Program FAQs

What is biomedical research?

Biomedical research is the broad area of science that looks for ways to prevent and treat diseases that cause illness and death in people and animals. At CSUN, we’ve extended this definition to include research that focuses on health and health disparities. 

What is Critical Race Theory and how is it related to biomedical research?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) originally emerged from legal studies as a way to address the persistence of racism in American Society (Peralta et al., 2013). Importantly, CRT has also been used in educational settings to examine how multiple forms of implicit racism can shape the lives of people of color and how it plays out in their daily experiences. We use CRT as the theoretical foundation for faculty mentor training to help faculty understand and better relate to students from communities that differ from their own. Similarly, CRT informs the Summer Jumpstart program and all student researcher training in BUILD PODER to prepare students for doctoral studies, which are less diverse than CSUN. 

I am a senior at CSUN, can I apply?

Students are eligible to apply if they have a minimum of two years remaining in their degree program. Applicants should speak to an academic advisor to provide proof that two years of coursework remains. 

I am a high school senior accepted to CSUN for the fall. Can I apply to BUILD PODER?

No. First-time freshmen are not eligible, since applicants must have completed at least 24 units in order to be in the PODER Trainee program. We want to ensure that first time freshmen are able to be successful in their coursework. Applications are due in the Spring semester, therefore applicants may have some coursework completed and some in progress (e.g. 12 units completed, and 12 units in progress). 

I am an undocumented student, am I eligible to apply for BUILD PODER?

For the 2019-2020 year, BUILD PODER's CSUN program is proud to accept students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as those under AB540. DACA/AB540 students can apply only if they will be enrolled at CSUN during the program. DACA/AB520 students are funded through CSUN and not the NIH, but take part in all the same program activities and requirements as NIH-funded students.

Unfortunately, we cannot support DACA/AB540 students at our community colleges at this time. 

I am an international student with a Visa, am I eligible to apply?

No. Unfortunately, BUILD PODER can only support U.S. citizens, permanent residents and nationals, OR students under DACA/AB540.

Do I have to choose a mentor from the BUILD PODER Mentor Pool?

Yes. The BUILD PODER faculty mentor pool is comprised of faculty whose research is biomedical and who have completed who have completed extensive culturally responsive mentor training. 

I’m a community college student, am I eligible for BUILD PODER?

The BUILD PODER application is open for community college student who are transferring to CSUN and starting at CSUN in Fall 2022.

What majors qualify for BUILD PODER?

BUILD PODER trains students is a broad variety of basic, social, behavioral, and health sciences. The following are qualifying majors to the program:

Biological & Life Sciences
Anatomy; animal biology (zoology); biochemistry; biophysics; biology (general); biosciences; ecology & evolutionary biology; entomology & parasitology; genetics; microbiology; microbiology, immunology; molecular, cellular & developmental biology; neurobiology/neuroscience.

Biological/agricultural engineering; biomedical engineering; chemical engineering; chemical, biochemical & environmental engineering; computer engineering & computer science, computer science & electrical engineering; electrical engineering; engineering; mechanical engineering, & materials engineering. 

Health Professions
Epidemiology; cardiology; child & adolescent development; communication disorders sciences; environmental & occupational health engineering; family consumer sciences (dietetics & nutrition); health care/services administration; health education (fitness, physical education, sports psychology); health sciences; hematology; kinesiology (kinesiotherapy, exercise science); medical technologies; neurology; nursing; oncology/cancer research; ophthalmology; oronhinolaryngology; pharmaceutical sciences; physical therapy; preventative medicine & community health; psychiatry; public health/community health (health communication, community development); pulmonary disease.

Physical Sciences
Atmospheric sciences; biochemical sciences; biophysics; chemistry; chemistry and biochemistry; environmental sciences; geography; geography & environmental sciences; geological or earth sciences; marine biotechnology; medicinal chemistry; physics; physics and astronomy


Social Sciences
Anthropology (cultural & social); clinical psychology; human development; psychology; sociology; sociology/anthropology. 

Computer science; Information systems; mathematics & statistics

*If your major is not listed you may be able to enter our "experimental program" for non-science majors which has slightly fewer financial benefits.*

Financial Aid — Will BUILD PODER affect my financial aid package?

Possibly. As a BP student, students may be entitled to 60% of CSUN tuition, and a monthly stipend. Financial aid counts the partial tuition and stipends received during the academic year (9 months) towards financial aid.  All students who apply for financial aid are held to federal and state regulations about how much aid they can receive. For more detailed explanations about your individual situation, please see a financial aid counselor. Walk-in hours can be found at

If I am accepted into BUILD PODER, can I accept additional scholarships?

Possibly. It depends on the source of the scholarship. For more detailed explanations about your individual situation, please see a financial aid counselor. Walk-in hours can be found at

Can I work off-campus and participate in BUILD PODER?

The monthly stipend is provided to reduce the financial burden so that students won’t have to seek employment. Due to the rigor of BUILD PODER, it will be challenging to work and meet all of the requirements of the program and your degree. HOWEVER, we understand that students have individual needs. As long as a student can manage the programmatic obligations without affecting their grades, they may be able to work outside of the program.  

Are there required courses I must take to participate in BUILD PODER?

CSUN BP students must take our required courses during the four semesters they are enrolled in the program.

Is the Summer Jumpstart mandatory and when does it occur?

Yes, it is mandatory. SJS is fundamental to the development of a research identity in students and creating a community of support within the BP cohort. Applicants who cannot attend SJS will not be accepted into the program. Students who are accepted into the program, but are unable to complete SJS will not be able to continue once the fall semester begins. Long absences during SJS will also cause elimination from the program.

Summer Jumpstart 2019 takes place July 15-August 9 (8:30am-5pm Monday-Friday) at the CSUN campus. SJS is required for all BP students. Students who cannot complete SJS in full will not progress in the program.