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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, https://www.training.nih.gov/programs/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), https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/PREP: 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

PDF Spreadsheet listing postbac programs hosted at universities (or EXCEL version of the spreadsheet) and summarizing information on

  • 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.