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NCI Graduate Student Recruiting Program

Young Scientist in Lab Looking at the Camera
Credit: Getty Images

The Graduate Student Recruiting Program (GSRP) provides doctoral candidates the opportunity to explore postdoctoral opportunities at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and determine if the NCI intramural research program is an ideal fit for your professional goals. 

As part of the program, accepted applicants will:

  1. Network with investigators and laboratory personnel, current NCI postdocs, and Training Directors to learn more about research conducted within the intramural research program
  2. Discover the training and professional development opportunities that NCI offers to help postdoctoral fellows succeed in their future career paths
  3. Learn more about postdoc programs that prepare participants for careers both at and away from the bench, including regulatory research, tech transfer, and cancer prevention

NCI is committed to training the next generation of scientific leaders, and it is crucial that this reflects the diversity of the population it serves.  We strongly encourage underrepresented groups in biomedical research to submit applications.  

Why Choose the NCI for a Postdoc?

The NCI is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. The NCI Intramural Research Program (IRP) is comprised of two components: the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). 

The CCR is composed of over 220 Principal Investigators (PIs) in more than 50 Laboratories, Branches, and Programs. Scientists enjoy intellectual freedom and are expected to explore the most important questions to advance cancer research using creativity and innovation. For additional information about research at CCR, please visit

DCEG is the world’s most comprehensive cancer epidemiology group. Scientists in DCEG conduct a national and international program of population, family, and laboratory-based studies to elucidate the environmental and genetic determinants of cancer.  For additional information about research at DCEG, please visit

In both IRPs you will find:

  • Extensive professional and career development opportunities
  • State of the art research and equipment
  • A variety of core facilities to assist with your experimental needs
  • Access to additional training, courses, and workshops to facilitate your project goals
  • Fellow-led groups that build a sense of community
  • Competitive stipend and benefits for postdoctoral fellows

For additional information about research at CCR, please visit For additional information about DCEG, please visit

Eligibility Requirements

To participate in GSRP, you must:

  • You must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the U.S. at the time of application
  • Have passed all doctoral candidacy exams
  • Expect to receive your degree within 18 months of the application deadline 

How to Apply

Visit the GSRP Application Website to submit your CV, statement of interest, and a list of investigators you are interested in speaking with during the visit. Please note, your NIH eRA Commons account will not work for this site. You must register for a new account as a Non-NIH Employee or Contractor.  Applications will be screened for eligibility and completeness.  All candidates will be notified by email regarding the status of their applications by the indicated date. Please review the Tips for Applying before submitting your application.

Graduate Student Recruiting Program Timeline
Activity Date
Application Cycle Opens January 9, 2023
Application Due Date February 28, 2023
Notification of Decision March 2023
GSRP Conference May 2-3, 2023

Next Steps

Following your confirmation of acceptance, you will be invited to attend a two-day in-person conference in May 2023. You will work with GSRP team to arrange your travel and solidify your meeting schedule. During the visit, you will attend seminars to learn about the science, training, and career development opportunities at NCI and NIH and network with investigators, staff, and current postdocs.  Please see schedule at a glance for an overview of previous GSRP virtual seminars. 

Meetings during the GSRP are meant to be networking opportunities but may also serve as interviews if you are close to receiving your degree. You may also be invited back to interview at a future date; however, GSRP will not cover the cost for a second visit.
Please note, if you are attending graduate school on an F1 visa, you must become a permanent resident or convert to a J1 visa if you accept a postdoc position. 

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

Percentages of GSRP outcomes of postdocs and other careers

While GSRP does not guarantee a postdoc position, more than 50-70% of the participants receive official interviews as a direct result of the program. Over the last 5 years, 42% of GSRP participants who pursued a postdoc are/have completed their postdoc at the NCI.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am attending graduate school on a F1 visa. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply to the program.  The basic requirement is that you are a senior Ph.D. student at a U.S. degree granting institution.  However, you should know that you must become a permanent resident or hold a J1 visa at the time of appointment.  Please visit the NIH Division of International Services for more information.

I intend to defend my dissertation in January of next year.  Is it too soon to apply to the program?

No. You can use the opportunity to learn about programs, network, and determine availability for future positions. You can also discuss potential start dates with investigators during your meeting(s); there may be some flexibility. 

What is the benefit of applying to GSRP?

You will have the opportunity to meet with numerous PIs and laboratories at the NCI prior to the official interview.  This provides valuable information about the lab(s), allowing you to determine if a specific lab is a good fit before accepting an offer.  Moreover, investigators hold the accepted applicants in high esteem, as they are competitively reviewed and selected for the program, rely on the GSRP to fill their open positions.

Does acceptance into the program guarantee me a position at NCI/NIH?

No, acceptance does not guarantee a position.  However, the chances of receiving an offer are higher than if you were to email investigators yourself to inquire about open positions.

Are the meetings with investigators official job interviews?

Perhaps. The structure of your interview is dependent on you and the PI at the time of scheduling. Most applicants set up 30-60 minute meetings, where they learn about the PI, lab, and possibly meet lab members. An official interview is typically a half day, where in addition to speaking with the PI and lab members, you also present a job talk. However, both can take place during the meeting scheduling period prior to or during the GSRP conference. Additionally, you will be able to present your research during the virtual poster session where the PIs will be able to attend and ask questions. Roughly 50-70% of the GSRP applicants go on to have official interviews after the program. Students even receive job offers immediately following or during the visit!

Contact Information

Questions regarding the NCI Graduate Student Recruiting Program should be directed to the program coordinator:

Program Coordinator
NCI Graduate Student Recruiting Program

Katherine Choe speaks with a fellow GSRP participant about her research.

Credit: National Cancer Institute

Samuel Pellom discusses his poster with an NCI investigator.

Credit: National Cancer Institute
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