Why you should do a NIH POSTBAC IRTA before applying to Medical School

See if one of our post-baccalaureate programs is right for you if you are a recent college graduate from a historically underrepresented background who is highly motivated to pursue a research career.

To take part in the Cultural Heritage Research and Practice Post-Bac Program, the Emerging Scholars Initiative Post-Bac Research Education Program, or the Yale National Institutes of Health Post-Bac Research Education Program (NIH PREP):

Like many of the research training programs at the NIH, the Postbac IRTA Program is highly competitive. Over the past calendar year, about 24% of applicants were selected for the program.

Applying to the NIH Postbac Program: Webinar and Q&A

3:00–4:00 PM Eastern Time on November 4, 2022 (US and Canada)

December 1, 2022 3:00 – 4:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada) The events above have passed. Email [email protected] with any questions.

Eligibility Your ability to pass a federal background check is a requirement for all fellowship offers. More Information here.

The National Cancer Institute’s NIH Postbac IRTA program (CRTA, Cancer Research Training Award) offers recent college graduates who want to apply to graduate or professional programs (medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, veterinary, etc.) the opportunity to do so. ) school the chance to work full-time on research at the NIH for a year or two. Postbac IRTAs/CRTAs collaborate with some of the top researchers in the world in a setting dedicated solely to biomedical research. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. More than 1100 laboratories and research projects, including the Hatfield Clinical Research Center, are situated at the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as nearby locations in Baltimore, Frederick, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Hamilton, Montana, Framingham, Massachusetts, Phoenix, Arizona, and Detroit, Michigan.

You can identify NIH investigators with projects that interest you by searching the NIH Intramural Annual Reports. Use the text search feature to find project descriptions that contain the key words you enter. Alternatively, the Intramural Research Program Web page presents investigators sorted by research topic. You can then find contact information for the investigators in the NIH Enterprise Directory.

Each postbac has a scientific “home” within their principal investigator’s (PI) NIH Institute or Center (IC). The IC oversees all of the postbac appointment’s administrative details, and the IC Training Office offers a range of scientific and career-enriching activities. The Office of Intramural Training for the entire NIH The NIH provides a wealth of additional scientific seminars.

Building a scientific workforce that is extremely diverse and inclusive is one of the NIH’s objectives. The National Institutes of Health Office of Intramural Training Go to the OITE-PEP webpage to learn more about this subprogram, or continue reading at the bottom of this page.


Individuals who meet ONE of the following requirements are eligible for the Postbac IRTA/CRTA Program:

  • regardless of whether they later earned a master’s degree, college graduates who graduated with their bachelor’s degrees less than THREE years prior to the start date of the program, OR
  • individuals who received a master’s degree less than SIX MONTHS prior to starting the program but are more than THREE YEARS PAST receiving their bachelor’s degree OR
  • Those who fit criteria (1) and/or (2), have been accepted into graduate, other doctoral, or medical programs, and have received written approval from their school to postpone entrance for up to a year in order to work on a biomedical research project at the NIH

To be eligible, candidates must also be U. S. citizens or permanent residents. Additionally, if they haven’t already been accepted, they should plan to apply to graduate or professional schools during their time at the NIH.

Students with disabilities, Pell Grant eligible students, students attending Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), students who identify as LGBTQ, and people who have been adversely affected by circumstances that have harmed their educational opportunities, such as recess, are all at a disadvantage.


Your ability to pass a federal background check, which is necessary for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, is a requirement for all fellowship offers. You will be questioned as part of the clearance procedure about a range of subjects, such as your citizenship, criminal history, and other personal information. You will be asked a number of questions, one of which is “Have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs in the past year?” This inquiry relates to the use of drugs or controlled substances as defined by federal law. Please be aware that, even if it is legal or decriminalized in your home country, marijuana is still illegal under U S. federal law. Even if you were initially given a job offer, your use of marijuana could prevent you from getting the clearances you need to take part in NIH intramural training programs. Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about this policy or would like advice on the clearance procedure. gov (please put “Eligibility Inquiry” in the subject line).

Stipend Information:

The level of trainee stipends is determined by experience gained AFTER receiving a bachelor’s degree, and it is adjusted annually. For details, see the Trainee Stipends page.

Application Procedure:

Prospective candidates must apply online. Interested parties are urged to submit an application six to nine months prior to the start of their training at the NIH. The program has no fixed start date. The application requires submission of.

  • a curriculum vitae or resume,
  • a list of coursework and grades,
  • a cover letter outlining the applicant’s career objectives and areas of interest in research, and
  • the names and contact information for three references.

Candidates may also specify keywords that define their research interests. These may include specific ailments or conditions, methods, or broad subject areas.


Scientists at the NIH’s Institutes and Centers review applications on a rolling basis all year long. There is no centralized selection process; rather, individual scientists choose their own postbacs and provide the funding to support them. Please read the Postbac IRTA Program Frequently Asked Questions for tips on how to improve your chances of receiving a job offer. Visit the OITE YouTube channel to find.

  • Using NIH investigator databases is demonstrated in a video titled Finding an NIH Mentor.
  • A video called Finding Your Research Home will help you choose a mentor and research group where you feel at ease.
  • A collection of videos on the NIH’s biomedical research training programs, including one on the NIH Postbac Program, is available.

One year after submission or when a candidate is no longer qualified to participate in the postbac program, whichever comes first, applications are archived (and are not available to NIH researchers).

Coming to the NIH as a postbac is a significant decision. You are devoting one or two years of your life to an extensive research project. Before choosing a mentor, please take the time to review our mentor selection guidelines. The article offers advice on what to ask potential mentors, what to ask other research group participants, and how to assess your options after figuring out what you need from a mentor.

Candidates will be notified by the hiring Institute of their selection. Before starting their training, successful candidates must provide the following documentation to their Institute or Center:

  • Official college transcript(s)
  • Proof of U. S. citizenship or permanent resident status. U. S. Citizens can submit a copy of their passport or birth certificate. A copy of the permanent resident (green) card must be provided by permanent residents.

The goal of the OITE-PEP is to encourage candidates with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to conduct biomedical research at the NIH while honing their professional, leadership, and scientific abilities in order to pursue careers in healthcare and biomedical research. OITE-PEP fellows should be committed to pursuing a career in biomedical science and have plans to enroll in graduate or professional school (e.g., for nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, or other health-related fields). ) school. NIH encourages applications from students in all science disciplines.

Important Information: Although OITE-PEP applications are submitted using the Postbac application, there are differences in the eligibility requirements, application deadlines, and program curricula (view a Postbac program comparison chart). Please carefully review the program descriptions to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Find out more about the new NIH Academy if you’re interested in health disparities.

NIH Postbac Program – Tips from My Experience


Is NIH IRTA prestigious?

The NIH IRTA program is well-known in medical schools, and it is known throughout the world as a hub for high-caliber research.

How much does a NIH Postbac make?

Degree/Years of ExperienceInitial StipendSecond Year* Bachelor’s with 0–1 year$34,750$37,300Bachelor’s with 1–2 years$37,300$39,000Bachelor’s with 2 years$39,000$40,700Master’s with 0–1 year$39,000$40,700

How many Postbacs does NIH have?

More than a thousand postgraduate students, all of whom are U S. citizens or permanent residents. The majority of the states in the Union, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and postbacs attend the NIH.

What is NIH Postbac?

For recent college graduates, the NIH Postbac IRTA Program is a one- to two-year full-time research program. Applications are accepted year round. The Clinical Center is just one of the numerous NIH institutes and facilities that take part in the program.

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