National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program

Please consult the program website to confirm details, including applicable deadlines.

Visit Program Website Here

Program Description and Benefits: 

The National Institutes of Health-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program is an accelerated, individualized doctoral training program for outstanding science students committed to biomedical research. The Program strives for high impact research outcomes, whether basic or clinical. This accelerated PhD program allows scholars to complete an individualized, research-based PhD in a little over 4 years, significantly less than the average PhD program. NIH OxCam Scholars receive funding for the duration of their program.

The NIH OxCam program does not have a defined curriculum. Students accepted into the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program conduct biomedical research under a dual-mentored system with a mentor at the NIH and a mentor at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge, spending approximately two years each at the NIH and at Oxford or Cambridge.

NIH OxCam Scholars work with two mentors at two institutes on a single project. The student develops and drives their thesis research project under the guidance of both mentors and spends equal time between the two labs conducting research. The work in each lab contributes to the final thesis.

Supported Fields: 

PhD or DPhil in any area of biomedical research.

Tenable Institutions: 

Oxford and Cambridge.

Application Process: 

Applicants selected for interviews will be notified in mid-January and will attend a three-day event in February at the NIH in Bethesda, MD. The OxCam Program arranges travel and accommodations to attend interviews. The interview is a 30-minute panel with NIH investigators and faculty representatives from Oxford and Cambridge. Applicants who are invited to NIH for an interview are encouraged to contact potential mentors and discuss possible projects prior to the interview, as this is viewed as a strength in the application. Candidates should use any free time to schedule meetings with potential mentors at the NIH.

NIH OxCam applicants should apply to either or both universities at any point during the time that they are accepting applications. Some NIH OxCam applicants apply after receiving an invitation to interview at the NIH, while others wait until they receive a letter of acceptance from the NIH OxCam Program. If you are accepted and have not applied to the university, you must do so immediately. Once you have solidified an NIH and UK mentor, you will need to formally withdraw your application from the university you will not be attending.

There are some scholarship opportunities available through the universities and deadlines may be prior to NIH OxCam interview notification. For more information about some of these scholarships and how to apply, visit:

Applicant Profile: 

The NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program seeks students of the highest academic caliber who are seeking to obtain a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences. Strong applicants will have research experience, scientific publications or presentations, and be self-motivated and driven collaborators and innovators, with long term scientific goals.


Must have at least a bachelor's degree.

Selection Criteria: 

Expectations for the successful applicant include:

(1) While academic expectations are high (as measured by grades and test scores), research experience, outside activities and letters of recommendation contribute to a holistic evaluation of the candidate;

(2) Successful applications have generally had one or more substantial research experiences, as success and satisfaction in a research environment are the strongest predictive factors for success in the Scholars Program. Most successful applicants worked in a laboratory during college, and those with two-three plus years of research experience are not unusual;

(3) Many applicants have co-authored manuscripts in scientific journals, although this is not a prerequisite. In addition, some have presented their work in the form or talks or posters at national meetings.

(4) Outstanding letters of recommendation, particularly from research mentors, typifies the successful applicant and is weighed heavily in the evaluation process. Because of the dual-mentored nature of the program, mentors should comment on the student’s focus, organizational skills, and time management abilities as well as intellect, drive, creativity, general research abilities, and potential for a career in the biomedical science;

(5) Successful applicants have often been honored by their universities for academic or research achievements or by outside agencies such as the Beckman or Amgen Foundations, MARCS program or a Goldwater Scholarship;

(6) A personal statement that details the applicant's motivation, experience, and long-term goals. The statement, which reflects the applicant’s focus and biomedical interests, factors heavily into the evaluation process. It should include a description of why the applicant feels they will thrive under the dual-mentored, accelerated process that characterizes the program.


U.S. citizens or permanent residents only.

More information: 

Mentor and Project Selection

It is critical to establish a project that is appropriate for the Scholar and that involves two mentors who appreciate the collaborative nature of the program. It is also crucial that the research environment created by the mentors in their laboratories is compatible with the Scholar's personality, interests, and goals. There are some restrictions on who can serve as a suitable mentor: (1) NIH mentors must hold tenure track or tenured positions, control independent resources, and have obtained approval by their respective Institute’s Scientific Director; (2) NIH staff scientists and postdoctoral staff may not serve as mentors, but can assist in the training of students; (3) Faculty at Oxford and Cambridge must meet the University rules for accepting responsibility for graduate students. 

NIH/Oxford-Cambridge Collaboration Opportunities

The NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) represents a community of approximately 1,200 tenured and tenure-track investigators. NIH investigators in over 17 institutes at the NIH have welcomed NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars into their lab. Consult this page for current Institutes, Centers and Projects.

NIH MD/PhD Partnership Training Program

If you are applying to medical school and the NIH program simultaneously, you are considered a Track 1 applicant. If you are currently in medical school and are applying to the NIH OxCam program, you are considered a Track 2. If you are a current NIH OxCam PhD student interested in pursuing a medical degree, there are limited slots to apply for Track 3.

How To Apply: 

Students or alumni, as applicable, may apply directly to this program. Applicants are encouraged, however, to work with SF State's fellowship advisor well in advance of the program deadline to perfect their application essays and other materials.

Resources for Applicants

Why Should You Apply for a Fulbright?

Quick Links

Fellowships Office

Dr. Joy Viveros

Phone: 415.405.2128
Reception: Grad Stop, ADM 250 
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132