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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:
- professional development programs focused on core competencies needed for success in research and healthcare careers
- educational and career advising
- a comprehensive well-being and resilience program
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.
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.
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:
- the Intramural Research Program and the mission of each NIH IC
- the various campuses and the specific focus of the work performed there
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.
If you decide the postbac program is right for you, pay careful attention to our extensive FAQs to support you in the application process.
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.
To apply follow these four steps:
- Complete the online application which includes:
- a resumé
- a list of coursework and grades
- a personal statement describing your research experience, current interests and career goals
- the names and contact information for three references
- Search databases and develop a list of NIH PIs whose work interests you. Note that some investigators may reach out to you to see if you are interested in working in their group.
- Send personalized emails to PIs expressing interest in their research group and highlighting why you are a strong candidate for their program
- Interview, virtually or in-person
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.
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.