Eligibility, Application, and Selection

Applications Open November 20, 2021!

Program Dates: June 13, 2022-August 12, 2022


Our funding from the National Institutes of Health sets certain eligibility criteria to participate in the program.

  • 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 2022 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.
  • Consistent with NIH's goal for this program to increase diversity in the research workforce on aging, NIH funding guidelines additionally requires that participants must be from one or more of the following groups in order to be eligible to apply: 
    • 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
    • Sexual and Gender Minorities (SGM): SGM populations include, but are not limited to, individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer, and/or intersex. Individuals with same-sex or -gender attractions or behaviors and those with a difference in sex development are also included. These populations also encompass those who do not self-identify with one of these terms but whose sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or reproductive development is characterized by non-binary constructs of sexual orientation, gender, and/or sex.
    • 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 StatisticsPostsecondary 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.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH). NOT-OD-19-139: Sexual and Gender Minority Populations in NH-Supported Research. (2019, August 28). Accessed November 8, 2021.

Application Requirements

  • Completed application form submitted electronically by January 15, 2022 @ 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. 
  • 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.
    • Visitor Registration Form (PDF)
  • Personal Information Form 
    • Personal Information Form (PDF)
    • 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 2022 Program. 
  • 2 pieces of supporting documentation:
    • The first piece of supporting documentation must be in the form of a letter of recommendation. Letters should be emailed by your reference directly to the STAR U Program Coordinator, Kiana Chan (kkc2146@cumc.columbia.edu) by February 1st, 2022. A reference may include:  
    • an undergraduate professor
    • academic advisor
    • work/volunteer/community service supervisor
    • college teaching assistant
    • high school teacher
    • other community member who knows you in an academic or professional capacity
  • We recognize that students have interests and passions beyond this application. The second piece of supporting documentation is meant towards providing students with the opportunity to share additional material that would help us get to know you better. This may include a writing sample, presentation/project, video clip, etc. Alternatively, you may request a second letter of recommendation for this category (emailed by reference to kkc2146@cumc.columbia.edu). Supporting documentation can be uploaded directly to the STAR U Application in the "Supporting Documentation" section.
  • If you have any questions regarding supporting documentation, please email Program Coordinator, Kiana Chan at kkc2146@cumc.columbia.edu.
  • 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 January 15, 2022. Reference letter(s) are due by February 1, 2022 and must be emailed directly to the STAR U Program Coordinator, Kiana Chan at kkc2146@cumc.columbia.edu.

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.
  • If selected for an interview, applicants will be notified by February/March 2022.
  • If selected to participate in the 2022 STAR U Cohort, applicants will be notified by March/April, 2022.


  • November 20, 2021: STAR U applications released
  • Application Deadline: January 15, 2022 @ 11:59PM EST
  • Letter of Reference Deadline: February 1, 2022 (sent to kkc2146@cumc.columbia.edu)
  • Notification if selected for phone interview: February/March 2022
  • Program Starts: June 13, 2022
  • Program Ends: August 12, 2022

Applications Open November 20, 2021!

Apply Now