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Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research (SIP)

The application for the NIH 2015 Summer Internship Program is now closed; the application for summer 2016 will be available in mid-November 2015.

Before you begin, take a look at the Applying Successfully Video

NOTE: We describe three SIP subprograms at the end of this page; be certain to take a look and see if any of them interest you

Program Description: Summer programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1200 laboratories/research projects 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.

Internships cover a minimum of eight weeks, with students generally arriving at the NIH in May or June. The NIH Institutes and the Office of Intramural Training & Education sponsor a wide range of summer activities including lectures featuring distinguished NIH investigators, career/professional development workshops, and Summer Poster Day.

To increase your chances of being offered a position, please do four things: (1) Watch the new Applying Successfully Video by clicking on the link to the right.  (2) Read the SIP FAQs carefully. (3) Read our suggestions for creating a successful application.  (4) After submitting your application, 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 Web site for a list of investigators organized by scientific focus area.  You can then find contact information for the investigators in the NIH Enterprise Directory.

Eligibility: The Summer Internship Program is for students who are at least sixteen years of age or older at the time they begin the program. To be eligible, candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. U.S. citizens are eligible to apply if they are enrolled at least half-time in high school or an accredited college or university as undergraduate, graduate, or professional students. Students who have been accepted into an accredited college or university program may also apply. Permanent residents must be enrolled in or have been accepted into an accredited institution in the U.S. to be eligible.

Stipend Information: The stipends for trainees are adjusted yearly; the level depends on education completed prior to starting at the NIH. For details, see the Trainee Stipends page.

Application Procedure: Prospective candidates must apply online. The application is available from mid-November to March 1. It requires submission of

  • a curriculum vitae or resume,
  • a list of coursework and grades (please note: we do not need a transcript at this time),
  • a cover letter describing the applicant's research interests and career goals, and
  • the names and contact information for two references.

Candidates may also specify the scientific methodologies or disease/organ systems that interest them.

Selection: The NIH Summer Internship Program is highly competitive.  In 2015, more than 7000 completed applications were submitted, and about 1100 interns were selected. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis from November through April by scientists in the Institutes and Centers of thse NIH.  Individual scientists select their own summer interns and provide their funding; there is no centralized selection process. Data for 2015 indicate that applicants who submit their materials in the first two weeks have a success rate 3 times greater than those who submit during the 2 weeks just before the deadline.  For additional suggestions on how to increase your chances of being offered a position, please read the SIP Frequently Asked Questions. You can find a YouTube video entitled Finding an NIH Mentor, which demonstrates how to use NIH investigator databases, on the OITE YouTube page.

Candidates will be informed of their selection by the hiring Institute, generally by May 1. Successful candidates will be required to submit the following documentation to their Institute or Center prior to beginning their training:

  • Official high school, college, or graduate school transcripts
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. U.S. citizens may submit a copy of their birth certificate or passport. Permanent residents will need to provide a copy of their alien registration card.

NIH SIP Subprograms

One of the goals of the NIH is to build a highly diverse and inclusive scientific workforce. Toward that goal, the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education welcomes applications for three special subprograms of the NIH Summer Internship Program. The subprograms target community college students, high school students from schools with large numbers of students from financially-disadvantaged backgrounds, and college students who would not normally have the opportunity to pursue research projects during the academic year.

2016 Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP): In summer 2016, the NIH will again offer a special SIP program designed to recruit community college students to the NIH. Students in CCSEP can take advantage of all the opportunities available to other SIP interns. In addition, they will make a commitment to completing an enrichment curriculum. If you are a community college student and interested, please read about CCSEP. The application deadline for this program has passed.

The High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP) is a new program for high school students in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, area within commuting distance of the main NIH campus in Bethesda. The program aims to introduce students from high schools with a high percentage of financially-disadvantaged students to the exciting possibility of careers in the sciences and biomedical research. Unlike the other NIH summer programs, HiSTEP is not a hands-on, full-time research program. Instead, HiSTEP will combine an introduction to scientific, professional, and personal skills with leadership training and an exploration of STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, math, and medically-related) careers. In addition, college and career advising will help prepare HiSTEP participants for future scholarships and internships. If you are a high school student and interested, please read more about HiSTEPThe application deadline for this program has passed.

In summer 2016, the NIH will offer for the second time the Amgen Scholars Program at NIH. This program is a partnership between the Amgen Foundation, the Foundation for the NIH, and the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education. The program will give preference to undergraduates who lack opportunities to carry out independent research during the school year due, for example, to family responsibilities, economic exigencies, or inability of their institutions to provide such opportunities. Amgen Scholars at NIH will spend the summer working at NIH's main campus in Bethesda, Maryland side-by-side with some of the world's leading scientists, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The Program will have four core components: 1) independent research performed under the mentorship of an NIH intramural scientist; 2) career guidance and mentorship focused on the broad array of biomedical careers; 3) roundtable discussions exploring the intersection of research and public policy; and 4) leadership training focused on the skills needed to successfully work in team-oriented global research environments. If you are interested, please read about the Amgen Scholars Program at NIH. The application deadline for this program has passed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although you use the online SIP application to apply for all these subprograms, eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and program curricula vary (view a program comparison chart). Please read each program's description carefully to decide which will best fit your needs.