• Gap Year and Extensions

  • The Horizon Academic Research Program offers four extensions of our Core Program for students interested in internships, podcasting, or publishing. Our Extended Programs are tailored to the needs of students taking gap years/semesters, and students seeking further opportunities to advance and apply their research who have enrolled in Horizon Seminar or Horizon Labs. Our Extended Programs aim to offer students longer-term research opportunities spanning a total of 6-7 months, commencing with our core 16 week research experience in our traditional research program, and followed by an 8-10 week extension which adds an internship, podcast, or publication component. Students may apply to participate in one of our Semester Extended Programs directly, or they may choose to “add on” one of these extension focuses after completing our core research program.

  • Extended Programs Offered by Horizon

  • All Horizon Extended Programs Are:

  • Application Process

    Just like Horizon Academic’s core programs, Horizon’s Semester Extended Programs have a competitive application process, with a 26% acceptance rate. We require students to submit a written application and writing samples and to sit for an interview, because we want to ensure that every student in our program is positioned to succeed in doing college-level research and completing a 20 page research manuscript. Our admissions team considers a variety of criteria including the applicant's demonstrated interest in the subject they wish to study, accomplishments outside of the classroom (e.g. extracurricular activities, internships, or service work), performance in traditional school coursework, personal statements, writing samples, and discussions in the oral interview.

    Please note that students who have been admitted and enrolled into Horizon Academic already may apply to join one of our extension programs. The only exception to this is the professional internship placement track: students must apply to participate in this track prior to beginning at Horizon Academic. Because currently enrolled students have already completed the standard admissions process, the application for extension is significantly abridged. However, students must apply for their extension at least 6 weeks prior to their desired extension start date.

    Program Costs

    At Horizon Academic, we feel that it’s important for applicants to fully understand the program's details and costs. Please contact Horizon for more complete program information. Note that we offer need-based financial aid for Horizon Seminar classes in our traditional program, but our Semester Extended Programs and Horizon Labs courses do not have any financial aid options at this time.

  • Program Timeline (By Week)


    Horizon’s Core Research Program (Horizon Labs or Horizon Seminar)


    Student Enters Core Research Program


    Background Reading and Class Tutorial; Topic Selection

    Week 1-5


    Select and Analyze Data, or Read a Customized Reading List

    Week 6-12


    Paper Composition and Editing

    Week 13-15


    Student Completes Paper and Core Research Program

    Week 16


    Student Begins Extension Program

    Options Appear Below for Week 17 and Beyond

  • Four Different Paths

    After You Complete the Core Horizon Academic Program

  • How They Work


    Podcasting offers students a fun, interdisciplinary, hands-on way to apply what they’ve learned through their research and creating something that can be easily shared and understood by a student’s peers and wider community. Students can translate their research into podcasts in several ways: narrating the secret history of an important event, presenting a series of stories surrounding the student’s research theme, interviewing scholars whose work was at the heart of a student’s paper, or hosting chats or panel discussions with professionals whose work involves a student’s research subject. Creating and producing podcasts speak to a student’s ability to commit to one theme beyond the simple confines of a paper with a due date, demonstrating their passion for a topic and their ability to learn new skills like sound engineering, complex storytelling, graphic design, and planning a complex, multi-faceted project. Podcast competitions like those hosted by NPR, the New York Times, and various universities offer added visibility for particularly thought-provoking student-created podcasts.


    Publication is a challenging goal for high school student researchers. Horizon Academic’s Core Program is structured to support students in creating a research manuscript, and we’re proud to say that many of our students have had their papers accepted for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals. Some students choose to do this work independently after they create a research manuscript, but some students benefit from added guidance from their research mentors. Our publication extension aims to assist students in editing, improving, and transforming their initial research manuscript into a paper with a higher likelihood of acceptance for publication. We do so by advising them on how they can add new layers of sophistication to their papers, better connect their research with the prominent papers and theory surrounding their research question, refine their arguments to be more precise, and, when applicable, add novel empirical data analysis to their argument. At Horizon Academic, we strongly believe that research is an inherently valuable process for high school students, but we also recognize that some students view the creation of a research manuscript as the first step in a longer process of understanding the peer review and publication process. For these students, we’re pleased to offer the publication extension as an added layer of support and structure. We have structured our publication extension program to improve their likelihood of acceptance in a peer-reviewed journal, but students and families should bear in mind that publication cannot be ethically guaranteed.

