Applications are accepted from current students, recent graduates, and U.S. college/university faculty year round. Upon being selected for an appointment, participants are matched with a mentor who provides a hands-on research experience at one of DoD’s sponsoring agencies. There are over 40 host facilities in the ORISE Research Participation Programs throughout the Army, Air Force, Navy, and the DoD.
The ORISE Research Participation Programs at DoD are educational and training programs designed to provide college students, recent graduates, and university faculty opportunities to participate in project-specific DoD research and developmental activities.
Because of the educational nature of these programs, participants must fall into one of the following categories:
- Students must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), and must maintain satisfactory progress in academic coursework.
- Postgraduates and Postdoctorates must have received their degree in an appropriate STEM discipline within 5 years of the appointment start date, or must complete all requirements for such a degree prior to the desired start date.
- Faculty must be full-time faculty from an accredited U.S. college or university.
DOD sponsors typically only consider qualified U.S. citizens, due to the sensitive nature of the research performed and/or restricted facility access. DoD offices may appoint foreign citizens who are eligible to participate as J-1 Exchange Visitors on a case-by-case basis. Foreign citizens eligible for other visa categories approved by DoD and ORISE may be considered. Any such restrictions will be clearly stated in the project description of the opportunity posting. For more information on eligibility requirements for non-U.S. citizens, please see Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens.
Applications will be considered without regard to race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin, mental or physical disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or covered veteran’s status.
Types of Appointments
Candidates for an appointment are defined by four categories.
Student appointments, both short-term and long-term, are available year-round. A student may be re-appointed during subsequent years, with no time limit, as he or she matriculates toward a degree. Once a degree is earned, the student becomes eligible for a postgraduate appointment and may participate for five years in that category.
Postgraduate and Postdoctoral appointments are normally conferred one year at a time and may be renewed for the equivalent of a total of five years of full-time participation based on the recommendation of the mentor and the approval of the Sponsor.
University Faculty appointments normally occur for 10-12 weeks during the summer. Appointments during the academic year are also feasible. A university faculty member may be re-appointed each summer, with no time limit, as long as he or she maintains status as full-time faculty.
Nature of the Appointment
Description of ORISE internship/research participation appointments at DoD.
An ORISE research participant at DoD is not an employee of ORISE, ORAU, DoD, the host facility, or any other office or agency. Instead, the participant has a guest appointment at the DoD-designated facility and is affiliated with ORISE for the administration of the appointment through the ORISE appointment letter and Terms of Appointment.
When accepting the Terms of Appointment, a participant agrees that the receipt of stipend payments from ORAU shall not be construed as an employment relationship and acknowledges there are no employment-related benefits (such as paid vacations, sick pay, maternity leave, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation, etc.) associated with this appointment.
As a guest at a DoD facility, a participant is expected to devote full time and effort in pursuing the activities of the research program, publishing research results, participating and presenting at appropriate scientific conferences and meetings, and participating in technical activities at the DoD facility.
Prior to Starting an Appointment
Learn about the steps that occur before the candidate can begin the appointment.
Prior to the mentor selecting the candidate, the candidate must complete an application in Zintellect which includes the following items:
- Current resume
- Official transcript showing most recent degree
- At least one reference from a person familiar with the candidate’s educational qualifications (a reference from a current or past faculty member is preferred)
Once the mentor selects the candidate for a project, the mentor can coordinate a potential start date with the candidate. However, the appointment may not begin until an official appointment offer from ORISE is received and accepted. Here are the steps in the process:
- The candidate will receive an official appointment letter and other relevant documents through Zintellect. The appointment letter will outline any contingencies that must be met prior to starting the appointment.
- To accept the offer, the candidate completes and returns all requested materials.
- Selected candidates who are U.S. citizens must verify their citizenship before starting the appointment.
- Selected candidates who are not U.S. citizens must consult with ORISE immigration staff upon acceptance of the appointment to ensure they have the authorizations necessary for participation. Selected candidates cannot start their appointment until the ORISE immigration staff have provided notification that they are cleared to start. See Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizensfor clarification on the types of authorizations acceptable for the program.
