You are here

Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not answered below, you can contact for questions about the programs or Nicole Streicker for questions about the applications.


Who can apply for BUILD?

Any current full-time CSULB student or incoming transfer (for fall semester) student who:

  • Is in any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM major, but MUST be interested in pursuing both a career and an advanced degree in health-related research
  • As of June, has one to two semesters (for Fellows cohort) or three to four semesters (for Scholars cohort) left before completing their undergraduate degree
  • Is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or permanent resident

Although all students, regardless of background are welcome, you are strongly encouraged to apply if you have any of the following characteristics:

  • You are from a traditionally underrepresented group in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences
  • You have demonstrated personal achievement or endured life challenges that can contribute to the diverse perspectives in health-related research (e.g., first-generation college student, limited English proficiency, disability, geographic residency, refugee status, financially disadvantaged backgrounds, etc.)
  • You have a commitment to community service or underserved populations

Based on the criteria listed above, if you are ineligible to apply to BUILD, then please use the following link to view other research and funding opportunities for CSULB students: Research & Funding Opportunities for CSULB Students

Are international students eligible to apply to BUILD?

Students must be a US Citizen or legal permanent resident to apply. This is because we are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which is a national agency. However, research experience is still available to international students with unpaid research internships. Our mentors have both students in our programs and students doing research independent of a program. This research experience will still help with graduate applications and a career in research. International students can also go to the Graduate Studies Resource Center on the 5th floor of the library to receive free grad school prep assistance. Pro-active students can piece together some of the important components of these programs on their own.

How do I apply?

First, find out if applications are currently being taken by going to the Apply page. When applications are open, in addition to the online application form, you will be asked to upload several elements into the system. So that you can be prepared, we've published a list of these elements here.

The CSULB BUILD training programs use a joint online application form with MARC U*STAR and RISE, which are similar NIH-funded CSULB programs. The application form includes eligibility information and eligible applicants will need to complete and submit the application by the required deadline, which is usually the first week of March.

Whether you are in the BUILD training program or not, you are always welcome to join us for our upcoming workshops. Please check the Homepage and News & Events page often for upcoming events.

On my application, do I have to choose between BUILD, MARC U*STAR or RISE?

No. If you have a preference, you can state that. If you do, you will need to provide a reason for your preference. If you don’t, your application will be reviewed by all three programs at the same time and, if accepted, you will be placed in the most appropriate program for you by the selection committee.

What if I can’t get all my application elements submitted on time?

If you are unable to get both of your recommendation forms or other application elements in on time, email She will coordinate with the review committee to see if an accommodation can be made and will respond via email. If you haven’t heard back after a reasonable amount of time, feel free to follow up; application time is a very busy time of the year.

Where can I find help to write my personal and research interest statements?

The Writer’s Resource Lab, located in SSC-245, can help you. For information about their hours and making an appointment for assistance, visit their webpage. If you are already working with a faculty mentor, seek their guidance. And, you can always use your favorite search engine to find samples and templates to give you a good start.

Do I need my official transcripts / financial aid award letter or can I take a screenshot for the application?

You can submit a PDF of your unofficial transcript.  For your financial aid award statement, a screenshot or a PDF is acceptable.

Who can fill out my faculty recommendation forms?

One recommendation form needs to come from a CSULB professor in any discipline. The second recommendation can come from anyone that has served in a supervisory role like a TA or former employer. If you are not currently a CSULB student (e.g. transfer student for fall semester), then you may have a professor at your current institution complete your recommendation form.

What benefits does BUILD offer Students?

