STAR U: Eligibility, Application, and Selection

The 2020 application is available NOW

Priority Deadline: January 15th, 2020 
Final Deadline: February 1st, 2020 ​@ 11:59 PM EST. 


  • Applicants to the program must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate institution or community college. Rising Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, in addition to Seniors who graduate Spring of 2020 are all eligible.
  • Applicants must either be a U.S. citizen, Permanent Resident, or an individual granted deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Applicants must come from diverse backgrounds. For details regarding NIH diversity eligibility, see "NIH Interest in Diversity.”

According to the Notice on NIH’s Interest in Diversity:

  • The NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, such as:
    • Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health related sciences on a national basis (see data and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program. For more information on racial and ethnic categories and definitions, see NOT-OD-15-089.
    • Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. See NSF data here,
    • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as:
      • Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (definition);

      • Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families (definition);

      • Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years (definition);

      • Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (see more information);

      • Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants (definition);

      • Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child (definition);

      • Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas  (qualifying zipcodes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition

        Students from low socioeconomic (SES) status backgrounds have been shown to obtain bachelor’s and advanced degrees at significantly lower rates than students from middle and high SES groups (see more information), and are subsequently less likely to be represented in biomedical research. For background see Department of Education data at the National Center for Education Statistics, Postsecondary Attainment: Differences by Socioeconomic Status,  and Advancing Diversity and Inclusion In Higher Education.

        Retrieved from: National Institutes of Health (NIH). NOT-OD-18-210: Updated Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity. (2019, November 22). Accessed December 6, 2019.

Application Requirements:

  • Completed application form submitted electronically by February 1, 2020 11:59 PM EST
    • Application form consists of demographic questions, uploading your personal statement/resume/academic transcript, ranking your top 5 faculty mentor choices, and one short answer question.
    • All applications must be submitted electronically in the online application form. If you would like to preview the entire application before starting the online application, please reference the PDF of the STAR U 2020 Application in the "Documents" section of the main page.
  • Personal Statement (600 word maximum, save in PDF form):
    • Reasons for your interest in brain aging
    • Your academic and career goals
    • What has inspired or motivated you to pursue these goals? (Expand on community involvement, volunteer experiences, previous research, personal life experiences, etc.)
    • How will participating in STAR U help you reach your goals?
    • Any other information about yourself that you would like to share
  • Resume/CV (in PDF form)
  • Academic transcript (in PDF form; official or unofficial)
  • Visitor Registration Form 

    Top section of page 1, non-electronic signature, and date ("To Be Completed by Visitor") and page 6 (name, date, and non-electronic signature) 

    Scan as one PDF and attach to online application  

    Please find this form in the "Documents" section of the main page.

  • Personal Information Form 

    Please find this form in the "Documents" section of the main page.

    We ask for these forms to accelerate the on boarding process in the case that you are selected as a final candidate for the STAR U 2020 Program. 

  • 2 letters of reference from undergraduate professors or other relevant parties on official letterhead and sent directly to the STAR U Program Coordinator, Kiana Chan ( Letters of recommendation are due by February 1st, 2020.  
  • Please note: your application is not considered complete unless we have received your completed application form, which should include your demographic information, personal statement, short essay, resume/CV, and academic transcript, short term visitor form, personal information form, and two letters of recommendation by the deadline of February 1st, 2020.

Selection Process:

  • Only complete applications, which include submission of all documents and online forms, submitted by the deadline will be reviewed.
  • Once the application deadline has passed, the STAR U Review Committee will begin review of complete applications
  • The top 50 candidates will be selected for a phone interview with the STAR U Program Manager
  • The top 25 candidates will be selected for a video interview with one of the STAR U Program Directors
  • Based on each applicant’s overall application and interview, 10 students will be selected to participate in the 2020 cohort of STAR U Scholars


  • Application Deadline: 
    - Priority Deadline: January 15, 2020
    - Final Deadline: February 1, 2020 @ 11:59 PM
  • Notification if selected for phone interview: Late February/Early March
  • Decisions Made (tentative): Early March, 2020
  • Program Starts: June 8, 2020
  • Program Ends:  August 7, 2020

Apply: STAR U 2020 is NOW Accepting Applications!