As a leading institution in aerospace and defense research, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) offers a myriad of internship programs designed to cultivate the next generation of scientists, engineers, and researchers. These internships provide invaluable opportunities for students and recent graduates to gain hands-on experience, collaborate with seasoned professionals, and contribute to cutting-edge projects spanning various disciplines within the realm of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Note: Most programs require participants to be U.S. citizens and pass a background check.

 

AFRL Scholars Program

The AFRL Scholars Program provides stipend-paid internships for undergraduate and graduateuniversity students pursuing STEM degrees, as well as upper-level high school students or K-12 educators supporting STEM. Interns work alongside AFRL scientists and engineers, gaining hands-on experience and contributing to cutting-edge research.

Application deadline: typically in January.

Eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Graduate students, undergraduate students, upper-level high school students, and K-12 professionals supporting STEM
  • 16 years or older with valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
  • Available to work 40 hours per week
  • Must pass a background check

Link: https://afrlscholars.usra.edu/scholarsprogram/


 

AFRL Scholar Professionals

The AFRL Scholar Professionals program enables early career graduates to collaborate with AFRL professionals to address current needs and challenges. Beyond traditional science and engineering domains, the program encompasses fields such as Business Administration, Cybersecurity, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Psychology, and more. Scholars Professionals (SPs) engage in mentor-developed research for one year under the guidance of a mentor at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB). Upon completion of the first year, professionals present a discipline-appropriate capstone deliverable showcasing their research outcomes. There is then potential to extend the position for up to three years.

Application deadline: typically in October

Eligibility requirements:

  • Recent graduate from an accredited institution of higher education (must have graduated within the past two years)
  • Available to work 40 hours per week

Link: https://afrlscholars.usra.edu/scholarsprofessionals/


 

Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship

The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program, funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), is a comprehensive opportunity for STEM students that combines education with workforce development. It offers scholarships to undergraduates, master’s, and doctoral students in 21 STEM disciplines. SMART Scholars receive full tuition coverage, annual stipends, and employment with the DoD upon graduation. This program aims to cultivate future research leaders by providing both education and career opportunities.

Application deadline: typically in December.

Eligibility requirements:

  • 18 years or older
  • Pursuing degree in, or closely related, to one of the SMART STEM disciplines
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance
  • Enrolled in an accredited college or university in the U.S.
  • Completed at least 60 credit hours
  • At least one full year left in degree program
  • Willing to complete at least one summer internship program
  • Willing to accept full-time employment with the DoD after graduation
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Link: https://www.smartscholarship.org/smart


 

Pathways Internship Program

The U.S. Department of State’s Pathways Internship Program comprises two tracks: the Internship Experience Program (IEP) and the Internship Temporary Program (ITEP). These programs cater to U.S. citizens enrolled in educational institutions ranging from high school to graduate and professional levels. Participants have the chance to gain experience in Federal careers while receiving payment for their work.

The application deadline varies by program.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Currently enrolled in an accredited academic institution (part-time minimum)
  • 16 years or older
  • 2.0 GPA or higher

Link: https://careers.state.gov/interns-fellows/pathways-programs/pathways-internship-programs/


 

National Research Council (NRC) Research Associateship Programs

The NRC Research Associateship Programs are esteemed postdoctoral and senior research awards created to offer talented scientists and engineers exceptional research opportunities at federal laboratories and related institutions. These programs provide a comprehensive experience that includes mentorship, access to advanced facilities, and the chance to impact government policy, all aimed at fostering the professional growth of Research Associates in their research careers.

Application deadlines: typically due in February, May, August, and November.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must have Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D., D.V.M., or academically equivalent research doctorate before beginning of program
  • Citizenship requirements vary depending on the sponsoring laboratory

Link: https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/rap/nrc-research-associateship-programs


 

National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG)

The NDSEG Fellowship program aims to boost the number of U.S. citizens earning doctoral degrees in science and engineering fields relevant to military interests. Applicants interested in these disciplines compete for fellowships listed in the Department of Defense’s Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) for research development. The fellowship covers various areas including aeronautical and astronautical engineering, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics, among others.

Application deadline: typically August – November.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Have received or will receive baccalaureate degree in the year of fellowship application or are within the first two years of graduate study in a science or engineering program
  • Majoring in a discipline that addresses Air Force research & technology priorities

Link: https://ndseg.org/


 

Premier College Internship Program (PCIP)

The Premier College Intern Program is designed to prepare program participants for future science, technology, engineering, mathematics, cyber, acquisition, intelligence, mission critical and vocational/technical specialty positions in the Air Force Civilian Service.

Premier College Interns (PCIs) will have the opportunity to access special projects using cutting edge technology, while under the mentorship of senior managers. The paid 12-week internship will occur during the summer of their Junior year (before heading into Senior year) for undergraduate participants. A few positions may be available for exceptional college sophomores. Upon graduation and completing program requirements, a Premier College Intern may be eligible for a full-time position into an Air Force formal training program – PALACE Acquire (PAQ) or COPPER Cap.

Application deadline: varies.

Eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Enrollment as a full-time student in a baccalaureate degree program
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.95 or higher
  • Obtain necessary security background checks/clearance
  • Must be currently enrolled in an accredited academic institution
  • Must have completed at least 60 credit hours in program and have at least one full year remaining in degree program.

