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Applicant Information

Applications are accepted from current students, recent graduates, and U.S. College/University faculty year round.


  • Eligibility

    The ORISE Research Participation Programs at U.S. DOT are educational and training programs designed to provide college students, recent graduates, and university faculty opportunities to participate in project-specific U.S. DOT research and developmental activities.

    Because of the educational nature of these programs, participants must fall into one of the following categories:

    1. Students must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university pursuing a degree in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), and must maintain satisfactory progress in academic coursework.
    2. Postgraduate 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.
    3. Faculty must be full-time faculty from an accredited U.S. college or university.

    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.

    Currently U.S. DOT opportunities are only open to US citizens.  However, ORISE does have many other opportunities which are open to LPRs and Foreign Nationals.  Please check our opportunity catalog on Zintellect, you can filter under “Citizenship.”

    Frequently Asked Questions About Eligibility

    • Can current students participate in research at U.S. DOT through ORISE?

    Current undergraduate and graduate students may hold appointments during the summer or part-time appointments 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, then you may apply. If you are selected, you will be required to show proof of degree completion before beginning the appointment. Most opportunities have a degree received by date.

  • 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. Generally, participants are not required to hold U.S. citizenship. However, a few EPA 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

    • 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

    F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    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).

    F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    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.

    J-1 Research Scholar and Short-Term Scholar

    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.

    J-1 Student

    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. 

    J-2 Dependent

    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.   

    Lawful Permanent Residents

    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.  

    EAD-AOS

    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.

  • Selection Process

    The general selection process is listed below. The time between when an application is submitted and when an offer is sent out can be as short as one week and as long as several months.

    1. Posting is listed on Zintellect.
    2. U.S. DOT Selection Committee/U.S. DOT Mentor(s) reviews applications.
      1. Some opportunities are reviewed only after the deadline but others are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applicants are often chosen before the deadline so apply early.
      2. Applications must be submitted and at least one letter of recommendation must be received in Zintellect for the U.S. DOT selection committee/U.S. DOT Mentor(s) to view the application.
      3. 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.
    3. U.S. DOT Selection Committee/U.S. DOT Mentor(s) interviews applicants and makes a selection.
    4. Once the selection is approved by the U.S. DOT Project Officer it is sent to ORISE.
    5. ORISE reviews the application for accuracy and sends the offer letter.
      1. In general, applicants have one week to accept or decline the offer.
      2. Applicants can submit questions to ORISE or contact U.S. DOT directly.
    6. Once the participant accepts they will have onboarding items in Zintellect to complete before starting the appointment.
    7. Participants will also have to complete the U.S. DOT security clearance process before starting the appointment. This information is sent to you from U.S. DOT.

    Frequently Asked Questions About The Selection Process

    • My mentor has told me that I have been selected for an appointment. When will I receive notification from ORISE?

    All ORISE appointments must be approved by the U.S. DOT Project Officer. ORISE will send an appointment letter once this approval is received and the funding for the appointment is in place. 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 so we do not recommend making any changes until you have accepted the offer in Zintellect. The U.S. DOT security clearance can often take 4-6 weeks or longer so your start date will often change.

  • Current Research Opportunities

    A list of all current opportunities with ORISE Research Participation Programs at the U.S. DOT.

    Find out more

  • Frequently Asked Questions - Opportunities

    Answers to the questions most commonly asked by applicants regarding opportunities at U.S. DOT.

    Are there opportunities at U.S. DOT through ORISE that are not posted on the ORISE website?

    All opportunities for ORISE Research Participation Programs at U.S. DOT should be listed in Zintellect. Check back often for additional postings. 

    How to I know if the opportunity is still accepting applications?

    If you see the opportunity on Zintellect then it is still actively accepting applications. Opportunities are closed on the deadline or after an applicant is selected and starts the appointment.

  • Frequently Asked Questions - Application

    Answers to the questions most commonly asked by applicants about their application.

    How many references do I need? Will it help me to send more?

    Two recommendations must be received before you begin your appointment. Selection officials will not be able to see your application until at least one reference has been received. You may submit more than two names, however, only the first two recommendations received can be viewed by the committee. In fairness to all applicants, we cannot manually provide the committee with the additional recommendations.

    What do I need from my references?

    When filling out your application in Zintellect you will be prompted to enter two names and email addresses for references. Zintellect then sends your reference an email with two open answer questions and 12 questions for them to rate you on a scale. Your reference has an option to attach a recommendation letter. Recommendations cannot come from the U.S. DOT mentor or coordinator of the opportunity you are applying for.

    Who should fill out a reference for me?

    You should obtain references from people familiar with your educational and professional qualifications. At least one reference should be from a professor or other similar individual who can comment on your educational experience.

    Can I attach an unofficial transcript?

    Click here for detailed information about acceptable transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are okay for the application but if selected you will need to attach an official transcript or letter from your academic institution stating that you met the degree requirements.

    Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of getting an appointment?

    Please ensure that your application is submitted and your recommendations have been received.

  • Frequently Asked Questions - Appointment

    Answers to the questions most commonly asked by applicants about the appointment.

    Can the anticipated appointment start date be changed?

    All start dates are flexible and vary depending on numerous factors including:

    • How long the interview process takes
    • Date the applicant is selected
    • U.S. DOT’s desired start date
    • The chosen applicant’s desired start date
    • Completing the U.S. DOT security process

    The appointment end date may change based on your actual start date to reflect a one year appointment.

    How long will my appointment last?

    Initial appointments are usually made for one year. They may be extended up 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. The opportunity should state expected duration of the appointment. 

    What is the average stipend for appointments?

    Stipend rates vary on numerous factors including the opportunity, location, education, and experience. If you are interviewed for the opportunity you will be able to inquire about the exact stipend at that time. The following are very general monthly stipend ranges for U.S. DOT ORISE opportunities:

    • Undergraduate student $2,000-$3,000
    • Post BS $3,000-$4,500
    • Graduate student (MS and PhD) $3,500-$6,500
    • Post MS $4,000-$6,000
    • Postdoc $5,000-$7,500