Skip Navigation
National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesNational Institutes of Health
Increase text size Decrease text size Print this page

Frequently Asked Questions

Summers of Discovery

Summers of Discovery program participant
"It was excellent. My preceptors provided organized projects that were manageable within the given timeframe." - Graduate Student
  1. Where is the Summers of Discovery internship program located?
    The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is located off-site from the main Bethesda, MD, NIH Exit NIEHS ( in Research Triangle Park Exit NIEHS (, NC (Durham Co.) Exit NIEHS (

  2. When is the deadline for receipt of applications?
    The deadline is March 1, annually.

  3. How can I verify that my on-line application has been received?
    You will receive an e-mail stating that your application has been received.

  4. Can I submit a paper application? Can my references submit their letters by mail?
    We are not equipped to process paper applications. If this poses a problem for you, please call us at (800) 445-8283 to discuss your particular circumstances.

  5. May I apply to a specific Institute or Center?
    If you already know what institute or center in which you wish to work, you may select ONE institute from the drop-down list (e.g., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences). Otherwise leave as default for "All Institutes" for widest consideration by mentors.

  6. How can I get information about specific investigators I can contact about the research they are conducting at the NIH?
    You should access the NIEHS Division of Intramural Research home page to review specific NIEHS laboratory information. You may also should access the NIH Home Page Exit NIEHS ( then select Institutes, Centers and Offices. Most institute laboratories have a profile of their research staff and how to reach them. In addition, if you have a particular research interest, you can access research abstracts by going to the NIH Annual Reports Exit NIEHS ( and indicating by a text search the subjects that are of greatest interest to you.

  7. Is the summer program limited to specific majors?
    No. However, most of the students accepted are majoring in the biological, chemical or physical sciences.

  8. Is my application secure?
    Yes. See the privacy statement on the first page of the application.

  9. Is there a minimum GPA to participate in this program?
    No. However, because this is a highly competitive program, previously selected candidates have possessed an overall "B" average equivalent or better; but it is not a requirement.

  10. How many students are selected for the program?
    Approximately 1200 students are selected NIH-wide including those returning from previous summers. Approximately 70 are selected at NIEHS depending upon the number of mentors available each summer.

  11. How many applications do you receive?
    Over 6000 students apply for the Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research. NIEHS typically receives 200-300 applications.

  12. How can I update my application or check if my reference letters have been received?
    After you submit your application, you will receive confirmation by e-mail. It will instruct you on how to access your application to make changes or to check if your letters have been submitted. It is advisable to keep a copy of this information. You are responsible for verifying that letters of reference have been submitted. Notify your references early in the process that they have been listed and to be expecting an e-mail with instructions on how to submit their letter electronically to be included in your application. Once a reference letter has been electronically submitted, it cannot be removed from your application.

  13. Who should write my letters of reference?
    Letters of reference should be written by individuals in the scientific/academic community who have knowledge of your scientific accomplishments, motivation, scientific interests, and skills. This can include previous employers, college professors, or high school teachers. The application system is limited to only the two required reference letters, or three if applying to the Summer Research Fellowship Program. If you need to have another reference letter request sent out, go online as if modifying your application. Re-enter reference letter writer's contact information and re-submit. This action will automatically regenerate another e-mail request to the reference letter writer. If you are planning to return to an NIEHS lab that you’ve previously worked in, DO NOT ask any member of that lab to write a reference letter for you as this is a conflict of interest in hiring.

  14. Can I update my application from last year?
    No. You will need to reapply and submit new reference letters.

  15. What are the start and end dates for the program?
    Students selected for the program usually begin between mid-May and mid-June. The minimum time commitment is eight weeks, 40 hours a week; all appointments must be completed by September 30. It is preferred that interns are working at least during the months of June and July whenever possible.

  16. Is housing provided by the NIEHS?
    Trainees in this program are responsible for obtaining their own housing and transportation. Information about potential housing and transportation are listed on the "Housing and Transportation" page.

  17. Is this a paid internship?
    Yes, selected students receive a salary that is based on their educational level.

  18. If I am not selected for this program, can you recommend alternative places where I can work or gain experience?
    College career centers often list research opportunities. You may also want to check with different scientific associations such as the American Society for Cell Biology, American Society for Microbiology, etc.

  19. Do I need to submit an official transcript even though I entered my grades into the electronic application system?
    Yes, but only if you are accepted into the program. Summer Internship Program (SIP) Fellows will be required to submit an official transcript from the school you are currently attending. The current grades that you entered into the electronic application are for evaluation purposes only. In addition, upon entry on duty you will be required to show proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (i.e., either an original Social Security card or United States certificate of birth AND a driver's license or state issued identification card, which contains a photograph or physical description. Alternatively, any ONE of the following is also acceptable: a United States passport, Certificate of United States Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, or Resident Alien card.).

Back to top Back to top Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health
This page URL:
NIEHS website:
Email the Web Manager at
Last Reviewed: July 05, 2007