Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program

Welcome to PennPREP

The University of Pennsylvania Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PennPREP) offers a one-to-two-year research experience for students who have completed their bachelor’s degree, are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in the biomedical sciences, and would benefit from protected time to develop additional skills research. The program provides a full time research experience in a biomedical science discipline, along with preparation for applying to and succeeding in graduate school.

The goal of the program is to increase understanding of the principles and practices of biomedical research. The core component of the program is a long-term research project conducted in the laboratory of a skilled faculty mentor. PREP scholars will learn to devise hypotheses, plan experiments, analyze results, and consider the impact of their research on their scientific discipline. Activities in the lab will be supplemented with opportunities designed to prepare PREP scholars for graduate school, such as:

  • Research seminars, retreats, and conferences
  • One academic course per semester (Optional but not required)
  • Workshops in scientific writing, science communication, public speaking, career advising, and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
  • Free standardized test preparation courses (GRE and MCAT)
  • Application assistance, with a focus on the personal essays, research statements, and interview skills
  • Social activities with other PREP scholars, program staff, undergraduate interns, graduate students, and laboratory associates
  • Funding to attend one (1) conference

The 2023-24 program dates are June 12, 2023 to May 2024.

Various centers and programs across the university are proud to support PennPREP’s mission. Affiliate programs are based on research interests, and may require additional programming if an applicant is selected to the program.

If interested, applicants may choose to select 1 of the affiliate programs listed below. Selecting an affiliate program on the application is optional. If selected to an affiliate program, all compensation and program expectations are the same. All applicants, regardless of whether they select an affiliate program, are considered for the PREP program.

The 2023 affiliate programs are:

  1. Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) - HIV focused research
  2. Diversity Action Plan in Penn Genomics (DAPPG) – genomics, computational biology, and biostatistics research (website)
  3. Institute on Aging - aging and aging-related diseases
  4. Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (pediatric-related research)

  • You wish to strengthen your research skills before applying for biomedical doctoral programs
  • You are switching STEM disciplines and wish to gain research skills in a new STEM area (ie: you have a chemistry degree but wish to study immunology and have no prior research experience in immunology)
  • You wish to bolster your academic record prior to applying for biomedical doctoral programs by demonstrating preparedness for graduate level coursework - Holistically would like to develop further as a scientist and scholar prior to applying for biomedical doctoral programs

Mentors are drawn from a group of over 600 faculty associated with Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) at the University of Pennsylvania. Mentor matching for scholars is based on a variety of factors, including: research interests and mentor/mentee qualities.

Broad areas of research interest include:


  • Introduction to PREP Scholars, cohort activities (I.e. outings in Philadelphia), and weekly meetings (I.e. journal club, faculty research seminars, research presentations)
  • Introduction to IDEAL Research Fellows who will serve as mentors
  • Start working in lab, meet lab mates and PI
  • Start to formalize an independent project with lab mentor and/or PI
  • Individualized Development Plan (IDP) creation with PI and PREP staff


  • Continue work in the lab, building upon project from the summer
  • Weekly meetings with PREP cohort, Director, and Assistant Director for Research Training Programs
  • Graduate school application preparation
  • Ongoing mentorship from IDEAL Research Fellows
  • Submit graduate school applications
  • Attend academic conference (optional, but encouraged)
  • 1 academic course


  • Attend graduate school interviews
  • Weekly meetings with PREP cohort, Director, and Assistant Director for Research Training
  • Select graduate school program
  • 1 academic course (optional)
  • Present at PREP Symposium


Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for this program.

Applicants must have a degree in a biomedical science from an accredited U.S. college or university and have graduated no more than 36 months prior to the start of the program, and must not be currently enrolled in a degree program. Applicants must intend to apply to a PhD granting graduate program within two years of beginning the PREP program. PREP programs are not intended to prepare participants for degrees solely in medicine. Individuals who bring diversity to graduate study in the biological or biomedical sciences by reason of their culture, class, race, ethnicity, background, disability, work and life experiences, skills and interests are encouraged to apply for the program. Applications are especially encouraged from students who are Black/African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino/Chicano Americans, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, and Pacific-Islanders.


PREP scholars receive:

  • a competitive stipend of $35,000
  • health insurance
  • tuition for one academic course per semester (optional)
  • free standardized test preparation courses (GRE and MCAT - optional)
  • and funding to attend one conference.

Application Process

Applicants may apply directly to PREP through the online application.

Applications for PREP 2023 opened on October 1st, 2022. All applications are due by March 1st, 2023. All letters of recommendation are also due on March 1st, 2023. Admissions decisions will be released in April. 

  • Completed online application form
  • A statement detailing both your career goals and your area of research interest
  • Three letters of recommendation from academic faculty or advisors
  • Uploaded copy of your official or unofficial undergraduate transcript (if accepted, official hard copy is required)
  • Resume/CV

  • Create an account following the link, taking you to a common application portal for graduate programs at Biomedical Graduate Studies
  • Begin the application with your personal information.
  • You will then be prompted to select which “graduate” program you are applying to. Select “Biomedical Graduate Studies, Perelman School of Medicine”
  • Select “Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)”
  • In the “Program Related Information Section”:
    • Applicants will be asked to select a graduate group of interest. Applicants can refer to the Biomedical Graduate Studies page for more information about graduate groups (link).
    • If applicants are interested in an affiliate program, applicants can indicate their choice in this section.
  • In the “Recommendations” section, please provide the contact information for three (3) recommenders. An automated email will be sent to the email address(es) provided for recommenders to submit their letters. All recommendation letters are due by 3/1/23 at 11:59PM.

In a 1 page document (8.5”x11”) with a minimum of 0.5’ margins and at least 11 pt font, describe your academic interests and career goals. If you have had any research experiences, please describe them. State your specific scientific interests and any particular research areas or techniques you'd like to explore. Please upload your statement with your application.

All PREP applicants are required to upload up-to-date unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended. Transcripts from completed programs should show proof of degree conferral. A final, official transcript showing conferral of degree will be required of all accepted students prior to matriculation.

Three letters of recommendation are required. Try to obtain letters from academic faculty who know you personally and can comment on your academic abilities and your aptitude for research.