Application Information


    Admission to Horizon Academic is competitive, and our admissions team considers a variety of criteria in our decision to accept, waiting list, or decline a candidate. We evaluate the applicant's demonstrated interest in the subject they wish to study, accomplishments outside of the classroom (eg. extracurricular activities, internships, or service work), performance in traditional school coursework, personal statement, writing samples, and performance in the oral interview. View more about our application process on this page, or click the button below to get the process started.

  • Horizon Labs features flexible start dates. Students should apply 4-6 weeks prior to their preferred start date. Horizon Seminar has fixed term dates and a formal application deadline.


    Applications for Horizon Seminar Fall 2021 are now closed. Applications for Horizon Labs remain open for students interested in beginning research 4 weeks after their date of application.


    Future Term Dates:


    Spring 2022

    March 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022

    Application Deadline: February 4, 2022

    Financial Aid Deadline: January 18, 2022


    Summer 2022

    June 24, 2022 - September 5, 2022

    Application Deadline: May 23, 2022

    Financial Aid Deadline: May 13, 2022

    Please feel free to join our upcoming information session about the program! If you're unable to join but would like a recording, please complete the interest form above, and a recording will be sent to you by email.


    January 27 8:00PM Eastern Time: Register Here

    February 16 8:00PM Eastern Time: Register Here

    March 9 8:00PM Eastern Time: Register Here


  • Application Procedure


    Go to Apply Now and fill out the Horizon Academic application form. Once the online form is submitted, our admissions committee will review your application. Horizon staff will contact you within three business days after the submission of your application to update you about whether you have advanced to the interview stage of the admission process.


    Interviews are typically conducted over Zoom. We will inform you if you have been admitted to the program within seven days of the interview.


    If necessary, an interview will be conducted with your prospective professor.

    *Not all professors require a secondary interview following the interview with Horizon staff.​


    Students receive a final admissions notification by email, advising them that they have been accepted, rejected, or placed on a waiting list. Admitted students will receive an admission letter with the relevant details of the particular program to which they applied as well as an enrollment agreement. Students not accepted to the program may re-apply no sooner than 90 days after the admission notification. Students placed on a waiting list will have the option to accept the position on the waiting list without any upfront financial commitment.


    If accepted, students are given 10 days to consider whether to enroll in the program.


    If a student chooses to accept the offer of admission, they will complete necessary enrollment formalities, and their legal guardian will sign the enrollment agreement, thereby formalizing their participation in the program.

  • Program Costs and Requirements

    Program Requirements

    Horizon Academic has the following admissions requirements:

    • Students must be enrolled in high school at the time of application (defined as grades 9-12), or they may be gap year students who have completed high school but have not matriculated into university. Most accepted students are in grades 10 and 11.
    • Students must have a strong GPA and demonstrate meaningful interest or achievement in their subject field. We require that applicants have at least a 3.67 unweighted GPA.
    • Students must have an average of 10 hours each week of free time to dedicate to the program.
    • Students must be punctual and have excellent time management skills.
    • Students must have reliable access to an internet connection, a microphone, and headphones.

    Program Costs

    At Horizon Academic, it’s important for us that applicants fully understand the program's details and costs. Please contact a Horizon representative for more complete program information. Needs-based financial aid is offered for some of our group-based courses. Our one-on-one "Labs" courses do not have any financial aid options at this time. Admission to the program is completely need-blind; applicants are admitted purely on the basis of merit. If you are admitted and wish to apply for financial aid, this is a separate process from admission and is determined on the basis of need and availability. If you request financial aid, you will be asked to complete a separate financial aid application after admission in which you will need to report family income and articulate your financial constraints. If you request financial aid, you will not be asked to make an upfront commitment, legally, financially, or otherwise to participate in the program until you are a final update from us about your financial aid status. Financial aid deadlines are generally 6 weeks prior to the program start date, and candidates can expect to hear an update regarding their request for financial aid 3 weeks prior to the start of the program. No financial aid application will be considered unless you have also applied for admission to the program by the financial aid application deadline. On average, about 25% of students in Horizon Academic receive a significant fee waiver.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Horizon Academic a selective program?

    The rate of acceptance at Horizon Academic is generally about 30%. When evaluating applications, we look for strong grades, good time management skills, a demonstrated interest in the course topic, and excellent communication skills.

    What is the expected time commitment?

    The total time commitment for Horizon Academic is at least 100 hours. On a weekly basis, students can expect 8-10 total hours of reading, writing, homework, and class time. Students are welcome and encouraged to put in more time into their projects if they have additional free time, but our experience is that 100 hours is the total commitment to develop a good long-form research project

    What are your requirements for admission?

