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Academic Internship Program

IMPORTANT NOTE: The current NIH policy regarding academic and summer intern is as follows:

  • Student IRTA/CRTAs and Special Volunteers who are in high school or college may be appointed during the academic year ONLY if they are able to complete all of their work remotely. Remote activities that may be appropriate for student IRTA/CRTAs or Special Volunteers include assisting in literature reviews, online research, data analysis that can be completed remotely, and coding. 
  • Student IRTA/CRTAs and Special volunteers who are in graduate or professional school may be considered for on-campus work during the school year if there is a clear safety plan in place and if approved by the OITE.

The NIH Academic Internship Program has been developed to provide individuals who are enrolled and in good academic standing in high school, college (including community college), or a master’s degree program an opportunity to participate in biomedical research training during the academic year in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. (At the NIH "biomedical research" includes everything from behavioral and social sciences, through biology and chemistry, to physics, biomedical engineering, mathematical modeling, computational biology, and bioinformatics.). The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1150 laboratories/research groups located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD, and the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Detroit, MI.  NOTE: the number of positions in Hamilton, Framingham, Phoenix, and Detroit is limited.

To increase your chances of being offered a position, please do three things:

  1. Read the Academic Internship Program FAQs carefully.
  2. Read the OITE guide “Writing a Successful Application for an NIH Program”.
  3. To search for a position, contact NIH investigators with whom you would like to work and explain why you would be a good addition to their groups. You can identify NIH investigators with projects that interest you by searching the NIH Intramural Annual Reports. Use the text search feature to find project descriptions that contain the key words you enter. You can also visit the NIH Intramural Research Program website for a list of investigators organized by scientific focus area.  You can then find contact information for the investigators in the NIH Enterprise Directory. A YouTube video entitled "Finding an NIH Mentor", which is located on the OITE YouTube page, demonstrates how to use the NIH investigator databases. NOTE: You can also apply directly to internship programs based in the NIH Institutes/Centers.

Eligibility:

The Academic Internship Program is for students who

  • are U.S. citizens or permanent residents,
  •  will be enrolled and in good academic standing during the internship period in high school, college (including community college) or a master’s degree program, AND
  • will be at least 17 years of age on the date they begin the internship.

In addition, Academic Interns who will be in high school during the internship must

  • be juniors or seniors during the internship year,
  • begin at the start of an academic semester (August/September or January),
  • if they are new to the NIH, attend a mandatory orientation at the beginning of their first semester, AND
  • attend school within 40 miles of the NIH campus at which they will intern.

IMPORTANT NOTES: (1) Academic interns  must remain enrolled at their institutions during their time at the NIH. (2) Individuals who are permanent residents must be attending an institution in the U.S.

Students with disabilities; students from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the NSF to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders); students who identify as LGBTQ; students who are Pell-grant eligible; and others disadvantaged by circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities, including recent natural disasters, are encouraged to apply.

Background Check:

In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a Federal background check, using Standard Form-85 (read SF-85). NOTE: Section 14 of the form asks “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?” The question pertains to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.   

Stipend Information:

The stipends for trainees are adjusted yearly; the level depends on education completed prior to starting at the NIH. Academic and Summer Interns are appointed using the Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) appointment mechanism. For details, see the Student IRTA Stipends page. The Institute/Center (IC) in which you work or your research group pays your stipend. Stipends are paid at the beginning of the month following the month in which the work was completed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Academic interns will normally receive a stipend or course credit for their internship; they may, however, receive both, at the discretion of their school/program.

Program Overview:

Academic Intern appointments will normally begin in the fall or spring (note the more precise start date requirements for high school students) and may continue through all or part of May. Individuals who wish to come to the NIH beginning in the summer or to extend their time at the NIH through the summer following their Academic Internship, must submit applications through the High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP) or the Summer Internship Program (SIP). They must meet all the eligibility criteria and other requirements for the summer program.

Application Procedure:

Eventually, all students who wish to come to the NIH during the academic year will apply directly to the Academic Internship Program. Those who are enrolled in master’s degree programs will, in addition, follow the procedures outlined below.

Until the online Academic Internship Program application is available, Academic Internship Coordinators in the NIH Institutes and Centers will direct all Academic Interns appointed in their ICs to complete a registration survey so that the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) is aware of their presence at the NIH and can provide them with support. If your AIP Coordinator does not ask you to complete the survey, please remind her/him.

Additional Guidance for Master’s Degree Students:

After applying to the AIP and finding a research home at the NIH, individuals who are in master's degree programs will (1) register with the OITE and (2) complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between their home institution and the research group in which they will be interning at the NIH.

Selection: Individual NIH scientists select their own Academic Interns and provide their funding, if appropriate; there is no centralized selection process, and the OITE plays no role.

For additional suggestions on how to increase your chances of being offered a position, please read the Academic Internship Program FAQs. You will also find a YouTube video entitled "Finding an NIH Mentor" that demonstrates how to use NIH investigator databases, on the OITE YouTube page.

Candidates will be informed of their selection by the hiring Institute or Center. Successful candidates will be required to submit the following documentation to their Institute or Center prior to beginning their training:

  • Official high school or college transcripts
  • Proof of US citizenship or permanent resident status. US citizens may submit a copy of their birth certificate or passport. Permanent residents will need to provide a copy of their permanent resident (green) card.
  • A letter from their institution confirming that they are enrolled and in good standing.