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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.  However, there some opportunities to be placed in Baltimore, MD; Frederick, MD; and NIEHS (Raleigh, NC). In summer 2021, CCSEP and C-SOAR will most probably be virtual/remote.

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 offer some information that may help you in finding a place to live. However, any information we provide is just that; it does not constitute advice, nor are we endorsing or approving any companies or services.

  • 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.
  • Rocky Mountain Laboratories has created A Guide to Help You Move to Hamilton, MT.
  • Club-PCR Google 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. 

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 7, 2021 and end August 6, 2021.  The time commitment is 9 weeks, 40 hours a week.

Am I required to participate the entire 9 weeks?  Yes

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 seventeen years of age or older by June 15, 2021. 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

How do I apply? Is there a deadline for submission of applications?
We will not be accepting applications for the 2021 CCSEP/C-SOAR.  We fully expect to accept applications next cycle for participation in the CCSEP and C-SOAR programs in Summer of 2022.

Applicants who were selected for HiSTEP2.0, CCSEP, or C-SOAR in summer 2020 (but were not able to join us in summer 2020 due to SIP cancellation) must complete the standard 2021 SIP application and indicate in the cover letter that they are applying for CCSEP or C-SOAR depending on their current educational level. (Individuals who were accepted into CCSEP for 2020, but have since transferred to a four-year institution should apply to C-SOAR. Individuals who were accepted into HiSTEP 2.0 should apply for the CCSEP or C-SOAR program depending on whether they are enrolled in community college or a four-year institution.)   The online application is due December 15, 2020 at 11:59 pm. In your cover letter, please note that you were selected for summer 2020.

When should I apply?
You must apply by December 15, 2020, to participate in CCSEP or C-SOAR. If you miss this deadline you will have to compete for a general SIP internship.

Can I update my application from last year?
No. You will need to reapply.

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.

Do I need to request reference letters again this year or will you use the letters submitted on my behalf for summer 2020?
You will not need to submit new reference letters.

To whom should I address my cover letter?
Since your application will be reviewed by a committee,  you may wish to use the salutation "Dear CCSEP (or C-SOAR) Selection Committee:".

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.

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 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.