High School Apprenticeship Challenge

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) High School Apprenticeship Challenge facilitates and funds paid internship opportunities for high school students throughout the Commonwealth. The program also offers an after-school laboratory training program for select school districts during the spring that aims to better prepare students for summer internships.

Since the program first launched in 2016, the MLSC has supported more than 220 internships at 63 life sciences companies and research institutions.

The path to economic opportunity in life sciences is not well defined for youth who find multiple barriers to entry. The life sciences ecosystem has grown significantly in Massachusetts, which is home to world-renowned academic and research institutions, 16 of the top 20 global biopharmaceutical companies, and the top 20 MedTech companies. We need a deliberate, coordinated, and outcomes-driven approach to ensure that our high school students are prepared for career success in this vibrant industry.

How the Program Works

The High School Apprenticeship Challenge is designed to create new internship opportunities by subsidizing intern stipends for small life sciences companies and academic researchers to enable them to hire paid interns.

  • Students submit an online application, which includes their resume and cover letter, through the MLSC’s secure website. There is no application deadline, but interns are generally selected between March and June since most internships will start in July.
  • Host organizations seeking interns first register online. Once approved, they are given access to a secure database to review applications, reach out directly to candidates, and select interns with the qualifications that are most suited to their needs. Interns are hired and paid by the employer. Companies can hire up to two interns but there is no limit on the number of interns that can be hired by research institutions.
  • The MLSC reimburses eligible host institutions for intern wages (including payroll taxes and fees) of up to $12 per hour, for a total reimbursement of up to $2,880 per intern (based on six weeks of full time work).

Eligibility Requirements


  • Must be Massachusetts high school students
  • Must be at least 16 years old and currently in their sophomore, junior, or senior year. Recent graduates (not enrolled in college) that received their high school diploma within the past two calendar years are also eligible.

Host Organizations:

  • Must be located in Massachusetts
  • Must provide a project-based learning experience and at least one mentor that directly oversees the internship
  • Must be companies, research intuitions, or incubators engaged in life sciences:
    • For-profit companies must have 100 or fewer employees in MA (up to 250 worldwide) to be eligible for the internship subsidy. Larger companies are also encouraged to participate, but cannot be reimbursed for intern stipends.
    • Research institutions, colleges and universities of any size are eligible for the subsidy.

Host Organizations Please Note:

• Interns are to be hired and paid directly by the host organization. Any intern shall be treated as a W-2 employee (not a contractor or subcontractor) for compensation purposes.
• It is preferred that interns are paid through a third party payroll service (e.g. ADP, Paychex, Intuit Payroll). If using an internal payroll system (e.g. QuickBooks) in which payroll is not processed by a third party, additional support in the form of signed weekly timesheets will be required.
• Companies cannot hire an intern who is the child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin of ANY employee of the company. Research institutions cannot hire an intern that is related to any employee affiliated with the lab or department at which the intern will be working.


“The High School Apprenticeship Challenge made it possible for us to place 18 students at high-quality, paid STEM internships at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Without MLSC, this simply would not have happened. MLSC made the partnership between my organization, UMass, and the students possible. With MLSC support, UMass increased their number of places over 500% in a year. This kind of support is what will move the needle on STEM education and preparation for high-quality STEM careers in the Commonwealth.”

Matt Rigney, Alternative Youth Programs Director, Collaborative for Educational Services

Create Your Profile and Apply

This program is not currently accepting applications. Applications for the 2020 round of the program will be available on January 6, 2020.

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