    Research Assistantship

    Research Assistant roles are coveted positions among undergraduate and graduate students, but it’s also possible for talented and particularly well-prepared high school students to undertake research assistant roles. Creating an original research manuscript is an excellent way to prepare to go one step further, in contributing to a graduate-level research paper and serving as a research assistant to a doctoral candidate or a postdoctoral fellow. Professors or laboratory Principal Investigators may have several or even dozens of undergraduate and graduate Research Assistants, and these positions are generally available only to students at the host university, but doctoral candidates and post-docs are rarely given budgets to hire student assistants, even if they have published many papers and are completing a groundbreaking dissertation. Our Research Assistantship is designed to offer a curated research assistantship experience to high school students who have already written their own research manuscript and who want to apply the skills that they’ve picked up to contribute to a larger long-term study or ambitious paper being completed at the PhD level, and who wish to be acknowledged for their assistance in doing so. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to the creation of impactful scholarship by doing work that is often entrusted to university students: fact-checking and sourcing claims, completing important replications and double-checks, and compiling and analyzing data.


    Internships offer students a window into a possible career path and afford them experience in a professional setting. Getting this experience in high school allows students important perspectives on future career choices and makes their applications for internships in as university students more competitive. At Horizon, we’re proud to offer internship placements through our established partner network of employers, allowing students to apply what they’ve learned and the interests they’ve cultivated in their research work in a job. Our internship program is structured to naturally segue between research and the internship placement, allowing students to seamlessly transition between the completion of their manuscript and their placement and interview in an internship role. In order to facilitate this transition, our internship program is distinct from our other Extended Programs in that we require students to commit to both research and the internship upon application and enrollment into the program. Our internship placement partners include: Virtual and Augmented Reality technology companies, Fortune 1000 companies, leading veterinary hospitals, elite fashion and beauty brands, start-ups and incubators, prominent architectural firms, well-known television stations, publishing houses, advertising and PR agencies, and investment banking firms.

  • FAQ

    Which programs are a good fit for my particular subject interests?

    All of the Extension Programs are compatible with the 17 subjects offered in Horizon Academic. For instance, an economics research paper could be conductive to podcast interviews with the experts you’ve read, a job in an investment bank or NGO, an assistantship under a doctoral researcher, or a plan to adapt your paper for publication.

    What is the value of doing a gap year or extended research project?

    The Horizon Academic Research Program recognizes that students cultivate interests in academic research at different points in their academic journeys. The “gap year” or “gap semester” can be a pivotal time in a young adult’s journey, where they discover academic interests and contextualize these interests in terms of an undergraduate major and a career.

    What are the requirements for admission? Is admission competitive?

    Admission for all of our Extended Programs is competitive, just as our Core Program is. Podcasting has the same admission requirements as our Core Program. Internships require prior commitment to the Core Program and the internship, and interns must be 18+ years old by the time their internship begins. Publishing and Research Assistantships require that students have at least grade 11 status, a 3.8 GPA, and advanced coursework in their desired Extension Focus.

    If I’ve done research in one subject and I want to do an extension in a different subject, is this possible?

    It depends. This is possible for internships. This is not possible for research assistantships unless the subject matter is very directly related (for instance, some psychology projects might overlap heavily with some neuroscience projects). This may be possible for podcasting, depending on the nature of the interest in podcasting and how much background we feel is necessary for your podcast concept. This is almost never possible with publishing.

    I’m confused. I thought Horizon Academic was a research program?

    We are! This page is dedicated to Extension Programs which were created with gap year students and highly motivated alumni of our core research program. Our core research program can be found here.
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