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HERE at ORNL - Thesis or Dissertation Research

Higher Education Research Experiences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (HERE at ORNL) provides research opportunities and associated activities for thesis or dissertation research. The program is designed to complement academic programs by utilizing the unique resources of ORNL to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, encourage careers in science and technology, and improve scientific literacy, while at the same time contributing to the Laboratory mission.


  • Applications are accepted on a year-round basis; refer to suggested deadlines for appointment periods
  • Flexible appointment durations for Master’s thesis - suggested minimum of one year to maximum of two years
  • Flexible appointment durations for Ph.D. dissertation - suggested minimum of one year to maximum of three years
  • Full-time or part-time research or technical appointments may be offered


  • Master’s thesis research - $625/week stipend
  • Ph.D. dissertation research - $650/week stipend
  • $150 housing allowance and limited travel reimbursement, if permanent address is at least 50 miles from ORNL. Learn more about Housing for ORNL Research Participants.


  • Be currently enrolled as a graduate student at a U.S. accredited institution - verification required
  • Be performing thesis or dissertation research with all classwork completed - verification required
  • Have a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale - copy of academic record required
  • Be 18 years or older by the start of appointment
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident at the time of application - verification required
  • Have medical insurance during appointment - verification required
  • Have two references - one academic preferred


  • Complete program requirements, and avoid activities that could present a conflict
  • Attend enrichment activities, including professional development workshops, Laboratory tours, lectures, seminars, and poster presentations. Please note that these activities are optional and dependent upon mentor approval
  • Behave in a responsible and professional manner
  • Complete pre- and post-appointment surveys
HERE Internship Term Spring Summer Fall
Suggested Deadline* October 1 February 1 June 1

*Applications are accepted and selections are made year-round. Follow the suggested deadline dates for greater chance of selection.

Next Steps

If you are ready, you can apply to HERE at ORNL – Thesis or Dissertation Research now.

Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) at ORNL

Jordan Campbell

Jordan Campbell

Doctoral student in materials science and engineering 
University of California, San Diego

During his appointment at ORNL, Campbell used computer simulations to investigate the effects of electron-beam interactions with solids. “Our simulations act like very intense microscopes allowing us to see processes instead of just testing to see whether we achieved the desired result. But because our simulations make a lot of approximations, we have to make sure that they represent what is actually happening in the experiment because we can’t see it. By proving that the simulation is right, we can make the current experiments better … and suggest new experiments that the experimentalist wouldn’t have thought to do.”


“Any collaborative environment like this is well worth the trip. I have been able to work on a project that has taught me a lot. I hope I can use this to understand many things in my future studies.”

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