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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to prospective applicants' commonly asked questions about training at NIH, applications, and program eligibility requirements.

Summer internships include: High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP), High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Programs (HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0), Summer Internship Program (SIP), Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP), College Summer Opportunities to Advance Research (C-SOAR), Virtual Student Summer Opportunities to Advance Research (V-SOAR), Graduate Data Science Summer Program (GDSSP), Medical Student Summer Opportunities to Advance Research (M-SOAR).

General questions about choosing research groups and training at NIH

We strongly recommend that you read information on finding research groups in the NIH Intramural Research Program before you select being the process of finding a research group and interviewing for positions.

Small numbers of NIH trainees and fellows may be appointed as a  Guest Researcher or Special Volunteer. If you are in school, and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can explore the Academic Internships Program (AIP). If you are a not a U.S. citizen, you must be enrolled in a doctoral program, or have graduated from a doctoral program, to volunteer. Visit this policy statement on special volunteers for more details.

Some organizations will fund research for intramural fellows. We have compiled a list of those we know will accept (and will not accept) applications from NIH trainees and fellows: Funding Opportunities for NIH Intramural Fellows. If you have questions, reach out to both the funder and the IC training director or IC scientific director to confirm that you are eligible to apply and that you will be allowed to accept funding if successful.

The OITE supports trainees and fellows in all NIH ICs, at all training levels and on all NIH campuses. You can learn about what we offer by visiting other areas of this website including:

We provide information on housing in our moving guides. The NIH does not offer dormitory housing. To assist you in transitioning to NIH we offer comprehensive moving guides for:

If you are a trainee on another NIH campus, we encourage you to reach out directly to your PI and IC training director for information.

NIH trainees and fellows may not be appointed to work remotely; however, you may be able to work from home (telework) on a limited basis.

NIH interns must work in a research group in the Intramural Research Program. If you want to work in administrative or policy positions at NIH, apply to the NIH Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates Program operated by Human Resources.

Contact OITE@nih.gov for more information.

Using the Application Center

You must apply through the OITE Application Center for the following programs:
all summer internships, including general and cohort programs of the High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP) and Summer Internship Program (SIP), Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP), Postbac Program, Graduate Partnerships Program Institutional Partnership.

You should apply directly to NIH PIs for the following training positions:
Academic Internships Program (AIP), Graduate Partnerships Program Individual Partnerships, postdoctoral training program.

Use the login credentials sent to you in your receipt of confirmation email to make changes and updates to your application.

Your cover letter may be read by many NIH investigators; therefore, use the salutation “Dear NIH Investigator”. If you are sending a follow-up email directly to a Principal Investigator (PI), you should address the email to "Dear Dr.”.

You should request letters from individuals who can best evaluate your scientific accomplishments and your potential for a research internship, for example, teachers, employers, and people who mentored you in other internships. You should never ask family members or friends.

You are responsible for making certain that we receive your letters of reference. Log in and check your application using the ‘Modify Application’ tool in the Application Center. You can resend the request and contact your reference to remind them to submit the letter.

You can change a reference if the original reference has not yet submitted a letter on your behalf. Please notify that individual that you will no longer require their assistance.

No. It is your responsibility to let your original reference know that their assistance will no longer be required.

No, you will need to reapply.

Contact TrainingWWW@mail.nih.gov for more information.

Questions about applying for summer internships

Because you have not yet received a high school diploma, you should apply to HS-SIP.

If you are a U.S. citizen attending a foreign institution, you are eligible to apply.  If you are a permanent resident, you must be attending an accredited institution in the U.S.

No. High school students are selected by central committees in the NIH intramural research program. HS-SIP applicants should not contact NIH investigators to discuss placements on their own.

You can only apply to one program: HS-SIP, HiSTEP, or HiSTEP 2.0. Your application will only be considered for the program you select. If you apply for HiSTEP or HiSTEP 2.0 and are not selected, you can indicate at the time of application if you want your application to be released to the HS-SIP pool.

No. Some ICs do not host high school summer interns. You can find more information about IC-specific programs on the additional summer programs page. Reach out to IC summer coordinators for further information.

The NIH is not an approved site for SSL credit.

Investigators in the NIH intramural research program search for applicants with particular interest or by other fields in the application (GPA, university, previous research experiences) to find applicants who might be a good fit. You greatly increase your chances of admission, by reaching out to potential research groups as explained in our 'Find NIH research groups' resources.
If you are applying to HS-SIP, HiSTEP, or HiSTEP 2.0, you should not directly email NIH PIs. 

HS-SIP, HiSTEP, and HiSTEP 2.0 applications are reviewed by committees. In the case of HS-SIP, each IC has its own review committee if they are accepting HS-SIP interns. HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0 committees are based in OITE.

