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Tips for Applying for the DOE Science graduate Laboratory Internship (SULI)

SULI Applicants

Completion of all required fields in the application, including:

  • Contact and Education Information
  • Citizenship Status
  • Laboratory Choice & Technical Interests
  • Essays
Online submission of the following:
  • Undergraduate Transcripts
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
Application Complete!

The application system will guide applicants through the application requirements. Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be considered for placement. Materials uploaded into the online application system provide the sole basis for evaluation.


You must identify your first and second choice laboratories indicating where you would like to do your research internship. Be sure to select Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as your first choice.

Educational Background

Note: There is a 3.0 minimum GPA requirement to gain acceptance into the program. Be sure to include a descriptive title for each completed course (e.g., CHEM 140A Advanced Inorganic Chemistry instead of just CHEM 140A).

Research Interests and Special Skills

You must select research areas of interest matching one of those listed for a particular laboratory’s ongoing research programs.

Prior to selecting a host laboratory and research area, you should identify the research areas available at each DOE laboratory AND review the research information on the laboratory website. Make your decision carefully – not all research areas are available at all DOE laboratories and not all laboratories participate in the fall and spring terms.

Connecting with a Researcher

If you find a researcher whose project sounds like a good match, reach out to them to gauge their interest in hosting you. We have found this personal interaction to be a very effective way to match students and mentors. Researchers are very busy, and it may take some tenacity to really connect with them. Initiative is a very desirable quality when considering candidates for our programs; demonstrating initiative and your passion for science is likely to make a positive impact on our scientific staff. Connecting with a scientist and discussing your passion is the best avenue to a successful placement. In your application, speak to your passion for science and how it relates to some of the research we do at ORNL. This is helpful when mentors are considering applicants. Keep in mind that research/lab experience is not required for acceptance into the program.

Application Essay

For the application essay, please keep in mind that scientist mentors will be looking specifically for your science background and interests. Be sure that your essay also references the areas that you have identified from searching on the ORNL website. Provide as much detail as much about your interest as possible (e.g., “I am interested in energy research” is not as strong or helpful as “I am interested in researching advanced vehicles and fuels, building more energy efficient infrastructures, semi-conductors and metals, or nanostructures.”).

Letters of Recommendation

We must receive two references for your application to be considered complete. We suggest that you solicit three letters of recommendations (in the event one referee does not complete your reference on time) from:

  1. A faculty member who can discuss the academic skills you have developed in your major that may be applicable to laboratory research
  2. Someone who can comment on your general professionalism and work ethic (e.g., a past employer)
  3. Someone who can speak about your role as a student or leader (e.g., organization advisor, counselor).

Remember that potential mentors will be looking for your background and experience in science, technology, engineering, math or research.

When requesting a letter of recommendation, be sure to:

  • Communicate with recommenders well before the deadline, to let them know that you will need a letter by the application deadline, because they will most likely be difficult to contact over the semester/quarter break
  • Provide recommenders with a personal statement about your research interests and why you want to participate in the program
  • Confirm recommenders email addresses prior to submitting application
  • Follow up with recommenders frequently to ensure all recommendations are submitted by the deadline

For more information about faculty opportunities, please email [email protected].