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CCSEP and C-SOAR FAQs

General information
Eligibility
The application process
After I apply

General Information

What is the purpose of CCSEP?
The Community College Summer Enrichment Program is designed to provide community college students an opportunity to spend a summer working side-by-side with some of the most talented scientists in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The short-term goal of the program is to increase the number of community college students who participate in the NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP). The long-term goal is to increase the number of community college students who transfer to four-year colleges and universities and consider careers in the biomedical sciences.

What is the purpose of C-SOAR?
The College Summer Opportunities to Advance Research Program is designed to provide college students an opportunity to spend a summer working side-by-side with some of the most talented scientists in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The goal of the program is to encourage a diverse group of individuals to consider careers in the biomedical sciences.

Where are these training opportunities located?
These traineeships are available only in the intramural laboratories of the NIH. Most of the laboratories are located on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

Is this a paid internship?
Yes, students who are selected receive a monthly stipend that is based on education level and experience. Stipends are provided by the laboratory or Institute that offers an applicant a position. If a lab does not have the funds to cover the stipend, they may invite you to join the lab as an unpaid volunteer.

Is summer housing provided by the NIH?
The NIH is unable to provide housing for summer interns. We can, however, offer some suggestions that may help you in finding a place to live:

  • The Moving Guide prepared by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education provides housing suggestions along with information on virtually everything you will need to know about moving to Bethesda, Baltimore, or Frederick, MD.
  • Club-PCR Yahoo groupExternal Link is for young scientists in the Bethesda area; to join send an email to clubpcr-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. You can use this listserv to find housing, sell items, arrange carpooling, or gather information. This Listserv is not associated with the NIH, and you should use an email address other than your NIH email address to subscribe. Please state your name and reason for joining the group when you request membership. Join Club-PCRExternal Link

It might help you to know as well that the NIH is on the Red Line of the D.C. Metro External Link at the Medical Center stop External Link. Getting around via Metro is generally a good choice.

Please note that the NIH is also unable to provide after-hours supervision for summer interns.

What are the start and end dates for the programs?
The programs will start June 4, 2018 and end August 10, 2018.  The time commitment is 10 weeks, 40 hours a week.

Am I allowed to take classes during the summer?
All participants are required and expected to work in the lab at least 40 hours a week.  Generally the hours are 8 am to 5 pm.  Because of the time commitment, we recommend that interns not take courses during the summer.

Eligibility

Can I apply if I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States?
No. Only citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible to apply to this program.  NOTE: residents of US territories/commonwealths are also eligible to apply.  This includes citizens of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Are there any eligibility criteria in addition to citizenship?
Yes, you must be sixteen years of age or older by June 15, 2018. If you are a U.S. citizen you must either be enrolled at least half-time in a community college.  If you are a permanent resident, in addition, your institution must be in the U.S.

Are CCSEP and C-SOAR limited to specific majors?
No. However, most summer positions are in research laboratories or research groups with a biomedical focus. You should have successfully completed courses in science/health related courses (Biology, Chemistry, Math)  Research at the NIH runs the gamut from behavioral and social science through computational biology and biophysics.

Is there a minimum GPA to participate in the programs?
Yes, the minimum GPA is 3.0.

Are students who are U.S. citizens attending foreign institutions eligible to apply?
If you are a U.S. citizen attending a foreign institution, you are eligible to apply.  If you are a permanent resident, you must be attending an accredited institution in the U.S.

Is research experience required for this internship?
No. Participants are not required to have research experience.  The goal of this program is to expose students with no experience to biomedical research.

If I have research experience, am I ineligible for these programs?
If you have a significant amount of research experience, you are encouraged to apply to the NIH SIP.  Examples of significant experience would include a previous research internship at a 4-year college/university or research-based government agency.

If you have completed small projects in association with a biotechnology program or a classroom laboratory course, these experiences are not considered to constitute significant experience.

I have an undergraduate degree but am currently enrolled in a second degree-granting program, am I still eligible?
The programs are open to accepting students who are career changers or who hold a non-science undergraduate degree.

The applications of individuals with science-related undergraduate degrees who are enrolled in a second degree-granting program, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Application Process

Is there a deadline for submission of applications?
Yes, the application deadline for C-SOAR is January 5.  Note:  Partial applications that are not completed by the January 5 deadline will not receive further consideration.  Reference letters must be received by January 12. The application deadline for CCSEP is January 12, and reference letters must be received by January 19. CCSEP applications that are not completed by January 12 will not receive further consideration. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their letters are received by the appropriate deadline.

When should I apply?
We recommend that you apply as soon as possible after the application site becomes available.  The application is now available.

