Quest for Excellence: STEM

The Quest for Excellence STEM Award gives high-achieving, low-income high school juniors with career interests in the sciences, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics access to residential summer enrichment programs, grants for technology and supplies, funding for college visits, as well as opportunities to engage with industry leaders. These awards are intended to encourage and support students in pursuing and succeeding in a variety of STEM fields in college and beyond. This initiative is made possible through the generosity of several donors.

View the 2018 Quest for Excellence STEM Flyer

College Prep Scholars selected for the Quest for Excellence STEM Award will receive:

  • A new laptop (up to $700) OR
  • STEM supplies or software (up to $700) OR
  • Coverage in travel costs to QuestBridge college partners (up to $700) OR
  • A full scholarship to a residential or online summer program (full list below)

2018 Summer Programs:


  • High school juniors who are interested in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathemetics.
  • Qualified academically and financially as a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar.

How to Apply

  1. Start a College Prep Scholars Program application. 
  2. In the Awards page of the application, go to the Quest for Excellence Awards section and select the box under "STEM".
  3. Complete the Quest for Excellence STEM Award short essays.  
  4. If you are interested in being considered for the residential or virtual summer programs exclusive to this opportunity, select the programs you are interested in below the essays and review the requirements for each program.
  5. Complete and submit the College Prep Scholars Program application by the deadline (Wednesday, March 21, 2018).
  6. If applicable, review and complete the supplemental requirements of the residential and virtual summer programs by the deadline (Sunday, April 8, 2018).

If selected as a College Prep Scholar, recipients of the Quest for Excellence STEM Award will be notified via email. If you have additional questions about the Quest for Excellence STEM Award, please send inquiries to

Full Scholarships to Summer Programs offered to Quest for Excellence STEM Award Recipients

Biomedical and Surgical Research at Boston Leadership Institute

Longwood Medical, Boston, MA. June 25-July 13, 2018 OR July 16-August 3, 2018

The Boston Leadership Institute’s Biomedical and Surgical Research Program provides students with a tour through different fields of surgery and surgical illnesses.  In the laboratory, students first learn how to tie surgical knots as well as suture incisions on models of skin.  Students then apply these newly learned skills to mock surgeries which encompass various surgical subspecialties. As an example, students will learn to perform a mock cardiac bypass graft procedure on a real cow heart. The goal is to provide students with the feeling of what it is like to be a surgeon by working with real mammalian organs as well as fetal pig specimens.

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Carleton Computer Science Institute

Carleton College, Northfield, MN. July 15 - August 3, 2018

The Summer Computer Science Institute (SCSI) at Carleton focuses on understanding how to think about computer science processes, how to program computers to implement them, and how to apply computer science ideas to real problems of interest. During a 3 week program, SCSI students, faculty, and Carleton undergraduate research assistants will engage in lab-based and classroom-based computing research related to faculty and student interests. Each participant will self-select into a research group consisting of 12 students. The students will take courses and conduct collaborative guided research in small groups guided by SCSI faculty members and Carleton College undergraduate Research Assistants. Students will complete a collaborative guided project which will culminate in a demonstration at the SCSI Research Symposium held at the end of the program.

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The Island School

Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas

Marine Ecology and Sustainable Systems Summer Term, June 27 - July 27, 2018

The Island School Summer Term is a 30-day intensive program focused on questioning what it means to live well in a place. Through a rigorous course of study that includes field work in local ecosystems, explorations of local settlements and the socioeconomic impacts of development, and dynamic involvement in the systems and resources upon which we rely, Summer Term students grapple with how communities –whether on an island in The Bahamas or in a town in the states – can live most sustainably.

Marine Ecology Research Expeditionary Program, June 30 - July 30, 2018

The Island School Expeditionary Summer Term is a 30-day program that centers around a nineteen-day sail from the island of Eleuthera to The Exuma Sound. While on the expedition, students will participate in hands-on research critical to policy and conservation efforts in The Bahamas. While onboard, students will also develop sailing and navigation skills. At the end of the journey, students will present their research projects to the scientific community of The Island School and the Cape Eleuthera Institute.

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Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO. June 24 - July 29, 2018

An intensive 5-week-long summer program for mathematically talented high school students, designed to expose these students to the beauty of advanced mathematical ideas and to new ways of thinking. Mathcamp is a vibrant community, made up of a wide variety of people who share a common love of learning and passion for mathematics, where students can explore undergraduate and even graduate-level topics while building problem-solving skills that will help them in any field they choose to study.

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Pioneer Academics Research Program

Online (students can be in any location with internet access), 12 weeks from early June – early September

The Pioneer Research Program offers college-level research opportunities to exceptional, motivated high school students globally. Selected students work one-on-one with leading professors in cutting-edge study of their interests, culminating in original research and authoritative evaluations from their professors. The Program is conducted entirely online, allowing high school students from all over the world to participate. Students from 22 countries researching more than 20 academic areas have participated in the Program in the past five years.

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The Summer Science Program

In Astrophysics:

  • New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM. June 17 - July 25, 2018
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, CO. June ​24 - ​August 1, 2018

In Biochemistry:

  • Purdue University, ​West Lafayette, IN. June 17 - July 25, 2018

SSP is an immersion into experimental science, designed to challenge and inspire talented rising seniors from around the world. Working in teams of three, participants complete a research project from beginning to end: either in Astrophysics – near-earth asteroid imaging and orbit determination – or Biochemistry – fungal enzyme inhibition and drug discovery. Each team acquires its own data and performs its own analysis. Field trips and guest speakers round out an intense 39-day schedule.

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University of Pennsylvania Management and Technology Summer Institute

Philadelphia, PA. July 8 - July 28, 2018

Through this intensive three-week program, students learn how to bring together technological concepts and management principles. Students will learn from leading Wharton faculty, develop plans for high-tech product ideas, and take field trips to companies such as: Morgan Stanley, Radiate Media, and Harlem Biospace.

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