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2021 College Summer Opportunities to Advance Research


COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to continued uncertainties about travel and operations across the US, final decisions about the NIH Summer Internship Program are delayed. While we are currently planning to open the application in mid-November, it is possible that all 2021 internships will be virtual/remote. Our priority is the safety of our staff, trainees, and communities. We encourage you to seek out opportunities at your local research universities and institutions. We will post updates regarding the NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) 2021 as soon as we have additional information. We would welcome your application, given this information. In the meantime, questions may be directed to  

We will not be accepting new applications for the 2021 College Summer Opportunities to Advance Research (CSOAR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Students selected to participate in the Summer 2020 CSOAR program that was cancelled due to the COIVD-19 pandemic (or who were accepted into HiSTEP 2.0 or CCSEP and are now eligible for C-SOAR) are welcome to participate in 2021 and should follow the directions below.  We fully expect to accept applications next cycle for participation in the C-SOAR  program in Summer of 2022. Questions regarding C-SOAR should be addressed to Dr. Erika Barr.

The goal of the program is to encourage a diverse group of individuals to consider careers in the biomedical sciences (At the NIH "biomedical sciences" includes everything from behavioral and social sciences, through biology and chemistry, to physics, mathematical modeling, computational biology, and biostatistics). In addition to performing full-time research in a laboratory or on a project at the NIH or possibly virtually, C-SOAR interns will meet each week as a group (In-person or virtually) with students in the Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP). Together they will participate in workshops and courses focused on the development of academic and professional skills in preparation for careers in health care and in social, behavioral, and biomedical research.

Students with disabilities; students who are Pell Grant-eligible; students who are enrolled in Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); students who identify as LGBTQ; and individuals disadvantaged by circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities, including recent natural disasters, are encouraged to apply to C-SOAR.

C-SOAR/CCSEP activities will most probably include:

  • Full-time research
  • Orientation
  • A leadership development program focused on self-exploration, building resiliency, understanding conflict, finding mentors, and understanding emotional intelligence.
  • Completion of an Individual Development Plan or IDP
  • The NIH Graduate & Professional School Fair
  • NIH Summer Poster Day

Attendance at these C-SOAR/CCSEP group activities will be required.

C-SOAR interns are a part of the larger NIH Summer Internship Program or SIP, so all opportunities and responsibilities that apply to other SIP interns also apply to them.


C-SOAR applicants must meet all eligibility requirements for the NIH Summer Internship Program. They must be:

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents;
  • Enrolled at least half-time in an accredited US college or university at the time of application submission;
  • At least seventeen years of age by June 15, 2021.

In addition, they must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and must have been accepted into C-SOAR for summer 2020 (or been accepted into HiSTEP 2.0 or CCSEP for summer 2020 and are now eligible for C-SOAR).

**Students enrolled high school accelerated programs are ineligible for C-SOAR.

To Apply

To apply, you must complete the standard 2021 SIP application and indicate in your cover letter that you are applying for C-SOAR.  The online application is due December 15, 2020 for students who were selected for the 2020 CCSEP cohort. In your cover letter, please note that you were selected for summer 2020 and the name of the program into which you were accepted.

NOTE: You will NOT need to submit reference letters; we will use the letters from your application for summer 2021.

How will the program work?


Individuals who were selected to participate in the 2020 C-SOAR Program and have submitted an application for summer 2021 will work closely with OITE staff throughout the mentor selection process. They will be matched with NIH principal investigators (PIs) who have indicated their interest in hosting a C-SOAR student. Every effort will be made to match the research interests the applicant describes in the application with the principal investigator's ongoing projects. C-SOAR applicants should not contact NIH intramural scientists to discuss placements on their own.

ALL interns in the C-SOAR program will be required to be available during the core program period: from June 7, 2021 to August 6, 2021. Summer internships are full-time positions; interns are expected to devote a minimum of 40 hours per week to their projects and training. In return, interns receive a stipend, determined by educational level. If the program is on-site rather than virtual, funds for local transportation to and from the NIH will be provided as well.

Table comparing C-SOAR and other summer programs at the NIH

Support for C-SOAR is generously provided by the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences.