Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions by Applicants

EPA stream research

Image courtesy of EPA

Can current students participate in research at EPA 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 available.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to participate in ORISE programs?
Non-citizens with appropriate immigration statuses are eligible for most EPA appointments. For more information on eligible immigration statuses, please see Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens.

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.

How long will my appointment last?
Initial appointments can be made for a maximum of one year. They may be extended based upon EPA recommendation, funding availability, and participant eligibility. Shorter appointments are also available. Many project descriptions state the expected duration of the appointment.

Can I send the application materials in separately (application, references, transcript, etc.)?
These materials do not need to be sent together. If your legal name has changed, or some of your referees refer to you by a nickname, please attach a cover letter giving your previous/other name(s) so that we may properly collate your materials.

I recently applied for an ORISE opportunity. A new project is now available, and I would like to be considered for it also.  Do I need to submit a new application?
If you have previously applied for an ORISE program at an agency other than EPA, you will need to submit new application materials. If you have previously applied for another research opportunity at EPA through ORISE, you do not need to submit a new application. E-mail us at and provide us with: 1) the project number you had previously applied to, and 2) the new project number for which you would now like to be considered. We will send your application to the appropriate EPA office.

Do you prefer to receive my application materials by fax, mail or e-mail?
We will accept any of these submission methods. The anti-tampering measures used by some universities on their official transcripts make them difficult to read once they have been faxed; you may wish to mail transcripts. Our addresses and fax number can be found on the Contact Page.

Can references be sent directly to you through e-mail or fax?
Yes, we will accept e-mails and faxes directly from referees. We will also accept standard letters of reference; you are not required to use the reference form included in the application.

How many references do I need? Will it help me to send more?
Two references are required. Use your discretion as to whether additional references will strengthen your application by highlighting aspects of your background that were not addressed elsewhere.

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.

Do my transcripts need to be official?
Yes. We can also accept scans and faxes of official transcripts.  Please note that graduates of foreign institutions must provide transcripts (or a letter explaining that no transcript can be provided) and an official English translation of those transcripts.  The translation must come directly from the degree-granting institution or from a translation service, not from the applicant or from a private third party.

How are participants selected?
Participants are selected by the project mentor at EPA. 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.

How long does the application process take?
If you have applied for a specific project, the EPA 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.

If you did not indicate a project number on your application materials, we will retain them on file for a year.

Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of getting an appointment?
Please ensure that all of the necessary application materials have been received and that you have obtained the necessary educational qualifications. Successful applicants generally apply for a specific project. Please review the current opportunities that are available, and clearly indicate the project number on your application materials.

Are there opportunities at EPA through ORISE that are not posted on the ORISE website?
Not all EPA programs choose to post opportunities here. We recommend that you also use other searching/networking processes to locate opportunities for guest research at EPA.

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 EPA project officer/ORISE program coordinator. 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 move before I receive my appointment letter?
We strongly recommend against this. Your appointment is not guaranteed until ORISE issues your appointment letter.