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My School of Medicine Columbia

PREP: Post-Baccalaureate Research Program

The PREP program seeks to increase the level of qualified minority applicants to our graduate programs by offering minority students the opportunity to work for a year in a biomedical research laboratory while preparing for Graduate School in the biomedical sciences.

About PREP

The University of South Carolina PREP, which is fully funded by the National Institutes of Health until 2020, is accepting applications. Each year, we plan to admit seven USC-PREP scholars who will enter the program in the last week of June.

Our PREP provides a year of post-baccalaureate training to minority students who have indicated a desire to enter graduate school with the aim of obtaining a Ph.D. degree in the Biomedical Sciences. We have designed a program that will include:

  • Research experience in a biomedical research laboratory using the latest scientific equipment and methods
  • Mentoring by an experienced faculty member and other members of his/her research team
  • Association with a senior graduate student as a “research buddy”
  • Seminar presentation by the PREP Scholar to enhance scientific communication skills
  • GRE preparation
  • Presentation of work at national and local scientific meetings
  • Usually one biomedical graduate (or similar) course per semester for credit
  • Foundation courses including ethics, use of animals and radioactivity, paper writing and problem solving
  • Journal clubs to stimulate critical thinking about the published literature
  • Attendance at seminars presented by outside faculty

This program allows PREP Scholars to experience biomedical research and demonstrate their abilities as researchers. In addition, they will have the opportunity to show their ability to do well in graduate level coursework. PREP Scholars who demonstrate the potential to excel at biomedical research and who have a strong recommendation from their research advisory committee will be guaranteed acceptance into one of USC’s Ph.D. programs and encouraged to apply for admission to other Ph.D. programs. We anticipate that the Scholars' laboratory research experience and graduate coursework will not only ensure their acceptance into a graduate program, but will also shorten the time needed to complete a Ph.D. by about a year.

Once accepted into USC PREP, a Scholar will receive a stipend of $28,000 per year.

The program will allow the Scholars to hone their laboratory skills and increase their test taking and writing skills where necessary. Scholars, like regular graduate students, will be encouraged to attend and present at local and national meetings and workshops in order to convey their findings to their academic colleagues and gain visibility in the biomedical sciences job market. 


Because PREPs were created by NIH to increase the number of minority students entering doctoral programs in biomedical research, you must be an underrepresented minority to participate:

Underrepresented minorities include:

  • Blacks or African Americans

  • Hispanic Americans or Latinos

  • Native Americans (American Indians or Alaska Natives)

  • Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders

  • Individuals with disabilities, defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities

You must also be:

  • A citizen of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States

Biomedical Departments across the USC campus in Columbia, South Carolina participate in USC PREP. These include:

  • All three basic science departments of the School of Medicine:

    • Cell Biology and Anatomy

    • Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

    • Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

  • The Department of Biological Sciences

  • The Department of Chemistry (Biochemistry section)

  • The Department of Exercise Science (in the School of Public Health)

  • The Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Science (in the College of Pharmacy)

If you apply and receive an interview, we would like you name up to four professors whose research interests you and with whom you may like to work. You can find out more about the research in the various departments, which are linked to this page. In addition, many research laboratories and professors’ research pages are to be found from this list. Please note that newer faculty may not yet be on this list.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact Dr. Richard Hunt at

If you are interested in joining USC PREP, please fill out the application. If you have any problems with the electronic application, please put the requested information in an e-mail and send it to  

In addition you will also need to send us:

  • Three letters of recommendation from people who know you academically (such as your professors)

  • A copy of your transcripts. We do not need originals with the initial application

  • A copy of your GRE score if you have taken this but it is not necessary to have taken the exam to apply to PREP

  • A personal statement stating why you think PREP will be advantageous to you; why you wish to pursue a career in biomedical sciences; and any experience that you have in biomedical research. We are particularly interested in research that you may have done away from your home institution such as in summer programs at NIH, research institutes or universities.

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