Link: https://airforcestem.recsolu.com/jobs/LVBLb9AuahsKS7BqHOSzDg?job_board_id=g193rQ-SUdupijEbTiPUvw


 

AFRL Palace Acquire (PAQ) Internship

The Palace Acquire (PAQ) program is an Air Force program to recruit, train and develop college graduates to become professional Air Force Civilian Scientists and Engineers. We are looking for recent college graduates for this training and development opportunity who are ready to launch a professional career and gain valuable real world work experience with the Air Force. Mentoring will also be provided by Senior Scientists and Engineers. Recent graduates with a bachelor’s degree will enter a 3-year program while completing their graduate degree, or will enter a 2-year program if they have already completed their graduate degree. Upon successful completion of this program, PAQs will be placed into positions as professional-level scientists or engineers.

Application deadline: varies.

Eligibility requirements:

  • US Citizenship required
  • Graduates with a BS (3-year program) or MS (2-year program) in STEM (program must be ABET accredited for technical degrees)
  • GPA 2.95 or above
  • Ability to obtain Security Clearance (funded by USAF)

Link: https://airforcestem.recsolu.com/jobs/QP58EOQ8lHiaUgM63x6ZcQ?job_board_id=g193rQ-SUdupijEbTiPUvw


 

Defense Associated Graduate Research Innovators (DAGSI)

The AFRL/DAGSI Student-Faculty Research Fellowship Program supports graduate students and faculty in science and engineering who conduct research aligned with the AFRL’s interests. Teams, comprising one graduate student and one faculty member, propose research projects in specific areas determined by AFRL. Research Fellows collaborate with AFRL personnel, and each team devises a customized research plan with their AFRL sponsor, potentially utilizing on-base, off-base, or combined facilities. Faculty members actively participate in research, guiding students and engaging with AFRL sponsors. The expectation is that the research conducted will form the core of most students’ theses or dissertations.

Application deadline: typically February.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Graduate students only

Link: https://www.soche.org/programs-and-services/employers/dagsi/


 

Autonomy Technology Research Center Summer Program

The Autonomy Technology Research (ATR) Center, part of the AFRL Sensors Directorate, offers a summer internship program that can extend into the school year. The Sensors Directorate specializes in affordable sensor and countermeasure technologies for various defense systems. The ATR Center program is a collaborative research opportunity focusing on Air Force sensing and autonomy technologies, including sensor processing, object detection, navigation, and malware defense. A key emphasis is on utilizing Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to address these technical challenges.

Application deadline: typically mid-November through mid-April, on a rolling basis.

Eligibility requirements:

  • A strong academic record and enrolled in (or are soon to be enrolled into) a university’s undergraduate or graduate degree program in engineering, computer science, math, physics, or a related fields

Link: https://udayton.edu/engineering/atrc/index.php


 

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE)

ORISE manages various internships, fellowships, and research opportunities aimed primarily at individuals in STEM fields. These opportunities are open to undergraduate and graduate students, recent graduates, postdoctoral researchers, and university faculty members at the AFRL year-round.

The application deadline and eligibility requirements vary by program.

Link: https://orise.orau.gov/index.html


 

AFRL Information Directorate (RI) Internships

AFRL/RI Internships offer 10-week paid summer positions for students enrolled in accredited colleges or universities, ranging from freshmen to PhD candidates, to collaborate with AFRL researchers on-site. The program is facilitated in partnership with the Griffiss Institute. Common fields of study include Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics. Participants engage in a diverse range of research projects tailored to their skills and interests, spanning areas like Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Neuromorphic Computing, Trusted Software, Quantum Information Sciences, and more.

The priority application deadline is typically in January, and the final deadline is typically in March.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Enrolled in accredited college or university
  • Minimum GPA of 2.95
  • At least one semester left in degree program

Link: https://www.griffissinstitute.org/who-we-work-with/afrl/summer-internship


 

AFRL STEM Student Employment Program (SSEP)

The AFRL SSEP offers internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students in STEM disciplines within DoD Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories (STRLs). Participants may receive temporary or flexible term appointments, with full-time or part-time work schedules available at different AFRL locations.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Currently enrolled in an accredited academic institution
  • 2.95 GPA or higher

Link: https://afresearchlab.com/scholarship/ssep


 

Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE)

SOCHE serves as a platform for connecting students, educators, government, businesses, and organizations, aiming to share information, access professional development opportunities, and address workforce gaps through increased internships and research projects. The Student Research Program offers year-long research internships at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for undergraduate and graduate STEM students at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) or the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at AFRL. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Summer Internship Program provides engineering and STEM students with summer internship opportunities at AFIT or the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at AFRL, enabling them to gain valuable experience.

Application deadline: typically in January.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a high school student (16 years or older), undergraduate student, or graduate student

Link: https://www.soche.org/


 

Repperger Research Internship Program

The Repperger Research Internship Program offers interns the opportunity to work alongside Air Force Scientists at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, gaining exposure to ongoing research projects in STEM fields. Interns receive a stipend for the ten-week program duration.

Application deadline: typically December – January.

Eligibility requirements:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited institution of higher education
  • Pursuing a degree in a STEM discipline
  • GPA of 2.5 or higher

Link: https://orise.orau.gov/afrl/


 

Awards to Stimulate and Support Undergraduate Research Experiences (ASSURE)

ASSURE is designed to support undergraduate research in disciplines relevant to the DoD. It offers undergraduates opportunities for research either through ongoing programs or specially tailored projects. The DoD administers the ASSURE program in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) under its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites Program. Students interested in participating should directly contact the individual sites for information and application materials, as NSF does not handle applications or select student participants. Each site provides contact details for inquiries.

The application deadline varies by site but is typically in January.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Enrolled at a college or university in the United States
  • 18 years old by the first day of the program
  • Available to work 40 hours per week and attend required weekly communications classes, seminars, focus groups, and workshops

Link: https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/list_result.jsp?unitid=10023