- All participants are required to have health insurancein place on the first day of the appointment and must maintain health insurance throughout the duration of the appointment. Health insurance is available through ORISE.
Note: A delay in any of the items listed above may delay the start date of the appointment and/or the stipend payment.
Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens
In this section you will find information which is intended to be used as a guide. If selected to participate, ORISE Immigration Services is required to verify your immigration status eligibility.
There are various types of immigration statuses that allow foreign nationals to participate in some Research Participation Programs where U.S. citizenship is not required. However, some DoD offices may have restricted areas that may only allow U.S. citizens access due to the sensitive nature of the research performed.
Most Commonly Accepted Statuses at ORISE:
- F1-Curricular Practical Training – with approved Form I-20
- F1-Optional Practical Training – with USCIS-approved EAD card
- J-1 Research Scholar – must have a minimum of bachelor’s degree; appointment length for more than six months (renewable up to a maximum of five years)
- J- 1 Short-Term Scholar – must have a minimum of bachelor’s degree; appointment length for maximum of six months
- J-1 Student – with authorization letter and/or DS-2019 authorized by university sponsor
- J-2 Dependent – with USCIS-approved EAD card
- Lawful Permanent Resident – with LPR (green) card (conditional and permanent)
- EAD - AOS – adjustment of status with USCIS-approved EAD card
The Designated School Official (DSO) is the official point of contact for foreign national students. The DSO will determine if the foreign national is eligible for CPT authorization by endorsing the Form I-20. CPT can be authorized for part-time participation during the academic year (no more than 20 hours/week) and full-time during the summer or regular academic breaks (up to 40 hours/week).
OPT must be recommended by the DSO and requires USCIS authorization with the issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Approval for the EAD takes several months to obtain from USCIS. The first 12-months of OPT is acceptable.
In the event that you plan to use an F-1 status to participate in these programs, pre- or post-completion OPT is acceptable (up to 12 months); however, the 24-month OPT STEM is not allowed.
All participants with J-1 status are temporarily in the United States and must demonstrate an intention to return to their home country at the end of their exchange program.
The exchange of Research Scholars promotes the exchange of ideas, research, mutual enrichment and linkages between research and academic institutions in the United States and foreign countries. This category is for a foreign national who enters the United States for the primary purpose of conducting research and observing in connection with research projects at research institutions, post-secondary accredited academic institutions, or similar types of institutions.
Short-Term Scholars are professors, research scholars and other individuals with similar education or accomplishments travel to the United States on a short-term visit to conduct research, observe, train or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, post-secondary accredited academic institutions or similar types of institutions. No program extension will be considered beyond the six-month maximum. No change of category will be considered.
ORAU sponsors the J-1 status (Research Scholar and Short-Term Scholar categories only) for selected, eligible participants on a case-by-case basis. If a candidate already has a J-1 status as a research scholar or short-term scholar (up to the maximum allowed length) and is currently in the United States, he/she may be eligible for a transfer from his/her current sponsor’s program.
All J-1 recipients and J-2 dependents must have insurance in effect which covers the exchange visitor for sickness or accident during the period of time that an exchange visitor participates in the sponsor’s exchange visitor program. Failure to maintain the appropriate insurance would result in termination of J-1 authorization for the participant and dependents. Such circumstances would require leaving the program and the United States.
Foreign students at American degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institutions may participate in an ORISE research experience. This requires an authorization letter and/or Form DS-2019 authorized by the academic institution.
A J-1 exchange visitor’s spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 years, may be eligible to apply for J-2 status. A J-2 dependent (if age appropriate) may be eligible to apply for authorization to participate by requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. J-2 dependents with valid EAD cards are eligible to participate in ORISE programs, assuming all other eligibility requirements are met.
Having a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card) allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) may participate in ORISE programs.
A foreign national who has filed an I-485 application for adjustment of status may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) during the period that the application is pending with USCIS. Foreign nationals with an EAD-AOS may participate in ORISE programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to the questions most commonly asked by applicants.
How do I apply to an ORISE opportunity?
To apply, please visit Zintellect.
Can current students participate in research at DoD through ORISE?
