OHA Volunteer Scholars Program

OHA Volunteer Scholars Program

Ready to make an impact?  Click here to get startedThe OHA Volunteer Scholars Program is part-time or full-time unpaid opportunities to enhance public awareness and promote the dissemination of homeland security-related health care issues by providing scholarly and developmental opportunities to a broad-based audience of capable scholars. The OHA Volunteer Scholars Program seeks applicants who are inquisitive, conscientious, self-motivated, and experienced in multi-tasking.

Program Length

Four weeks or 160 hours


Office of Health Affairs


Washington, D.C.



Eligibility Requirements

To be considered you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be able to obtain and hold a security clearance
  • Be a student accepted for enrollment or enrolled at least half-time at a college, university, or other accredited educational institution
  • Preference is given to scholars currently enrolled in programs related to public health, emergency management, allopathic or osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, or biodefense
  • Current Scholars must be in good academic standing with their institution

Application Deadline

December 1, March 1, June 1, and September 1. All applications must be received at least six months prior to the requested start date.

Application Requirements and How to Apply

Download Application: OHA Volunteer Scholars Program Application. To apply, students submit a resume and completed application form to ohapersonnel@dhs.gov

Who to Contact for Additional Information


Program Objectives

  • Enhance and build upon current educational or professional experiences and/or expertise related to medical and health matters
  • Apply academic learning to real-world projects and assignments
  • Develop valuable workplace skills and acquire specific experience needed to pursue professional goals
  • Connect and network with professionals in their specialized area(s) of interest
  • Explore the federal work environment and learn about the mission and responsibilities of OHA and the Department

Scholar Responsibilities

Scholars should accomplish the following during their volunteer period with OHA:

  • Become familiar with the structure and operations of OHA
  • Understand how OHA develops policies and procedures with regard to specific threats
  • Contribute substantially to a project directly related to the goals of one of the OHA mission offices
  • Understand how their project relates to and supports the OHA mission
  • Become knowledgeable of the Department's activities regarding biodefense, medical readiness, component services, and international health affairs
  • Learn how the Department coordinates with other communities to include private and public sector entities and international medical organizations
  • Understand how the office defines capabilities for medical first responders at the federal, state, local/tribal and territorial levels
  • Learn about medical planning as it relates to the Homeland Security mission

Suggested Reading List

Scholars will also be required to develop and deliver the following on or before the final day of their volunteer period:

  • Predetermined deliverable aligned with the Scholar's goals, OHA mission and office needs. The deliverable can consist of a report, abstract suitable for national scientific presentation, literature review, research analysis, guide, briefing, or similar document that adds significant value to one of the OHA mission offices.
  • A 15-20 minute presentation to OHA staff regarding their project and deliverable

All materials produced by the Scholar while working at OHA become the property of the Department of Homeland Security and will be maintained by the OHA Human Capital Office.

Salary and Benefits

  • Scholars are unpaid and not entitled to benefits through the federal government as they are not federal employees.
  • Unpaid Scholars are protected in the event of job related injuries under the Federal Torts Reform Act.
  • Relocation expenses and recruitment incentives are not paid for Scholars.

Review and Selection

The applicant review and assessment process is comprised of the following steps:

Step 1 — Application Review

The Volunteer Scholars Program Committee will review program applications on a quarterly basis. After a thorough review of each application, the committee will make an immediate assessment as to whether the applicant is eligible to participate in the program and can be matched with an advisor.

Step 2 — Advisor Interview

The advisor interviews the applicant to determine how the applicant's proposed project would fit best with the needs and goals of the group and overall OHA mission. The advisor will also provide public information related to the goals and objectives of his/her office, division, and branch. During this interview, the advisor discusses refining the intended volunteer project and prepares the applicant to develop the detailed Scope of Work.

Step 3 — Scope of Work (SOW)

From the time the advisor contacts the applicant, the applicant will have 10 business days to develop and submit the final SOW. See a sample SOW. Applicants are encouraged to communicate with the Advisor throughout the development of the SOW. The SOW will clearly define the following:

  • Overall personal and professional goals and objectives
  • Final deliverable and presentation
  • Deliverable timeline and related activities required to complete deliverable
  • Benefit to the Scholar and OHA

The final SOW should be submitted to ohapersonnel@hq.dhs.gov for the advisor and program committee's review and approval.

Selected applicants will receive a pre-volunteer notification via e-mail that includes instructions for completing and submitting security documents and fingerprints and other next steps.

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