For Trainees


What are the benefits of joining PROPEL?

Program goals

​After completion of the post-bac program, participating students will be prepared for graduate school admission, successful completion of a research-focused doctoral degree, and careers in the biomedical research workforce, through our offered:

  • Research Experiences: Hands-on exposure to research and individual mentoring in your field of interest.
  • Courses for Skills and Career Development: Advanced courses in a specific discipline, research technique or research area, and/or courses or workshops to develop scholarly potential and increase confidence. See our curriculum page for the growing list of courses we offer.

Other benefits

  • On-campus housing:  PROPEL scholars are eligible for UCSF on-campus housing.
  • Graduate program application fee waivers:  PROPEL scholars qualify for a fee waiver for applications to graduate programs at UCSF and other institutions.
  • UCSF Fitness Center membership:  PROPEL scholars qualify for a discounted membership rate at the UCSF Fitness Center



  • Must be working as a full-time research technician (e.g. Junior Specialist or Research Staff Associate) in the lab of a UCSF faculty member.
  • Must have earned an undergraduate degree at an accredited institution. Trainees with Master's degree are also eligible.
  • Highly interested in pursuing a doctorate degree in biomedical science (PhD or MD/PhD). PROPEL is not appropriate for trainees who intend to apply to medical school.  These trainees should consider the UCSF Pre-Med Postbac Program.
  • Must commit to participating in program events for at least one academic year.
  • Must demonstrate a strong commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in science (see How to apply).
  • Must be a US Citizen, Permanent resident, or DACA recipient.


How to apply

Applications to the PROPEL program are accepted at any time, but will be evaluated at set times of the year.  Our first evaluation date will be November 1st, 2023. Starting in 2024, applications will be evaluated four times per year on the following dates:  March 1st, June 1st, September 1st, and December 1st.  Applications must be submitted by 5pm Pacific Time on these dates to be considered in that evaluation period.  Late applications will be considered in the following application period.

Enrollment is limited, so admission to the program is not guaranteed.  Admissions decisions will be made based on availability and a holistic review of the application to determine the suitability of both the applicant and their PI for the PROPEL program.  Priority will be given to applicants who clearly articulate how their personal history, achievements, and/or future career goals provide evidence of a strong commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in science.  For example, experiences may include:

  • Participation, through volunteer or paid work, in clubs, organizations, or activities designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in science.
  • Participation in undergraduate research programs, such as MARC or RISE, that aim to promote diversity in science.
  • Being listed as the trainee on an NIH Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (scholars may apply to PROPEL before the outcome of the Research Supplement application is known).
  • Lived experience as an individual from a disadvantaged background, as defined by the NIH.
  • Strong interest in pursuing a career at an institution that primarily serves culturally diverse and underserved populations.

Applications will be reviewed as soon as possible after the cycle deadline and admission decisions will typically be issued within 1-2 weeks after the deadline.  Applications may be submitted before the scholar’s start date at UCSF.  In this case, the applicant must have already accepted a verbal offer of employment in a UCSF research group.  If the application cycle deadline occurs before the start date, an offer of admission into PROPEL will be contingent on the completion of the hiring process. 

  • If you do not already work in a UCSF lab and are interested in applying for research positions, sign up for our UCSF Postbaccalaureate Research Matchmaking Event, in which you can meet UCSF faculty who are interested in hiring research technicians.  The annual event takes place by Zoom each year in January.
  • If you are interested in joining PROPEL and meet the criteria above, please fill out the Scholar's application form and ask your PI to fill out the PROPEL Mentor's Application Form. We will inform you of our decision once application evaluations have concluded.

Scholar's Application Form

PROPEL Mentor's Application Form

You can download both forms here if you would like to review the questions offline before filling out the form online.  However, you must submit your responses using the online form

Important dates

  • August 7th, 2023 PROPEL Symposium
  • August  Start of the 2023/24 PROPEL academic year
  • November 1st, 2023 Next application deadline
  • January, 2024  UCSF Diversity Supplement Matchmaking Event
    • Participate in this event to apply for research technician jobs at UCSF and the opportunity to join PROPEL in the 2024-25 academic year