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Undergraduate Scholarship Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP) offers competitive scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science health-related research. The program offers:

  • Scholarship support
  • Paid research training at the NIH during the summer
  • Paid employment and training at the NIH after graduation

In order to determine if you meet the financial need eligibility guidelines, you must complete the Certification for Exceptional Financial Need (EFN) Form and submit it to your financial aid office. Subsequently, you will be responsible for collecting and submitting the EFN Form to us via FAX (301-594-9606) or email ( This form can be completed by your university and submitted to the UGSP prior to completion of the online application.  Since your eligibility will have to be updated with your 2020 financial aid application data, completion and submission of this form is for informational purposes only. If you choose to submit the form prior to application, please notify the UGSP at, and we will contact you after your university has indicated your eligibility. However, if you do not receive notification of eligibility prior to the application opening date, we encourage you to go ahead and begin the application process.

Scholarship support

The NIH UGSP will pay up to $20,000 per academic year in tuition, educational expenses, and reasonable living expenses to scholarship recipients. Scholarships are awarded for 1 year, and can be renewed up to 4 years.

Research Training at the NIH

For each full or partial scholarship year, you are committed to two NIH service obligations. The obligations are actually benefits of the UGSP, providing you with invaluable research training and experience at the NIH.

  1. 10-week Summer Laboratory Experience. After each year of scholarship support, you will train for 10 weeks as a paid summer research employee in an NIH research laboratory. This employment occurs after the receipt of the scholarship award. Each scholar will work directly with an NIH Principle Investigator or an NIH postdoctoral fellow, who will serve as mentors.
  2. Employment at the NIH after Graduation. After graduation, you will continue your training as a full-time employee in an NIH research laboratory. You must serve 1 year of full-time employment for each year of scholarship.
  3. The UGSP does not provide housing for the service obligations.

Eligibility requirements

You must meet all of these requirements in order to be eligible for admission into the UGSP.  Please take a moment to use our Eligibility Wizard.

  • U.S.A. citizen or U.S.A. permanent resident
  • Enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a full-time student at an accredited 4-year undergraduate institution located in the United States of America
  • Undergraduate University Grade Point Average of 3.3 or higher on a 4.0-point scale or within the top 5 percent of your class
  • Having 'Exceptional Financial Need' as certified by your undergraduate institution financial aid office - see table below.
Persons in Family
(Includes Only Dependents Listed on Federal Income Tax Forms)

Family Income Level
(Adjusted Gross Income for Tax Year 2019)
Federal Register: Volume 84, Number 22, 
1 February 2019, Page 1167.

Family Income Level
(Adjusted Gross Income for Tax Year 2020)
Federal Register: Volume 85, Number 12, 
17 January 2020, Page 3060.

1 $24,280.00 $25,520.00
2 $32,920.00 $34,480.00
3 $41,560.00 $43,440.00
4 $50,200.00 $52,400.00
5 $58,840.00  $61,360.00
6 $67,480.00  $70,320.00
7 $76,120.00 $79,280.00
8 $84,760.00 $88,240.00
More than 8 Persons $8,640.00
for Each Additional Person
for Each Additional Person

You are not eligible for the UGSP if any one of the following items pertains to you:

  • You are a high school senior
  • You have been awarded an undergraduate degree
  • You are enrolled in an advanced degree program, such as a master's degree
  • You are unable to fulfill the payback requirements



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.

Application Information

The Application for the 2020-2021 academic year is now closed.  Applications for 2021-2022 academic year will open in January 2021.  To learn more about the application process and requirements, review the videos "How to Apply to the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program" and "How to Find an NIH Mentor".  Your university must also determine whether you meet the required exceptional financial need (EFN) criteria.  To do so, download the EFN form, complete the top section and submit it to the financial aid office at the university you will attend during the 2019-2020 academic year.  Your university will determine your eligibility and forward the form to us.  We strongly advise you to complete the application while waiting for your university to determine your eligibility.

Key dates for admission consideration in fall 2019-2020 academic year

(Dates updated 28 September 2020 at 11:33am)

  • January 4, 2021 - Application Opens
  • March 17, 2021 - Application Deadline
  • April 1, 2021 - Letter of Recommendation Deadline
  • May 19, 2021 - EFN Form with 2019 or 2020 Tax Year Information Deadline
  • Mid-June 2021 - Invitations to Phone Interview Distributed
  • Mid-July 2021 - Phone Interviews for Admission
  • Late-July 2021 - Selection of Scholars


This program is administered without discrimination on the basis of age, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or other nonmerit factors.

NIH is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from underrepresented minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities.  NIH is dedicated to building a diverse community in its training and employment programs.