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Research Training

Academic Internship Program (AIP)

This program is available to:

An opportunity for students in high school, college, graduate or professional school to intern in the NIH Intramural Research Program during the academic year.

About this program

This program allows high school, college, graduate, or professional school students to train at NIH during the school year. These are research positions within one of the NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) in the NIH Intramural Research Program. Research groups are located on all NIH campuses, including the main campus in Bethesda, MD. Students often work part-time while going to school, but participants may work full-time under some circumstances.

AIP interns 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. Students with experience in biology, engineering, epidemiology, psychology, mathematics, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, nursing, physics, computer science, bioinformatics, and other health-related fields are invited to apply. AIP interns may not work in administrative offices or outside of the NIH Intramural Research Program.

In addition to an intensive research experience, AIP interns have access to:

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity strengthens our community. We welcome AIP interns 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

To apply for the NIH AIP, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Other eligibility requirements differ by educational level and are discussed below.

You must also be able to pass a federal background check. We strongly encourage you to carefully read the full terms and conditions. Ignoring this information could prevent you from taking part in the program.

Applicants with a family member working at NIH should be aware of the strict nepotism policy, which may limit your ability to work in certain NIH institutes, centers, or research groups.

Stipend and other compensation

In most cases AIP interns receive a monthly stipend based on educational level and pro-rated for part-time work. If you are in the AIP to fulfill academic requirements, your school may not allow you to receive a stipend; if that is the case, you will be appointed as a Special Volunteer at the NIH.

We also offer fully-paid health insurance for individuals and families for interns working more than 30 hours per week for at least 60 days. This includes coverage for medical, dental, and vision needs.  If you are not provided with NIH insurance, you must present proof of insurance to begin the internship program.

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

Before you apply

Participation in the AIP will provide you with hands-on research experience and can be an important part of your educational experience. However, your studies and other academic activities should be your priority. Be sure to discuss the decision to join the AIP with trusted mentors at your school.

Also, appreciate that it is not reasonable to come to NIH late in the afternoon after completing a full day of classes as interns must be supervised by NIH staff. There are no remote work opportunities for AIP interns.

If you decide that the AIP is right for you:

  • Talk with internship and program coordinators at your school. If you are receiving academic credit, you must have their written approval to participate in the program.
  • Learn about the Intramural Research Program and the mission of each NIH IC
  • Explore NIH campuses to confirm that you are close enough to juggle school and internship requirements.

The AIP does not have a formal application process; you apply directly to NIH PIs, who make decisions about hiring AIP interns and complete the AIP registration process in the OITE once you are admitted.

Our guide to finding mentors in the Intramural Research Program provides important information on how to find research groups willing to host AIP students. The guide also provides information about interviewing and factors to be aware of as you consider positions.

Once you have secured a position, your research group will facilitate the process of completing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) if required, and will then register you with OITE indicating your participation in the AIP.

Additional information based on educational level

Most high school and college students work part-time while taking classes.  To participate, you must be enrolled and in good academic standing in an accredited U.S. high school, community college, or four-year college. If you will be receiving academic credit for your NIH internship, you must obtain permission from your school/academic institution.

To participate as a high school student, you must also:

  • Be 17 years of age or older by the start of the internship.
  • Be enrolled in high school as a junior or senior when you submit your application. U.S. citizens may apply if they are enrolled at least half-time in high school. U.S. permanent residents must be enrolled in a high school in the U.S. to be eligible.

AIP appointments begin at the start of the fall or spring semester and may continue through to May 15. If you wish to remain at NIH during the summer, you must apply to the NIH-SIP.  SIP applications open in mid-November and close on February 16, 2024.

Most graduate students in the AIP are enrolled in master’s programs and work at NIH while taking classes. To participate, you must be in good academic standing in a graduate program in the U.S. If you are receiving academic credit for the research performed at NIH, you will need to complete an MOU before starting at the NIH.

Note that doctoral students who wish to perform dissertation research at NIH should apply to be a part of the Graduate Partnerships Program, and not the AIP.  However, if you wish to come to NIH for less than six months, the AIP may be the appropriate program; please reach out to us and we will assist you in choosing the appropriate program.

Professional school students (MD, DO, DDS, DVM, etc.) who wish to do research at the NIH, but who are not part of the Medical Research Scholars Program, may take a leave of absence to do research at the NIH. To participate, you must be in good academic standing and show proof of deferment if you plan to work at NIH full-time. If you are receiving academic credit for the research performed at NIH, you will need to complete a MOU before starting at NIH.