How to Apply and Frequently Asked Questions

How to Apply and Frequently Asked Questions

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Information on how to apply and answers to frequently asked questions can be found below.

If you have additional questions, please email us at [email protected].
 

Eligibility

The MSK Bridge Program is open to current college seniors and those who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree within the last 36 months who are:

  • Self-identify as underrepresented in the U.S. biomedical sciences and fields, as defined by the Notice of NIH’s interest in diversity.
  • U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center cannot sponsor visas for the MSK Bridge program. (Applicants with DACA status are welcomed, but note that many DACA holders have experienced significant wait times to renew their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and the program would need to work together with applicants over a longer lead time.)
  • Strongly committed to apply to biomedical PhD or MD-PhD programs.

How do I apply?

Each year, our online application portal will open in early November and close in late February.

There is no fee to apply for the MSK Bridge program.
 

More about applying

The application will ask for:

  • Basic demographic information
  • Personal statement (800 words, single spaced) answering the following prompts:
  • How has your background, experiences, and academic journey prepared you for a career in science? Or: How has your background, experiences, and academic journey shaped your aspirations to pursue a science career?
  • What do you expect to get from the MSK Bridge program and research experience?
  • How does MSK Bridge fit into your career journey?
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or resume (3 pages maximum). Make sure to indicate anything else you consider important for a judgment of your abilities such as articles, theses, books, other published materials, patented inventions, academic honors, prizes, scholarships and leadership activities, etc. Information about previous work experience is also welcomed on your CV.
  • Unofficial transcripts must be submitted with the application. Upon acceptance, official transcript from each of the Scholar’s college or university(s) will be required. For every school you enter in the application, you must provide an unofficial transcript. If there are discrepancies between the official and unofficial transcripts, the program will rescind the acceptance.
  • The names and emails of two faculty members or employers who are familiar with the candidate’s credentials related to laboratory research or relevant work experience. They will be sent a link and must provide a letter of recommendation by the deadline above. (Please note recommendations from family members or friends are not appropriate.)

GRE scores are not required, but candidates who have taken the MCAT should indicate so on their application. 

How long after graduation can I apply?

Applicants to MSK Bridge must be about to complete or must have a baccalaureate in a biomedically relevant science discipline from an accredited college or university awarded no more than 36 months prior to applying and must not be currently enrolled in a terminal degree program. Those who have completed master’s degrees are eligible to apply if they are within 36 months of the completion of their bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree. If the undergraduate degree was not in the life or physical sciences, candidates can still apply, but must demonstrate fluency in biology/ biochemistry/ engineering/ computational biology.

Parental or medical leave is not included in the 3-year eligibility limit, nor is national service (e.g., Peace Corps, or service in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserves). Applicants can check with the MSK Bridge leadership in advance of applying if they have questions about eligibility ([email protected]). MSK Bridge Scholars should intend to apply to research-focused biomedical doctoral degree programs (PhD or MD-PhD) during or immediately following completion of MSK Bridge. This program is not intended for those applying for medical, dental, nursing, or veterinary school.

In addition to the application form, personal statement, CV, and unofficial transcript, what other documents do I need to submit?

You will also need to provide the names and emails of two recommenders who are familiar with your credentials related to academic trajectory, laboratory research, or relevant work experience — they will be sent a link to upload a letter of recommendation for you. If you have not yet engaged in any research experience, please provide the names of professors and/or academic advisors who can write about your potential for succeeding in such a program. Please note recommendations recommendation letters from family members or friends are not appropriate. After you enter your recommenders’ email addresses, the application will prompt an email to the recommender to submit the letter of recommendation directly; applicants cannot upload their own recommendation letters.

When will my recommenders receive the request for a letter of recommendation?

Requests for your recommendation letter(s) will be sent to the recommender only after you submit your application.

Can I change my recommender(s) after I have submitted my application?

