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Important Information for Parents of Applicants to the NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP)

My child is in school all day long (or very busy). Is it appropriate for me to call or email the OITE for information?
The staff of the Office of Intramural Training & Education requests that you NOT contact us on behalf of your child. Seeking and arranging the internship is an important part of the process; let your child take responsibility.

How can I help my child increase the likelihood of finding a research training position at the NIH?
The best thing you can do is to encourage your child to read all the information that is posted the OITE website ( In particular, the description of our Summer Internship Program includes a video that discusses how to apply External Link and a comprehensive collection of FAQs.

How can I help my child with the application process?
Keep the following principles in mind, and encourage your child to follow them. The application should represent your child's own best work and be as organized, thoughtful, and grammatically perfect as possible. The cover letter should describe research interests, prior research experience, career goals, and reasons for applying for training at the NIH.

What's the most important thing my child can do when seeking a SIP research training position at the NIH?
Your child should do TWO important things. (1) After submitting the application, your child should email NIH investigators whose work is of interest and explain that interest in a thoughtful way. The emails should be individually tailored to each investigator. (2) Your child should apply early. Analysis of the application data for 2017 showed that applicants who submitted their materials during the first two weeks after the application opened had a success rate for finding positions almost 3 times greater than applicants who submitted during the two weeks just before the application deadline.

My child does not have any specific research interests at this time.  What should I do?
Many of us think that lots of areas of science are interesting. If your child has no specific research interest, suggest listing multiple areas of interest in the application cover letter.  The application can then focus on qualities, like motivation, persistence, creativity, and problem-solving skills that will contribute to the child's ability to do good research.

My child is extremely focused on a tiny area of biomedical research.  Might this be a problem?
If your child has an extremely narrow interest, suggest the submission of a description of that interest, followed by an expression of a willingness to work in other broad areas as well.  This will help your child avoid the pitfall of appealing to only a handful of NIH investigators.

How else can I help my child?
Please encourage your child to explore multiple research training opportunities. The NIH has far more excellent applicants for each of its programs than it has spots. Only one in seven SIP applicants is generally able to participate in the program. Similar research training experiences are often available through NIH- and NSF-supported programs at colleges and universities or through college/university programs in your area. You can find a list of summer programs outside the NIH on our website at

I work at the NIH and have access to the online database where applications to NIH training programs are stored. Is there any problem with my looking up my child's application to make certain that all the fields have been completed?
Accessing the application of a relative, friend, or child of a friend for any reason is considered unauthorized access and is a violation of the terms of use agreement you accept each time you log in to the system. It is viewed as a serious offense.