Pathways Undergraduate Researchers

Pathways Undergraduate Researchers is a full-time, paid summer internship program in Seattle. Interns spend most of their time immersed in nine weeks of mentored activities in a Fred Hutch research group with an intern partner. Students also participate in a cancer biology education series, attend professional development workshops and enjoy social activities with their teams and peers.

One of our goals is to give students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical science the opportunity to explore, clarify and strengthen their research-related career interests.

We encourage students with an interest in computational biology and/or programming to apply.

2020 Dates

Jan 1: Online application opens

Feb 29: Online application closes - All materials, including references, are due by 11:59 pm on Feb 29

June 22 to Aug 21: Summer program


Eligibility Requirements

The Pathways Undergraduate Researchers internship is open to rising 1st-, 2nd- or 3rd-year undergraduate students who:

  • Are or will be enrolled in a two- or four-year college/university
  • Have a strong academic background with a scientific focus
  • Are committed to the full nine-week program
  • Can participate in an on-campus or video interview with the selection panel

Prior research experience is not required. Interns from previous years may apply to return for a second summer if they meet the above eligibility requirements. Returning interns may also apply to the SCCA Clinical Scholars and SHIP Leads programs.

Students from racial and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in health sciences, persons with disabilities, and persons raised in economically disadvantaged backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply.

If you don't meet the eligibility requirements, you can find additional scientific research opportunities from Pathways to Science, the Guide to Life Science Careers and the Fred Hutch Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Program Components

In addition to engaging in mentored research, interns participate in professional development workshops designed to advance their knowledge and competence in three areas:

  • Scientific practices and the latest advances in cancer research.
  • Professional development on different career paths within science/cancer research.
  • Social networking and building a community in science/cancer research.

Interns also attend workshops on a variety of topics, including resumes and personal statements, effective mentor/mentee relationship, oral and written communication skills and preparing for life after college.

The program sponsors social activities to develop a supportive community among the interns and their mentors and colleagues at the Hutch.

Areas of Research

Based on their interest, interns will engage in cancer biology research under the guidance of a faculty mentor in one of the Center's five divisions:

  • Basic Sciences
    Structural, genetic, molecular, cellular, developmental and evolutionary biology.
  • Human Biology
    Interdisciplinary research; lab-based and computational research in basic, clinical and population sciences.
  • Public Health Sciences
    Large populations serve as a "laboratory" to look for links between cancer and its possible triggers, from diet and lifestyle, to environmental and genetic factors. Conducts statistical, epidemiological and prevention studies around the world.
  • Clinical Research
    Development and analysis of new treatments for cancers and other diseases.
  • Vaccine and Infectious Disease
    Computational, laboratory and clinical research methods advance the understanding of microbial pathogenesis and infectious disease processes.


Interns receive a stipend of $4,000 for the summer and a free ORCA card for Seattle-area public transportation.

Travel & Research Expenses

Additional funding may be available for travel to/from Seattle and research-related expenses, including scientific conference fees, special research materials and supplies.

This program is supported by the NIH National Cancer Institute (R25-CA221770) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (U54-DK106829). For more information about becoming a program sponsor, please contact Corporate Gifts.

How to Apply

Applications for the program are available online.

Due to the competitive nature of the Pathways Undergraduate Researchers program, the following suggestions should be taken into consideration when preparing an application; however, adhering to these recommendations does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

The Application Process


The application has two components — one that you complete and one that your references complete. We require two recommendations for your application to be considered.

Review the application early and thoroughly and complete your section well in advance of the deadline. To apply, you must:

  • Fill out the online form
  • Provide email addresses for two references
  • Supply a PDF of your recent school transcript
  • Submit a short-response essay form (PDF).

Don’t forget to proofread your application and essay thoroughly for accuracy and completeness before submitting.

Once you complete your part of the application, we will send the recommendation form and instructions to your references via the email address you provide. Submit your section early so your references have time to complete/submit their form.

Learn About The Hutch


Before you begin your application, learn about Fred Hutch, our faculty and labs, and our areas of research. This will allow you to submit a more well-informed application aligned with your areas of interest.

Request Informative Recommendations


An informative recommendation should come from someone who can highlight the strengths you have that are relevant to the program, your quality as a student compared to other students, the accomplishments you achieved and how this program will further your academic and/or career goals.

