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Graduate Opportunities

ORNL offers graduate students and recent graduates several distinct opportunities to stay engaged with research. Students at ORNL are able to participate in short-term research appointments, internships, and get involved with the ORNL-UTK graduate program. Whether you are seeking a short break after a master's degree or looking for a cutting-edge graduate program to solve energy problems, ORNL has something for you.


"GO!" program

The overarching GO! program offers a unique chance to earn a degree from a leading research university, while conducting research at the nation’s largest multi-program science and technology laboratory. From designing revolutionary materials for energy generation, storage, and use to helping to secure cyberspace, you will have the opportunity to conduct basic or applied research that:

  • Strengthens the nation’s leadership in key areas of science.
  • Increases the availability of clean, abundant energy.
  • Restores and protects the environment
  • Contributes to national security.

GO! students initially follow course work at their home university though,  in some cases they may take specialized courses from other participating universities. The program is designed to be flexible in the time spent doing thesis research at the home university and ORNL, and offers a unique graduate experience including:

  • Interdisciplinary courses matched to research goals.
  • Mentoring by world-class faculty and research scientists
  • Access to some of the world’s most advanced scientific and engineering facilities.
  • An international environment that offers opportunities to network with other graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from diverse backgrounds.
  • An entrepreneurial culture that stimulates technology transfer.

Doctoral research programs have been established at:

Boston University, Colorado School of Mines, Duke, Florida State University,  Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Middle TN State University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Purdue, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Rice University, Tennessee Technical University, Texas A&M University, UC-Davis, University of Florida, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Memphis, University of Missouri,  University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee –Chattanooga, University of Tennessee-Knoxville,  University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech and Washington State University. Applications for this program must be made to the partner university.

For more information please contact Office of Research Excellence at

The Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Graduate Education

In 2010 the Tennessee General Assembly granted ORNL and the University of Tennessee approval to initiate an interdisciplinary doctoral program focused on Energy Sciences. The Bredesen Center honors Governor Phil Bredesen, who served Tennessee from 2003 to 2011, in recognition of his leadership in education and economic development for the state.  Since its inception numerous students from across the nation have joined the program to advance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research related to energy. The Bredesen Center is a special program that leverages the capabilities of the Department of Energy's largest lab for open science.  Both undergraduate and master's students are encouraged to apply. For more information please visit or contact The Bredesen Center Academic Advisor, Allie Burns, at

GEM Fellowship

ORNL is a proud employee partner of the National GEM Consortium, a non-profit group established to help underrepresented minorities in STEM attend graduate programs. ORNL GEM Fellows spend at least one summer conducting research at our Lab as a part of the fellowship program. To learn more information about GEM or to apply please visit or contact Madalynn Miller at


In 2019, more than 686 graduate and recent graduates at the Bachelor’s and Master’s level were engaged in research at ORNL.  These students participated in a wide range of research activities including summer, fall, and spring internships. Graduate internships are open to both international and U.S. citizens although some programs may have specific citizenship requirements. For more information or to apply to internships at ORNL please visit