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Postbac Programs OUTSIDE the NIH

Should I consider a postbac year (or several) before applying to graduate (PhD, MS) or professional (medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy, nursing, etc.) programs

Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do I have sufficient experience (research and/or clinical) to know that the programs I intend to apply to are right for me?
  2. Will my experience convince the programs that I am a good candidate?
  3. Do I have academic issues, like a low GPA or lack of pre-requisite courses, that I should remedy before applying?

If you answer no to question 1 and/or question 2, you might consider completing a research postbac experience.

A yes answer to question 3 suggests that you would benefit from an academic postbac.

Postbac Options for College Graduates Considering Graduate or Professional School

Research Postbac Experiences

  • NIH Postbac IRTA, a full-time biomedical research experience in research groups at the NIH that prepares participants for graduate and/or professional school
  • PREP (Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program), university- and medical school-based programs for underrepresented minorities, funded by NIH and focusing on preparation for research-based doctoral degrees
  • University-funded research postbac programs
  • Research jobs

Academic Postbac Experiences

  • Formal academic postbac programs at universities and colleges: these may provide a Special Master’s Degree, e.g., in Biomedical Sciences, or not
  • Master’s degree programs, e.g., MPH


Additional Resources

The Association of American Medical Colleges has compiled a list of hundreds of pre-med postbac programs. Check out the list here.
Pathways to Science has compiled a list of over 1000 fully funded STEM programs for all education levels. Check out the list here.
ORISE manages hundreds of STEM programs in national laboratories and government agencies. Check out the list here.
Explore Health Careers has compiled a list of enrichment programs covering an extensive variety of health science fields. Check out the list here.
  • Program type (research vs academic)
  • Program format (in-person, virtual, or hybrid)
  • Degree/career goal (programs listed as "Clinical Science" prepare participants for medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary science, PA, PT, etc.)
  • Location
  • Eligibility (time since receipt of degree, citizenship)
  • Financial information
  • Focus on underrepresented groups

The NIH is neither endorsing nor recommending these programs.