    • Students must be enrolled in high school at the time of application (defined as grades 9-12), or they may be gap year students who have completed high school but have not matriculated into university. Most accepted students are in grades 10 and 11.
    • Students must have a strong GPA and demonstrate meaningful interest or achievement in their subject field. We require that applicants have a 3.67 unweighted GPA or equivalent.
    • Students do not need to have prior coursework in the subject to which they're applying (this would be unreasonable, since few high schools offer classes in Genetics or Neuroscience, for example). However, we expect that students will have taken the most challenging and relevant classes available to them in high school, and we expect that students have a working understanding of the basics of the subject to which they're applying, as demonstrated by their coursework, extracurriculars, and personal reading.
    • Students must have an average of 10 hours each week of free time to dedicate to the program.
    • Students must be punctual and have excellent time management skills.
    • Students must have reliable access to an internet connection, a microphone, and headphones.

    What is asked in the interview?

    We ask applicants a mix of questions designed to better understand an applicant's personal traits, to contextualize their research interests, and to probe their degree of preparedness and prior knowledge about the subject matter. We do not disclose interview questions in advance of the interview, but we do not see value in "trick questions" or asking extremely narrow factual questions. We are more interested in understanding an applicant's thought process, sense of personal motivation, and analytical abilities.

    How long does the program last?

    The program's Fall and Spring trimesters span 15 weeks. The Summer trimester follows a compacted schedule of 10 weeks In order to accommodate different summer holidays across the world.

    Does Horizon require prior research experience?

    Horizon does not require that students have prior research experience. Our faculty, as well as our writing advisors, work closely with students on learning the fundamentals of academic research and writing. We require that applicants have a 3.67 unweighted GPA or equivalent.

    How does Horizon schedule classes?

    The exact timing of each class depends on the location and schedule constraints of our students and faculty. Students are never required to take part in classes that conflict with mandatory school activities, and most of our classes are scheduled from between 5:00-10:00PM on weekdays, or on weekends.

    How are online classes conducted?

    All online sessions are conducted using advanced video-conferencing software that offers scholars an experience similar to a small seminar or face-to-face meeting. Students and faculty can see, hear, talk, and text chat with each other. Our platform also allows for screen-sharing so that students can view texts, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other visual aids.

    How do you choose course dates?

    We select our program dates with the schedules of busy high school students in mind and time the ending of each trimester to avoid conflicts with final exams.

    How do you choose course times for group classes?

    Because our instructors and students are based in many different time zones across the world, each class time is carefully considered in order to maximize the convenience of all students. The timing of each course cohort is different, so please reach out to us if you are curious about what time during the day or evening a particular class will be offered.

    At the end of the program, what do students get from the program?

    Students who successfully complete the program will complete a college-level research paper, most often about 5,000 words. This process offers students an avenue to improve as writers, to learn to interpret academic journal articles, and they will receive a certificate of completion and a grade report, generated by their instructor using a university grading rubric. Grades are given on a "plus/minus" system (A+, A, A-, for example) as well as a score with a maximum of 100. Students who complete the program gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and often describe how the process of doing research changed their worldview or helped them in deciding what to study in university, something which they often write about in their university application personal statements. Students who do exceptional work also have the opportunity to earn letters of recommendation or to pursue outside recognition of the quality of their work through essay competitions, science fairs, or academic journals.

    Are there any costs involved?

    Yes. Horizon Academic provides extensive support to students as they complete their projects and offers a low staff-to-student ratio. Please contact us for more information regarding tuition and questions about need-based financial aid.

    Do students own the rights and intellectual property for their work?

    Yes. Students retain all intellectual property and authorship rights on the work that they complete.

    What age or grade level should a student be to consider Horizon?

    Horizon Academic welcomes all high school students as well as students who are taking a gap year between high school and college. The majority of our students are sophomores and juniors (meaning that, from the time that they enroll in the program, they expect to graduate high school in 1-2 years).

    How does topic selection work?

    Students apply to Horizon to work with us on a research project in a subject, and, when they apply for the program, they declare 3-5 "sub-topics", drawn from our list of 300+ pre-approved topics, which they are interested in exploring further. If a student is admitted and enrolls in the program, we work with the student in refining a specific research proposal and topic, supporting them in the process of identifying their research scope and focus. Ultimately, students are responsible for choosing their own research topic and a corresponding thesis statement or hypothesis. We advise and mentor students through this process in our program, but our mentors do not outright define or assign the research topic for the student, since the research proposal is a deeply personal choice and one which has educational value for students to determine themselves.

    I'm interested in medicine and research relevant to a future pre-med major. What does Horizon offer in this field?


