Pioneer | Respected & accredited online research program for high school students

Ananya Lukhi I
High School: Welham Girls’ School, India
Pioneer Research Paper: Social Energy Leads to Better Health

“Pioneer has been a life changing experience for me, it has given so much more context and meaning to my life. Pioneer has taught me the true sense of research, understanding the context of every word in which is being spoken or read. ”




Pioneer Academics is respected for its rigorous academic standards which apply to both our faculty mentors and students. Succeeding at Pioneer requires a strong commitment and dedication to producing authentic research.

What is the Pioneer Research Program?

The Pioneer Research Program provides undergraduate-level research opportunities to talented, intellectually motivated high school students from around the world. It is the only online credit-bearing research program for high school students that offers STEM, social sciences and humanities disciplines.

In the Pioneer Research Program, selected students work one-on-one with leading U.S. university professors in advanced study and research of a topic of interest, culminating in a full-length research paper. The program is conducted entirely online, allowing high school students from all over the world to participate.

World map Pioneer alumni

5,657 students from 77 countries and regions have participated in the program since 2012.

2020 Pioneer alumni create a video to welcome 2021 scholars to the Pioneer community

23 Pioneer alumni, from 14 countries across six continents, came together on their own to create a film that shares the Pioneer spirit with incoming 2021 Pioneer scholars.

2020 Pioneer alumni Catherine Kwon, from the U.S., and Reymajan Jumaniyazova, from Turkmenistan, initiated the project. They wanted to capture the vibrant, global, passionate atmosphere of the Pioneer community and welcome the newest scholars to the program. 


Pioneer Academic Oversight

Pioneer collaborates with Oberlin’s Educational Plans and Policies Committee to conduct academic quality control. Pioneer upholds rigorous policies and procedures that include:

  • Screening of faculty mentors
  • Uniform faculty guidelines
  • Accurate description of professorship roles and responsibilities
  • Development and evaluation of pedagogical rubrics
  • Review of research product quality and evaluation criteria
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Pioneer's Rigorous Academic Operations in collaboration with Oberlin College

Graph illustrating how Pioneer and Oberlin co-conduct oversight


20201019 Pioneer terms for website correct

Pioneer 2021 Statistics

Terms of the program:
Spring-through-Summer term and Summer-Only term

2021: 4256 Students applied; 1178 Students enrolled

Countries and regions represented in 2021: 48

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, China, Columbia, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, China-Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, China-Taiwan, Tanzania, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe




High school year:


Pioneer research scholars attend high schools in countries around the world. Below is a list that highlights a few of them:

Pioneer Scholars' high schools

2021 Program Grades:
Pioneer Research Program grade distribution for 2021 (program grade and number of
students who received it):

Pioneer Standards & College Credits

The Pioneer Research Program is the world’s only fully-accredited online research program for high school students. It offers research opportunities in STEM, social sciences, and humanities disciplines with 30 research areas.

Students selected into Pioneer will receive two college credits if they pass the program. The ground breaking collaboration between Pioneer Academics and Oberlin College ensures that the quality of the research mentorship is held to the highest standards.

Oberlin Review

Pioneer’s credibility allows its scholars to demonstrate their genuine passion and true intellectual skill through Pioneer’s rigorous academic system.


Completion of the Pioneer Research Program is listed on college applications as a college course, not an activity or camp, because of its rigorous academic system.

Pioneer Scholars can contact their school counselors or Pioneer’s administrative team to learn more about documenting participation in Pioneer for college and university applications.

Pioneer’s college credits granted by Oberlin College are readily transferable to other colleges. Pioneer alumni need to ask Oberlin College to send the Pioneer transcript to the destination institution. The registrar’s office of the receiving institution will decide if the credits will be accepted.

Mary Heltage

Pioneer’s credibility is highly respected by top universities and colleges because of its unique academic system, exemplary standards, and proven integrity.

Learn more

Academic resources

The Writing Center
Female Pioneer scholar at laptop

Pioneer’s research skills training courses support students’ research progress

Pioneer’s academic department actively supports students’ progress through a variety of educational resources. We are continually developing and improving our academic research foundational curriculum and functions, including providing access to research methodology courses, a writing center, and training on research tools.

Pioneer undergraduate library resources

Pioneer grants scholars extensive access to undergraduate digital libraries, including academic journals, academic databases, digital music and art libraries, and over 100,000 e-books.

Research Faculty

Pioneer qualifies its mentoring faculty based on academics and passion for teaching.

Institutions at which Pioneer faculty are employed:

Amherst College

Brown University

Bowdoin College

California Institute of Technology

Carleton College

Carnegie Mellon University

Claremont McKenna College

Columbia University

Davidson College

Emory University

Georgetown University

Hamilton College

Harvard University

Johns Hopkins University

New York University

Northwestern University

University of Pennsylvania

Pomona College

Princeton University

Rice University

Vassar College

Washington and Lee University

Wellesley College

Wesleyan University

The United States Military Academy at West Point

Professor 2
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mark jones

The material I deliver to these high school students is exactly the same as in my college classes. For example, we use Arend Lijphart’s Patterns of Democracy, the same text I use in my comparable upper-division Rice seminar. I take a subset of the modules from my Rice course for juniors and seniors and use it with my high schoolers.