You can change a recommender in the application form, only if you have not formally submitted your application. After the application has been submitted, you cannot make any changes. If you need to replace an existing recommender, please email us at [email protected] with the new name and email, and also notify the original recommender that you no longer require a letter from them. The new name and email will have to be manually entered by our team.

What should I do if my recommenders have not received a request for a letter of recommendation on my behalf?

The potential reasons for why your recommender(s) may not have received the system-generated email request for a letter of recommendation. 

  • Log on to the application system and check that the email address you entered is accurate, then resend the request for a letter.
  • Ask your recommender to check their SPAM or Junk folder.

If the email message is still not received after trying the steps listed above and you suspect there is a technical problem, please email us at [email protected].

Who ensures that letters of recommendation are received?

It is your responsibility to ensure that the program receives your letters of recommendation by the deadline. If the recommender is having issues uploading the letter, please have them email the letters in PDF format directly to the Bridge Leadership at [email protected].

Is there a deadline for receipt of my recommendation letters?

All letters must be received by the deadline in that given year (usually in late February).

Do I need to submit my application before a request for a letter of recommendation is sent to the recommenders?

Yes, request for recommendation letter(s) will be sent to the recommender once you submit your application. Please formally submit your application as soon as you have completed all the required elements to allow your recommenders enough time to submit their letter(s) before the deadline, February 24.

After I submit the application, can I make changes to my application?

No, after you have submitted an application, you cannot make any changes. If you have any issues or questions, email us at [email protected].

How will I know if my application is complete?

You will receive an email confirming that your application is complete when all elements have been received including your letters of recommendation. Note: Applications that remain incomplete after the deadline will not be reviewed.

When can I expect to hear about the status of my application?

Everyone who submitted a completed application will be receive a decision letter via e-mail by the end of March.

I have registered, but now can’t log in, can you help?

If you see “Application with this email address is not found,” it is likely that you are logging in with an email that is different from the one the program has on record. If you have more than one email address, make sure you are logging in using the same address you used to register. Applicants with two accounts risk having application documents logged in two different places and risk the application not marked as complete. Email [email protected] for additional help.

I’m having issues saving my applications or the application system is running slow, how do I fix this?

Some of these issues can be solved by switching browsers (Chrome, Firefox), clearing your browser cache, and disabling your pop-up blockers. If you are still encountering issues, please contact us immediately at [email protected].

I previously applied to the MSK Bridge program and was not accepted, can I reapply?

Yes, you may reapply to the MSK Bridge program if you remain eligible (see the Eligibility section above).

Admissions and Onboarding
 

Where is the MSK Bridge program located?

The MSK Bridge program will take place in person at the research buildings of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the Upper East Side of New York City. Scholars will be hosted by one of the MSK labs listed on the MSK Bridge program website.

Is MSK Bridge program a paid program?

Yes, MSK Bridge Scholars will receive a stipend of $45,000 per year for the 2023 - 2025 academic years, paid on a bi-weekly basis.

What benefits am I provided as a MSK Bridge Scholar?

MSK offers a wide range of benefits for MSK Bridge Scholars, which includes health coverage (medical, prescription, vision, and dental), LifeCare information and referral service, as well as an employee discount program.

Scholars also have access to the MSK Emergency Hardship Fund. This fund offers financial support to enrolled scientific trainees who are facing sudden and temporary financial challenges resulting from personal or family emergencies but cannot resolve these difficulties through alternative measures (fellowships, loans, or personal resources). We understand that such financial emergencies can add stress that negatively impacts academic progress. The MSK Emergency Hardship Fund aims to help scientific trainees experiencing such emergencies, alleviating the sudden burden and allowing them to return on track with their academic and scientific progress. 

Is housing provided?

Yes, housing will be available to rent in the same buildings as other MSK trainees. Housing may be shared accommodation with a same-sex Scholar.

Does the MSK Bridge program cover travel costs for relocation expenses?

Yes, relocation expenses will be covered. Accepted Scholars will receive the guidelines and limits about relocation expenses upon acceptance. 

