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Postbaccalaureate Program

Fellows' Career Development

Postbaccalaureate Program

Fellows' Career Development

Young female scientist works at work bench in laboratory

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: In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a Federal background check, using Standard Form-85. Note: Section 14 of the form asks “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?” The question pertains to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.

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 Ranges for All Localities

Degree Years of Experience Initial Stipend Second Year *
Bachelor’s 0-1 year $32,950 $35,350
1-2 years $35,350 $36,950
2+ years $36,950 $38,600
Master's Not Applicable $36,950 $38,600

* Second year stipend also used for postbacs in an exceptional third year.

Group of young postbacs

Resources for Current Postbacs

Handbook | Postbac Resources | Postbac Seminar Series | 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 Seminar Series

NIEHS postbacs have the opportunity to present their work at our seminar series that runs from February–June. Interested postbacs will give a 15-minute presentation on their lab’s work, followed by a 5 minute Q&A session. This is a unique opportunity for postbacs to present their research to a diverse audience of their peers in a non-threatening and supportive atmosphere.

Postbac Poster Day at NIH

(Source: Postbac Poster Day 2020)

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.

Each year, the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) charters a bus for NIEHS postbacs to ride together to NIH Postbac Poster Day. NIEHS postbacs travel to Bethesda the day before Postbac Poster Day and back to RTP after the poster session. The 2020 Postbac Poster Day was held virtually with NIEHS presenting on April 29, 2020. For more information and to register visit the Postbac Poster Day 2020 webpage.

Grad and Professional School Fair at NIH

(Source: 2020 Graduate and Professional School Fair Overview)

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 travel to the fair together to attend the fair. The 2020 NIH Graduate and Professional School Fair, will be held on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 from 8:45 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. and will provide 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.

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