Mentored Research Training

  • Mentored research
    • Approximately 20 hours per week (Scholars/Fellows)
  • Summer Research Experience
    • Full-time
    • 8 weeks for Scholars and Fellows starting the first week of June
  • Professional and research guidance with your faculty mentor

Professional Development

  • Learning Community experience
    • Individual academic and research development plan
    • Graduate school preparation and application support
    • Workshops/Colloquia (guest speakers)
    • Presentation opportunities
  • Research Courses
  • Priority registration
  • GRE preparation

Financial Support

  • Monthly stipend (Scholars) or hourly salary (Fellows)
  • Partial tuition support (Scholars)
  • Funding for research supplies
  • Conference travel (Scholars and Fellows)

CSULB Community

  • Engage with students across multiple disciplines
  • One-on-One mentoring with BUILD Graduate Mentors
  • A dedicated team of BUILD staff members to support your journey in the program

What are the selection criteria?

We are looking for dedicated students, with a potential to succeed, who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree and a career in health-related research.  Our student applicant pool normally comes from the Colleges of Health and Human Services (CHHS), Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM), Liberal Arts (CLA), and Engineering (COE). However, students from any major or CSULB College can apply as long as they meet the requirements mentioned in the 'Who can apply for BUILD' question above. Applications will be reviewed based on a number of criteria including:

  • Evidence of strong academic performance or potential;
  • Passion for scientific inquiry;
  • Potential for successful research careers;
  • Evidence of resilience, persistence, the potential for leadership, and a desire to help others through research.

Who is on the selection committee?

Faculty members from the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Health and Human Service, and Engineering sit on the selection committee.

How many students will BUILD select this year?

  • Scholars Program: Up to 16 students will be selected to participate in this 3-4 semester program. This application is a joint application between BUILD, MARC U*STAR, and RISE. Please check with these other two programs for their availability and time commitment.
  • Fellows Program: Up to 20 students will be selected to participate in this 1-2 semester program.

Do I need to be available during the summer?

Yes. BUILD SURGE is an 8-week long research experience from June to July that all new BUILD students must attend. During SURGE, students will attend 2 weekly Learning Community classes, participate in program events, and work with their faculty mentor. Please be advised that you will need to plan for being on campus Monday - Friday.  Once you meet with your faculty mentor, you will discuss and set-up your weekly schedule for research training.

What is the difference between BUILD, MARC U*STAR, and RISE?

BUILD, MARC U*STAR and RISE are very similar programs. MARC U*STAR requires students to be in the University Honors Program (UHP) and have a 3.0 GPA. BUILD and RISE do not have GPA requirements but are looking for students that can be competitive for graduate school. MARC U*STAR and RISE focus on students from the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Engineering, and also the Department of Psychology. BUILD accepts students from those two colleges, but also the College of Health and Human Services, as well as all departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Your experience will depend largely on which mentor you choose. You will be working with your mentor for 15-20 hours per week during the academic year. Be sure to do your homework and speak to your potential mentors to make sure they would be a good fit.

How do I find a BUILD faculty mentor?

To search for available faculty mentors, use the Mentor Directory on our website. While this directory does not include all faculty doing research at CSULB, the faculty members on this list are doing health-related research and currently looking for a BUILD Student. Faculty who are part of our Mentor Directory are interested in mentoring undergraduate students and have completed mentor training to support you to reach your graduate program and research goals.

Does BUILD provide housing and/or parking during SURGE?

BUILD does not provide student housing and/or parking. Each student will be responsible for their own housing and parking during SURGE. However, if you require assistance with locating student resources for housing and parking support, then please reach out to any of our BUILD Training Directors or staff for support.

Here are some resources you can use to help you find options for housing and parking:

Can I keep my job while participating in BUILD?

As you will have the responsibilities of working with your faculty mentor, participating in the Learning Community, along with your regular full-time course schedule/requirements, BUILD students are not allowed to have additional employment.  If there is a financial need for taking on outside employment, then you will need to speak with your BUILD Training Director to further discuss the matter.

Will my financial aid package change if I am accepted into BUILD?

If you receive or will receive financial aid, then please note that each student has their own unique funding package.  It is important to speak with a CSULB financial aid advisor to see how your specific financial aid package will be affected if you receive funding from BUILD.