Program Details
 

Can I attend only the first year of the MSK Bridge program?

The MSK Bridge program is intended to be a two-year commitment to a lab and to the courses paced across a 24 month stay. While circumstances may arise that necessitate an early departure, MSK Bridge Scholars are expected to commit two years to the program.

Can I extend my tenure as MSK Bridge scholar for an additional third year?

The MSK Bridge program is intended to be a two-year commitment to a lab and to the courses paced across a 24 month stay. 

Which courses do MSK Bridge Scholars typically take?

In the first year of the program, MSK Bridge Scholars will take a course modeled after the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School (GSK) cancer biology core course and facilitated by an MSK faculty or a postdoc.

Year 1:

  • Summer: Arriving MSK Bridge Scholars will join summer interns in a variety of professional development, poster sessions, and educational lectures. Scholars will also take the required lab safety training courses as follows: Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), Biosafety and Fire Safety, Radiation Safety, Animal use and care, and C-14 laboratory certification.
  • Fall: The Fall semester will have multiple scientific skills-building workshops which include, but may not be limited to, proteomics, animal models, imaging handling & analysis, and computational biology.
  • Winter: Scholars will take a modified version of the 10-week Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School (GSK) cancer biology core course mentored by GSK upper class students.
  • Spring: The spring semester will be dominated by professional development coursework: communication, networking, presenting at conferences, conflict resolution, and grantsmanship.

Year 2:

  • MSK Bridge Scholars will start year two in the program working with incoming Bridge Scholars, leading the journal club that was established in year 1, and identifying schools to which they will apply.
  • Fall: Scholars will participate in an intensive three-day Demystifying the Graduate School Application Process event, as well as other application submission and interview prep workshops.
  • One on one mentorship will be provided related to personal statements and other application materials.

Further coursework will be at the Scholar’s discretion.

How are Bridge Scholars matched to a lab?

Once an applicant is accepted into the MSK Bridge program, the program leadership will match the accepted Scholar with a potential principal investigator (PI) from among those listed on the program website. The matching will be determined based on applicant’s qualifications and research interests that align with the PI’s, alongside an interview in advance a member of program leadership team. All Bridge-specific PIs have pledged a commitment to hosting and providing mentoring to Bridge Scholars to build a strong foundation in biomedical wet-lab and/or computational research. Information about the scientific focus of participating labs can be found by visiting their respective web pages as noted above in the program faculty webpages. MSK Bridge program leadership will take an active role in working with each accepted applicant to find a scientific home.

Does participating in the MSK Bridge program guarantee admission into one of the MSK graduate schools?

Participation in the MSK Bridge program does not guarantee admissions into Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK), the Weill Cornell Graduate School, or the Tri-Institutional PhD Programs in Chemical Biology (TPCB), Computational Biology and Medicine (CBM), or MD-PhD Program. MSK Bridge Scholars interested in graduate programs at MSK would need to apply to the programs during their second year in the MSK Bridge program. However, during the program, Scholars will have ample opportunities to interact with deans, directors, faculty, and those on admissions committees, which may improve their chances of admissions into the graduate program(s).

What kind of support and advising can a MSK Bridge Scholar expect to receive?

Scholars will receive extensive individual academic and professional guidance. This will include individual monthly meetings with their PI; oversight by a day-to-day mentor (postdoc, grad student and/or other lab member), and quarterly meetings with the Office of Scientific Education & Training (OSET) team and MSK Bridge program’s leadership.

Do MD-PhD seeking Scholars partake in shadowing opportunities it the clinic?

MSK Bridge Scholars that are committed to applying to MD-PhD programs will be matched to a physician for shadowing experience in the winter/spring of their first year as a scholar.

Is MCAT preparation provided for MD-PhD seeking Scholars?

MSK Bridge Scholars that are committed to applying to MD-PhD programs will receive up to $1,500 to cover MCAT preparation expenses. Scholars will be able to choose the materials or course of their preference.