Postbaccalaureate Program

Fellows' Career Development

Postbaccalaureate Program

Postbaccalaureate Program

Fellows' Career Development

The NIH Postbac IRTA program provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional (medical/dental/pharmacy/nursing/veterinary, etc.) school an opportunity to spend one or two years performing full-time research at the NIH. Postbac IRTAs work side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research.

Resources for Prospective Postbacs

Program Requirements | Application Procedure | Housing | Stipend/Salary

(Source: NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education)

Program Requirements

Eligibility: The Postbac IRTA Program is for individuals who meet any one of the following criteria:

  1. College graduates who received their bachelor's degrees less than three years prior to the date they begin the program.
  2. Individuals who are more than three years past the receipt of their bachelor's degree but received a master's degree less than six months before they begin the program, or
  3. Students who have been accepted into graduate, other doctoral, or medical school programs and who have written permission from their school to delay entrance for up to one year to pursue a biomedical research project at the NIH.

To be eligible, candidates must also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. In addition, they must intend to apply to graduate or professional school during their tenure at the NIH.

Background Check: Please note any fellowship offer is contingent on your ability to successfully pass a federal background check, which is required for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems. As part of the clearance process, you will be asked “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?”  This question pertains to the use of controlled substances or drugs as defined under federal law. Please be aware that while marijuana may be legal or decriminalized within your home jurisdiction it remains illegal under U.S. federal law. The use, possession, supply, or manufacture of marijuana may preclude you from obtaining the necessary clearances to participate in NIH intramural training programs, even if you were initially offered a position. If you have questions about this policy or would like guidance on the clearance process, please reach out to the Office of Intramural Training & Education (please put eligibility inquiry in the subject line).

Visit the Office of Intramural Training and Education website which has helpful information and a video guide for applying to the program.

Application Procedure

Prospective candidates must apply online. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply three to six months before they wish to begin their training at the NIH. The program has no fixed start date. The application requires submission of:

  • A cover letter describing the applicant's research interests and career goals, and the names and contact information for three references. Candidates may also specify keywords that define their research interests. These can be particular diseases or conditions, techniques, or general subject areas. In addition, you may indicate that you are interested in working at NIEHS (we are located in Research Triangle Park, NC).
  • A curriculum vitae or resume.
  • A list of coursework and grades.


NIEHS is located between Raleigh and Durham in the Research Triangle Park. Public transportation is limited to the services provided by RTP Connect, which subsidizes up to $10 per Uber or Lyft trip to get from the Regional Transit Center in RTP to NIEHS. As a government agency, we cannot endorse specific housing arrangements or advise on where to live. However, we have put together a guide about moving to the RTP area for informational purposes only.

Moving to RTP

Here you will find a 9-page guide containing a wealth of information about living in and moving to the Research Triangle region of North Carolina.


Postbaccalaureate IRTA Stipend Levels for All Localities - effective May 1, 2023

DegreeYears of ExperienceInitial StipendSecond YearThird Year
Bachelor’s0-1 year$41,700$52,60054,900
1-2 years$43,900$52,60054,900
2+ years$46,100$52,600$54,900
Master'sNot Applicable$48,600$60,200$62,500
Group of young postbacs

Resources for Current Postbacs

Handbook | Postbac Resources | Posbac Poster Day at NIH | Grad and Professional School Fair at NIH


The Postbac Handbook has important information about the Postbac Program. Note: some of the information in this handbook is specific to trainees located at the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Postbac Resources

The Office of Fellows’ Career Development (OFCD):

OFCD staff are located at NIEHS and offer programming and training for NIEHS postbacs. We typically have new fellow orientation the first Thursday of every month, be on the lookout for information in your email. OFCD can help you with your Individual Development Plan, application materials, career planning and any NIEHS- specific questions that may come up. The Postbac Program manager is Katherine J. Hamilton.

The Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE):

OITE staff is mostly located in the Bethesda, Maryland area but travel to NIEHS often and offer videocasts and webinars of their programming. In addition, OITE provides an on-site career counselor to NIEHS twice per month.

Postbac Poster Day at NIH

(Source: 2023 Virtual Postbac Poster Days)

Postbac Poster Day is a wonderful opportunity for postbacs to display the research they have been conducting at NIH and develop their communication and networking skills. Postbac Poster Day takes place once a year, at the end of April at the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Grad and Professional School Fair at NIH

(Source: 2023 Virtual NIH Graduate and Professional School Fair)

Each year the Office of Intramural training and Education holds a Graduate and Professional School Fair at the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. NIEHS postbacs attend virtually or travel to the fair together. The Graduate and Professional School Fair provides an opportunity for NIH postbacs, as well as other college students in the D.C. area, to prepare for the next step in their careers by exploring educational programs leading to the Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., M.D./Ph.D., and other graduate and professional degrees. More than 200 outstanding colleges and universities from across the U.S. will be sending representatives of their graduate schools, medical and dental schools, schools of public health, and other biomedically relevant programs to the fair in the hopes of recruiting NIH trainees.