Pathways Undergraduate Researchers

Pathways Undergraduate Researchers is a full-time, paid summer internship program for first- and second-year college students, with special consideration given to students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical science. Interns are paired and immersed in nine weeks of mentored activities in a Fred Hutch research group in Seattle. Interns also participate in a cancer biology education series, attend professional development workshops and enjoy social activities with their teams and peers.

Unfortunately, we are canceling the 2020 program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The heart of the internship is a eight-week immersion in a research group on the Fred Hutch campus in Seattle, but to optimize the safety and well-being of our staff and the larger community, we are now temporarily transitioning almost all on-site work to remote work. Those whose work happens primarily in labs will continue collaborating with peers, writing grant proposals, reviewing articles and papers, conducting analyses and offering their expertise as needed.

We do not know when operations will fully return on-site and cannot make commitments to interns with this uncertainty.

Fred Hutch remains committed to training the next generation of scientific leaders. Check our website for updates on internship programs and learn more about our efforts to track and stop COVID-19.

If you have immediate questions, please contact us at

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. 2021 dates will be posted in late 2020. 
  • 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 Fred Hutch SURP catalog, the Guide to Life Science Careers and the Fred Hutch Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Program Components

Interns spend the majority of the nine-week session under the guidance of a mentor in a Fred Hutch research group. During the first week, interns meet as a cohort for an orientation to the program and to learn laboratory safety and hands-on research techniques. The remaining eight weeks focus on mentored research activities, which interns present to the Fred Hutch community on the final day of the program.    

During one day each week, 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.


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

Online applications for the 2020 program are now closed. 

Please read the following sections carefully for details on the application.  

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.

Application Process for New Interns


Preview a PDF of the 2020 applicaiton for new interns here

The application has two online components — an applicant section that you complete and a separate online form that your references complete. We require two recommendations for your application to be considered.

Thoroughly review the application and complete your section well in advance of the deadline.  Proofread your application and essays carefully. You will not be able to go back into the system after you submit your application. Your references will not receive a recommendation request until your portion is submitted.

Applicant Component

To apply, you must:

  • Fill out the online form, which includes a number of short-response essays (see section below for essay questions) 
  • Provide email addresses for two references
  • Supply a PDF of your recent school transcript

References Component

Once you complete your part of the application, we will email a recommendation link to your references. Submit your section early so your references have time to complete their form.

All application materials, including references, are due by 11:59 pm on February 28. 



Before you begin your application, learn about Fred Hutch and our areas of research. Be able to articulate how your academic and career goals are in line with the Fred Hutch mission and research. Also prepare to describe how a summer in a Fred Hutch research group will help you specifically. This will allow you to submit a well-informed application that clearly shows how your interests align with our research.

Short Essays


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

The short essays 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 essays each have 200-word limits, but we do not expect you to use all the space. The essay questions are:

  • 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.

Interns from previous years who are applying to return in 2020 have different essay questions, which are listed in the Returning Interns section below. 



We require two recommendations for your application to be considered. An informative recommendation should come from someone who can highlight your strengths that are relevant to the program, your quality as a student compared to other students, your accomplishments and how this program will further your academic/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 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 recommendation should be submitted:

We require a specific, easy-to-complete online 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 a link to the recommendation form.

  • Send your references 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 references a handwritten note of thanks.

Returning Interns

Fred Hutch interns from previous years are eligible to apply to return as Pathways Undergraduate Researchers, if they meet the eligibility requirements. In addition to the Pathways Undergraduate Intern program, returning interns can also apply to be SCCA Clinical Scholars 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, July 6, 2020.
  • Commit to the entire two-week program period, July 6 to 17, 2020.
  • 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.

Application Process for Returning Interns


Fred Hutch interns who participated in the SHIP or Pathways Undergrads program may apply to return as a Pathways Undergraduate Researchers Program, if they meet the program criteria. Returning applicants will apply through the same system as new applicants. Returning intern applicants have a unique set of short essay questions and each response is limited to 1000 characters.

All retuning applicants will answer the following three questions:

  1. Why do you want to return to the Hutch for another summer research internship?
  2. Please detail the most difficult thing you experienced since you were last here. 

Returning applicants to the SHIP Leads program will also answer:

  1. Why do you want to guide and work with the SHIP interns this summer?

Returning applicants to the SCCA Clinical Scholars program, will also answer:

  1. What do you hope to get out of the Clinical Scholars Program?
  2. What makes you a good candidate for the Clinical Scholars Program?
  3. Which areas of healthcare are you most excited about and why?

Preview a PDF of the application for previous interns here.



Pathways Undergraduate Researchers

Please contact us with questions that are not addressed on this webpage.

Pathways Undergrads staff do not facilitate research internships for students outside of the 9-week summer program and will not accept unsolicited or late applications.  

Explore Our Other Internships and Programs

Last Modified, May 07, 2020