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Research Training

Postbac Program

This program is available to:

An opportunity for recent college graduates to spend one or two years performing full-time research in the Intramural Research Program at the NIH.

About this program

This program is for recent college graduates considering graduate or professional school in healthcare and STEM fields. These are full-time research positions within one of the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) in the NIH Intramural Research Program. Research groups are located on many NIH campuses, including the main campus in Bethesda, MD.

Postbacs 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. Postbacs may not work in administrative offices or outside of the NIH Intramural Research Program.

In addition to an intensive research experience, our postbacs have access to:

All NIH postbacs are eligible to participate in the NIH Academy on Health Disparities.

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
  • 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.

Postbac cohort programs

Our goal is to support diverse students to enter careers in research and healthcare. To help us achieve this, we sponsor the OITE Postbac Enrichment Program (OITE-PEP).

OITE-PEP postbacs have access to all resources of the broader postbac program and participate in orientation, leadership, professional development, and well-being programs as part of a learning community.

Some of the ICs also sponsor postbac cohort programs.

Eligibility criteria

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In addition, you must be:

  • a college graduate who received a bachelor’s degree within three years of beginning the program


  • have received a master’s degree within six months before beginning the program

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

Stipends for postbacs are adjusted annually and are based on relevant research experience gained after completion of your bachelor's degree.

We also 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. Postbacs on some campuses may be eligible to participate in the Transhare program.

Before you apply

The decision to come to the NIH as a postbac is an important one. These are full-time research positions where you will be expected to master a variety of techniques, present your research, and work on complex teams. While a postbac you should focus on developing scientific, professional, career, and resilience skills critical for your long-term success; finding a mentor who supports that is an important part of the application process.

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

Watch this video before applying. It talks about expectations of the program and provides a framework for deciding if the program is right for you. It also discusses the application process and provides information on finding appropriate research groups.

How to apply

Opening and closing dates

The postbac application portal is open year round, but the majority of postbacs start June - October; we recommend applying six months prior to your preferred start date.

Complete your application

You must use the NIH Application Center to apply for this program.

  1. After you complete the required sections of your profile, you will be asked to select a preferred program. Choose ‘Postbac opportunities for recent college graduates.’
  2. You must select 'Apply' next to ‘Postbaccalaureate Program’ for your application to be considered for this program.
  3. Ensure that you are eligible for this program before clicking 'Start Application.'
  4. To complete your application, import any relevant information from your profile. You must also submit:
  • Coursework - Enter all the courses you have completed, currently taking, or will enroll in your final semester. Update this section as your grades become finalized.
  • CV/Resume - Include education, relevant research experience, volunteer or community service activities, teaching/mentoring experience, leadership experience, honors and awards, publications, etc.
  • References - the names and contact information of three references
  • Personal Statement - details about your motivation for pursuing an advanced degree and your future career goals. Describe important educational, research, and teaching experiences as well as how the Postbaccalaureate Program (PBP) would help you achieve your goals.
  • Research Interests - a brief list of your research interests. NIH investigators may search on this field to find applicants whose research interests match their own. You may wish to enter terms that describe particular diseases or conditions (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration, obesity); the techniques you are interested in applying (e.g., two-photon microscopy, patch clamping, rapid sequencing, bioinformatics); or general subject areas (such as epidemiology, public health, molecular neuroscience).
  • Training Locations - NIH training occurs on several sites including the main campus in Bethesda, MD. To help our investigators, indicate all locations where you would be willing to perform postbaccalaureate research.

5. Review all of your materials carefully before you submit your application.

Start your application

Contact NIH Principal Investigators

To be considered for a postbac position, you should reach out to NIH Principal Investigators (PIs) and direct them to your completed application. Our guide to finding mentors in the Intramural Research Program provides important information on how to find research groups and factors to be aware of as you interview and consider positions. To contact NIH PIs:

  1. Search databases and develop a list of PIs in the Intramural Research Program whose work interests you. Note that PIs may reach out to you to see if you are interested in working in their group.
  2. Send personalized emails to PIs expressing interest in their research group and highlighting why you are a strong candidate for their program.
  3. Interview, virtually or in-person

Selection process

Applications are reviewed throughout the year and there is no centralized selection process. Individual PIs select their own postbacs and provide the funding to support them. Successful candidates will be informed by their PI and on-boarding paperwork will be done by the hiring IC.

Remember that the selection process for OITE-PEP and IC cohort programs may differ.

Have questions?

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