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BCM - Baylor College of Medicine

Giving life to possible

SMART Program

Frequently Asked Questions

For whom is this program designed?

It is for undergraduate students who are interested in exploring a career in scientific research. We encourage Ph.D.-oriented candidates to apply.

What qualifies a student for eligibility?

All applicants must currently be attending a university in the United States and returning to the college/university to complete their undergraduate degree. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants who graduate before or during the program will not be eligible. No previous research experience is required except of first-year students (Freshman status in college). Applications from first-year students without previous research experience will not be accepted unless they have won a national or international science fair award. Research experience is any laboratory experience outside of a high school or college course lab.

Who can submit a letter of recommendation for me?

Two letters of recommendation are required from faculty that are familiar with your ability in math/science/engineering. At least one should come from faculty at your university. If you have had prior research experience, please list the research mentor as reference #1 on the application. If you have previously worked at Baylor College of Medicine, a recommendation is required from your Baylor research mentor.

Can I apply if I am an international student?

Only international students who are employable and enrolled in educational programs in the United States are eligible to apply.

I need to know how much compensation I can expect for the summer in order to plan properly. Do we get compensation?

Participants are compensated approximately $5,000 (before taxes) for nine weeks. The compensation may be all salary or a mixture of salary, housing, transportation allowance depending on funding source.

Is travel or housing provided for participants?

Dormitory housing is available and located within walking distance from the Baylor complex. Housing arrangements will be made by the SMART program. Travel and housing reimbursement vary depending on grant sources. Housing typically costs about $2,000 for the entire program duration and payments will be accepted in three installments.

I'm from Houston. Can I live at home?

Only if there is an extenuating circumstance such as renting an apartment year round that you can't sublease or a family health situation that requires your ongoing presence during the evenings. Living at home requires prior approval by the program director. Participants who have lived at home have not gained full benefits from being in the program. Program salaries are set to provide adequate compensation for students to pay for dorm housing.

I am a first-year student and will gain research experience by the time the program begins. Am I eligible to apply?

We rely on your current status, not your future status.

Can I participate in the SMART Program and also attend summer school?

The SMART Program is a full-time summer commitment. There is not enough time to fulfill summer school requirements and program requirements.

I will not be able to participate for a complete nine weeks. Am I eligible?

No, you are not.

I want to apply, but I know it's past the Jan. 10 deadline. Can I still apply?

To discuss applying after Jan. 10, Contact the director at gayles@bcm.edu.

I will be studying for the MCAT during the program dates. Is it a good idea to apply?

The SMART Program is a full-time commitment and that means full-time responsibility for doing your job well and taking advantage of program activities. We do not want any important activity in a participant's education to suffer; therefore, think seriously about how much time you will want to put in studying and whether it will interfere with SMART Program participation. You cannot take an MCAT Review course and participate in the SMART Program.

My school does not let out until past the program start date. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can. We require SMART participants to be on site for nine weeks - you can begin later and end later if you need to do so, but you must commit to nine weeks.

Accepted Applicants

I was offered a position but I wish to decline the offer. What do I need to do?

Call us immediately after you have made your decision at (713) 798-3721 or email us at smart-program@bcm.edu. The sooner we know, the sooner we can notify another applicant of their acceptance.

My spring term ends in mid May. Can I start earlier than the proposed start date?

The SMART Program has planned activities during the nine-week period, beginning in June. Earlier start dates are approved only if the applicant cannot stay until the program ends.

I am accepted and want to know to which lab I will be assigned.

Speak with Gayle R. Slaughter, SMART program director, at (713) 798-6644 or gayles@bcm.edu.

Do I have a say in which lab I will be assigned to?

We ask students to indicate labs in which they have an interest. Placement depends on a variety of factors, but we try to honor requests. Please visit the SMART Mentor Project Descriptions webpage for a list of past mentors and project descriptions.

What is the dress code in the lab?

Once you have been notified of your laboratory assignment, contact your mentor directly about what to wear. Attire is appropriate student-casual (i.e. no bare midriffs or spaghetti strapped tops or short-shorts) with comfortable closed-toe shoes.

How should I pack for Houston weather?

It's hot down here, so be sure to pack a lot of casual light clothing. Also, it's a good idea to include one semi-dressy ensemble if you wish to do so. You may want to visit with Baylor faculty while you are here, so dressing up might be appropriate. We are the most air-conditioned city in the world; bring a light jacket, blanket and umbrella. June can be like living in a rain forest and it shows in our lush plant life.

Are there meal plans available?

No, but there are cafeterias in the medical center that are open every day. There are plenty of good restaurants located in and around the medical center. Also, cooking facilities will be available in assigned housing.

Is healthcare provided for participants in the program?

No, the program does not provide a healthcare plan; you will need to bring proof of insurance. Medical facilities are available.

Alternate Status

What does it mean to be an alternate?

Being an alternate to the program means that you will be accepted if a position for which you are an appropriate match become available due to new openings or withdrawals by accepted applicants.

I received a notification that I am an alternate candidate. Should I call and check up on my status?

Please contact us at (713) 798-3721 or smart-program@bcm.edu if you have made a commitment to another program or job. We will contact you if a position becomes available.

Rejected Applicants

Can I apply again?

Yes, if you still meet the eligibility requirements.