HS-SIP, HiSTEP, and HiSTEP 2.0 applicants should not contact NIH investigators to discuss placements on their own.

Contact SIP@nih.gov for more information.

Questions about applying to the Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP)

No. UGSP Scholars must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Successful UGSP applicants are well-rounded students with research experience, a strong academic record, and a commitment to extracurricular activities.

Disadvantaged background means that your financial aid office has certified you as having "exceptional financial need" (EFN), as defined by the federal government. Your university’s financial aid officer will need to certify your eligibility.

The payback is the yearlong service obligation required by the UGSP in exchange for the scholarship award. UGSP also refers to trainees completing this obligation as paybacks.

UGSP scholars can defer their post-graduation service obligation while completing a graduate or medical program leading to a doctoral degree. Deferments cannot be granted for training conducted by any entity that imposes another service obligation, such as a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Contact UGSP@nih.gov for more information.

Questions about applying to the Postbac Program

If you are a U.S. citizen attending a foreign institution, you are eligible to apply.  If you are a permanent resident, you must be attending an accredited institution in the U.S.

Postbac applications are accepted year-round.

No.

If you started one of these programs immediately after you completed your college degree, we will determine eligibility from the date you completed your service.  Enter the date on which you completed, or will complete, your service into the field requesting date of receipt of your bachelor's degree. Also, please explain these circumstances in your cover letter.

Yes. Eligibility for the Postbac Program is based on the timing of the receipt of your bachelor's degree. However, if you received your bachelor's degree more than 3 years before the date on which you would like to begin the program, you will be eligible only if you can begin within six months of receipt of a master's degree.

Investigators in the NIH intramural program search for applicants with particular interest or by other fields in the application (GPA, university, previous research experiences) to find applicants who might be a good fit. You greatly increase your chances of admission, by reaching out to potential research groups as explained in our guide to Find NIH research groups.

The investigator who has selected you or an administrative officer in their Institute will contact you by phone or email. There is no central selection process for the postbac program.

Your application will remain active for one year from the date you submit it or until you are selected, you withdraw your application, or your eligibility expires.

Like many of the research training programs at the NIH, the Postbac Program is highly competitive. Over the past calendar year, about 25% of applicants were selected for the program.

You greatly increase your chances of being selected, by reaching out to potential research groups as explained in our guide to find NIH research groups.

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 cohort organized by OITE.

OITE-PEP postbacs are required to start their positions on July 8, 2024.

Yes. Please check the OITE-PEP page for information on application requirements; there are additional application requirements and deadlines for consideration.

The OITE-PEP selection committee reviews all applications and invites a subset of candidates to interview virtually in late January. Successful candidates will be informed of their selection in early February.

Yes. NIH investigators will be able to see your general postbac application and may reach out to you to offer you a position. If you prefer to participate in the OITE-PEP please reach out to us before talking with the PI.

Contact PBP@od.nih.gov for more information.

Questions about applying to the Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP)

Please complete the NIH GPP Application. See the GPP Institutional Partnerships page for requirements and contact information for each partnership.

Graduate Partnerships Program application dates can be found on the GPP Institutional Partnerships page.

You can apply to as many institutional partnerships as you wish.

Generally, pre-doctoral Visiting Fellows are sponsored by the NIH on J-1 visas. The H-1B visa is an employment visa and is not appropriate for graduate students. If you are currently in the U.S. studying on an F visa, you should consult the international services office on your university campus for information on training at NIH.

There is no central application system. After identifying an NIH PI willing to host you and obtaining permission from your graduate program to conduct research at NIH, you must register as an individual GPP student.

No. In general, extramural funds are meant to support research at universities and other non-NIH research institutions.

No. The GPP requires that all students are paid at least as much as our stipend table dictates.

This is sometimes possible but can be very complex; reach out to us at GPP@nih.gov before applying.

Contact GPP@nih.gov for more information.

Questions about applying for a postdoc position

No, you should apply directly to Principal Investigators (PIs) whose work interests you.

Postdoc applications are accepted by Principal Investigators (PIs) year-round.

You may apply to work with as many NIH investigators as you wish.

You should request letters from individuals who can best evaluate your scientific accomplishments and your potential for successfully completing NIH training.

Please ask three references who have direct knowledge of your scientific interests, abilities, and accomplishments to prepare written recommendations. Coordinate with the Principal Investigator (PI) that you are applying to for instructions on how to submit letters of reference.

You are responsible for making certain the NIH Principal Investigator (PI) receives your letters of reference.

Postdoctoral fellows can be promoted to Research Fellow, an appointment that makes them temporary NIH employees.

Visiting Fellows are typically assisted in obtaining J-1 Visas. For additional information for international scholars, please visit the Division of International Services.

Contact OITE@nih.gov for more infomation.