Summer Research vs. Internship vs. Post Bac vs. Fellowship - What's the Difference?

Here we briefly describe the difference between each of the programs listed and also share resources. While you are a student you will qualify for research programs, fellowships and internships. After you graduate with a bachelor's degree in science, you qualify for post bac programs. If a post bac program is not for you, consider pursuing a master's degree.


fellowship is typically a merit-based scholarship for advanced study of an academic subject. Here at CalStateLA, when people say "fellowship," they are referring to a stipend or monetary award given to a scholar (student) to pay for their academic pursuits. For example, the MORE Programs offers many fellowships to students who are pursuing PhD in biomedical research. 

ASM Fellowships for Undergraduate Students




An internship is an official program offered by a company to potential employees. Internships are for CURRENT students and may or may not pay. Interns work either part-time or full-time at a company for a certain period of time. Internships are most popular with undergraduates or graduate students who work between one to four months and have a goal to gain practical work or research related experience.

Biotech related internships

Internships at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) NASA

BioFutures A database of intership opportunities throughout Los Angeles County

Summer Research Programs

summer undergraduate research program (SRP) or research experience for undergraduates (REU) is an 8-10 week science research experience designed to train undergraduate students in scientific research. Each program typically consists of research under a principal investigator, professional development workshops, and a research presentation at the end of the program.

STEP-UP Short-Term Research Exerperience for Underrepresented Persons, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 

Cancer Research at Indiana University - an SRP for underrepresented high school and undergraduate students.

SURP Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

SURI Center for Neuroscience Summer Undergradutae Research Internships at West Virginia University

SHPEP Summer Health Professions Education Program for students intereated in health careers.

SURF Summer Undergraduate Research Fellos Program  at the Scripps Research Institute

Post Bac Programs

Postbaccalaureate or post-bac programs are programs for US citizens and Permanent Residents who have achieved sound pre-doctoral academic performance in the biological and physical sciences, or who have received a masters degree in public health or in a related social science, but who seek to enhance their academic preparedness and research experience prior to embarking on a graduate program such as a PhD or MD. Thus, if you are an undergraduate student and applied to medical school and/or graduate school but did not get accepted, a post bac program may be right for you.

Who is eligible? You must be a recent graduate and not be enrolled in school to be in a post bac program. Typically they accept individuals who graduated with a bachelor's degree less than three years ago.

Why would you want to do a post bac program? If you are graduating but your GPA is not competitive enough for graduate school (PhD or pre-health - medical, dental, etc.), a post-bac program can help you be competitive. Typically, these programs will give you training and help with the application process. For example, many programs will include MCAT or GRE prep, interview prep, etc.

For a list of post bac programs for PhD programs (science/biomedical research) and to learn more about these, click here.

For a list of post bac programs for MD programs (pre-med preparation) and to learn more about these, click here.