Additional programs

Additional programs

VCU-affiliated programs – Year-round

Freshman Research Institute

The Freshman Research Institute is offered through The Honors College. This program is designed to introduce incoming freshmen to undergraduate research early in their undergraduate education. During the institute, students meet with faculty from a wide range of disciplines, including life sciences, biomedical engineering, nursing and medicine, to explore how research is conducted in various academic fields. This program is offered to students at no cost.

For more information, visit the Freshman Research Institute website or contact Jacqueline Smith-Mason, Ph.D., at

Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Scholars Program

The VCU Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Scholars Program provides research training in the biomedical sciences for individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research. IMSD Scholars are admitted at the end of the freshman year of undergraduate studies and are involved in program activities through their senior year.

The program features a series of mentored research experiences with VCU faculty members who are leaders in the fields of neurosciences, cancer biology, metabolic diseases, allergy and immunology, microbial pathogenesis, drug addiction/abuse, molecular genetics, and others. In addition, IMSD Scholars enroll in a series of courses and workshops that provide instruction in basic concepts in biomedical research, preparation for the Graduate Record Exam and career development advice. IMSD Scholars are paid during their research experience.

For more information, visit the Student Diversity Scholars program website or contact

Lobs & Lessons

Lobs & Lessons promotes education and life skills through mentoring, tutoring and teaching tennis in after-school and summer enrichment programs. The program is housed in the Mary and Frances Youth Center on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.

Lobs & Lessons targets students in second through fifth grade with a current effort to attract more middle school students.

To learn more, visit the Lobs & Lessons program website.

Minority Access to Research Careers

The VCU Minority Access to Research Careers Program is designed to provide research training for academically talented VCU juniors and seniors who are interested in biomedical research careers. In addition to placements in research laboratories at VCU during the academic year, MARC students are eligible for summer externships at other research-intensive institutions. Most MARC scholars are admitted to the program during the fall of their junior year. In addition, they have the opportunity to take a GRE-preparation course and a research process course, as well as receive assistance with preparation of graduate school applications.

For more information, visit the MARC program website or contact

Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program

The Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program is a one-year biomedical research training program for recent college graduates from under-represented groups considering graduate-level training in the biomedical sciences. The program provides scholars with a yearlong paid, mentored research experience and the opportunity to develop technical and critical-thinking skills. PREP Scholars have the opportunity to take graduate-level courses and a GRE preparation course as well as receive formal advice on selection of graduate programs, preparation of graduate school applications and preparation for graduate school interviews.

PREP scholars receive competitive stipends in the amount of $20,772 for the year. At the end of the program, they will have the skills necessary to successfully compete for admission into a biomedical Ph.D. program at VCU or another institution.

For more information, visit the PREP program website or contact

Premedical Graduate Certificate Program

The Premedical Graduate Certificate Program of the VCU School of Medicine is a one-year, graduate-level program for individuals seeking to enhance their qualifications for admission into professional school, including medical, dental and veterinary school. Students who successfully complete the certificate program also have an opportunity to continue to a Master of Science or Ph.D. degree program within the School of Medicine.

For more information, visit the CERT program website or contact

VCU-affiliated programs – Summer


Discovery is a fun and creative program designed for rising sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students who have an interest in the arts, humanities and sciences.

Five weeklong sessions are offered each summer in June and July, during which students attend classes in university classrooms and laboratories on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus and at the VCU Medical Center. Classes are taught by VCU faculty members, graduate students and local professionals in the field of study. In order to enhance the learning experience, field trips are often planned.

Several courses are offered in the fields of arts, humanities and the sciences through Discovery, including Week in Scrubs: Nursing in the 21st Century and Exploring Health Care.

To learn more, visit the Discovery program website.

Health Disparities Research Experience

The Health Disparities Research Experience is a 10-week summer research program running from June to August. Students will work with a faculty member on an independent research project related to improving birth outcomes for African-American women. Students will present their research at the end of the summer by giving oral and poster presentations to VCU faculty and undergraduate students participating in summer research experiences at VCU.

For more information about the Health Disparities Research Experience, contact

Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program

The Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program is an opportunity for students to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor in various disciplines and to participate in professional development workshops for eight weeks during the summer. The program addresses a number of research concepts as well as strategies for increasing success in presenting at undergraduate research conferences and publishing research. Participants receive on-campus housing and a stipend.

For more information, visit the Honors program website or contact Jacqueline Smith-Mason, Ph.D., at

Outside opportunities


The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ Short-Term Educator Program for Underrepresented Persons provides undergraduate students an opportunity to spend 10 weeks at a university of their choice, working with faculty on research projects. Students can work in areas such as diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism, nutrition, obesity, digestive, liver, urologic, kidney and hematologic diseases. At the end of the program, students participate in a national research symposium to present their research with other STEP-Up students that conducted research throughout the country.

For more information, visit the NIDDK program website or contact Delia L. Houseal at

Summer Health Professions Education Program

Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) offers students a variety of academic and career experiences that will support their health professional career preparation, including:

  • Academic enrichment in the basic sciences and quantitative topics
  • Learning skills development, including study skills and methods for individual and group learning
  • Clinical exposure through small-group clinical rotations and full-group clinician seminars
  • Career development, including the exploration of medical and dental careers, other health professions and an individualized education plan to identify other appropriate enrichment activities
  • Financial planning workshop and health policy seminars
    All the housing costs and most meals are covered by the program. Scholars are provided with a $600 stipend that is typically distributed midway and at the end of the program. Some program sites offer travel assistance awards. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also provides a needs-based scholarship for travel to and from the program site.

For more information, visit the SHPEP program website.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences
Division for Health Sciences Diversity
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