Frequently Asked Questions

UCSF Summer Student Research Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

· High school students in their junior or senior year, with at least one completed year in math and biology OR Undergraduate students currently enrolled in a 2-yr or 4-yr undergraduate program.

· Students in good academic standing (typically 3.0 or better GPA) with an interest in the health sciences.

· Students with background considered under-represented in the sciences as defined below (page 3).

· U.S. citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States, or those lawfully admitted for permanent residency (i.e., in possession of the Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551 or I-151) at the time of application. Undocumented students or students on temporary visas are welcome to apply and are eligible for some of the stipend positions.

Applicants eligible to receive a stipend must meet all of the criteria above to be considered for acceptance into the program. Students who do not fulfill the eligibility requirements may still apply denoting on the application the interest in participation as a ‘Volunteer’.  Volunteer applicants are chosen based on merit and mentor availability.

How do I apply?

Students interested in the Summer Student Research Program (SSRP) should submit the SSRP application and other required documents by the application deadline. A link to our online application as well as applicant instructions can be found on our website:

What is required as part of my application?

  1. Completed application
  2. School transcript – An official copy is not required, but the unofficial copy must be legible.
  3. Personal essay (500 words or less) – Please address the following topics:
    • Why do you want to participate in this program?
    • What do you hope to achieve through participation in this program?
    • Why do you believe you should be chosen as a candidate for this program?
  4. Resume (maximum of 2 pages)
  5. Letter(s) of recommendation – Your recommender has the option of writing either a recommendation letter with submission by email OR using the online SSRP reference form (link available on our website). It is recommended that one letter come from a teacher, while the other may come from a counselor, mentor, coach, or other school official. These letters should address your educational achievements, potential to succeed in the sciences, and why you might stand out from others. If your recommender is NOT using the SSRP reference form, the letters should be signed and on official letterhead. Letters should be sent directly to the SSRP email: [email protected]
    • High School Requirement – High school applicants are only required to provide ONE letter of recommendation/reference form.
    • Undergraduate Requirement – Undergraduate applicants are required to provide TWO letters of recommendation/reference forms.

Where can I find instructions for the Reference letters?

Instructions can be found on the SSRP website ( with link “Reference Letter Criteria.”

What if I don’t have all of the application elements by the deadline?

Only completed applications will be reviewed.

When is the application due?

Applications are due in February of each year. Check the SSRP website for specific dates.  

When do I submit the application?

You may submit an application at any time before the due date; however, the applications will not be reviewed by the selection committee until the deadline.

How do I submit an application?

   Step 1: Find the link to the online application for the summer student program at ‘How to Apply” on the website

   Step 2: Complete the application and submit with all required documents as PDF or Word documents. Do not submit Google documents or embedded links.

   Step 3: Choose who you wish to submit your reference(s). Provide the “Reference Letter Criteria” document to them for detailed instructions.

How are applicants selected?

A selection committee will review all applications that meet the eligibility requirements. The criteria for selection of awardees will include candidate qualifications, aptitude, enthusiasm for science, career goals, and articulation of what you hope to gain from participation in the program. The selection committee takes a holistic view of the application. Grades are considered, but the committee will also take into account the rigor of courses taken, trajectory of grades, and academic or personal barriers. Student character is also considered based on the submitted letter(s) of recommendation. Students applying to SSRP as alumni must demonstrate leadership potential and articulate, in detail, what new skills or experiences they hope to gain from participation in the program again.

When do I hear if I was selected?

Students will be informed about the status of their application by email typically by the end of March each year. Updates regarding specific dates of intern selection will be posted on our website. Be sure to check your email regularly during this time, including your spam filter in case notification gets delayed there.

Can I choose my research mentor?

Research mentors are carefully selected for each student by the SSRP leadership team. Students may submit preferences for specific areas of research study or mentors, which will be considered along with the mentor’s research focus and lab/clinic availability. To find out more about our mentors and their research interests, please visit the program website at: Note that mentor availability varies each summer.

Can I choose what type of research I participate in?

Students can request the general type of research they prefer. However, specific summer research projects are decided by the mentor student pair after program enrollment.

What are the different research categories?

We offer 3 general types of research in this program. Laboratory research is defined as: research conducted within a basic science laboratory. Clinical research is defined as: research in which people, or data, or samples of tissue from people, are studied to understand health and disease. Community Health or Public Health research is defined broadly as research focused on the maintenance, protection, and improvement of the health status of population groups and communities.

How long is the program?

The summer student program is 9 weeks, typically from the first week of June through the first week of August. Exact dates of the program vary and will be posted on the summer student program website as well as emailed to the students upon acceptance to the program. All students are required to participate in the final research symposium which is typically held the first Friday in August.

Where will my research project take place?  

Students are matched by the SSRP leadership with mentors according to research interest and mentor availability. Mentors are located across the San Francisco Bay Area. Sites are captured in, but not limited to, UCSF Mission Bay, UCSF Parnassus Heights, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital of Oakland, MLK Research Building in Oakland, or UC Berkeley. 

How is an ‘under-represented student’ defined?

Under-representation is defined by the National Science Foundation as a student who falls into at least ONE of the THREE categories below. Please review carefully.

1) Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be under-represented in the health-related sciences on a national basis.  

  • African-American/Black: all persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. This definition includes Native-born Black Americans, West Indians, Africans, and Haitians.Hispanic/Latino: all people having origins in North, Central, and South America, or in the Caribbean, Cuba, or Puerto Rico whose language is Spanish.  This definition excludes people born in Europe whose language is Spanish or Portuguese, and people born in Brazil, French Guyana, British and Dutch Guyana.   
  • Native American: all persons having origins in any of the cultural people of North America, and who maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition. Native Americans may include American Indians, Alaska Eskimos (Inuits), and Aleuts.
  • Pacific Islander: all persons having origins in the Pacific Islands.  These include Guamanians, Samoans, Fijians, Polynesians, Tongans, Micronesians, Tahitians, Marshalleses, Melanesians and Hawaiians.
  • Middle Eastern: persons having origins in specific Middle Eastern countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen.


2) Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Some examples include but are not limited to sickle cell disease, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, Type I diabetes, cerebral palsy, and autism.


3) Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds (defined by at least 2 or more of the criteria below, documentation of eligibility may be required if accepted):

Note: SSRP recognizes that these definitions of under-representation in science can vary and no one list is comprehensive for all identities and intersectionalities. The SSRP reserves the right to consider any applicants as under-represented given the information provided in student applications and personal essays.

Is a stipend provided during the program?

Yes, all selected and eligible students will receive a stipend during their participation. Summer stipends are set at $3000 for high school students to $4300 for undergraduate students, as defined by the program granting agencies. Once a student is selected, stipend details will be sent by email, and students will have the opportunity to review the program offer prior to final acceptance.

Is housing provided during the program?

Housing is not provided during the program, nor is funding provided for housing support.

Who funds the program?

The program is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

What happens if I am selected?

You will receive an offer of acceptance into the program by email from the program administrator. You will have one week to accept the offer.  Upon acceptance, you will receive an enrollment packet by email. For official enrollment into the program to occur, your materials must be completed and received by the deadlines provided, or you may lose your program spot.

Are there age limitations for the program?

Students must be 16 years of age or older by June 1 of the program year to participate in the program. There is no maximum age limit.

What is the definition of a high school student?

Any student enrolled in a high school program at the time the SSRP application is submitted.

What is the definition of an undergraduate student?

Any student enrolled in a 2-yr or 4-yr undergraduate program at the time the SSRP application is submitted.

If I have other questions about the application process, who do I contact?

For questions not addressed via this FAQ, please contact the SSRP  at: