High School Youth Researcher Summer Program (HYRS)

HYRS - Expanding Young Minds

The Alberta Innovates High School Youth Researcher Summer Program (HYRS) offers paid, six week summer research experiences for Grade 11 students in health and medical sciences, including priority areas in digital or data driven health research, commercialization, and health system transformation.

The objectives of the HYRS program are to:

  1. Increase awareness and interest in research & innovation (R&I) careers - particularly at the intersection of health and emerging technologies
  2. Create opportunities for emerging talent to acquire experience and connections in Alberta’s health R&I ecosystem. 
  3. Increase the competitiveness of Alberta as a destination for R&I talent. 
  4. Leverage partner relationships to advance Digital Health Innovation in Alberta. 

In addition to gaining first-hand research experience, HYRS students also participate in a range of skill development and career exploration activities. This program is ideal for students who have an interest in science and health, and are looking to explore careers in health research and innovation.

Alberta Innovates Priority Areas for 2024

Alberta Innovates routinely adjusts the HYRS program guidelines to increase emphasis on capacity development in areas of strategic relevance to the province. As a condition of our funding from Alberta Innovates, 50% of HYRS placements will align with one or more of these priority areas: Digital or Data Driven Health Research, Commercialization, and Health System Transformation. Please see the definitions below.

Digital or Data Driven Health Research

Projects that recruit, train, or deploy talent to advance digital or data-enabled methods, tools, or technologies in health research. Areas of interest include: computer modeling or simulation for drug discovery or technology development; overcoming data access, collection, or data infrastructure challenges; approaches to preparing health data for machine learning applications; overcoming participant/patient recruitment, engagement, or retention challenges; predicting therapeutic outcomes or adverse effects; overcoming challenges with acceptance of digital health solutions; novel approaches to decentralized clinical trials design.


Projects that recruit, train, or deploy talent to develop and commercialize an emerging health technology, preferably digital or data-enabled, with the potential to generate commercial economic returns (jobs, revenue, investment) for Alberta and cost-effective, beneficial health outcomes.

Health System Transformation

Projects that recruit, train, or deploy talent to enable the advancement of data and digitally enabled care models, including facilitating adoption, implementation, and/or scale across the continuum of care in Alberta. Key areas of interests include but are not limited to implementation studies in health care settings; policy development; approaches to citizen-centric care.

HYRS 2024 Program Information

The HYRS 2024 program is scheduled for July 3 - August 14, 2024 in-person.

Students accepted to the HYRS program will be paid for 30-35 hours/week for 6 weeks (approx. $15/hour). Additional costs, including health benefits, travel and living accommodations, are the responsibility of the student.

A limited number of partially-subsidized residence spaces will be available for students who reside outside of the greater Edmonton area.

Application Information for Students


The application deadline for the Summer 2024 HYRS program is March 15, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. The student application and both references must be submitted by this deadline in order for your application to be considered. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Who can apply

To be eligible to apply for the HYRS program at the University of Alberta, students must:

  • Be currently enrolled in Grade 11, and must have completed, or be currently enrolled in ( at minimum) Mathematics 20-1 or 20-2, Biology 20, and one other Grade 11 science course.
  • Reside in or north of Red Deer. Applicants residing south of Red Deer should apply to the HYRS program at the University of Calgary or University of Lethbridge , as appropriate. Out-of-province applicants are not eligible.
  • Be legally eligible to work in Canada.
  • Demonstrate an interest in health/medical sciences, and an open-mind toward exploring careers in health research and innovation. 

HYRS encourages applications from members of groups with historical and/or current barriers to equity, including, but not limited to, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and all other Indigenous peoples; members of groups that commonly experience discrimination due to race, ancestry, colour, religion and/or spiritual beliefs, or place of origin; persons with disabilities; persons who identify as women; and persons of marginalized sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. We recognize that many of these identities intersect and that therefore, equity, diversity and inclusion can be complex. We value the contributions that each person brings, and are committed to ensuring full and equitable participation for all in our community.

How to apply

Student applications for the 2024 HYRS program have now closed. Late submissions cannot be accommodated. Students still seeking summer 2024 opportunities are encouraged to explore other programs, such as those listed on our Opportunities for High School Students page.

Students who have submitted an application for the 2024 HYRS program will be notified (via email) of their status by late May. We are unable to provide status updates on applications while the selection process is underway.

Academic requirements

Students must normally have a combined average of 85% in Mathematics 20-1 or 20-2, Biology 20, and one other Grade 11 science course. Students who do not meet the 85% threshold may be considered for the HYRS program if there is a strong justification on the basis of equity or program accessibility (e.g. limitations on 20-level science course offerings, or other extenuating circumstances).

If you have completed 30-level math or science courses, we will calculate your average based on the highest 3 available grades for 20- or 30-level math, biology, and one other science course.

Grades are not considered beyond the 85% threshold - having a higher average will not increase your odds of acceptance into the HYRS program.

Personal Response

The HYRS student application asks for students to submit a personal essay in response to the following prompts. The essay can be written (max 3500 characters, including spaces, which is approximately 500 words), video (.mp4) or audio/podcast (.mp3) no longer than 3 minutes in length.

In your personal response, please address all THREE questions/prompts given below. We encourage students to address the prompts with specific examples drawn from lived experiences and/or your educational experiences. Outside research/sources (e.g. a bibliography) is NOT required.

  • What piques your curiosity about science and human health? To what extent, and in what ways, have you explored these interests?
  • What is your motivation for applying to the HYRS program, and why did you choose to pursue HYRS over any other potential activities/opportunities this summer?
  • Research aims to address questions or problems whose answers are unknown. How do you deal with adversity, feelings of uncertainty or being "stuck"?

Selection Criteria for the HYRS program

The HYRS program receives approximately 175 applications each year, and can normally place 25-30 students each summer, depending on funding and host availability. As the HYRS program receives many more applications than we can provide placements for each year, it is not possible to place every student, even if applicants are highly qualified.

HYRS applications are reviewed by a mixed committee of U of A researchers and high school science teachers based on the following criteria:

  • Interest in health/medical sciences
  • Motivation for applying to the HYRS program
  • Openness to new experiences and career exploration 
  • Personal attributes (e.g. maturity, desire to learn, creativity, professionalism, preparation to cope with the responsibility and challenge of the HYRS program, including the potential for failure/adversity in the research process) 

Beyond the 85% threshold for eligibility (see “academic requirements” above), grades are not considered in the adjudication process.

As a condition of our funding from Alberta Innovates, no more than 2 students from the same high school can be accepted to the HYRS program each year, regardless of the strength of their applications.

Students who are not accepted to the HYRS program are encouraged to explore other potential opportunities for high school students.


If you have any questions about the HYRS program or the application process, please contact us at hyrs@ualberta.ca.