When requesting a recommendation:

  • Choose your references wisely – recommendations from individuals that know your interests, personal characteristics, and abilities may be viewed more favorably than a recommendation from a person who doesn't know you as well. One recommendation from a science teacher or similar can address your interest in science. Recommendations should come from teachers, school staff, or supervisors at a volunteer or paid position. Recommendations from people who haven't seen your work in an academic or professional setting, such as coaches or family friends, are discouraged.
  • Give your references at least two weeks to submit a recommendation on your behalf. We do NOT accept late application materials or recommendations. If you ask your recommender just a few days before the deadline they may not have time to submit it, and your application will be incomplete.
  • Make your request for a recommendation in writing or email, as well as in person. Give your references a copy of your resume and/or the following information:
  1.  The name of the program and a brief description of what it entails (a link to the website can be helpful)
  2.  The name of the host institution
  3.  A brief description of how the program fits in with your goals
  4.  A brief description of what you will contribute to the program and how you will benefit from participating
  5.  The due date for the recommendation

How the letter should be submitted:

We require a specific, easy-to-complete recommendation form. We do not accept free-form letters. In addition to contact information, our form asks your references to:

  • Rate the applicant on his/her Academic Qualities (Intellectual Ability, Enthusiasm for Learning, Commitment to Learning, Written Expression and Verbal Expression) and Character Traits (Respect for Others, Initiative, Self-discipline, Integrity and Independence)
  • Describe anything about the applicant that sets him/her apart from others (200-word limit)

After you submit your portion of the application, your references will receive an email with instructions on how to download the recommendation form and submit it when they are finished.

  • Send your reference a friendly reminder, preferably one week prior to the application deadline. You will receive an email when a reference submits your recommendation.
  • Finish up by sending your reference(s) a handwritten note of thanks.

Short Essay


The short essay responses are a crucial part of the application. Start early and take time to be sure your responses are thoughtful and carefully-written.

The short essay responses provide an opportunity to share your experiences and perspectives. It's also the primary place where you can elaborate on the qualities and attributes that will help you succeed in this program. Use specific examples. Essays should be written in full sentences and composed paragraphs. Ask friends, teachers, and/or advisors to review your essay for content, clarity and grammar.

The short essay responses each have 200-word limits, but we do not expect you to use all the space. Past essay topics include:

  • Explain how the Pathways Undergraduate program will help you specifically. What are your academic and/or career goals? How does this internship fit into those goals?
  • The Pathways Undergraduate program consists of mentored research and group activities with other interns. What qualities do you have that will allow you to succeed in each of these two settings? How will your host lab and the other interns benefit from your participation?
  • Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself that sets you apart from other applicants? You may use this space to share something about you that is important for us to know. You might consider sharing any significant family responsibilities you have and how they impact who you are and what you do.

Returning Interns

Fred Hutch interns are eligible to apply to return during the summer as Pathways Undergraduate Researchers, if they meet the eligibility requirements. In addition to the Pathways Undergraduate Intern program, they can also apply to be SCCA Clinical Scholars Program or Summer High School Internship Program (SHIP) Leads.

SCCA Clinical Scholars Program


The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) Clinical Scholars Program is a two-week collaborative effort by the SCCA and Fred Hutch. The program provides a structured opportunity for students to observe the high-quality care provided by the SCCA.

Clinical Scholars observe providers and advanced practice providers in the clinic, attend Patient Care Conferences, lectures, panel discussions, have 1:1 time with a mentor and more. Our goal is to give scholars an overview of different areas of healthcare to help them identify fields they hadn’t previously considered and may be interested in pursuing.

The Clinical Scholars Program is held during the third and fourth weeks of the Pathways Undergraduates Researchers Program.


To qualify for the Clinical Scholars program, applicants must:

  • Have completed one summer in the Fred Hutch SHIP or Pathways Undergraduate Researchers Program.
  • Be 18 years old by the first day of program.
  • Commit to the entire two-week program period.
  • Participate in the full nine-week Pathways Undergraduate Researchers program.

Please note that we are unable to accommodate exceptions to any of the program requirements.

The following suggestions are designed to help students decide if they should apply. They are not rules and should not dissuade anyone with a strong interest in applying.

Clinical Scholars may be a good fit if you’re interested in:

  • A career in medicine but don’t know which one is right for you.
  • Observing and learning more about the team-based delivery of clinical care.
  • Learning about different team members and their role in medical care.
  • The role of research in clinical care.

Clinical Scholars may not be a good fit if you:

  • Have chosen a medical career and are not interested in learning about other areas of healthcare.
  • Already have experience in a clinical setting.
  • Are uncomfortable being around very sick patients in a clinical setting.

SHIP Leads


Returning interns participating in the Pathways Undergraduate Researchers Program can also apply to be leaders in the Summer High School Internship Program. SHIP Leads assist in the high school interns’ orientation and training week, and oversee selected activities with the high school interns.

Interns apply to be SHIP Leads through the Pathways Undergraduate Researchers Program application.

Explore Our Other Internships and Programs

Last Modified, September 24, 2019