Skip to main content

National Institutes of Health-funded Undergraduate Program

MARC Scholarship Program

marc timeline

We are proud to announce that Vanderbilt University hosts a National Institutes of Health-funded Research Careers Undergraduate program (MARC at Vanderbilt). The overarching goal of the Vanderbilt MARC Scholars program is to increase the number of individuals in biomedical research from groups under-represented in the biomedical sciences* by preparing undergraduate students for successful application to and graduation from highly selective PhD and MD/PhD biomedical training programs, aligning fully with Vanderbilt’s mission of Inclusive Excellence across all disciplines. 

Students identify their interest in biomedical research, and their future goals of training as a PhD or MD/PhD, as early as the first semester of their Freshman year, and in doing so, begin participation in pre-MARC program activities, including professional skill development activities, career roundtables, and meetings with nationally recognized biomedical scientists who are guest speakers in the Vanderbilt MARC Scholars seminar series. Pre-MARC and MARC scholars engage in academic year and summer biomedical research, both at Vanderbilt University and nationally, including with scientists at other major research universities. 

Students apply in the Spring of their sophomore year for MARC Scholar funding, which provides partial support for 24 continuous months of tuition and provides a 24-month stipend to permit continued research engagement during the academic year and summers. MARC Scholars share their research findings at national meetings of biomedical scientists in their research area, as well as participating in career and professional development training to help prepare them for successful entrance into highly selective PhD and MD/PhD programs following graduation. To be eligible for NIH MARC support students must be US Citizens, or Permanent Residents, and major in one of the sciences, or engineering, related to biomedical science. 

The Vanderbilt MARC Scholars program partners with the Fisk University and Tennessee State University MARC U*STAR programs, and with graduate programs at Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities to provide MARC Scholars with a large cohort of peers and role models similarly interested in a career that contributes to better human health through research. 

For more information, or to apply to MARC at Vanderbilt, please contact

To read the program's description on the NIH website, click here.

Benefits of the MARC Program

  • Mentored full-time research in a top Vanderbilt University research lab
  • 24 months of stipend support
  • Summer stipend support for 2 summers of research
  • Career development and student panels on graduate school and the MD/PhD
  • Personalized training in scientific presentation
  • Presentation of research at national conferences


What majors are eligible?

We do not have a requirement for the particular major being pursued by a Scholar. It is important, however, that any Scholar be committed to pursuing a PhD or combined MD/PhD program after graduation (not the MD only).

When do I apply?

Students can apply in the Spring of their sophomore year for MARC Scholar funding.

I am not a U.S. Citizen; am I eligible to apply?

Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for MARC support.

How many students are selected?

The program appoints 6 Scholars each year.

I’m not sure if I have a disability that qualifies…

NIH defines disability as "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."  On the application, there are several opportunities to explain why a student’s situation would meet this requirement.  

How are applications evaluated?

The committee choosing successful scholars from among the applicants will consider many aspects of the application, including the prior performance of the student, promise in research, intent to earn the PhD, and the way in which the research program will prepare the student for that path.  

I am interested in pursuing a MD/PhD program but am leaning towards a MD program; should I apply? 

The program is intended by NIH as a pre-PhD program, not a pre-med program, so it includes a lot of training activities specific to entering and succeeding in doctoral (PhD) programs. Pre-PhD includes MD/PhD, but only students who are truly committed to the PhD part should undertake the program.

I currently do not have a research mentor and therefore have not begun research…

We expect that at this stage some students may have already initiated research, and some may not. What is key is the student’s long-term interest in biomedical research as a career goal. The idea is that students can reach out now to faculty on the MARC research mentor list whose research may interest them. They know MARC applicants will be trying to initiate relationships at this time, so they are expecting that students will contact them and will welcome inquiries. If match is found, then they can write as your research sponsor on the application. 

My research mentor is not on the preceptor list; Can I still apply?

Yes. New mentors would need to request preceptor status. They can reach out to for information.

I’m not sure if I have a diverse background that qualifies…

In the selection process we consider diversity broadly and ask that candidates give us an idea of how they think they can contribute to diversity. This is particularly in reference to NIH’s stated interests which include increasing representation of:

  Groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical sciences – 

  • Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders
  • Individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds (for example, Pell-grant eligible)
  • Those with disabilities (defined as physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)
  • See for additional description

However, there are many additional possible dimensions by which a candidate could add to the diversity of our program. We encourage candidates to bring these forward in their statements, and we consider multiple potential dimensions of diversity, according to the candidate's statement, in our selection process. For example, females are still under-represented at the faculty level in the sciences, although that is not described in this NIH statement. Using this example, there are many additional possibilities.

Recent Articles

National Institute of General Medical Sciences - Making a MARC at Vanderbilt