    Horizon offers an extensive selection of courses and topics for a student interested in medicine and health sciences, but selection of a course will depend on what kind of medical interest the student wishes to explore. Our most popular tracks in the health sciences are our Horizon Labs courses in CRISPR & Gene Editing, Machine Learning & Biotechnology, Neuroscience, Psychology, and Protein Biophysics. Our Horizon Seminar classes in Data Science & Machine Learning and Clinical Psychology & Emotion Regulation are also relevant since the pre-approved topics touch on issues in psychiatry, protein classification, and genomics. Lastly, our Theoretical Mathematics class may be useful in understanding additional biophysical concepts.

    I'm interested in Machine Learning. What courses in Machine Learning does Horizon offer?

    Horizon offers three computer science-based courses: Data Science & Machine Learning, Applications of Machine Learning, and Machine Learning & Biotechnology. Data Science & Machine Learning is a group class that is more beginner-friendly, so it would be a well suited option for students relatively new to or less experienced with coding. On the other hand, Applications of Machine Learning is a 1-on-1 Labs course that is much harder, so a student should have 6 months of either Python or R (or USACO Gold Status and a deep knowledge of Java). Lastly, our Machine Learning and Biotechnology course is also a 1-on-1 Labs course, but it specifically examines applications of machine learning and predictive analytics in key areas of biology and health sciences so background in computer science or biology would be beneficial. Beyond those, Fluid Dynamics is highly computational, and there are computational topics available in CRISPR, Neuroscience, and Psychology as well. We encourage you to view a list of pre-approved topics for these courses that may be of interest on our Courses Page.

    What are the course prerequisites?

    Only some of the subjects that we offer at Horizon have formal course prerequisites. Formal prerequisites are as follows:
    • Protein Biophysics: AP Chemistry or equivalent
    • Advanced Theoretical Math & Knot Theory: AP Calculus A/B or equivalent (B/C is also accepted)
    • Fluid Dynamics: One year of Calculus and one year of high school Physics (Mechanics)

    Are there any physical classroom or laboratory spaces for students?

    Horizon Academic is a completely online research program for high school students to do a college level research paper after school or during the weekends or the summer. It is rare that any students in the same class live in the same state or even the same country, so in the interest of fairness to all of our students, there is no physical lab space for student use. Even for our more STEM-related topics like environmental engineering and machine learning and biotechnology, most quantitative research projects use desktop research methods utilizing publicly available data sets. Our students sometimes independently find local university lab resources, utilize citizen lab spaces, or gather original data in the field (for example, through surveys or through collecting water or soil samples).

    I want to get published in an academic journal. Can you help with that?

    Our program's objective is to mentor students through the process of doing college level research. After all, before worrying about publication, it’s important to write and develop an idea worth sharing. Many of our students are more interested in attempting college level work in a specific topic, gaining a better sense of certainty about a possible college major, doing a project they find fun and engaging, or earning a letter of recommendation.


    Some of our students see value in publishing their work after completing their papers. We do offer free guidance on publication if a student gets an A grade or better, and we provide a free list of publications and competitions that students may use regardless of their grade. We are proudly partnered with the Journal for Emerging Investigators, a leading high school research journal, and our students have been published in other journals including The National High School Journal of Science and Low Carbon Economy. Other students have been invited to present at national academic conferences such as the National Aquaponics Association National Conference. Others still have adapted their papers to win or place highly in competitive state science fairs. However, you should not apply for this program if you do not value doing the research in its own right; our program's goal is educational and focuses around the process of academic research. We are not a publication factory.

    Why don’t all of your students publish?

    Saying that all students who do research should publish is like saying that all students who learn music should play in the New York Symphony Orchestra. While getting into the New York Symphony Orchestra is (very) impressive, the symphony orchestra is no home for a jazz pianist, a player of the air guitar, or someone who doesn’t want to spend their working life wearing a tuxedo. Similarly, students who do research have different objectives when they sign up to work with us, and we strive to respect those goals when we work with them. Also, publication in prestigious journals that PhDs publish in is a process that often takes about many months (12-18 months is not uncommon). Some high school students simply do not have the time to commit to that. Publication editorial boards have a variety of considerations in mind besides the raw quality of the work (thematic considerations and networks or connections with authors, for instance). And students cannot submit to multiple journals at once; they can only have one pending submission of their work at one time. Because of these considerations, we suggest pursuing publication very selectively to students. Once more, apply for our program if you're interested in doing research as an inherent goal, or to build skills that will serve you well into your time in university. If you view research as valuable purely as a vehicle for publishing or winning a science fair, please look elsewhere as it is logistically impossible and ethically dubious to promise any publication or competitive outcome. Our top students have been successful in these efforts, but we make no guarantee about publication outcomes, nor are we prima facie able to assess the probability that a student can publish their work prior to the completion of this work.
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