Yes, the ORISE participation program experience is meant to complement a participant’s academic education at a student, postgraduate, or postdoctoral level. Therefore, current undergraduate and graduate students may hold appointments during the summer or during the semester. Please visit current opportunities to find projects that are currently accepting applications from students.
The project I want to apply for requires a completed degree. Do I need to have my degree completed before I apply, or can I apply if I am earning it within a few months?
If you anticipate receiving your degree shortly, you may be able to apply. Please reach out to your ORISE point of contact to determine if the Zintellect posting allows for current students to apply. If you are selected, you will be required to show proof of degree completion before beginning the appointment.
How long does the application process take?
If you have applied for a specific project, the DoD mentor for that project will determine how long applications will be accepted and how long the review process will take. Once the mentor has selected a candidate, there are several steps that must be completed before the candidate can receive an appointment letter. The amount of time it takes from the time you are selected to the actual start date may vary depending on several factors, such as the security and background check processes.
How do I know if the opportunity is still accepting applications?
If you see the opportunity on Zintellect then it is still actively accepting applications. If no deadline is listed, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
Do I need an official transcript?
Yes, you will need to provide official proof of your academic status or standing from an Authorized Academic Official as a contingency to start. Some participants may be required to provide proof of academic standing throughout their participation in the program per program requirements. Please note: ORISE will accept the following as of official proof of academic standing or status.
Official transcript- Issued by the Registrar’s Office and includes official university markings such as the registrar’s signature, university logo or stamp, letter head, or watermark. In addition, the transcript must show the name of the selectee, the name of the institution, and the courses taken with grades, and, if applicable, courses in progress or the degree received. The transcript does not have to be provided directly from the institution to ORISE, but can be emailed, uploaded into Zintellect, or mailed by the selectee.
Proof of Degree- Letter from Authorized Academic Official on university letter head stating degree requirements have been met. Letter must also state completion date and when the degree was awarded.
How many references do I need? Will it help me to send more?
At least one reference is required, unless stated otherwise in the opportunity posting. Use your discretion as to whether additional references will strengthen your application by highlighting aspects of your background that were not addressed elsewhere. Selection officials may not be able to see your application until at least one reference has been submitted.
Who should fill out a recommendation for me?
You should obtain recommendations from people familiar with your educational and professional qualifications. At least one recommender should be a professor or other individual who can comment on your educational experience.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to participate in ORISE programs?
Non-U.S. citizens with appropriate immigration statuses are eligible for some DoD appointments; many DoD research projects require U.S. citizenship for security reasons. For more information on eligible immigration statuses, please see Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens.
Do I have to join the military to participant in a DoD ORISE program?
ORISE does not require military enrollment or prior military service to participate at a DoD sponsor.
How are participants selected?
Participants are selected by the DoD mentor. ORISE staff will prescreen applications to ensure that all required materials have been received and that the participant has attained the required educational level, but are not otherwise involved in the selection process.
Are there any DoD opportunities through ORISE that are not posted on the ORISE website?
All opportunities for ORISE Research Participation Programs at DoD are listed in Zintellect. Check back often for additional postings.
Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of being selected for an appointment?
Please ensure that all of the necessary application materials have been received and that you have the necessary educational qualifications. Successful applicants generally apply for a specific project. Please review the current opportunities that are available and apply directly through Zintellect.
How long will my appointment last?
Initial appointments are usually made for a maximum of one year. They may be extended to a maximum total of five years, based upon program needs, funding availability, and participant eligibility. Shorter appointments are also available, based upon program needs and candidate availability. Many project descriptions state the expected duration of the appointment.
My mentor has told me that I have been selected for an appointment. When will I receive notification from ORISE?
ORISE must await DoD program coordinator approval before the appointment process through ORISE can begin. Once approvals and funding are in place, ORISE is able to generate the appointment package. See start of appointment for more information.
Can I relocate before I receive my appointment letter?
We do not advise you to do this. Only ORISE is authorized to offer you an appointment via an appointment letter. Additionally, if your program will provide financial assistance for relocation, it is important that you work with ORISE to ensure that the moving expenses you incur will be reimbursable.
Why can’t I start yet?
There are many reasons that you may be marked as “Not ready to start” in Zintellect. For more information, please contact your ORISE point of contact.
Sortable calendar of ORISE events