Feature photo by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education

The Graduate Research Program at ORNL (GRO) offers a unique chance to earn a degree from a leading research university, while conducting research at the nation’s largest multi-program science and technology laboratory. From designing revolutionary materials for energy generation, storage, and use to helping to secure cyberspace, you will have the opportunity to conduct basic or applied research that:

  • Strengthens the nation’s leadership in key areas of science.
  • Increases the availability of clean, abundant energy.
  • Restores and protects the environment
  • Contributes to national security.

GRO students initially follow course work at their home university, though in some cases they may take specialized courses from other participating universities. The program is designed to be flexible in the time spent doing research at the student’s home university and ORNL, and offers a unique graduate experience including:

  • Interdisciplinary courses matched to research goals
  • Mentorship from faculty and world-leading research scientists
  • Opportunities to network with other graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Access to some of the world’s most advanced scientific and engineering facilities

Current and past GRO participants are affiliated with the following universities: Boston University, Colorado School of Mines, Duke, Florida State University,  Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Middle TN State University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Purdue, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Rice University, Tennessee Technical University, Texas A&M University, UC-Davis, University of Florida, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, University of Memphis, University of Missouri, University of NebraskaLincoln, University of NevadaLas Vegas, University of Tennessee–Chattanooga, University of TennesseeKnoxville,  University of Virginia, University of WisconsinMadison, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech, and Washington State University. 

The laboratory looks forward to developing new GRO partnerships with doctoral students from all regionally accredited U.S. universities. 

Commitment, Duration, and Benefits

  • Varies based on partnership details with student’s university  


  • Currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student in a doctoral degree program at a regionally accredited U.S. university
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

Tips for identifying potential collaborators at ORNL:

  • Review the research areas at ORNL to determine what best fits your goals & identify your areas of interest & key terminology that can be used as you answer application questions or update your resume. You can see the eight key areas at
  • Explore breakthrough areas, news, current research highlights, related links, and more 
  • Use the search box to identify key researchers at ORNL in specific areas
  • Explore the directorates and divisions