Information for Applicants

Applications are accepted from current students, recent graduates, and U.S. college/university faculty with participants selected by the USFS mentor. Review the applicant information and program details below for more information and contact ORISE with any additional questions.

Additional Information

  • Eligibility

    The US Forest Service Research Participation Programs are educational and training programs designed to provide college students, recent graduates, and university faculty opportunities to participate in project-specific USFS research and developmental activities.

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    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. pre-college, college or university pursuing a degree in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), and must maintain satisfactory progress in academic coursework.
    • 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.
    • Faculty must be full-time faculty from an accredited U.S. pre-college, college or university.
    • Established scientists interested in new research training activities will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the USFS program coordinator and ORISE management staff if there is an opportunity posting that requires an established scientist.

    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.

    The program is typically open to qualified U.S. citizens, foreign citizens who are eligible to participate as J-1 Exchange Visitors, and foreign citizens eligible for other visa categories approved by USFS and ORISE. However, a few USFS offices may only appoint U.S. citizens due to the sensitive nature of the research performed and/or restricted facility access. 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.

  • Prior to Starting the Appointment

    Although the mentor may have selected the candidate for a project, there are additional steps to follow before the candidate can be cleared to begin the appointment.

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    Required Application Materials

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

    The general steps are outlined below:

    • USFS mentor submits the selection form to ORISE in Zintellect.
    • 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 who are U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents must verify their citizenship before starting the appointment.
    • Selected candidates who are not U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents 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 notified they are cleared to start. Also, see Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens for clarification on the types of authorizations acceptable for the program.
    • On the date the participant begins, the USFS mentor must certify that the candidate reported to the facility. Once all of these steps are complete, ORISE will begin stipend payments.
  • 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.

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    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 USFS offices may have restricted areas that may only allow U.S. citizens access due to the sensitive nature of the research performed.

    For more information please visit the ORISE Immigration website.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Answers to the questions most commonly asked by applicants.

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    Participants receive a monthly stipend to help defray living and other expenses during the appointment. Stipend rates are determined by USFS, and are based on the participant’s educational level. Some mentors may also award relocation, a travel allowance, and/or a health insurance stipend.

    Every participant is required to have health insurance on the first day of the appointment and throughout the duration of the program. Participants may not be present at USFS facilities if their insurance coverage lapses.

    Individual, individual plus one, or family insurance coverage may be purchased through ORISE, or participants may obtain another insurance plan from the company of their choice.

    Non-citizens with appropriate immigration statuses are eligible for most USFS appointments. Generally, participants are not required to hold U.S. citizenship. However, a few USFS offices may have restricted areas that may only allow U.S. citizens access due to the sensitive nature of the research performed.

    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.

    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.

    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. Selection officials will not be able to see your application until at least one reference has been submitted.

    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.

    Participants are selected by the USFS mentor at USFS from the pool of fully submitted and qualified applications to the posting in Zintellect. 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. The mentor will review applications and will then notify ORISE once they have selected a candidate in order to begin the appointment letter process described in Prior to Starting the Appointment.

    If you have applied for a specific project, the USFS mentor for that project will determine how long applications will be accepted, and how long the review and selection 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 with offer (which will come from ORISE via the Zintellect system). If selected, the process between receiving your official appointment letter with offer and your actual start date may vary depending on several factors including background checks and the security process.

    Applicants can always contact the USFS program email listed on the posting with any questions regarding the status of your application and/or the opportunity.

    Please ensure that all of the necessary application materials have been received and that you have obtained the necessary educational qualifications. At least one reference needs to be submitted in order for the mentor to view your application. Please review the current opportunities that are available.

    All opportunities for ORISE Research Participation Programs at USFS are listed in Zintellect. Check back often for additional postings.

    All ORISE appointment selections must be submitted by the USFS mentor. ORISE will send an appointment letter once this submission is received and the funding for the appointment is in place.

    We do not advise you to do this. Only ORISE is authorized to offer you an appointment.

  • Diversity Inclusion/Culture

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    The USFS Diversity Council strives to achieve a USFS workforce that reflects the demographics of our Nation, and an environment which is open and accepting of individual differences. The Diversity Council desires an organizational culture where all employees are encouraged to maximize their potential and exhibit a commitment to science excellence and responsiveness to our society’s needs. We recommend that applicants explore the USFS website to learn more about their unique culture and diversity commitments. Applicants may also explore the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government issued January 20, 2021.

    ORISE administers STEM internship and fellowship programs on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies. The diversity of these programs enables individuals—whether undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, or faculty—to conduct collaborative research at national laboratories or one of more than a dozen federal agency partners nationwide. Interested applicants can review and apply to hundreds of postings for paid internships and fellowships that best meet their individual career interests and educational advancement needs on Zintellect. Recruiting/Outreach events, including a focus on enhancing connections and recruitment for underrepresented groups, are offered regularly by ORISE to provide candidates the opportunity to speak with program staff, mentors, and current/alumni participants to learn more.

    ORISE champions diversity, promotes creativity, rewards excellence, and encourages respect and an acceptance of differences. To support this commitment, ORISE operates a strong diversity program that includes training, educational programs, and awareness events for its employees and the community and is dedicated to recruiting and preparing the next generation of our nation’s scientific workforce.

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