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Research Training

Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP)

This program is available to:

A college scholarship program for undergraduate students committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science research.

About this program

Picture of UGSP trainees and OITE staff at Popsicle Day 2023

This program is for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science research. The program provides scholarship recipients up to $20,000 per academic year for tuition, educational, and reasonable living expenses. Scholarships are awarded for one year and can be renewed for up to four years.

For every year of scholarship support, scholars commit to two paid service obligations in the NIH Intramural Research Program. These are:

  • A ten week full-time summer internship at the NIH immediately following the year of scholarship support
  • One year of full-time work at the NIH post-graduation; this service obligation may be deferred until completion of an advanced degree program.

UGSP scholars work in research groups directed by a Principal Investigator (PI). We offer research opportunities in the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences with opportunities to explore 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. UGSP Scholars may not work in administrative offices or outside of the NIH Intramural Research Program.

Research groups are located on several NIH campuses, including the main campus in Bethesda, MD. While the summer service obligation takes place in Bethesda, scholars may complete their post-graduation service obligation on any NIH campus.

In addition to an intensive research experience, UGSP scholars have access to:

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity strengthens our community. We encourage applications from students who meet the specific UGSP eligibility requirements and who come  from diverse backgrounds, including:

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

Service Obligation

As an NIH Undergraduate Scholar, you will incur 1 year and 10 weeks (62 weeks total) of obligated service at the NIH for each full or partial year of support. The maximum service obligation is 4 years. Scholars are obliged to serve as full-time NIH employees in an NIH Intramural Research Laboratory. You must begin your service within 60 days of completing the requirements for your undergraduate degree, unless a deferment is granted by the NIH UGSP.

Eligibility criteria

To apply for UGSP, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In addition, you must:

  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a full-time undergraduate student at an accredited four-year college or university.
  • Have a grade point average of 3.3 or greater on a 4.0-point scale, or rank within the top five percent of your class.
  • Demonstrate exceptional financial need certified by your undergraduate institution’s financial aid office.

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 could prevent you from taking part in the program.

You are not eligible for UGSP if any one of the following items applies to you:

  • You are a high school senior.
  • You have already been awarded an undergraduate degree.
  • You are currently enrolled in an advanced degree program, such as a master's degree.
  • You are unable to fulfill the payback requirements.

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.

Scholarship, stipend, and other compensation

UGSP Scholars may receive up to $20,000 of scholarship support each academic year. The scholarship is paid directly to your university and can be used for tuition, educational and reasonable living expenses as established by your university.

Scholars are paid directly during the summer and post-graduation service obligations at the NIH. The salary is commensurate to the level of education completed; scholars also receive benefits, including access to health insurance, free parking or Transhare benefits.

Before you apply

The decision to accept a UGSP scholarship is an important one as there are required service obligations. You must relocate to the NIH Bethesda campus during the summer and to Bethesda or another NIH campus to complete your post-graduate service obligation. It is crucial that you fully understand the program structure and the expectations of UGSP scholars. Carefully review all eligibility and obligation requirements before you begin your application.

To learn more about the application process and requirements, review the video "How to Apply to the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program".

We also encourage you to learn more about:

If you have questions, please email us at UGSP@nih.gov.

How to Apply

Opening and closing dates

The UGSP application is currently open.

The application will close on Friday, March 29, 2024 at 12 noon ET.
Early review of applications will begin on Monday, March 15, 2024.
References are due on Friday, April 12, 2024 at 12 noon ET.
Exceptional Financial Need (EFN) certification is due on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 12 noon ET.

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 the ‘Undergraduate Scholarship Program.’
  2. You must select 'Apply' next to ‘Undergraduate Scholarship 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 & Exams - a list of coursework and grades
  • CV/Resume - a list of your education, experience, and other relevant history
  • References - the names and contact information of three references
  • Letter/Statement - a statement that broadly describes your research experience, interests, and goals.
  • Financial Need - The email address of a financial aid officer at your institution so that they can complete EFN certification.

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

Start your application

Exceptional Financial Need certification

Your undergraduate institution must determine your 'Exceptional Financial Need’ (EFN).

The table below is one factor used by your financial aid officer (FAO) to determine your EFN status. You must provide the name and email of your financial aid officer.

Number of Family Members Claimed 2022 Tax Year 2023 Tax Year
1 $27,180 $29,160
2 $36,620 $39,440
3 $46,060 $49,720
4 $55,500 $60,000
5 $64,940 $70,280
6 $74,380 $80,560
7 $83,820 $90,840
8 $93,260 $101,120
More than 8 Add $9,440 for each additional person Add $10,280 for each additional person

2022: Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 14 / 21-Jan2022, Page 3316.
2023: Federal Register / Vol. 88, No. 12 / 19-Jan-2023, Page 3424.

Selection process

Candidates that meet the minimal eligibility requirements will be reviewed by the UGSP Scientific Review Committee and a subset of candidates will receive invitations to interview virtually in mid-July. Successful candidates will be informed of their selection in late July.

During the application process we encourage you to visit the NIH Intramural Research Program website and explore the breadth of research conducted at the NIH. However, we discourage you from reaching out directly to any investigators until candidate selections are complete. At that time, we will guide new awardees through the mentor-matching process.

Have questions?

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

Contact

Reach out to us with questions at UGSP@nih.gov.