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Research Training

Graduate Partnerships Program Individual Partnerships

This program is available to:

An opportunity for current doctoral students to perform all or part of their dissertation research in the NIH Intramural Research Program.

About this program

This program is for current graduate students interested in completing all, or part, of their doctoral research at the NIH while exploring research and research-related careers. These are full-time research positions in one of the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) in the NIH Intramural Research Program.  Research groups are located on all NIH campuses, including the main campus in Bethesda, MD.

Before you begin your application, we encourage you to learn about:

Graduate students train in research groups directed by a Principal Investigator (PI).  We offer research opportunities in the biomedical, behavioral, and social sciences with opportunities to explore basic, translational and clinical research. Current graduate students interested in biology, engineering, epidemiology, psychology, mathematics, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, nursing, physics, computer science, bioinformatics, and other health-related fields are invited to apply. Graduate students may not work in administrative offices or outside of the NIH Intramural Research Program.

Individual partnership students come from across the U.S. and around the world. Support for international GPP students is provided by the NIH Division of International Services. NIH sponsors individual agreement graduate students on J-1 visas; if you are already in the U.S. on an F visa, please consult the International Services Office at your university and be sure you fully understand restrictions on training at the NIH.

In addition to an intensive research training experience, our graduate students have access to:

As an individual partnership student, you may come for six months to several years. We have successfully established individual partnerships with over 100 universities worldwide.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity strengthens our community. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and strongly encourage applications from individuals:

  • from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research and healthcare fields
  • with disabilities
  • who are/were Pell Grant-eligible in college
  • students who are/were enrolled in Tribal Colleges and Universities, community colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • who identify as LGBTQ+
  • disadvantaged by life circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities.

Eligibility criteria

U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, and international applicants are eligible for the program. In addition, you must:

  • Be pursuing a PhD, DPhil, PharmD, DPH, PsyD, MD/PhD, or DVM/PhD and enrolled and in good academic standing in an accredited doctoral program in the U.S. or abroad
  • Have permission from your university graduate program to participate in the program and to relocate to an NIH campus for the duration of your individual agreement program.
  • Find an NIH principal investigator willing to offer you a training position in their research group.

Stipend and other compensation

Graduate student stipends are adjusted annually and are based on experience gained after completion of your undergraduate degree. While conducting dissertation research at NIH, all GPP students must be paid according to our stipend table, even if their funding is from a university or doctoral fellowship.

We offer fully-paid health insurance for individuals and families. This includes coverage for medical, dental, and vision needs.

There is free parking on each NIH campus; graduate students on some campuses may be eligible to participate in the Transhare program.

Before you apply

Your decision to come to NIH as a graduate student is an important one. You will be a full-time student at your university and a full-time researcher working onsite at one of the NIH campuses. You will be required to meet all the academic requirements of your graduate program while you are doing your dissertation research at NIH. It is crucial that you fully understand the program structure and the expectations for NIH graduate students. Pay close attention to our extensive FAQs before you begin the process.

Before applying, watch this video and carefully read information on finding mentors in the Intramural Research Program. It provides important information on how to find research groups willing to host graduate students. The guide also provides information about interviewing and factors to be aware of as you consider positions. While a graduate student, you should focus on developing scientific, professional, career, and resilience skills critical for long-term success. Finding a mentor who supports that is an important part of the process.

Opening and closing dates

There is no application deadline and students  arrive at NIH year round. If you are an international student, allow extra time to work with the NIH Division of International Services. If you are an international student currently studying in the U.S. talk with the international services office at your university to explore your eligibility to relocate to one of the NIH campuses.

How to establish an individual partnership

There is no central selection process for an individual partnership. You must find an NIH PI with resources to host you for your individual agreement.  This is a complex process involving multiple steps. These steps are summarized here.  We strongly encourage you to reach out to GPP staff before beginning the process.

There are three steps to establishing an individual partnership:

  1. Talk with research mentors and relevant program directors at your university to obtain permission to perform dissertation research at the NIH. Without permission from institutional officials, you will be unable to come to NIH.
  2. Identify an NIH Principal Investigator willing to host you in their group for dissertation research. You should directly apply to NIH PIs whose work interests you, whether or not they have advertised openings.
    1. Send personalized emails to each PI expressing interest in a graduate student position in their group and highlighting why you are a strong candidate for their program.
    2. Attach a CV to your email and be sure to include contact information for three references
    3. Be sure to discuss your timeline for joining the NIH and ask about financial and administrative aspects of the program with your  prospective NIH mentor.

If you receive a training offer from an NIH Investigator, then proceed to step-3.  

3. Complete required documentation to officially establish an individual partnership. Required documentation includes:

GPP staff can advise you and guide you through the process; do not hesitate to reach out.

Contact us

Have questions?

Check out our extensive frequently asked questions list to support you in the application process.