Health Disparities & Cancer Research Summer Internship

Our Summer 2024 Undergraduate Internship Program's application deadline has passed. Thanks to all who applied! 

Scroll down to the drop-down menus below for more information about program details, expectations, and eligibility, including the decision timeline for applicants. 



The University of Minnesota Medical School Program in Health Disparities Research and the Masonic Cancer Center invites eligible undergraduate students to apply for the M-ASCEND Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program (formerly known as the Health Disparities & Cancer Research Summer Internship). The 9-week internship is a paid, full-time position designed to give participants hands-on research experience, mentorship, and academic and professional development. Students interested in pursuing research or a clinical career in a health professional field, has an interest in cancer and/or disparities, and self-identify as belonging to Minnesota's BIPOC and/or historically marginalized communities are encouraged to apply. Questions? Email

M-ASCEND shares its application with the CTSI Pathways to Research Program (PReP) Program. Students can choose to be considered for one or both programs by selecting their program choice(s) in the application.

Funding for this program is provided by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25CA250987.

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Program Description

The M-ASCEND Summer Undergraduate Research Internship has 12 internship positions available for summer 2024.

  • Program dates: 10 June 2024 - 9 August 2024.*
  • This is a paid, full-time (40 hours per week) internship at $15 per hour.
  • Accepted interns will be matched with an academic research mentor.

During the program, participants will:

  • Learn how health disparities and cancer are addressed through community-engaged research
  • Engage in research related to faculty mentor’s area of investigation in basic biomedical, behavioral, translational, clinical, and/or community-based research
  • Attend weekly seminars and workshops on topics such as interdisciplinary research, applying for medical or professional schools, and the root causes of health disparities and cancer
  • Mentor the M-ASCEND high school interns
  • Present a poster to academic members and community partners at the end of the internship

*Program dates are subject to change.
**Programming may be adjusted to accommodated COVID-19 guidance and UMN recommendations. This includes a reduction of hours, suspending specific components, and adding other activities not listed here.

Program Expectations

Applicants accepted into the program must agree to the following:

  • Commit to work full-time (40 hours per week) during normal office hours (8:00am-5:00pm) for the duration of the nine-week program (Some evening and/or weekend hours may be required)
  • Attend all weekly seminar series and required activities
  • Be a mentor to the M-ASCEND high school interns
  • Create and present a poster at the program-end symposium at the close of the program
  • Access to a laptop, web camera, and reliable internet

*List is not exhaustive and may change. Expectations will be detailed in the acceptance letter.


  • 1 December 2023: Applications open
  • 9 February 2024: Applications due
  • March 2024: Interviews
  • March 2024: Notifications
  • April 2024: Mentor/Mentee Matching
  • 10 June – 9 August 2024: Internship Program
  • 8 August 2024: Poster Session

*Timeline is subject to change without notice.


In order to participate in the internship program, applicants MUST be:

  • An incoming sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduate student. Students graduating in May 2024 are not eligible.
  • Enrolled in a two or four-year college/university in Minnesota OR be a Minnesota resident attending a two or four-year accredited college/university within the United States.
  • Eligible for US employment: Applicants must be a citizen or non-citizen national of the United States or permanent resident; accepted applicants must be able to provide appropriate paperwork indicating they are eligible to work in the United States. 
  • Interested in pursuing a research career or a health science profession.
  • A person that self-identifies as a member of populations identified as underrepresented in biomedical research; individuals with disabilities; economically disadvantaged (individuals from a family with an annual income below low-income thresholds); or disadvantaged based on educational environment (i.e., first-generation college student).
  • A new participant ; past participants are ineligible to apply.


Apply here!

Descriptions of the different application sections are below.

Part 1: Candidate Application

  • Applicant information
  • Select an internship program
    • This is a shared application process between the M-ASCEND Summer Undergraduate Research Internship and the CTSI Pathways to Research (PReP) Summer Research Program.
    • You may have your application considered for one or both programs; if both, you will need to rank the program (i.e., M-ASCEND first pick, PReP second pick or vice versa).
  • Demographic Information
  • Personal Essay
    • Describe your academic and career goals, interest in human health research, how you will benefit from this program, what you want to learn or accomplish from this program, any research experience you have had, if applicable, and any personal challenges you have faced that have influenced your life and/or academic career.
    • 2-page limit; 12 pt font; single-spaced
  • Short Essay
    • Take a moment to think about a specific, diverse or underserved community within Minnesota and how it is impacted by health disparities. In your essay, describe one or two of the most critical health issues facing this Minnesota community. Give examples of how you, in your intended profession, i.e. nurse, researcher, medical doctor, community health worker, etc., would serve in this area of need.
    • 12 pt font, single-spaced, 500 word limit
  • Upload your resume or curriculum vitae
    • Include paid and unpaid* work experiences, community service, volunteer activities, awards/achievements, and clubs/organizations
    • *Ex: working in the family business; taking care of siblings/elderly adult, etc...
  • Upload your transcript(s)
    • Unofficial copies are acceptable
    • Include transcripts from all colleges/universities attended

Part 2: Letters of Recommendation

  • Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation
  • Each letter writer must complete a short survey and upload a recommendation letter that includes the institutional/organization letterhead
  • Identify your letter writers and send them the LoR link to access the survey and to upload their letter
  • Deadline will be 9 February 2024 -- no late letters will be accepted

Review Criteria

The review committee will score applications based on the following criteria:

  • Academic Merit
  • Personal Essay
  • Short Essay
  • Motivation to work in health or research professions
  • Extracurricular Activities, including experience volunteering with diverse and underserved populations
  • Evidence of resiliency
  • Letters of recommendation

Summer Intern Alumni!

Stay connected to PHDR & MCC by providing us with your current contact information.

2021 M-ASCEND Summer Research Internship Virtual Poster Session

"One aspect of the M-ASCEND program I really appreciated was the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of individuals in the health disparities research field."

-2022 Health Disparities & Cancer Research Summer Intern