Program Description | Application Information
| Interview Guidelines | Proposal
Guidelines | Announcements
of Opportunity | Links to other Amgen
Please read this entire page before beginning
the application process!
The Application Process
Students must identify and contact a mentor, collaborate with the mentor to develop
and define the research project, and write and submit a research proposal.
The Online Amgen Scholars Application
All documents will be submitted directly to the SFP Online
system. The application contains:
- An online application
- A proposal written by the student and uploaded to the application
- Two confidential letters of recommendation (at least one from
a faculty member)
- An unofficial transcript for non-Caltech applicants
SFP will contact the applicant's mentor for a confidential evaluation after the application is submitted.
How To Identify a Mentor
It is the responsibility of the student to identify a suitable
research mentor. The mentor must be a member of the Caltech faculty
or JPL technical staff.
There are several ways to identify a potential mentor:
- Review the Announcement of Opportunities website to see projects
being offered by mentors.
- Use your academic network. Talk to your advisor to see if they
have ideas and contacts for you.
- Review the 2012 Abstract Book (available online here) to
get ideas about possible research areas and mentors.
- Talk to professors in your field and ask for referrals to prospective
mentors. A non-Caltech student may ask a faculty member at his/her
institution to contact a colleague at Caltech or JPL on his/her
- Caltech students should consider attending seminar classes and
option seminars where faculty present their work. Also, talk with
upper-class housemates and classmates.
- Call the SFP office to discuss possible mentors.
A vital part of the application process is the interaction between
student and mentor prior to submission of the proposal. This is the
best time to find out information about the project, the laboratory,
and your role in the group. For non-Caltech students, this exchange
may occur through email or by phone. During the interaction, you
should develop your expectations of what it will be like to work
in this group as well as the nature of your research project. Interview
guidelines may be accessed here.
The Research Project
The most important factor in selecting a project is your enthusiasm
for the project itself and for working with the mentor. The Amgen
Scholarship is not "just a summer job"; a project should
have significant intellectual and creative content. The benchmark
for a suitable project is the potential for publication in the refereed
The proposal should be as technical and specific as you can make
it as it will be read by people in the field. It must outline what
you plan to do, and why it will be useful. The outline consists of
theoretical and experimental techniques, how the work fits into the
flow of the research in the field, and a work plan for the project.
Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by the mentor and by a member
of the faculty in the project field. For further guidelines on writing
an excellent proposal, access the Proposal
Recommendations are completed online with the application form.
The online application will request recommender contact information
from the student. The recommender will then be emailed directly
and asked to submit his or her recommendation into the online
system. Students are required to submit two letters of recommendation.
At least one should be from faculty members in the relevant field.
The second letter may be from an RA, TA, coach, or employer.
If you have done a previous research project with a different
mentor, that mentor should write one of your recommendations. Your
prospective Caltech mentor will complete a separate evaluation
and should not write a letter of recommendation.
Applications are judged on the following criteria:
- Research proposal is a clear description of the proposed project.
It demonstrates the applicant's understanding of the nature and
purpose of the project, how it relates to other work in the field,
and it includes a work plan for accomplishing project goals.
- Proposed project allows student to take intellectual ownership
and has potential for publication in refereed journal. Proposed
project can be reasonably done in a 10-week period.
- Student is prepared for the project (coursework, experience,
- Mentor and faculty have submitted supportive recommendations
Amgen Scholar Awards
Awards will be announced on March 15, 2013. Students will receive
e-mail notification of the outcome of their applications and
instructions and forms required to accept the award.
Click here to apply