have medical insurance during appointment - verification required
  • Have two references - academic preferred


  • Complete program requirements and avoid activities that could present a conflict
  • Attend enrichment activities, including professional development workshops, Laboratory tours, lectures, seminars, and poster presentations. Please note that these activities are optional and dependent upon mentor approval
  • Behave in a responsible and professional manner
  • Complete pre- and post-appointment surveys
HERE Internship Term Summer
Application Opens October 1
Application Closes July 1
Suggested Deadline* February 1

* Follow the suggested deadline date for greater chance of selection.

Next Steps

If you are ready, you can apply to HERE at ORNL - Entering College Freshmen now.

Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) at ORNL

ORNL Intern Yuri K

Yuri K.

Recent High School Graduate
Research Focus:

“The purpose of my research was to help develop new nuclear fuel rod claddings that can withstand harsh high-temperature and steam-oxidation conditions during a severe accident of light water reactors.”

Experience Gained:

“As students who chose to spend the summer at the lab rather than watching Netflix, we all shared a common passion in pursuing knowledge. For me, the program was a learning experience rather than a working one, so much that I always joked I was getting paid to learn!”

Thoughts on the Program:

“The program was absolutely fantastic. There is absolutely nothing to lose from participating in it. If you even slightly think you might want a career in a laboratory setting, this is a great way to get a taste of what that experience might be.”