Skip to main content

Information for Applicants

Applications for the FBI Visiting Scientist Program (FBI VSP) are accepted from current students, recent graduates, and U.S. college/university faculty.


  • Eligibility

    The Visiting Scientist Program is an educational and training program designed to provide college students, recent graduates, and university faculty opportunities to participate in project-specific FBI 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. Postgraduates must have received their degree in an appropriate STEM discipline within five 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.

    Applicants must meet the following criteria at the time they apply: Only individuals possessing strong academic credentials, outstanding character and a high degree of motivation will be selected for the Visiting Scientist Program.

    • All candidates must be citizens of the United States.
    • All applicants must have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or above on a 4.0 scale and be in good standing with his or her undergraduate or graduate degree program.
    • Student applicants must be attending a college or university that is accredited by one of the regional or national institutional associations recognized by the United States Secretary of Education.
    • Applicants still pursuing their degree must be on track to complete their degree prior to the starting date.
    • Postgraduate applicants with degrees must have received their degree within five years of the desired starting date.
    • Faculty applicants must be full-time, permanent faculty members at an accredited U.S. college or university.

    Appointment Requirements

    Applicants must meet all FBI Employment Requirements, pass an FBI Background Investigation and receive a Top Secret Clearance.

    There are specific elements that will automatically disqualify candidates for appointments with the FBI. For detailed Eligibility and disqualifiers, click here.

  • Prior to Starting the Appointment

    Required materials and general steps to be completed prior to starting the appointment

    Required Application Materials

    • ORISE application through Zintellect
    • Current résumé
    • Unofficial transcript is required for an application. If selected for a fellowship, an official transcript will be required.
    • One recommendation from persons who are familiar with the candidate’s educational qualifications (including a recommendation from a current or past faculty member if possible)

    The general steps are outlined below:

    • FBI VSP mentor submits the selection to the FBI VSP program coordinator. FBI VSP approval processes may vary from center to center, so please contact the FBI VSP program coordinator for more information on FBI VSP’s internal processes.
    • FBI VSP program coordinator submits the selection form to ORISE in Zintellect signifying approval of the selected candidate, and authorizing the appointment period, project description, funds to be used to cover the costs of the appointment, and any additional details of the appointment.
    • Once ORISE receives and reviews the authorized selection form and confirms the funding availability, ORISE initiates the official appointment letter.
    • All candidates must accept the appointment offer from ORISE prior to reporting to the facility to ensure that they will be eligible to receive a stipend. The appointment letter addendum will outline any contingencies that must be met prior to starting their appointment.
    • All participants are required to have health insurance in place no later than the first day of the appointment and maintain health insurance throughout the duration of the appointment.
    • Selected candidates must verify their citizenship before starting the appointment.
    • On the date the participant begins, the FBI VSP program coordinator must certify that the candidate reported to the facility. Once all of these steps are complete, ORISE will begin stipend payments.

    FBI VSP requires ORISE participants to read and sign their FBI VSP Education and Training Agreement within 30 days of his/her start date, setting forth the conditions and expectations for his/her educational appointment at the agency. This agreement covers such topics as the following:

    • Non-employee nature of the ORISE appointment;
    • Prohibition on ORISE Fellows performing inherently governmental functions;
    • Obligation of ORISE Fellows to convey all necessary rights to the FBI VSP regarding intellectual property conceived or first reduced to practice during their fellowship;
    • The fact that research materials and laboratory notebooks are the property of the FBI VSP;
    • ORISE fellow’s obligation to protect and not to further disclose or use non-public information.
  • FBI Hosting Laboratories

    ORISE gives students, recent graduates and U.S. faculty an opportunity to be paired with a staff scientist who will provide a hands-on research experience at one of the FBI laboratories listed below. More information can be found about each facility by clicking below:

    • The Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit (CFSRU) provides technical leadership and advancement of forensic sciences for the FBI—as well as for federal, state, local, and international agencies—through applied research and development. Our research focuses on three primary goals: (1) the development of new capabilities; (2) improvements to existing capabilities; and (3) the defensibility of current and future capabilities.
    • The FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) consists of a cadre of special agents and professional support personnel who provide expertise in crisis management, hostage rescue, surveillance and aviation, hazardous devices mitigation, crisis negotiations, behavioral analysis, and tactical operations.
  • Current Research Opportunities

    A list of all current opportunities with ORISE Research Participation Programs at the FBI VSP.

    Find out more

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Answers to the questions most commonly asked by applicants.

    Can current students participate in research at FBI VSP 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.

    Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to participate in ORISE programs at the FBI?
    All candidates must be citizens of the United States.

    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 are usually made for a maximum of 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. Many project descriptions state the expected duration of the appointment. 

    How many recommendations do I need? Will it help me to send more?
    One recommendation is required. Use your discretion as to whether additional recommendations will strengthen your application by highlighting aspects of your background that were not addressed elsewhere. Selection officials will not be able to see your application until at least one recommendation 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.

    How are participants selected?
    Participants are selected based on academic records, recommendations, applied research interests and compatibility of background with applied research programs and projects at the Research Unit. Selection is also dependent upon availability of funds, staff programs and equipment. Final selection of participants is made by the Research Unit.

    How long does the application process take?
    If you have applied for a specific project, the FBI VSP 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 process between receiving your application and actual start date may vary depending on several factors including background checks and the security process.

    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. If no deadline is listed, then applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

    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.

    Are there opportunities at FBI VSP through ORISE that are not posted on the ORISE website?
    All opportunities for ORISE Research Participation Programs at FBI VSP are listed in Zintellect. Check back often for additional postings.

    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 FBI VSP 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 relocate before I receive my appointment letter?
    We do not advise you to do this. Only ORISE is authorized to offer you an appointment.