Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Internship Program

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Internship Program

Developing life-changing research skills for a career in STEM.

Work alongside the country's best scientists and engineers in Washington D.C. to do cutting edge research that strengthens America's naval defense. You'll not only develop your research skills, you'll gain confidence and learn to be a better presenter, writer and networker.

Administered by The Washington Center, this immersive internship program, led by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), will give you a leg up in science, technology, engineering and math careers. The projects you will work on at the NRL have the potential to make a huge impact on the lives of people around the world.


This is a highly selective program. To be eligible to participate, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen. Dual citizens (those holding citizenship with more than one country) are not eligible for the program.
  • Be currently enrolled at a Historically Black College or University, Minority Serving Institution or Tribal College or University.
  • Have and maintain a 3.0+ cumulative GPA.
  • Be fluent in English (spoken and written).
  • Preference is given to students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
  • You should have at least one year of STEM education* at the undergraduate level.
  • Prior laboratory experience is desirable.

* This program is not designed for pre-med students or for students enrolled in a medical degree program. However, if you are interested or enrolled in a dual MD/PhD program, we encourage you to apply. 

If you have any additional questions, please contact us.

Program Components

During this 10-week internship program, you'll join a cohort of 30-40 interns from diverse STEM majors working on projects under the guidance of principle investigators at the NRL. You'll learn from established researchers as well as work on original research. Beyond your main research project, you'll also attend scientific and professional seminars on topics like ethics in science, STEM careers, graduate school preparation, resumé building and crafting an effective online presence. We also plan several fun social events like a Capitol tour, Potomac Riverboat Cruise and a barbecue.

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Program Cost

This is a funded internship program sponsored by the Naval Research Laboratory. For Summer 2019, sponsorship covers the cost of the program, and a stipend of $8,500 for undergraduate students or $10,900 for graduate students. If necessary, we will also arrange and provide roundtrip travel to Washington, D.C. (up to $700). Furnished summer housing can be provided at a reduced rate to students.

Housing and Living

You'll stay at a hotel in Old Town Alexandria, VA, a charming and historic neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River. The hotel will offer breakfast every day and a light dinner three nights a week, and NRL will provide a shuttle to and from the laboratory for each workday. Your room includes a kitchen that is fully stocked with kitchenware like plates, silverware, and pots and pans. Typically, interns share the kitchen, a bathroom, and a common living space with another intern

What to Pack

Please be prepared to pack the following:

  • comfortable laboratory clothing (please refer to FAQs below) 
  • summer clothing for team building activities (e.g., US Capitol and Museum Tours/Baseball Game) 
  • business professional attire (for Oral Presentations and Award Ceremony) 
  • business casual attire 
  • Personal toiletries 
  • US Passport and/or valid driver’s license 


Academic Credit

You may be eligible to receive academic credit for your participation in this program. However, credits are determined and awarded by each university. TWC does not grant credit. You are responsible for arranging any academic credit through your college or university. Interns wishing to obtain academic credit from summer research must coordinate with mentor and faculty advisor. All research data/information must be submitted and cleared through the “Publication Release” process before it is released externally of the NRL. You should discuss arrangements with your institution (and with TWC), prior to starting the program. 

Dates and Deadlines

  • Early Review Deadline: Thursday, November 15, 2018* 
  • Application Deadline: Friday, January 11, 2019 
  • Check-In: Monday, May 27, 2019 
  • Internship Begins: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 
  • Internship Ends: Friday, August 2, 2019 
  • Check-Out: Saturday, August 3, 2019 

* The Early Review Deadline provides the opportunity to have your application materials reviewed prior to the submission deadline. It also provides a potential opportunity to start the security process earlier. Please note that submitting your application by this deadline does not guarantee an internship position. 

How to Apply

Start and submit the online application by clicking the button below. Throughout the process, you can save your application and return to it at a later time. You must include the application documents listed in the section below to complete the application process.

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If you're not quite ready to apply or are interested in learning more about our programs, please submit a Request For Information below.

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Application Documents

You'll need to submit the following documents along with your application:

  • One-page Resumé
  • Official transcripts for all post-secondary institutions 
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: preferably from recommenders who are familiar with your research or academic work
  • One-page Writing Sample: Describe your interest in laboratory research and the NRL internship program. Discuss what specific NRL research topics interests you, how the program will help you achieve your career goals, the skills you hope to gain, and ways you can contribute to NRL research.


What type of research will I be doing?


It depends on which NRL mentor chooses you. Research projects vary every year. Some past research projects can be viewed here

If I am a pre-med student, am I eligible for the program?

This program is designed for students wishing to pursue a graduate degree (M.S.; PhD) in the STEM disciplines. However, if you are interested or enrolled in a dual degree-PhD program (e.g., MD/PhD), we would encourage you to apply.

Do I need prior research experience to be eligible to participate?

Prior research is certainly recommended, but not required. If you have no laboratory experience but exhibit a strong interest in research, you should still consider applying.

How long does the security clearance process take?


It can vary, but typically between one to three months.

What type of laboratory clothing items should I bring?

Please be sure to bring ¾ sleeve shirts and/or T-shirts, jeans, and closed-toed shoes (such as sneakers).

Are there opportunities for employment post-internship?


Employment is not guaranteed, but some interns have made a name for themselves and have returned to NRL after graduation as a full-time researcher.


You can view TWC's Internship Policies here, which includes information on student conduct, billing, grades, and much more. All students will be expected to follow these policies so we encourage you to review them.