Professor of Political ScienceRice University
Shannon Heh video

Pioneer Research Journal

The Pioneer Research Journal, an annual publication, selects the best papers nominated by faculty research mentors each year.

Papers are selected by a blind review conducted by our Pioneer Research Journal reading committee. This committee is composed of over 40 senior college faculty representing over 30 research areas.

Blind review means that the faculty who review nominated papers do not know who the student author or mentoring professors are. In the last issue, the top 2.7% of the papers were selected for publication in the Pioneer Research Journal.

Journal Selection Rates
Journal Selection Rates

Pioneer never promises academic journal publication to students. This is important to note as predatory open access publishing has become a toxic issue that threatens the integrity of valid academic scholarship.

Pioneer’s academics staff may give students an orientation on how to search for peer-reviewed reputable journals, such as those listed in the Scientific Journal Rankings (SJR) for publishing possibilities. If a professor-mentor believes a student’s research is of publishable quality, the professor may choose to invite the student to collaborate on co-authorship. In such cases, Pioneer supervises this process and does not allow a student to be listed as a co-author without material contribution.

Schools Are Proud of Their Students Taking on the Pioneer Challenge

High School Four Pioneer Scholars
Screencap of Pine Crest School article
Pine Crest student announcement screenshot
cis university
cis university
York School Pioneer listing screenshot
Duke TIP Pioneer listing Screeenshot
Davidson Institute Pioneer Listing screenshot

Highlights and Tuition

Click to learn about Pioneer’s unique program and tuition details.

Past Programs and Events

You are welcome to glance at Pioneer’s past programs and events. There will be more exciting opportunities offered by Pioneer in the future. If you are looking for current and upcoming events, they can be found on our Updates Page.

Because of the novel coronavirus, we are facing a time of unprecedented challenge. Life in so many ways has come to a near halt. Students nearing college, however, can’t stop working towards their academic goals, and educators must guide them in spite of the hardships and difficulties the virus has imposed.

Pioneer therefore put together a new program — the Pioneer Open Summer Study (POSS) — for every student who is interested and committed. Pioneer’s academic panel launched four exciting study themes that Pioneer faculty hosted through recorded workshops, and which students were able to take on as independent summer projects.

The final deadline to apply to the Pioneer Research Program Summer-Only term is April 9, at 11:59PM U.S. Eastern Time.
Click here to register for an info session. Click here to apply.

Highlights and Tuition

  • Pioneer Privilege
    Pioneer Prestige
    • Research papers validated by Pioneer Academics & accredited by Oberlin College
    • Competitiveness evidenced by Pioneer’s selectivity
  • Accredited College Credits
    Accredited & College Credits
    • Pioneer is a fully accredited research institute.
      • Students with passing grades earn two college credits,
      • ensuring the rigor of their work is recognized.
    • NO extra classes. NO extra fees. NO question.
  • Institutional Resources
    Institutional Resources
    • Undergraduate digital libraries: journals, databases and 100k+ ebooks.
    • Institutional review board (IRB) for human subject research.
    • Institutional oversight and review of academic quality by Oberlin’s multidisciplinary committee
    • Official college transcripts
Tuition Need Based Scholarships
Tuition & need-based scholarships
  • Pioneer’s tuition is 6,650 US dollars.
    • In certain cases a laboratory equipment/materials fee not exceeding 2% of tuition may be required
  • As part of its social mission, Pioneer Academics dedicates funds every year to provide need-based scholarships to enable student participation in the Pioneer Research Program.
    These funds are limited and restricted to cases in which the financial need of students’ families can be reliably verified. Students are eligible for these scholarships in countries where need can be assessed or if they are affiliated with a non-profit organization or educational institution that assesses need.

Note: With recent increases in resources and services provided to our scholars as well as two-years of inflation, we will be adjusting the tuition by $200 to $6,650 starting in the Summer-Only term of 2023. Pioneer is committed to providing outstanding educational experiences while keeping costs as low as possible for our scholars and their families. Our commitment to provide need-based scholarships for eligible students who are admitted to the program remains the same. If you have questions about the eligibility criteria, please reach out to [email protected].

  • Considering students have significantly fewer options for their summer enrichment, Pioneer adjusted the cohort size from maximum 5 to maximum 6 so that we can offer the opportunity to more students. Please be aware that Pioneer will only expand cohorts which we feel sure will not be compromised in any way by a slight increase in participation. Some areas, therefore, may stay at a maximum of 5 because the nature of the course requires heavier coaching.


  • Pioneer admissions still requires the same application materials, but we may adjust the timing in response to current realities. If you can work with your counselor to collect your official transcript and counselor evaluation and submit them soon after you submit your application, it will speed up the process. Pioneer admissions requires an official transcript and counselor evaluation to process applications for the final round. If these items won't be available during the process due to COVID-19, applicants must submit evidence that the school's counseling office is closed. Pioneer admissions will then decide what adjustment shall be granted.