Graduate Research at ornl (GRO)

The Graduate Research Program at ORNL (GRO) offers students the opportunity to supplement your degree program from a leading research university by conducting research at ORNL. This highly flexible program allows for the student and ORNL scientist to maximize research opportunities at ORNL.

About the GRO program

The Graduate Research Program at ORNL (GRO) offers a path by which you can conduct research that contributes to your degree at the nation’s largest multiprogram science and technology laboratory. From designing revolutionary energy 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

Program Details

GRO students follow the course and graduation requirements from their home universities and frequently have finished all their coursework before spending time doing research on the ORNL campus. The research GRO students do at ORNL frequently results from or initiates collaborative relationships between the home university and permanent ORNL researchers. The program is designed to be flexible in the time spent doing research at the student’s home university and ORNL, and the program offers a unique graduate experience including:
• The ability to experience true teamwork-style research at a National Laboratory to complement the experience at the student’s home university
• 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.

There is no USA citizenship or permanent residency requirement to participate in the GRO program.


  • This program offers flexibility for student to decide:
    • program length
    • starting and ending dates

Eligibility Overview

• 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


Pay and Allowances

  • • $4,800 monthly payment

How to Apply

The GRO program is based on matches between Student and ORNL Mentor research interests.  To apply, students must first identify a potential collaborator at ORNL.

If you have a pre-existing relationship with a potential ORNL Mentor, please contact [email protected] with that information.

If you are interested in GRO, but do not yet have a pre-existing relationship, we suggest these steps to build one:

  • Review the research areas at ORNL to determine what best fits your goals and degree program. You can see the eight key areas at gov and can explore the descriptions of ORNL research via links on that web site. Another source is the published scientific literature, where key authors are identified as ORNL scientists.
  • While exploring the research groups at ORNL note any staff members whose research aligns with your program or interest. 
  • You are encouraged to contact potential ORNL Mentors directly to initiate a conversation about collaboration. Many ORNL scientists are very open to taking on student collaborators.  Use the people finder to contact these researchers to establish a collaboration.

Once a match has been identified, please contact [email protected].

 Once your potential Mentor has been identified, you will be invited to apply.  Applications are taken throughout the year; there are no fixed deadlines.  ORNL appointments may begin any Monday and end any Friday.


Additional Resources

Do you have questions? That’s okay!

For questions about ORNL internships (which are mainly defined programs for a summer or single semester experience), email [email protected].

For questions about the GRO application process, email [email protected]

Explore ORNL

Did you know that ORNL has been a national leader in science and engineering for 80 years? We represent nearly every scientific discipline—from biology to computing to physics and much more. Explore more about What We Do.


Did you know that the world’s fastest supercomputer is located on the ORNL campus? Or that we can 3D print a car? Check out our facilities on Virtual Tours.


With more than 6,000 staff members, someone is always accomplishing something great at ORNL. Read about our latest research at the News Desk.