Can I update my application from last year?
No. You will need to reapply and request new letters from your references.

Can you provide any advice on how to write a good application?
You should view the video on Applying Successfully to CCSEP.  The video applies to both programs, and links to it can be found on both home pages.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?
You should select references who are able to explain why you would be a good addition to a research group. Anyone who could comment on your skills in the laboratory, creativity, problem solving abilities, motivation, ability to handle complex scientific literature and concepts, etc. would be a good choice. Recommendations from individuals with a science research background are likely to carry more weight than recommendations from those with less understanding of biomedical research. Recommendations from family members are never appropriate. Also, note that letters from "services" and letters assembled for medical/dental school applicants by the pre-professional offices of their colleges and universities will not be accepted. You may wish to provide your references some information on the program, your resume or c.v., and a description of what you hope to accomplish during the program, so that they can write a highly relevant letter.

Is there a deadline for receipt of my reference letters?
 Letters for C-SOAR must be received by January 12; letters for CCSEP must be received by January 19.

What should I do if my references have not received a request for a letter of recommendation on my behalf?
The system-generated email request for a letter of recommendation may have failed to reach your reference for any one of several reasons:

  • You may have provided an incorrect email address.
  • The message may have been blocked from reaching your reference by a Spam filter.
  • Our email server or your reference's may have malfunctioned at the time the message was being sent.
  • The message may have been undeliverable due to other circumstances beyond our control (e.g., your reference's mailbox being full).

If your reference did not receive the original message, you should:

  • Log on to the SIP Application Center and then click the "Update/Complete My Application" link in the Application Manager. Check the email address that you provided for your reference and correct it if necessary, then resend the request for a letter. You will be able to resend letter requests until January 12 (for C-SOAR) or January 19 (for CCSEP), the respective deadlines for receipt of letters of recommendation.
  • Ask your reference to check the folder to which the Spam filter diverts suspicious messages. This folder might be called "Junk mail," "Bulk mail," or "Spam."

If your reference still cannot find the message and you suspect there is a technical problem on our end, please contact us, and we will investigate.

Who ensures that letters of reference are received?
You are responsible for making certain that we receive your letters of reference. You should check to make sure your references have received our email requesting a letter. After two weeks you should login to our system and check your application to make certain that the letters have arrived. If not, you can either resend the request or contact your reference directly to encourage letter submission.

Can I submit more than the required two letters of reference?
No, the online application system will only accept two reference letters.

Can I change my reference(s) after I have submitted my application?
You can change a reference IF the original reference has not yet submitted a letter on your behalf.  After a letter has been submitted, you cannot make such a change.  If you replace an existing reference, please notify that individual that you will no longer require a letter.

If I change a reference, will my original reference be notified?
It is your responsibility to let your original reference know that a letter will no longer be required.

To whom should I address my cover letter?
Since your cover letter will be reviewed by a committee,  you may wish to use the salutation "Dear NIH investigator:".

Should I list all the courses and grades that I have completed or only my science courses?
Please list all of your completed courses with grades, as well as the courses that you plan to complete by the end of the academic year.  Be certain to include an informative course title rather than just providing the course number.

Should I apply to a specific Institute or Center?
CCSEP and C-SOAR applicants should NOT specify an Institute or Center.

If I do not have access to the Internet, how can I apply?
Visit your local library to access the Web.

How will I know if my application is complete?
You may, if you choose, submit a partial application initially and complete the application at a later time. Note, however, that NIH investigators have access to complete applications only. If you submit a partial application, you will receive an email message containing instructions for completing the application. Once you have done so, you will receive an email confirming that your application is complete. This message will contain instructions for checking to see whether your letters of reference have been received. 

After I Apply

After I apply, can I make changes to my application?
Yes, until the deadline for receipt of your reference letters, you can use the login credentials sent to you at the time of application to make any changes/updates to the parts of the application that you submitted. This includes, but is not limited to, updates to your coursework and grades section, your cover letter, or your resume.  NOTE: you can only modify an application that was complete by the application deadline (January 5 for C-SOAR or January 12 for CCSEP).

How are applications reviewed?
Applications will be reviewed by a review committee.

What are the criteria used during the application review?
The applications are scored in 3 areas: academic success, reference letters, and cover letter

How will I be notified if I am selected?
The Director of CCSEP and C-SOAR will send out notifications in early February.

If I am not selected for these programs, am I still eligible for the NIH SIP?
Yes, if you are not selected for CCSEP or C-SOAR, we will release your application to the broader SIP application pool.  You will be able to edit your CCSEP or C-SOAR application (up until March 15th) so that it reflects your interest in SIP.  You should review the NIH SIP FAQs and visit the SIP webpage for additional, important application tips.