The application for the 2024-2025 MARC U-STAR Academic Year Program is now open!

Application deadline: March 1, 2024, at 11:59 PM.

The MARC U-STAR Program is a two-year, junior-/senior-level, research-based honors program for undergraduate students at Washington University interested in pursuing graduate studies in biological and biomedical sciences.  This cohort-based program offers diverse students essential professional development training and personalized academic advising all within a supportive community network.  

About the Program

The NIH- and University-funded MARC uSTAR program supports research-minded students who are interested in graduate studies in biological and biomedical sciences. We strongly encourage applications from groups underrepresented in biological and biomedical sciences, including students of color, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those with disabilities as defined by the NIH.


  • NIH funds are specifically targeted for students interested in pursuing a PhD (or MD/PhD) in a biomedically relevant field (e.g., any field of biology, chemistry, BME, chemical engineering, etc.), but University funds can be used to support students interested in any career path (MD, PT, biotech/industry, etc.).
  • Students must have attained junior-year standing by August 2024.
  • Students must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Students must either be in a research lab (preferred) or have identified a research mentor.
Program Benefits

Students accepted into one of these programs will receive a minimum of $8,000 for each of the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 academic years, assuming satisfactory progress in the program, as well as full or partial travel benefits to the Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). 

Other program benefits include workshops on personal statements and poster presentations, grad/undergrad joint dinners, and membership in a close knit supportive academic community.

Program Requirements
  • Students typically commit to a two-year program and remain at Washington University during both their junior and senior years. (If a student expects to study abroad for a semester or more, please inquire with the Program Director about eligibility).
  • Students must conduct mentored research for 10 or more hours per week during the academic year. Students supported off of the NIH grant must also conduct research full-time during the summer after their junior year and ideally also the summer after their sophomore year.
  • Students must attend a weekly, 1.5-hour scientific presentation course every semester.
  • Students must present their research at conference, e.g., ABRCMS or the Undergraduate Research Symposium, at least once per year.
How to Apply

Application Components:

  1. Statement of purpose. In 500 words or less, describe why you want to be in the uSTAR Academic Year program and what you anticipate gaining from the experience, including the program’s relevance to your career goals. Your statement might address how you became interested in research, your prior research experience, and your proposed research for the next two years. Upload this essay as a .pdf file, and be sure to include your name in the file name.
  2. Statement of perspective. A key goal of the uSTAR Academic Year program is to cultivate a diverse, engaged, and supportive community of undergraduate researchers who enrich and challenge one another through peer feedback and mentorship. In 500 words or less, describe what unique perspective or experience you will contribute to this collaborative scientific community. Upload this essay as a .pdf file, and be sure to include your name in the file name.
  3. List of publications, if applicable. These can be oral or poster presentations, including at the WashU Undergraduate Research Symposia. If none, simply say “None.”
  4. PDF of unofficial transcript. Your GPA is not a final indicator of acceptance to the program; it provides a history of courses you have taken. To download your unofficial transcript: WebSTAC > Academics > Unofficial Transcript (can hit “Do Not Display” on all) > Run > Printer Friendly in upper right hand corner > CTRL+P to save as PDF. If the printed PDF includes demographics (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender), this data will be blinded by the administrative coordinator prior to application review.
  5. Two recommendations from WashU faculty or advisors. These recommendations can take the form of short answer responses OR traditional letters of recommendation (recommenders can choose one approach). Your recommenders should submit their materials by March 1st using this form:

Deadline: March 1 at 11:59 PM

“[T]he community is a great aspect of the program. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a place where you can ask all of the questions you might be too intimidated to ask elsewhere.”

“This is an amazing program. Dr. Skeath provides such great mentorship and helps students to ask the right questions in order to think like a scientist.”

I really like the variety of presentations and the amount of presentations that we gave in the class. I feel like I grew a lot as a presenter this past year with the many opportunities to present and to present in different ways.

“The MARC Program hosted a panel on navigating grad school/academia as a minority and the experience was so meaningful to me (made me cry) and helped me feel like I have more of a community/support network in research than I realized. “

“MARC created a really comfortable environment for each student–– MARC = a haven for scientists of color and for the program’s support I am incredibly grateful!”

Despite being a weekly seminar, this is the best course I’ve taken at WashU.

I like having graduate students come in and talk to us about their paths [in the seminar class] and how they decided what they want to do. It provides a lot of insight and allows us to explore potential future paths.

“We are given the opportunity to present pretty regularly, and over the course of two years I got far better at doing presentations on my research and other science topics, even when I thought I was good before the program. The growth in that regard is incredible because we get so much constructive feedback from both our peers and instructors so we can continually improve.”

For questions about the MARC U-STAR Program, please contact Dr. Jim Skeath (